Keeping Positive Vibes

I hear the phrase, “It is what it is.” Whenever there is something bad happening in life that you can’t control. It’s not a favorite phrase of mine, so I try not to use it- but I know I have from time to time. The other phrase that gets me is “At the end of the day…” The end of the day comes, well, daily. But I want to counter it with a new one.

“Oh well. Whatever happens, happens.” No matter what each day brings us, we are just should just chill out and breathe deep. Let the world continue on its merry way, and not get bothered by it. Here’s how I let that happen: I know what I’m working towards and enjoy why I do what I do.

Last night I was at work and my wife sent me a beautiful view of the sky from our home. The thought that our home is a mere thirty five minutes away from work keeps me going. Having views like this are some of the reasons why I go to work. Not bringing the stress home is also important. “Let it be.” As the Beatles sang.

What do you work towards? Do you try your best to let “whatever happens, happen?” Or do you try and gain control over things that are out of your control? Lastly, what are you working towards? Does it make you happy?

Being Awesome

I have started back with my egotistical self esteem. Years ago, when Facebook was in its infancy, I would write statuses about how awesome I am. I shared daily with my friend group about what a great person I was and how amazing I am.

I realized recently that I haven’t been feeling so proud of myself. I was undermining my own ego. I had moved away from saying nice things about myself. Of course, I wasn’t saying anything negative about myself out loud mind you. More like I just wasn’t saying anything at all about myself.

I have been sharing positive pictures and stories. Yet none of it was truly about me. It was of things I do and places I was at. Not the inner feelings. Those I generally keep bottled up. And I was feeling really low. It’s time for a change.

So instead of being sad, I’m going to be awesome instead.

True story.

I’m Blue Da Ba Dee…

This afternoon I decided that I wanted to do a painting. It had been a couple of years since I last did a special one for myself. I was feeling energized and didn’t want my ambition to wane. So I jumped right in.

Shelley by Josef 2020

A little over two years ago, I did a small version of a painting inspired by an artist named Shelley. The original painting was huge. I believe it was four feet by four feet in size. The one I made that mimicked the original was on one foot by one foot. Today, I decided to double the size. I also chose to change the color palette.

Blue Shelley by Josef 2022

I love this new color concept that I did. It made me think that perhaps I could do one or two other ones that could be similar. Perhaps a green one. Or a red/pink one. “Blue Shelley” is double the size of the one I did two years ago. But still half the size of the original piece that inspired me.

I know it’s not an exact replica in the shapes. But that’s what makes it unique. It’s not a printed image, but rather an inspired one that was inspired by another that was created by my memory.

I think I’d like to do more paintings again. I enjoyed listening to music and doing today’s piece. It was relaxing and pleasant.

Do you paint any art pieces? Let me know in the comments. Or perhaps share with me a picture or link to your art.

Everything Matters/ Nothing’s Important

I’m not sure why it happens… but it does…

My brain oftentimes brings up a memory that happened a few years prior on a day that is generally really close to the date of the original occurrence. I’m not talking about those Facebook Memories either. My brain just finds something and says- hey what about this thing?

Since I began blogging about my thoughts and experiences, I finally have a way to look it up once more and see what I originally wrote about. For example, Unfinished Work was a piece I wrote on May 18, 2017. Reading it now, I see that I really did put a lot more thought and length into what I wrote. Not that a lengthy blog is good… but it was one of the images that I was searching that my brain had decided to think about.

EVERYTHING MATTERS NOTHING’S IMPORTANT. This was a mural that was nearby my place of work when I was in downtown Vancouver. I’m not sure why it resonates with me periodically, yet it does. It’s a what life feels like some days. It’s not important, yet somehow it matters. Those intrusive thoughts and feelings that you should just leave behind. But there you are, letting it bug you.

So stop letting it get to you. It’s not important in the long run. Simple advice that even I wish I would take. Yet sometimes I can’t, but I should. I have to stop letting things bother me. I need to focus on the positive more. Even though that can be hard to do.

As I said though, my brain somehow cycles through thoughts and memories roughly the same time and date. Hopefully my next set of memories is more positive and I can get out of my rut.

That would be nice.

After Work Alone Time

I came home the past couple of days and headed straight to my bedroom… I just needed to be alone. I also wanted to enjoy the sunshine, but not sit outside. I genuinely can’t tell if I want to be alone right now lost in thoughts.

Laying down in a sunbeam warms me up. I don’t want to close the blinds- I want to feel the sun. It makes me feel alive. In fact, I wish for more sun these days. I need it.

Staring out the window at the clouds has me daydreaming of a life I once lived. The moments where I could enjoy myself and not care. These days I care too much. And I hurt too much from thinking too much. The hurt just sits there. Like a pit that I can’t swallow.

So I go to my phone. Facebook shares memories from the past decade or so. Mostly good times and follies of silliness. Again, the life I once lived. That energy is diminishing. The charisma is fading. Just making it through each day is the current sensation.

Not all days will be good. Not all experiences will be memorable. That’s not a bad thing. Just not a good thing. So I sit in my room. Watching the beauty in the world from my window. Not sure how to feel.

Our Little “Therapy” Dog

Having a pet is genuinely nice. In the past we have had fish and Guinea pigs as well as dogs. To be perfectly honest, we have always had a dog in our lives.

Our latest dog we have had as a family member for about a year and a half. We named her Maki once we adopted her. As goofy as she is, and as crazy as she gets around other dogs, we love her immensely.

She is our little “Therapy” dog. She makes each of us feel happy when we need it most. If you are upset, she knows instinctively and comes to you for rubs and kisses. Maki has been specifically good for our middle teenager’s mental health. That’s the room she sleeps in six nights a week. The other night is with our youngest.

As much as I push Maki away sometimes (dog breath galore!) I do enjoy having her nearby. She comes to snuggle me when I want to nap and really invades my space when she wants to. Maki is a happy dog and she makes us happy as well.

Sunsets In Bed

Life is what you make of it. You can dwell on the negativity and it can bring you down. Or you can learn and grow and change those aspects of your life.

I’ve had my share of downs. I’ve tackled challenges. I’ve endured difficult times. After it all, I am able to see the beauty that the world still has in store. I appreciate that I can feel the sun on my face and watch the clouds roll off as I lay in bed.

I appreciate these moments. This world has so much more to offer. Getting past those negative emotions and thoughts; the light shines through. Another day to love and live.

Happy Easter Friends.

Seeing Yourself Through Someone Else’s Eyes

I always try and be a positive thinker. I do my best to be supportive of family and friends. It appears that is not always the case. As great a job as I think I am doing, in someone else’s eyes, I failed them.

Our oldest recently moved out a few months ago. I received an email from them yesterday outlining and unloading a lot of thoughts. Turns out they felt I was not a supportive parent. They told me they were afraid to talk to me about pretty much anything. They also said I destroyed their childhood because in their eyes I did the bare minimum of parenting. The hardest part about hearing this is the fact that they have run off to live with the one person who I felt was ruining their life back in high school. I was vocal then about him, and I’m still of the same opinion.

I always had a tough time communicating with our oldest as they hit the teenage years. My expectations of who I thought they could be were always high. Probably unrealistically so, hence why I may have appeared to be a terrible father in their eyes when I became angry with their shortcomings and inactions. Specifically in school when they willingly chose to fail classes and lie to my wife and I about it. Again, the friend they are currently living with is the one who constantly brought down their grades.

October 2017- Silent Treatment

As an individual, my kid is entitled to have these feelings towards me. A part of me is not surprised by how they feel- as I could sense that there was a division happening in our relationship over the years. I even took counseling on how to improve communication with your kids. That worked periodically, but our oldest always had a way of derailing conversations and becoming silent.

Needless to say, the relationship with my oldest is at an impasse. I will leave the ball in their court and hope that one day they can see more of the positive aspects of our relationship. I also hope the secrecy and destructiveness their friend is creating in their life will end. Looking back at my youth, I know I made some poor friend choices and ignored my parent’s well wishes.

Parenting is tough and it hurts to be viewed as a villain. Unloading this today in my blog is not my normal and joyous thoughts. It’s the gritty hard truths that build up into something to overcome and create a positive action from.

Burnt Out

Something’s got to give.

I’m really starting to feel burnt out at home lately. Everything is becoming a chore. Even working on my daily blog is getting difficult.

Mostly because I’m not relaxing the way I want to without judgement. My wife is my partner- whom I appreciate and love, yet I can’t be left alone to gather my thoughts or unwind. If I try and get away to take some time for myself, it seems as though she makes me feel guilty for doing what I do.

Sitting on the couch, or in the yard, having a beer is not acceptable in her eyes. She approaches me with more complaints about pretty much everything, and I can’t clear my own thoughts. I also need to process my emotions and difficulties away outside of the household. But it seems like it’s not in the cards.

As much as I want to run away, I cannot. I stay, the problems keep coming. I’m falling into a slump. I’m not looking for advice at this time, more just venting out into the ether.

Thank you.

Just Plain Ol’ Tired

Another tiring day at the office and came home to more tiring activities. The action of making dinner and putting away laundry was more mentally exhausting than it needed to be.

I went through the motions and did what I had to do. I almost forgot to write this blog. So please forgive me if it’s meh. Which I know it is. I don’t have the mental capacity to put a lot of thought or string words together eloquently right now.

I’m just throwing in the towel for the day and heading to sleep. Perhaps tomorrow will be a better day. Stay strong Josef. The week is almost at the halfway point. It’s been a tough climb up the first half of the week- then it’s all down hill.

Dang, that wasn’t as motivating as I had hoped.

Walk To Clear My Head

Today was emotional for me at one point. I started to just wallow and was unsure what to do with myself. So my wife suggested to go for a walk. As blasé as I was, I went out expecting to just wander our neighborhood.

We headed down the road and wandered behind our home. My wife asked if we could walk on the other side of the dyke. So we did. It was brisk and cool outside which made for a strong cleansing of the mind. We walked until the end of the dyke and turned around.

That was when I realized where we were. Beauty stretched out towards the mountains. The berry fields were raw with a natural color to the vines. The grass was green and growing. And the skies went on forever. As we walked back home, my head was clearing.

It was a much needed walk. Something I used to do when I was younger. I forgot how satisfying a walk can be and how helpful it can be mentally.

Fog In Fog Out

This morning the fog rolled in quickly. It also rolled out just as fast. I awoke at around 7:30 this morning to look out my back window.

Within an hour it was heavy fog. And fifteen minutes later it was all but gone. I watched as the fog slowly pushed its way westward, revealing the colours of the fields that lay behind our home.

I do enjoy getting up early when the weather is nice. The sun over the last few days has helped with my mental state. The fog internally is also beginning to roll away as spring and summer quietly approach. This is the first time in decades that I feel at one with the changing seasons. The warm and cold, the dreary and uplifting… I’ve begun to feel better mentally as the chaos of life isn’t as busy. A couple years of this pandemic has made me reevaluate what is important.

Does the weather affect your moods? Does the sunshine help you feel better? Have you had a chance to understand your emotions and values better over these last few years? Let me know in the comments.

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.

Quiet Solstice

Yesterday we were going to have a gathering of friends to celebrate Winter Solstice 2021. But as the event drew nearer, our friends began to have second thoughts. Which was completely understandable and acceptable. So my wife and I canceled. However, one set of friends and a coworker did stop by for a few appetizers and some conversation.

The one friend who came by is our son’s godfather. He is essentially family to us. He has always taken the extra step and care to know each and everyone of us. He knows me so well and puts thought into gifts. He and his significant other brought me some IRN-BRU and some European treats. Having these reminded me of my travel to Scotland when I was 19.

The coworker who stopped by is someone who I have taken a liking to and we share a lot of hardships with one another. I have found that between our conversations, we tend to help one another through those mentally taxing events in life. I appreciate his candor and honesty.

The other friends who were unable to attend all have a special place in my life. Many have been friends of mine for decades. For each of them, I still had a chance to talk prior and was able to wish a Happy Solstice and Merry Christmas to. There was some comfort in showing love and care to each other.

May you all stay safe during this new wave of Covid. As painful as it may seem to not see friends and family, be respectful of their wishes and health.

Pupper Comfort

We adopted our dog Maki last November. Since then she has been a big part of our lives. She helped brings some vivaciousness to old elder dog, Lex- thus giving him almost another year with us. Maki has also helped with being an emotional support animal of sorts to all of us at one time or another.

Even though Maki is a strange character- oftentimes acting as if she is going through an Existential moment- she is still a dog needing love and attention. She enjoys curling up on the couch and trying to take the best seat.

I’m not always happy with this turn of events. I preferred having dogs at our feet. Not on the couches or beds. Maki is not an exception in my mind. But I have been outvoted since day one. So she gets a spot on the couch.

I swear she knows how I feel. Because as soon as she jumps on the couch- her face is in mine. And she has The Worst Dog Breath Ever! She must know this because that snout of hers goes right up to my nose.

Maybe if her breath didn’t smell so bad, I’d be more accepting of the fact she has earned a spot on the couch, not just our hearts.

Starting Winter Break…With a Lockdown?

Today is the end of school for winter break. In previous years we have gone as a family to the latest Harry Potter, Star Wars or Marvel film on the Thursday prior. And as soon as we get home we would watch the Christmas classic- “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” We also had a Party for Solstice.

Today however, BC announced new restrictions for gatherings. FUCKSAKES. Even though many of us are vaccinated, wear masks, follow the rules- it seems our gatherings are to be limited. So instead of a big party with all our friends and their kids/ teens- we are inviting only five couples over to join us for light snacks. We are maximizing our friend time before that gets taken away.

Oh Instagram- you so funny!

It feels as if the joke is on us. About to start our third year of lockdowns and limitations is going to drive people crazy. I am going to try to just enjoy the holiday season and ignore the world. Closest friends- unite! But at a distance…

Cusp Of My Seasonal Depression

November 25th, 2000.

That was the day my father died. He had long since suffered from the effects of cancer and chemotherapy prior to his demise. He was a smoker by age thirteen and worked in a uranium mine at one point in his life. Golfing is what kept him active. But he still drank and smoked quite regularly. At age 58, his body just didn’t want to go on.

Every year I go and pay my respects to my father. Some years are not as respectful as I should be. I have a lot of emotions that run rampant from mid-September until today. There are times that I absolutely despise who that man once was. Then there are moments I wish he was here so I could ask for some advice. This is one of those years that I really need him.

But he’s not here. And I can love or hate the man for all he did or didn’t do for me as I grew up. I need him today, but he’s not available to me. Just like many of those moments as a teenager when I needed him. I’m on my own trying to work out how to move forward.

My eyes are filled with tears writing this as my heart continues to feel broken and at a loss. But I know deep down, that November 26th of every year, things start to get better. That date is the start of my yearly healing.

And this year, that healing has its work cut out for me.

Bad Day Means Baking

I’ve been having some issues at home lately. Yeah, not every day is swimming pools and pumpkin patches. In order to take my mind off things I decided to delve into baking for the day. So I’m not going to share my plight, but I want to tell you about my baking.

I didn’t bake anything extravagant. In fact I chose to revert back to my youth. You know, comfort baking. I started with an easy recipe- Rice Krispie Treats. Maybe my misery allows me to take more care and effort, but these were doggone delicious.

Shortly after I made some peanut butter cookies. It’s a recipe I have done for years. Check out the recipe here: Cookie Baking. It is the first cookie I ever learned to bake. I have perfected the recipe over the years (8 minutes people! Don’t bake for ten to twelve.) Usually I don’t feed my feelings, but these past few days it seemed like a requirement.

So baking a bit early for Christmas made me feel better. It kept me occupied and distracted. Something I needed. Most of my family appreciated these snacks, so that part was worth it. I’m still hungry for peace of mind. Hopefully I find it soon.

Parenting Is Exhausting

It’s Saturday morning. I was awake far too early today. I went to bed shortly after midnight and tossed and turned all night. Suddenly it was six a.m. and the alarm was going off. Up and at ‘em. I had a commitment to my son to take him to skating practice.

Parents sacrifice more than their children realize. My day to sleep in was cut short. The reason I was unable to sleep was my concern about another of our kids. But it should all be fine at some point. Parenting anxiety can be debilitating and you can feel at a loss. Sometimes, all you have is doing the best you can to make your children feel safe and cared for.

Being a parent of more than one child is extremely exhausting. You don’t want to burden them with issues or concerns, but you also don’t want to keep them in the dark. It’s mentally taxing.

So as our youngest is training on the ice, I’m going to take a nap in the car. I’d be here anyway since Covid protocol prohibits me from hanging out inside. I will get a little under two hours of rest if I’m lucky. Then the rest of the day it will be some family time with my wife and the two youngest. Mostly a distraction is required. Perhaps some video games, baking or a movie will be on the table. Heck, probably all three at this point.

No one ever said parenting was easy. And as your kids turn to adults, you still want to parent and help out. It feels like it will never end. Sometimes that’s a good sensation, other times it is the reminder that they aren’t toddlers anymore and are fully capable of looking after themselves.

No More War Stories

Today is Remembrance Day. A day to honor Veterans who served in war. I am a first generation Canadian, so this doesn’t have the same emotional effect on me as it does many others.

My grandfather had a story. He was randomly chosen and placed in a concentration camp. He got out and was extremely abusive to my father and my grandmother.

My father had a story. He lived in Czechoslovakia and was forced into the military by age 18. He worked on helicopters. Then he defected, leaving a wife and child behind.

I don’t have a story to tell as I consider myself a pacifist. I will not go to war. I don’t want my children to join the military either.

I am not putting down those who served. My generational story is about the fact that war creates emotional turmoil. There are lasting effects that cause mental distress. Generational emotional abuse. I’m doing my best to not be like my father. And I know my father was doing his best to not be like his father.

As a society, we should offer more mental support to those who need it. Especially veterans who experienced trauma. Our government needs to help them.

My Time Is Valuable

I’m on a week of vacation at the moment. I am not going away on a trip. Instead I have planned to fill each and every day with experiences and time to myself. A mental break from work and stresses.

My time away from work is precious to me. Everything from the hours in between shifts to days off, and especially vacation. Work is the furthest thing from my mind. It’ll still be there when I return.

I do have plans to see some coworkers over the weekend. I’m sure some gossip and work talk will come up. But it’s a bit different than having to answer emails and help out. Plus we can discuss life outside of work, which is nice.

My time is valuable to me. I’m not willing to give it up as it’s one of the most important things to have. People everywhere want some of it. Be wise when giving it out.

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.

Looking At The Path- Not The Obstacles.

I don’t talk much about my battles with depression. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt awful- I really hope it’s a thing of the past. Let’s start in the past for those of you who didn’t know me very well. (Warning: Today’s blog is longer than normal)

I was a gangly, gawky, awkward teenager. Because I stood out, and like most other teens, I was bullied but kept it to myself. At age 15 I remember crying myself to sleep wondering why I was even alive. Replaying shitty interactions in my head to figure out what I could’ve done differently. I will say though, my mother was trying her best to figure out what was wrong since all I wanted to do was sleep and was constantly “sick”. She thought it was something physically wrong with me so I had a bunch of tests done on my blood and lungs. I went along with it because it meant not going to school for the day.

By grade twelve a lot had happened in my life. I fell into a group of friends who, by all accounts, helped me “self medicate.” Every Friday we skipped school for the day and drank. Not once did we get caught or questioned by teachers or parents. This little thrill ride was all I had to look forward to each week. And then that summer hit. Drinking wasn’t the only thing happening.

Getting up before noon was not a regular occurrence- hanging out doing dumb shit all night was. Of course I had friends and girlfriends and we had fun. I just didn’t care if I would make it through my early 20’s. I was driving down a lonely path as my family life was crumbling. Anything from my youth was long since a distant memory. My parents fought more, my dad was diagnosed with cancer, my sister was working through her own stuff; being broke and couch surfing was my new normal.

Suddenly I was an adult. Somehow I lost five years of my life. My doctor prescribed antidepressants to me. I took those for about six months and lost all feeling of feeling anything. That sucked worse. So I went off them on my own accord. Shortly after I met the woman who would become my wife.

She is an incredible woman and we have accomplished a lot together. Being with her- I only wanted to do; and be; the best in my life. We were suddenly buying a house and raising a family. I had something to strive for. A better existence for my kids than what I felt I had growing up. Head down + hard work= happiness? Sort of.

I still have days where all I want to do is sleep. I sometimes don’t want to face the world as I worry that it will crash down around me. How do I cope? This is what has worked for me:

I write daily in my blog. I do my best to focus on the positives in my life. This can be difficult and sometimes I feel like I am bragging, but those of you who know me or knew me have seen me struggle to get here.

I also try and share more positive images on my Instagram with the hashtag #livingmybestlife That is a mantra that sounds hokey, but really works for me. I recently watched a video that sums up the best way to do this. To paraphrase: A skier doesn’t look at the trees that they could crash into, but rather the path between them. Focus on the journey, not the obstacles- or you will only hit the obstacles.

I still have bad days. I know many of you out there also have them. We’re in this together. I’m just Making It Up As I Go like my blog states. Perhaps I’ll figure out the recipe to battle depression. But until then, it’s just a part of me and I really want it to be a part of my past and leave it there.

Moving The Goal Post

I’d like to think that everyone sets goals and does their best to achieve them. Sometimes along the way the goal might change or the route to get there will alter slightly. You know what? That’s okay.

In the end you get where you’re going. Savoring the accomplishments is tough to remember to do. Reflection is also required once in a while. We may forget that we had a goal and it can come and go- and we don’t notice how hard we worked towards it.

Goals can be big or small. They can be health related or career oriented. You can have more than one goal at a time, and achieve more than one at a time as well.

Sometimes we think we want a goal but it’s not the right goal so we abandon it. That’s fine as well. For years I wanted to write a novel, instead I have been blogging about my life and thoughts every day since January 2016. They say “write what you know.” I know about me.

So check on your goals. Readjust as needed. Set some new goals. Achieve and fail, but learn along the way. Be the best you that you can be.

GOAL!

At Peace With The World

This evening I enjoyed sitting peacefully on my back deck absorbing the many sensations as the sun slowly set. I listened to the gentle chirps of the hummingbirds in the air above me. I felt the soft breeze on my arms that occasionally flittered past. My nose was filled with the scent of the pool that I had just stepped out from.

Something about this evening was making it feel perfect. My worries from work were left behind me. A relaxation overtook my psyche. I am slowly coming to accept this as a regular occurrence in my life.

At peace with the world? You bet.

It was a perfectly blissful evening.