Furry Critters

Leaving our acre last year, I thought we would be seeing less wildlife as we hit the Suburbs. I was wrong. But at least we haven’t encountered any rats or raccoons.

The furry creatures are really tiny and almost seem lost. We had a baby hare hanging out under our deck. It wasn’t scared of me at all as I approached it to get a picture. In fact, it seemed as intrigued by me as I was of it.

The other little fellow that appeared the next day was a field mouse. It decided to cool off in our pool. I caught it swimming and then jumping onto our solar pool rings. Getting him out of the pool wasn’t too tough. I used our net and then released it back into the field behind our property. Maybe in the heatwave, it will return for a quick dip.

Of course our dog is often watching for wildlife as well. Generally she keeps the little creatures away, including cats. If she sees a coyote in the back field, she lets them know to stay away with incessant barking. Sometimes she does it from inside our home; other times she is in the backyard doing a proud stance on one of our rocks as she howls.

The wildlife is different in the ‘Burbs. Aside from the couple cute furry critters, it’s usually birds out and about. Most of the time I see hawks, owls, hummingbirds and a large assortment of other birds.

I have a feeling I will become a bird watcher pretty quick and start to get books and binoculars to view them.

4-7-8

People often wonder how I can fall asleep so quickly. Especially being able to do it any time of day. It has come in handy working shift work. I must have learned this technique decades ago. I have become a master of it.

It’s the 4-7-8 breathing technique, or also known as relaxing breath. It’s extremely easy.

Breathing in for 4 seconds.

Holding your breath for 7 seconds.

Exhaling for 8 seconds.

I do this a few times and focus on the counting and breaths- letting all other distractions fall by the wayside. I can be out cold in under a minute. I have done it on airplanes, trains, and road trips without fail. I use this technique every time I go to bed.

The ability to quickly fall asleep has benefited me numerous times. I can dart away for a quick nap and be awake again before anyone notices I’m gone. This has helped me at social events after a night shift on more than one occasion.

Try the technique for yourself a few times. It’s also really good for when anxiety tries to strike while your laying in bed at night.

Have a good sleep.

Backyard Bird Watching

As the weather gets nicer, I find myself becoming more and more of a bird watcher. From our backyard we get to watch loads of birds flutter about. My two favorites are the birds of prey and hummingbirds.

I recently moved the hummingbird feeder outside of our bedroom into a position that I can see much better. From our bed, we can lounge and watch as these fast flapping fowls feed on sugar water. It’s a calming fun to just stare at them.

When I’m out on the deck, I enjoy watching the hawks as they circle for food in the field behind us. The other day we were treated to an owl doing the same thing. It was only a few feet away from our back deck and I was able to capture a short video clip. View it on My Instagram if you choose. It was really neat to see. This was the first time we witnessed an owl doing it’s hunting and I was in awe of its silence as it did so.

We have also seen numerous other birds such as cranes and robins, ducks and geese. When we moved from a location that was dense with trees to this open view, I love the change in wildlife that we get to observe.

Do you find watching birds to be calming as well? Any favorites? Or perhaps some tips on how to get some good photos? Let me know in the comments.

It’s Just Stuff

Sometimes shit happens. There’s no need to get angry over it. Especially if it was unintentional and completely by accident.

Yesterday evening, my coworker struck my car as he was leaving the parking lot. He drives a raised truck and his back tire rubbed loudly against my bumper as he pulled out of his parking spot. I was in the parking lot at the time and my initial reaction to him was as expected. “What the hell dude!?”

He felt awful. After plenty of apologizing while I inspected what had happened, I told him not to worry. It didn’t look like and damage was done. No dents or scratches were immediately visible. Just rubber had been well, rubbed on.

The next morning, he arrived early and was cleaning my bumper before I left work. There was still two large streaks that he was unable to get off and he was sure it had gone through the paint. He offered to pay for the damages. I told him we would talk later. I got home and took out some ultra fine grit automotive sand paper that I have (for my 3d printing) and gave it some gentle swirls. It all came off and I gave it a quick wipe. Unless you know this happened (I guess most of you know now!) it’s hardly noticeable. As if I cleaned a bit too well on the one spot.

I sent the picture of the spotless corner to my coworker. He was relieved and continued to apologize. I know that it sucks when something happens by accident. But in all seriousness- it’s just stuff. My car is nearly six years old now. It has chips and scratches from just normal driving. I do appreciate his efforts in trying to clean the marks off, as well as his sincerity of the incident.

Things like this happen. It’s just how we react that can change the outcome. I could’ve yelled and screamed. But that would not solve anything and create a rift in our working relationship and environment. Instead we can joke about it and move on.

Grey Skies And Rain

I’m often sharing pictures of the sunset and skyline that we see from our home. This evening I’m sitting in a chair in our bedroom, enjoying a beer while the rain falls outside.

As I sit by our patio doors, the bedroom fireplace is going and my wife is enjoying a peaceful moment in the bathtub. Much in the same way I have every week. We are chitchatting about relaxation and the rain. There’s nothing exciting going on for a Saturday evening. But it’s our Saturday evening together.

Looking around our bedroom, I realize that I am very lucky to have found a great partner. My wife and I have numerous art pieces that scream out our love for one another. There is special meaning behind everything we own and I can tell a story about each piece and why it means so much to us. That’s perhaps for another day.

So my Saturday night is a calm night of being content and sharing happiness with the one I love.

Alone, Quiet and Doing Nothing

I’m about to start a four day weekend. Of which I only have plans for my last day. The other three days have a few errands- such as driving the kids to school- but nothing else planned. Which is great in a way.

I want to do nothing. I want to be left alone. I want to just enjoy the peace and quiet of having no one around. Well, sort of. My wife works from home, so I know she’ll be around periodically. I also just found out that our two teenagers have the Friday off. So I may only get two days alone.

Having some days where nothing is planned is a rare occasion for me. Usually I try and push myself to get a bunch of errands or home improvements done. Not this week. Sometimes a break of nothingness is better if planned. I know that doing nothing is a lie. I will eventually get something done or start some sort of project. I find it difficult to not be a busybody.

How do you do a day of nothing? I need advice.

Lighten Up

In this day and age it’s important to find ways to be calm and relaxed. I’m not new age, nor do I fully understand meditation. But I have found my own way of letting go of the stress and frustration of life.

Some people run marathons. Others play online first-person shooters. Me? I breathe, stretch, write, enjoy classical music and just try and let the world problems wash away. I used to burn incense, but my wife’s asthma has prevented that. Recently, I have been utilizing my salt lamp and aroma diffuser as alternatives.

I have always enjoyed lighting and the effects it has on emotions. For Christmas, my son gave me a lava lamp. I had recently donated my old lava lamp telephone (because who uses a landline anymore?). He knew I missed my lamp, so it was really nice that he bought me one. So I placed it on my bedside table next to my salt lamp.

When I came home last night, I plugged it in and turned it on. After it warmed up for a couple of hours, I was able to zone out staring at it while I fell asleep. The green and orange hues were calming and I woke up feeling recharged.

Sleeping with lights on isn’t for everyone. Same with meditation or music. I just found something that works for me to help calm my life and I like it.

Reds, Yellows and Greens

The tree on our neighbor’s property.

I love autumn. For the first time in ages I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy the colors of the leaves as they change. Our last home was in a beautiful yard filled with pine trees. So we didn’t have much in the way of fallen leaves to clean up. In our new neighborhood- we also don’t have a lot of leaves to deal with, but the neighborhood looks beautiful as the season changes.

Looking out our front door there is a cornucopia of trees and colors. I love being able to witness the world as it transforms. The suburban life is something I never would’ve thought that I’d have enjoyed. I can wave at neighbors and smile a greeting to them. We still have the privacy of our back yard.

As the seasons change, we get to see more of it from our windows. Besides all of the beautiful skies, I’m loving that nature is sprawling out for miles. Plenty of green space separating us from the rest of the world.

Nature is amazing. Red is probably my favorite color of the leaves. There’s something vibrant about the color. Almost passionate.

Do you enjoy autumn and the changes in the world?

Existential Doggo

Another great evening to be had on the back deck as the sun begins to set. I keep on sharing pictures of the view, and it is well worth it. It seems I’m not the only one who enjoys the deck and the sky.

Our dog, Maki, has decided that she is just as good as her human family. She has discovered the joy of sitting on our back patio set and staring off into the horizon. I watched her for a while while she just zoned out.

When I finally got her attention, she just looked so happy. She also didn’t want to leave her seat. So I sat beside her and we gazed out on the horizon. She’s a great companion who can sit silently and just enjoy the moment.

Dogs are the best. I wonder what she was thinking?

Derby Reach

On Friday evening, my wife and I dropped our two youngest off at skating and headed out for a walk. Since we were in Walnut Grove, we decided to head to Derby Reach for a gentle hike. For those who may be wondering- Derby Reach is a park area located in Northern Langley, BC.

Our walk along the path gave us plenty to admire. Especially as the sun was slowly setting in the west. It added some beautiful light to the trees and landscapes as we walked for about four kilometers. With plenty to see on a beautiful evening, the stroll was a nice way to end the week.

We ended up near the Fraser River at one point. Looking out across the water we’re more trees and the mountains in the distance. This was around our halfway point, so we took a short break before heading back to our car.

By the time we returned to the car, dusk was fast approaching. As was a slight chill in the air. The walk was refreshing and pleasant. There’s something about being out in nature on these paths that just clears your head and invigorates your lungs.

A Windstorm? Hardly Noticed.

Early this morning we had a windstorm roll through the neighborhood. It was a little gusty still as I headed out this morning. However, I didn’t even notice until I opened the door.

We had a few things blow over, but the 60km/h winds didn’t shake us up like they had in the past. In our previous home we would have been awake all night listening to the trees sway and crack. Not to mention the fear of the damage that would be inflicted on our house and yard.

Trees falling and power out for days on end are a thing of the past. Windy days in our old house are now someone else’s concerns. My wife and I slept peacefully and our home didn’t make a peep. Such a nice change of pace compared to the last 15 years.

Last Of The Good Weather

As the summer draws to an end, the last of the good weather is upon us. These past three months have been nothing short of amazing. A few heat waves thrown in, and a new home with a pool to enjoy the summer sun.

After an afternoon of swimming, I realized I better enjoy my evening outside before starting dinner. There’s a light breeze, a gentle sunset and a singsong of the birds. All of which I am enjoying while I write today’s blog in my hammock. After my swim, I also tossed on my pajamas to create the ultimate comfort.

I’m going to cut today’s blog short as I want to spend some time watching the clouds roll by overhead. It’s so much easier to relax without a screen in front of my face. Besides some music earlier, I haven’t touched my phone all day.

I’m at peace with the world today. It feels good.

Salt / Weight

I’m always trying to live a good life. With lots of positivity- even when life doesn’t go according to plan. As much as it’s a mental state that I need to create- my physical well being is a part of it.

I’ll be the first to admit that I do not exercise. I do some kayaking in the summer which I enjoy. Any physical labor I do around the house is also the extent of my active lifestyle. I will be changing that soon. Maybe a New Year’s resolution?

But in the meantime, my wife has gotten a few other items to make our life better. One of which is a Himalayan Pink Salt lamp. I put it on my nightstand a couple days ago and have left it on since then. The orange/pink hue is very soothing, even though we usually have a dark room. I’m sure we will get used to it.

The other item that my wife wanted was a Luna Weighted Blanket. Besides requiring two of us to lift it onto the bed- yes it is heavy- this thing is great. After using it for only a couple of nights, our sleeps have been so restful and fulfilling. It’s like our bed is giving us a hug to fall asleep in.

I’ll be the first to say that I’m not always on board with alternative ideas for health. But once in a while, even the placebo effect can change one’s mood. In the end I enjoy the warm glow of the salt lamp and the weight of the blanket. Combined together make for a comfortable rest period.

Have you used either item? How do you like it? Let me know in the comments.

Working Stress-Free

Sometimes a night at work can be relaxing. Having a purpose and doing a job can help alleviate the stresses of the world.

All those crazy emotions of home life are put on pause during the hours at my job. I’d like to think that life away from work is calm and peaceful, but it isn’t always. The worries of returning to school during a pandemic are highest in my home. Like many other parents, we are just waiting to see how life plays out.

So I take solace at my job. Where precautions have been taken since the beginning. A job I have done for almost 13 years. A place I know all too well keeps me calm.

Kayaking the Salmon River, Fort Langley

Today my wife and I went out kayaking again. We drove towards our children’s school, and sauntered down the Salmon River in Fort Langley.

We parked along Glover Road and walked down a path and put the kayaks into the water. My wife and I slowly followed along the water for around and hour and a half. It was a nice leisurely paddle. But we also knew that we’d have to paddle back.

It was another calm, zen like experience. Since we were in Fort Langley, we decided that we would stop at The Trading Post for a snack and a beer. It was a great experience, we even made friends with an older couple who were out on a motorcycle cruise.

If the weather holds up into tomorrow, we hope to kayak once more locally. I’ll be sure to share that experience here on my blog.

Oddly Satisfying Videos

There are times when I still get sucked into social media for hours on end. I don’t really know how or why. But I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.

I sometimes fall down a rabbit hole of “ODDLY SATISFYING VIDEOS”. Everything from wood turning to glass blowing to brick stacking. Seeing those menial tasks that people do on a regular basis bring me joy. especially when they’re good at what they do.

I also watch these videos muted. I prefer to read captions and not listen to the generic music used. I do find that if I listen to the videos I don’t watch as many. So maybe that’s a catch 22. I should turn the volume up and not watch as many.

Do you enjoy “ODDLY SATISFYING VIDEOS”?

Stopping To Admire The Flowers

I enjoy pausing during my day to admire nature- even if it is for the briefest of moments. It helps to put me in a state of comfort and contentment. “It’s hard to stay mad when there’s so much beauty in the world.”

Usually I try and snap a picture. Many times I’ll share it on Instagram. Look at the beauty I just saw in nature! #sharingeverythingisee #iloveusingfilterstomakeitlookbetter

Taking a deep breath and smiling on the inside works wonders for the mind. Seeing flowers bloom and trees grow foliage makes me happy. I’m out there watching the world go about it’s business while I’m just here for the ride.

A ride that has many sights and sensations waiting to be savored. All I need to do is hesitate momentarily and smell the flowers.

Bonsai

I have always wanted a Bonsai. I tried to make one about 15 years ago, but I failed miserably. Mainly because I didn’t put in the care and effort needed to keep it alive. So why not try again..? I am using this as a zen inspired activity. Keeping it watered and trimmed from time to time will help to calm and relax.

I picked up a small juniper since they are the heartiest and easiest to form. I took it out of the plastic pot and planted it into a new clay pot. Unfortunately the pot I do have is a tad large for the roots. A healthy bonsai needs to have the roots trimmed as well as the branches. Unless I want the tree to grow fairly large. So another transplant may occur by the end of summer. We’ll see how it does.

Then came the time to trim away almost everything. A bit of wire was used to help form the branches. This is just the start of my bonsai. Keeping it trimmed and cared for will be ongoing for the remainder of my time. And a desperate hope to keep it alive…

Wish me luck in my Zen Adventure.

Sunday Walkabout

Yesterday was one of the nicest days we have had this year. Warm and sunny as if Spring was peaking its head around the corner. A big change from just over a week ago when there was snow on the ground. My wife wanted to take full advantage of it. So we headed into Fort Langley and walked a part of the “Fort to Fort Trail”.

Partway through our walk, my wife realized that it was far warmer than she expected it to be. The gloves, toque and hoodie came off after about a kilometer. As we walked, we talked. It was nice as we meandered along the path passing numerous other people enjoying the day. It didn’t surprise me much as Fort Langley is a busy little arts community that is often crowded.

The path took us behind the Fort Langley Golf Course. This was the course my father used to have a membership to. We cut back up to the road to the entrance of the golf course. Every few months, I’ll stop in for a beer. Yesterday was no different. Many of the pubs and drinking establishments in Fort Langley were crowded. People were taking advantage of sitting on the decks with a cold beverage. The pub at the golf course was empty. Which was perfect for us to grab a table and take a break halfway through our four kilometer walk.

After wetting our palates, we wandered back to the busy hub of Fort Langley. A train had passed through and caused large crowds waiting to cross the tracks. That moment was one of the moments that my wife expressed why we could never live there. Crowds aren’t my thing usually and I can only take them in small doses. I have always wanted to live in Fort Langley, but I can see why on weekends it wouldn’t be overly enjoyable.

However, if yesterday was a sign of things to come- this spring and summer will be a pleasurable one. We will take more walks throughout the Lower Mainland and enjoy the talks together. Did you enjoy the sun yesterday? What did you do?

The Zen Of Joe

Zen.

It’s something I’ve been practicing all my life. Just enjoying the moments all around me. Having fun without causing harm or emotional distress to others. If anything, I think I bring a smile to others by jumping out of a comfort zone and just… living.

I’m comfortable just being me and experiencing life’s moments. I also love to embrace personas and put on different hats to truly embody this. From how I act to the clothes I wear- I enjoy being me. There is no “one look” that defines who I am.

If I can bring joy to others while being who I am, that’s a bonus. I also act compassionate and kind as I forge my way through this world.

My enthusiasm and characteristics are effecting my children’s personalities as well. Especially our middle child. She has moments where she just wants to entertain herself and others.

When all is said and done, I’m glad I haven’t been afraid to just live the way I have.

Sing Away the Stress!

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years- it’s that stress can trigger a multitude of emotions from people. Especially in a work environment. I’d like to think of myself as a calm individual at work. Which is great and relatively true. I tend to walk away from situations if need be.

But sometimes at home I lose it. Which really isn’t fair or fun for the family. I hate the fact that I lose control for even the briefest of moments. Losing my cool happens every few weeks or months, which is far too often by my standards. It’s usually because I have set high standards for my vision of my family. That sounds odd, but it’s true.

I need to let my children grow and make mistakes. I can only guide them so far before having to let them figure out the rest. Even if it means they don’t do things the way I expected.

It’s hard to remember that life isn’t a race to the finish line. We’re all going to get there at some point. No need to allow stress to get you there faster. It’ll make a person crazy trying to control everything in their lives. Especially if it means trying to control other people.

I think we should all sing away our frustrations. I enjoy writing nonsensical songs and singing out the lyrics in order to keep calm. Maybe it could be the start of a new musical.

I shall call it “STRESS“. Maybe I could steal some music ideas from “STOMP” and make a ton of noise with office equipment. Smashing of staplers, the hard slam of the photocopier door as you try and figure out what is wrong with the toner, the sounds of twenty people clicking pens in harmony… Who wouldn’t want to sit in an auditorium after a hard week at work and hear those types of sounds set to songs?

Million dollar idea right there.

Barefoot

What is wrong with me these days? I’m choosing to not wear shoes more often. That is not me at all.

At home- I am loving the feel of the moss underfoot. Or the sense of the wood floor and carpet inside my home.

The other evening I walked around the block on the warm pavement barefooted as well. I had simply forgotten that I should put on shoes when I left my house. I only noticed when I stepped on a pebble. But by then, I was too far gone from the house to turn around. And our dog was happily trotting beside me- I couldn’t force him to stop his walk.

On Wednesday, I dipped my feet into the Hayward Lake. It was so warm and refreshing. The sensation I experienced as I sat on the dock watching the sun go down was tranquil and mesmerizing.

The one thing I’ve noticed about being barefoot, is that every step taken is giving me a unique feel of the earth. With each barefoot step, the contrasts underfoot brings me a sense of well being and calmness as well as a connection to the world.

Is this what it was like to be a hippie back in the 60’s?

You know, they may have been onto something. I’m feeling youthful and fun again.

This Flight Tonight

Holy crap. The day is upon us. Time to hit the skies over the wild blue yonder. My wife’s anxiety and fears have turned to excitement and fun. Now it’s my turn for the stress…

We did online check in yesterday and had an early arrival at the airport today. Our bags were dropped off 3 hours early and our stress level was turned down. I grabbed a candid shot of my wife and son as they waited in line.

We enjoyed a late lunch and we were off to pass through security. We were first at security and my wife got a secondary screening. But it was still quick. We found our departure gate and grabbed a seat by a large chessboard.

Our kids kept themselves occupied without the use of electronic devices (even though we had those with us). Lots of smiles and smack talk as they challenged each other. People watched from the distant sidelines as the games went on.

At one point, I chose to take my shoes came off for a breather before we boarded the plane. No one wants to have smelly feet for ten hours. Only a few minutes remain now until we board. Last chance to use the restroom and wash up. I want the stress feeling to go away.

I’m not worried about the flight- which is good. I’m worried about every other aspect of our trip. Argh! It’s almost time to board! Stress sweats… ugh. No! We can do this. It’ll be fine. It will be fine.

And fun. We have companions. So a bit of silly photo fun is being had. These guys will make a few more appearances during this trip.

Off we go! See you on the other side of the world!

Calm, Cool, Collected

Today could have turned out better for everyone. However, in the end, it turned out just fine for me.

I had a bit of a moment where I was in the right and stuck to my guns. But the person who was wrong became more belligerent as the realization was coming that he was wrong and made mistakes. I was waiting for him to figure out the solution to our dilemma. That was proving to be difficult as he tried to muscle his incorrect opinion as the right one.

So I remained calm. I could have blown up. I could have said derogatory words. I could have attacked his character. But I didn't. It's not like me to do that.


I remained cool. I repeated my stance without raising my voice. I explained why it was the right thing to do. But every time I did, all I heard from him was "You're f**king up the parade, José." He was trying to beat me down to a level where I would concede to the wrong decision.

I kept myself collected. It's not easy to know when to pick a battle of wits. Today, I knew the mistakes were his. During his defamatory comments, I figured out a solution. One that he had missed because all he could do was tell me that I was "f**king up the parade" by not taking the easy route. Had he remained calm, he would've seen the same answer. Funny thing was that it was an easy solution as well and got the best results.

Being right felt good. Being both right and staying calm felt great. In the end I was right and my way worked out. I know that one day he and I won't see eye to eye again. Perhaps then he will be right.


Remaining calm is an easier way to find solutions. It always is. I am slowly earning the nickname Superman that has been given to me.

Life is Too Short

Sometimes you just have to take what’s dealt to you in life. Some things are out of your control. So why worry about it? Why freak out cursing and swearing?  It doesn’t help. Unless you are like me and enjoy over exaggerating the situation and pretend to really lose your cool. 


But I am usually pretty calm in stressful situations.  I have this uncanny ability to figure out resolutions to the problem. I can walk away for a moment, then throw my hands in the air, and shout, “Fuck this shit! I’m out!” Only I don’t mean it.  


There is often more going on than what you first see. It’s how you react to problems that defines what kind of person you are.  I am calm, cool and collected.  I can have a person yelling at me over the phone and losing their shit, and I’ll wait until they pause just long enough…. then I’ll ask if they are done and want to talk like adults.  I understand that some people need to vent.  I also understand that some people need to lie or manipulate.  I’m good at reading people even with just a quick phone call or interaction.  I’m the “People Whisperer”- just kidding.  But I don’t let things bug me.  


Like the graffiti I once read: Life is too short for soft core porn. That may not be relevant to what I am talking about. In fact it really has nothing to do with tonight’s post.  But it sure is funny. Life is too short to stay angry.