Sunday, 18 June 2017

500th Blog Post Bonanza!

The word of the week is MILESTONE~!!!!!!

June 12 – 500 POSTS!!!!!

Here we are!

For months, I've debated about what to write for this special entry, knowing that it was coming up: a past retrospective? A guess as to the future? A summary of the present, with all its bumps layered over with a gloss of thin, shiny hope?

Well, none of those appealed to me.

Instead, I'll talk about why I started this blog in the first place: my friends and family... but mostly friends, as I tend to keep in touch with family via email or phone.

Not so with friends, and that's where this special blog entry comes into play.

One thing I've noticed over the years is that people tend to become more insular: they get set in their lives and the deviations from that centerline tend to be less as time goes on. Friendships change, some fading and some growing stronger, much the same as social circles tend to solidify based on employment: the longer you're in a job in one spot, the more roots you put down and the less likely you are to change.

For me, I've noticed my circle of friends changing, not the least because I moved away from most everyone I knew back in 2007 to try and reboot my life.

I like to think I've had some success in that area, as well as a lot of learning experiences in all aspects of my life. Which has led to change in me: mostly for the positive, I think.

What's really struck me in terms of change has been my involvement in my friend's lives: for the most part, I'm now a peripheral pal to most of the people that I grew up with and knew back in Niagara, whether I like to admit it or not.

That's not unexpected, considering the many distances between us now.

What fascinates me about change though, is what constitutes friendship, and I've given that a lot of thought over the last decade that I've been living in BC... probably more thought than I ever gave to the subject while I was living back in Ontario. I am extremely fortunate in that I can make friends easily, and the friendships I make tend to be lasting ones.

It takes all kinds...

What my friendships mean to me has changed as well, as I've aged:

- in my teens, I just wanted to finish high school and get on to university, where I could really start learning things. My friendships were with my close friends, and I had a busy social life, though not one with any sort of real depth, because I didn't know what I wanted.
- in my 20s, things changed when I went to university and afterwards, as I had a number of major life events. My social life changed as well, getting me out of the house quite often during the week to the local watering holes, but again I wasn't doing anything except hanging out with my friends, ad nauseum. I was suffering from general depression and spending time with friends helped ease the pit of empty I felt inside when I looked at my life.
- in my 30s, I was still directionless, having left university and started work at a job that I despised though the people I worked with were great. I formed new friendships online playing Neverwinter Nights, but again did little with my life. Then I decided to uproot things and move with my parents out to BC... because, why not? I wasn't doing anything important in Niagara, and deep down I knew I never would if I stayed rooted there.

Now, in my 40s, I've switched things up here in Victoria. The new friendships I've formed here are solid, if somewhat intermittent due to how busy we all are, but I believe that I'm worth their time, and they mine as well. We share common interests, have a good time together and can relax in one another's company, which is all that you can ask when turning strangers into friends. It's a talent that many possess, but too few appreciate, or cultivate in all the right ways, so that each friend becomes a part of you in ways you can't quite place...

It saddens me that distance has made my friendships with those back in Niagara less vibrant, but it hasn't ended those links and for that I'm extremely grateful to FBook for allowing me to peek in on their lives regularly. It also lets me keep up with friends I've never met, which astonishes me sometimes, but then I know that my ability to express myself through my writing grew in no small part thanks to my online friendships... so that's been a bright part of my life, when I realized it in recent years. 

Being online, blogging and writing and socializing, is just as important to me as being there in person, because I'm able to express myself fully either way.

I like to think that my blog lets my friends get to know the true me, in their own time... and that in writing it, it also lets me know myself better, too.

June 14 – About blogging...

I thought I would fear into the technical here for moment to answer a question:

What's it been like writing every Sunday night for close to 10 years?

For one, it's meant that I have to be disciplined in setting aside my time every week. When I first started out, I had tons of free time: being new to Victoria and not knowing anybody, I just worked and came home again with the occasional evening a week spent with my family for dinner. That meant I had plenty of time to think on what I wanted to blog about, and if you look at my earliest blog entries, I ended up writing quite a lot compared to entries over the later years, when my local social life had started to develop again.

Blogging is about creating a habit and developing it into something that you carry with you in between blog entries. For me, my blogging habit has developed from sitting down in front of the computer and wondering what I'm going to talk about into taking mental notes( and other notes )all week that I let my subconscious work on, so that I can build up bits of each week's entry as each days passes.

I think it's worked rather well, as I've seen the blog develop from massive infodumps about the MANY things I'm interested in to a more compact version that's chatty, warmer and gives far more insight into my life and thoughts than I ever thought I'd be comfortable with sharing. While not everything in my head makes into the blog, more things do than don't and I'm happy that I've been able to share as much as I have of myself.

Volume is another thing: I've written a lot in 10 years of blogging.

Quest Completed - Do I get to level up now?

Simple numbers bear this out: if each blog entry averages between 2000 and 3000 words( an essay a week! )then 500 of these entries mean I've written over 1 million words in the last decade for this blog, the equivalent of a novel a year! It's something that I'm quite proud of, as few people ever cracked 1 million words barrier in their lifetimes, at least when it comes to non-work-related word counts.

Here's to the next million!

June 14 – Seeking Counsel

Sometimes it helps to talk about your problems to those best equipped to advise you.

In the past, I've been reluctant to disclose any issues I might be wrestling with, because I had considered itthem to be weaknesses or character flaws if I couldn't deal with things myself. Now I know better, as I realize that one can't deal with things one's not equipped for, like having a toolbox with only a few basic tools...

Capes are toolbox-optional, but recommended!

Just to keep on track, I've been speaking to both career and financial counselors again this month, which have been helpful. In both areas, I've received solid feedback on what I've done to date to take control of my life in both areas: the professionals I've spoken to have been extremely positive regarding my insights into why I am where I am and what I'm doing to move myself forward. They've confirmed that I'm headed on the right roads, asking the right questions and doing the right things, that I'm being aggressive in chasing my dreams instead of worrying, assigning blame or otherwise wandering around the problems I face.

It does take time and effort though, but speaking again to counselors has allowed me to dial in what effects my efforts have been having my life, so that I don't get the feeling that I'm flailing around randomly in quicksand.

Learning to navigate the pitfalls of life should always add to your toolbox, with every one of them another tool against anxiety and worry.

Fill the box!

June 15 – Writing Progress

The finish line is in sight...!

However, I'm not going to make my June 30th deadline, for reasons I'll explain next week, which have to do with time.

For the last two months, I'm beginning up earlier and earlier every day to write, culminating in an average June wakeup-time of between 530 and 6 AM. Which has worked out rather nicely because of all the noise problems we've been having lately, including a guy who drives by every weekday at 6 AM with his howling dog... but that's hopefully been taking care of now by Animal Control.

My writing( editing, really )has been going well, albeit somewhat slowly, as more and more ideas present themselves I have to work them into the book and that slows the overall progress of finishing the fourth draft.

At this point, I hope to have it done in another month, and hit the finish line running: my first week of vacation is in the middle of July, so I should be able to wrap things up nicely with a full-on review of the draft at that point.

Once I had the fourth draft completed, I plan to print up a dozen copies to send out to beta readers for their thoughts to make any changes before I submit it to agents and/or publishers.

Then it's on to finishing Book 2 for the rest of 2017!

June 16 – Sic Transit, Vir

It continues...

Stephen Furst, another beloved cast member of Babylon 5, has passed on today. He was only 63.

In one of the B5 groups today, I found many touching set of tributes, and put a couple of the most touchingly true ones into the image below:

Above all, I loved this one in particular, as it came from a fan new to Babylon 5, yet he was immediately able to see the depth that Stephen Furst brought to the character of Vir... a depth that came from within the core of who he was as a person:

I can't think of a more fitting tribute for Stephen to be remembered by.

See you beyond the Rim, sir!

June 17 – Ignorance

Why are people so willing to ignore the facts about things like Climate Change and Vaccines?

Heck, why are people so willing to debate what a fact is, in many cases?

For one thing, ignorance has become a virtue, as Asimov has noted above - it's no longer looked down upon to be ignorant by a too-large number of people in modern society, something that scares the willies out of me if I dwell too long on it.

I've run into quite a few people in the last few years online who are... well, my words here would be far more eloquent than they deserve, let's just say that. 

Here's an example of one woman's beliefs that have led her down the path of... silliness. Read the last part:

Um, that's not how Scientific Theory and Scientific Laws work, ma'am...

Thankfully, science will still be science whether or not people believe in it or understand it. Actual science sites are fighting back against the waves of ignorance sweeping the internet, with sites offering things like Climate Change Fact Courses to prepare one to fight ignorance wherever you find it...

Understanding and truth are the best weapons when fighting ignorance, so arm yourselves!

June 18 – Dad Day

For Father's Day, my family and I had a nice brunch at Nourish, with my lovely girlfriend too!

It was really special: because we had to wait an hour for a table( I couldn't get reservations at all this week )we were able to relax in the spacious upstairs lounge area and just chat, which was great as we haven't done much of that this year. I'm always happy to see how well my girlfriend gets along with my family, all of whom adore her, and having us all together like today warms me immensely.

A little bit about my dad...

My father is a fantastic man: gentle, calm, kind, fair and above all: loving. I can't imagine having had a better father to grow up with, one that I respected, not feared, and knew that he was proud of me because he told me so, as well as ensuring I always knew I was loved. He is a rock, with a solid dependability that anchored us as a family; I rarely saw him angry or upset, either for very long. He's always been there, putting his family's needs first before his own, which is something that I've taken on as well, sometimes to my own detriment. I'm proud to say I possess many of his positive traits:  an open mind, deep generosity, a huge capacity for love and a warmth for everyone I meet.

I've been fortunate to have my father in my life from the day I was born, always there for me but never in my way. How could I not be proud to be this man's son?

Thanks, Dad... always.

I thought that writing my 500th blog post would be a joyous experience, but much of what I've felt this week has been stressful: anger at my financial situation, pressure to get my home business running at the same time as writing my books, and frustration at any time wasted for all of the above. 2017 is half over, and I've got a long way to go with so many things yet...