Sunday, November 12, 2017

Trolls, Timing amd Thor

The word of the week is determination.

Nov 6 - Ten Years Of Failure

Yep, 10 years since I moved to BC...

So what?

It's a random benchmark, picking a decade to look back on, and ultimately it's meaningless: you'll still get out of bed the next day and go about your life as you've built it... or at least, as you were inhabiting it currently.

Not much has changed the last 10 years for me: I'm still working a day job that's unfulfilling, pecking away at my writing, and finding my eyes focused on my feet instead of the horizon too many days of the year. Keeping my head down and plugging away may get me from day-to-day, but it certainly doesn't with me out of the ruts that I track from home to work and back again, with interludes in between for fun and recreation to take my mind off the wandering I'm doing.

Working hard comes naturally to me, but as you can see from the image above, one's definition of work needs to change regularly. Just as you build up muscle from a workout and need to keep adding weight, the same applies for how you approach your work ethic: keep gradually adding weight and testing yourself to see how you're holding up. Not that you should keep adding stress, mind you, but rather focus on accomplishing your tasks and then work up to new challenges that build on your foundation of smaller successes.

This is one of my favorite quotes to tell myself from time to time:

Only those who make mistakes have the opportunity to learn, and I'm counting it into my stubborn head that Mistakes Are OK: they don't mean I'm foolish, or stupid, or a Failure, but that I just need to step back and find another approach to the problem(s) that I'm facing at the time.

One step backward, and then move forward from there.

Nov 7 – More Trolls? Yes!

Whoa! Some GOOD news? Love it!

Apparently Trollhunters was such a big success for Netflix, that they've not only commissioned a second season( being released next month! )but they've decided to split things off into two new sub-series, set in the same world!

I'm a sucker for good writing, and Trollhunters has it in spades, which speaks rather well for the new series as well. I'm really anticipating some great Netflix-watching in 2018 or early 2019, when these shows make it to 'air' so to speak.

Who knew how quickly the dynamic could shift away from a dull-as-dishwater Hollywood system, too set it its ways, towards dynamic online productions funded by Netflix and HBO... it's a revolution!

Moar, Please!

Nov 8 – Groo-riffic

I'll share with you one of the oddities of my life:

Good timing.

I've been collecting Groo comics for more than twenty years now, and there's been a paucity of them around in local comic shops. Such that in all those years, I've only managed to scrounge a half-dozen or so of the forty issues I've been missing, many from the later years of the run when I wasn't able to collect them regularly. While I could have hunted them down on eBay, the prices weren't conducive to collecting( averaging $20 an issue, with shipping! )so I let it be.

A few months ago, I wandered into a local used bookshop and as is my habit, made sure to check all the racks of comics for Groo.

Imagine my shock when I found over fifty of them for sale, in that one shop! I didn't have my list with me, but at $1.00 an issue, I bought the lot though some were in rough shape... As it happens, there were more than a few duplicates, but there were 26 issues there that I hadn't had before - what a stroke of luck!

Now I'm down to about 10 issues to find, which is pretty dang good, as my collection's looking fairly close to complete now AND I might find the time in a year or two to read through them all again:

Nov 9 – Smart and In Control?

Am I smart? Am I intelligent? How do I measure those?

All my life, I've been told that I'm smart, that I'm highly intelligent and that has informed how I've looked at the world: from a rational, logical and informed point of view.

But have you really know that your smart person? Sure, you can take IQ tests, memorize trivia, get membership in Mensa or do any of the thousand things to prove to yourself that you're not just a smarter frogging among many the pond.

Being rational, I do like to turn to science for answers when I'm not sure about things, and this week - while been questioning my life - I came across a rather succinct list of Thirteen Signs You're Smarter Than You Realise:

one of the reasons I like this list is because it doesn't attempt to quantify intelligence, but rather looks at the whole picture of a person. In looking at the various items, I found that most of them apply to me, in various degrees, and that's helpful.

Because even smart people need to do a self check on their smarts on occasion.

Nov 10 – Healthy Rage

This is one of my favorite quotes from any movie: "I'm always angry"

As regular readers of this blog may be able to tell, I live in a constant state of frustration: with my health, my work, my finances, my writing, my... whatever; There's always a list of things that I've Got To Do Better, and it's never-ending.

Frustration often leads to anger, and that stresses me out. Which I can't take anymore: there's no way in hell I want my stress-induced chest pains to return, and so I've made great efforts to learn how to channel my frustration-born anger into something else:


Don't like the way some things going in your life? Change things up: you're the only one who can do it, because in the World Of Adulting, nobody's going to step forward to add YOUR problems to their own already-heaping basket of things.

You're on your own, as in so many things in life, so best learn how to deal...

And sure, that can cause frustration, probably heaps of it, especially if you're ALREADY working hard on finding solutions. I know for myself, it feels like I'm trapped in a muddy pit some days, clawing at the sides to get out but getting exactly nowhere as I slide back down despite the howling energy I pour into the attempts at forward motion. 'Work smarter, not harder' is a good mantra, yet some days I want to punch whoever wrote it in the face and ask them exactly how smart one has to be before you know it's time to just float in the mud and rethink things entirely. Learning how to relax is also important, because without a firm foundation to fall back on, that meant it is going to swallow you up too often.

Hmmm. Maybe I need to take up professional mud wrestling?

Nov 11 – Remembrance

It's a pittance of time...

Nov 12 – Destination: Fun?

Sometimes you find deep meaning in the oddest of places...

I was feeling rather down today, with the gloomy weather not helping at all and despite spending the morning with my lovely lady, the clouds over my head lingered.

So I went to see a movie: Thor Ragnarok.

The movie was a fun romp, an action spectacle with none other than the magnificent Cate Blanchett as the evil Hela, chewing the scenery and kicking ass with aplomb: delightful! The plot was straightforward, the CGI served the story instead of drawing attention to itself, and everything just worked from the get-go.

The movie also spoke to something deep inside me.

That, I think was a total surprise; this isn't a drama, or a thinker's film by any stretch... but it was a perfect fit for my mood and headspace, because of Thor.

Spoilers( mild )below.

In the film, Thor teams up with his brother Loki and the Hulk in order to defeat Hela, with the usual banter and bad-assery that we've come to expect from these characters. However, Thor grows yet again as a character, perhaps the most yet to date, and in doing so he made me realize that I'm facing many of the same choices that he did in the film.

For Thor, it was about letting the unnecessary fade... about clinging to the past, or false notions of what he was, in order to grow into what he truly IS, and needed to be for his people - as well as for himself. Hard-won wisdom, won at great cost.

I need to be a writer, but I can't support myself on that alone. I need to get a better income, but to do so only to set aside my writing( yet again )to focus on that job search as well as getting my home business up and running in 2018.

The pull between the two is tearing me apart: write, or work to pay the bills?

I don't have the health or mental strength to do both any more.

I'll leave it at that.

Nothing much more to say, save that a new week lies ahead, after a brief working-holiday tomorrow. See you again.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Celebrating Ten Years in BC - Huzzah!

The word of the week is waiting.

NOTE: This week's entry will be a bit larger than usual, but not as large as some of my other updates over the years. It's been a long time coming, so that works out rather well, I think!

New Beginnings:
Celebrating Ten Years In Beautiful British Columbia THIS week!
Read on, and thank-you for sticking along with me on this wacky ride...

1.3 million words later...

Oct 30 & 31st - Treating Tricks

Not much to say: limping at work, resting at home.

I do miss going out for Halloween as a kid, but in thinking about it, the best part was showing off my costume each year door-to-door... and now that cosplay's become a regular part of modern culture, the opportunity is always there when attending local events or conventions or even just chatting with people online who share the same passions. 

One more plus the Internet has going for it.

I have several boxes full of costume bits, most of it medieval-knight-ish in nature, so this year I just decided to go with something simple( as above )since I'm limited in my mobility due to needing a cane( again - sigh ): Incredibly frustrating, given that I'd been doing so well the last few months, what with proper stretching morning and night, getting back to swimming with an eye on biking again in the spring... but whatever. I'm used to starting over again, and again, until I get back on my feet, and in this case it's literally that.

I don't even miss the Halloween candy any more. Well, maybe the Peanut Butter Cups... but I can still have them now and then, in moderation.

Much like anything in life, really.

Nov 1 – A Decade of Thought

What can I say? Ten years ago today, I set foot in BC - for good, it turned out.

Leading up to this week's entry was several months of preparation, but I made little headway in deciding what I wanted to say until only a few days ago. At first, I pondered making a "List Of Good / Bad Things" but that didn't really appeal to me as a comparative, and I'd be weighing in on whether or not my time here spent in BC has been worthwhile.

It has, but not in ways that I'd imagined prior to, or even after, I arrived.

What, then, could I say about my early 2007 decision to move here, and all the things that have happened in my life since then?

I believe I did the right thing, leaving Ontario and heading Westward. As the title of this blog states, this was to be a series of New Beginnings for me, though not in ways that I imagined when I thought about what my life would be like in my mid-40's. I'm not where I thought I'd be ten, or even five years ago.

What about twenty years ago? Then, I'd been out of university( but hadn't finished )for a few years, not doing much save working a low-paying office-supply job and getting my head around the fact that my life was messy, unlike anything I'd anticipated for myself as living in my 20's, and that I had a lot of learning and growing to do to come to grips with it all. Depression, financial hardship, family strain, a lack of any meaningful romance... there was quite a list I was dealing with, yet I did my very best to stay true to myself and my hopes.

Fast-forward almost a decade later, and I was working at a dead-end job at MMart in Ontario, wishing with all my heart to be somewhere else, with no desire whatsoever to advance up the corporate ladder by selling large chunks of my soul. At least by then I'd discovered some of what I knew was important in my life, including the realization that I wasn't willing to mortgage the most vital parts of myself for material gain.

In the year leading up to my move, I took stock of myself: single, doing the same things every week in and week out, existing but not living, learning slowly but not growing. My writing ability had lain dormant for so long that I barely strung words together more often  than once or twice a year, and that seemed a tragedy to me, given the passion I've had for sci-fi and fantasy ever since I was a kid.

It was time for a change.

As it happened, this time period in 2007 coincided with my parent's desire to move out of Ontario completely to preserve their health, and British Columbia was their destination of choice. As I didn't have anything really tying me down in Ontario, it made perfect sense for me to move out there along with them to get them settled and then see what I could do with a fresh start. Being able to transfer to a BC branch of MMart seemed to support the whole plan...

Things didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped: MMart in BC was even worse than ON, despite my being promoted( read: suckered into )to manager, and I struggled to adjust to the rising stress levels. Eventually, I came to the realization in 2011 that I needed to make a clean break with the company that I’d worked for for almost a dozen years in order to preserve my sanity and health, both of which were declining sharply. 

By 2012, I'd quit my job at MMart, with no immediate employment prospects, and it'd be another year before I landed a minimum-wage job, to start the slow climb upwards again.

In the meantime, I was determined to make the most of my newfound 'freedom' of unemployment, and dove into writing my first novel, unleashing years of creative energy. By the end of that year, I'd finished the first draft, and felt elation unlike anything else I'd yet experienced: that of creating something unique and entirely my own. Little did I suspect there'd be so many sideways steps, stumbles and awkward detours afterwards, as I struggled to complete the next few drafts while trying to secure gainful employment.

Which I did; again, Canada's economic circumstances meant that the only job I could find was minimum wage, but I made it work despite the persistent injury to my arms from a move gone bad in 2012, and otherwise my health was excellent from bicycling to and from work every day for two years. The job had its share of stress, but I was earning my keep, though at the pay level it meant my slide financially hadn't stopped, only slowed a bit. Yet I made some good friends at that job who are still with me, and kept writing all the while.

I thought that getting a permanent government position in 2014 would help me start to make headway financially, but my years spent in heavy debt meant that I just couldn't get ahead of my payments, though my income was now comparable to my earnings at MMart's last few years. 

After all that, ten years after moving to BC - where's it put me now?

I feel like I'm... waiting, still, for positive forward movement, professionally and financially. Little's changed from my life in the 90's, in those regards, sad to say. Writing my book's been an incredible experience and I've made huge strides in bettering my wordsmith skills... but my novel's doing zilch for me unpublished. The slow push towards that goal has been wearing, especially as my health issues have robbed me so often of the physical and mental energy to write of a day.

Personally though, I've hit a home run: moving to BC let me meet the woman of my dreams, someone whom I quite frankly thought didn't exist on this planet, especially given my decades of being rejected by the fairer sex. That rejection on its own led to positive personal development, albeit derived from intense soul-searching, depression, anxiety and painful self-discovery for those same many years. I'm not unique in that regard, though in my case, I think the long timeframe without any sort of romantic relationship was fairly uncommon.

Anyway: I couldn't be happier on the subject of romance in my life now.

My lady said something to me today made perfect sense: you have to count your wins, and I agree: it's the wins that count, and they light your way in the darker days we have.

It's the wins that you look back on, and use to push yourself through, over or around the many obstacles that you keep finding in your path towards your goals - however nebulous and vague those might seem sometimes, or often.

It's easy to remember the nasty things that tangles your path, but it's far healthier to make the effort to remember the good: the kindness, and the generosity, as those things are less rare, and far better for your mental stability to recall.

Looking back, I can say that I've had many wins in my life, and if I'm guilty of anything, it's not paying enough attention to how they came about, or just plain appreciating them for what they were - don't take good things for granted: appreciate them at the time.

Count the wins.

Sure, there's losses, but they're part of the process, and we can't let a stubbed toe stop us from continuing to move towards our goals. As I posted last week, we have to keep moving: walk, jog, crawl... it's all the same. If you stop, then you'll lose momentum, and I've seen the effects of that in my own life too many times.

Where does that leave me now?

I'm on the cusp of Big Things: my novel, my new home business, even the possibility of a better government position that will edge me away from the financial precipice that I've been dangling over for too many years now. All of that takes hard work, and to be honest most days I've barely got things together enough physically to make it work; the frustration of having my body sometimes fail support me in even the most basic day-to-day activities can't be overstated, but I've had to learn to adjust and take action however I can to mitigate my health shortcomings in the face of what needs doing. Supporting my family has thankfully taken more of a backseat the last three years; though they're not exactly all that much better off than I am, there's not an immediacy of need that's pulling on my own resources as much now.

Which is good, as I too often feel things stretching too close to the breaking point. Having to put off reaching my home business and writing goals from 2016 and 2017, both years when I thought I'd be just rolling along, has been hard to take. But I persevere.

2018 has to be the year that things come together for me; I can't wait much longer to find success, and it's certainly not going to find me if I just sit around, starting at the shorter support pillars of a smaller life than I know I'm capable of. When the where I am now after 10 years of effort is disappointing in some ways, but I'm better off in so many others that on the whole, I think things balance out: I have love, life, and liberty.

All the rest will come, and I'll deal with it as I can, each day as I have for the last decade I've spent in BC: making New Beginnings.

Nov 2 & 3 – Sight

Who would've thought that I'd have three pairs of glasses, or that they have lasted three years already without a prescription change?

I guess it makes sense, in that I use each pair for specific tasks( A = closeup/reading books, B = daily work at a computer / desk and C = driving / walking around / general tasks )so I'm not straining my eyes. I also take special care not to switch to quickly between each type, giving my eyes time to adjust without difficulty to a new focal distance. I hope not to need bifocals for decades yet...

One interesting thing about getting older and my eyes losing their up close focus, is that I no longer notice small bits of dirt or smaller smudges on my glasses. Those things used to really bug me up to only a few years ago and I was constantly cleaning my glasses to ensure my vision was completely clear, but now I just do it morning and night for each pair, and that's more than sufficient.

I'm hoping that I won't have to get three new pairs of glasses for at least another year, as I managed to get all three of my current pairs for about $400 CAN total, which was an incredible price( I ordered them from Zenni Optical in the USA, when the exchange rate was only a 10% difference! ). Now that the rates have swung back to around 30%, it's no longer a good deal to order from the states.

I'll have to 'see' how things go in 2018.

Nov 4 & 5 – Steady On

As you may have noticed, this week's blog entry is rather me-centric... but I hope you'll forgive me, as I've been on my mind much of late, with this week's anniversary of moving to BC.

Thusly: I'm continuing to apply for jobs, and work on my writing and my health.

The government job application process continues to be an elusive thing for me to grasp, coming from the public sector. Unlike retail jobs, where a concise two-page resume is usually required, government resumes can be five or even 10 pages long, listing in detail your accomplishments, skills and experience as relating to the position that you're applying for. This is a lot of work if you're applying for multiple positions each month, as I've been doing, and as my last application's rejection showed, small things can knock you out of the running and make you feel like you're making no headway whatsoever for all of your hard efforts.

Writing-wise, I'm plugging away at my edits on draft 4.5 of my first novel, and I'm almost at the point where I'll be digging into the 10K of excellent feedback I received a few weeks ago. That will take another 1-2 months to implement, by my estimate, working a few hours every other day at the very least. Since I typically wake up around 6 AM, there's at least an hour to be have there before work, and I'm usually good for about three solid productive hours of an evening after dinner, considering that my day job isn't all that taxing mentally or physically.

Health-wise, though I've had a setback with my left foot( oh, the jokes... )these last few weeks, it's improving and I hope to get back to swimming again by mid-November to once more began the climb back towards normal health. On the bright side, my chest pains have almost completely disappeared, due to a combination of Hawthorne extract and glutamine-L in my daily diet. Same goes for my abdominals: almost back to regular operations. I'm also waking up and going to bed perfectly on-time and easily, meaning I'm getting the rest that I need without issue, as Upstairs Lady follows much the same schedule as I do. I just need to get some aerobic exercise going, now that my abdominals / core muscles seem to have solidified back into their proper supporting roles and I can sit up or twist without stabbing agonies distracting me all the time.

I guess I'm just a work in progress - aren't we all?

Thanks for sticking around with me for the last decade; in writing my weekly blogs( which will continue! )it's been a HUGE comfort to know there's people out there listening, checking back on what I've written on a weekly basis. Friends and family are vitally important to me, and this blog's for you as much as it is for me... so, onwards!