Recently Facebook reminded me of my first “Tagged” photo. It also happened to be the photo I used as my profile picture for the first year or so on Facebook.
As you can see, it is of my father’s gravestone marker. Anyone who I befriended at the start of my Facebook days would have seen this image. Obviously I took this picture and tagged myself in it.
Fourteen years ago, I didn’t take selfies or share many pictures. In fact, my first smartphone was the iPhone 4 in 2010. Any photos I did share were from a one megapixel digital camera. I had to upload The images onto our computer, then filter through them (because the display screen on the camera was tiny- there was now way to tell in a picture was good or great). Most of my photos were of my kids as well.
So there wasn’t a profile picture of me that I was content with. Not with the age of “Showing off Instant Perfection” starting…
Yes folks, it’s still going on. We all want to share the best part of our lives. Most of the time I think it’s great seeing the individual successes. But I also know that it can be mentally taxing on each and every one of us. Myself included- for both.
So instead of trying to create the perfect profile picture with a low end digital camera- I used a picture with my name. It also served as a reminder of my father and the difference in our parenting styles.
Plus it is a bit morbid seeing your own name on a tombstone. I find that stuff amusing.
Looking at what I write and share in my blog posts- I have realized it is not any one type of category. Just a bunch of ideas and thoughts from my mind. I enjoy telling stories. Tales of being a parent, a friend, a coworker, a traveler, a cook, a homeowner, a motivator; whatever the story may be- it’s mostly about what I observe.
I also do my best not to come across as conceited in what I write. “Because conceit is a flaw, and I have none.” (An old quote I used to say from my teenage years. Knowing full well that I sounded like a tool saying it.) However, I am prideful and love to share any and all accomplishments that surround me. Especially if the good news is about those who I care about.
Lifting one another up is a much better approach to life than trying to put someone down in order to make yourself appear better.
Decades ago, and at least three lifetimes before now- I read Celestine Prophecy. A couple of years ago I mentioned it in Feeding Feelings. It is by far the biggest influence on how I live life. This book, and it’s subsequent sequels, explain how to be positive and good so that good things will happen for you. After almost thirty years- I can look back at my journey and see that this is true.
I shall continue on my positive path as much as possible. Success in being happy is the best kind of success. Happiness is immeasurable, but completely achievable by everyone. If you nourish the good deeds and thoughts, more of the same blossom around you. Soon enough there is a garden filled with beauty surrounding your soul.
I thought I was alone in feeling old. In speaking with a couple of buddies yesterday, it turns out we are all feeling our ages.
Late nights don’t happen as much because of early mornings, dealing with teenagers is hair loss inducing, home repairs are getting overwhelming… the list of frustrations is long- and we are all feeling it.
Then there is the body aches and pains. The never-ending complaints about back pain, shoulder pain, muscle aches, odd strains that occur at random. Our bodies aren’t what they used to be.
So we find solace in one another. We are getting too old for this shit. I understand why we all need some “guy time” as well. Beers, campfire, cooking, just hanging out. All of these are a requirement in order to field the complaints. We know that each of us is in a similar boat.
As the sun makes a more regular appearance these days, it feels as if winter is long since behind us. But Spring is still two weeks away.
My wife and I went out for a walk in Fort Langley today in order to take advantage of the weather. The coffee shops and restaurants had people lined up- social distancing of course. It wasn’t as busy as we expected on the trails, which was nice. We walked for about 5km just talking and enjoying a day off from house hunting. However, a couple of trains went by, reminding me of work.
At home, the vegetation is starting to become green and budding. We will get to enjoy one last Spring Bloom in this house, which is what we wanted. We talked about the plants that we will take to our next home instead of talking about what we will miss about this one.
In a sense, we are already moved out as we separate our feelings from this home. Sure, there’s still yard work and cleaning to do over the next couple of months. We don’t want to leave the place in shambles for the new owners. Plus we get the joy of spring and the feeling of starting anew.
It’s been a very long time since stress has hit me. But yesterday it hit me so hard that I broke down crying. And it happened in front of my family. The group of people that I do my best to remain calm and emotionally strong in front of.
I’m not going into details, because airing my personal business isn’t something I think is appropriate all the time. But needless to say I hit a breaking point where I needed to take a shower to wash away the tears. That helped a lot.
I like to use my blog as a place of positivity. Rarely, if ever, do I share the bad on here. So I’d like to take the fact that I hit a low point and turn it around. There’s only one way to go and that is up. Things and situations are just going to get better. They just have to, right?
Right. Thingsare going to get better!Positive Mental Attitude.
With everything that is going on this month- it is nice to realize that I only have a three day work week. Even better is the fact that I have only one more shift to go. What’s been really good is that work has been comforting in the fact that the stresses there are manageable.
I’m not liking the house selling/buying stresses. About twenty years ago when my wife and I did a “Pre-Marriage Course”. It was part of the agreement we made with the pastor in order for her to marry us. The course was over a weekend and delved into a lot of subjects related to marriage. The one I recall the most was how to Tri-fold a towel. The other was about the different stresses in our lives. (Folding towels isn’t one of them… unless you make it one).
The top stressors after death and marriage was having children and moving. I’m happy to report that divorce hasn’t happened and death in the family has been at the wayside since just before we married. Children are an ongoing stress. But moving has happened only twice since my wife and I met 21 years ago. I guess it was about time to add that stress in our lives.
So as nice as it is that I have a three day work week, it just means that I will be able to focus my free time at home stressed out. No real avenue to relieve that stress either. I’ll probably just end up gathering more junk together and get it ready for pick up. I’m also going to try going for a walk each day to clear my head. I just need to stay active and not dive too far into my own thoughts.
Today my wife and I had a lunch date at The Trading Post in Fort Langley. It was a double date with some coworkers of mine. We went to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the brewery. There was live music and good food. Pics or it didn’t happen.
I took one photo. It was as I waited outside the eatery before anyone met up with me. My wife was waiting in the car to keep warm prior to the opening. Our friends were only a couple minutes behind us. I was first in line. Just like my other years of attending their anniversaries.
We had a great time talking and eating. So much so that I didn’t take any photos. We just all lived in the moment. No sharing of life on social media. Lots of good laughs and intimate personal conversations. It was good to share in person.
So no photos. But it did happen. I’m glad it did- my wife and I needed a break from this week. A mental health break of sorts. It felt good.
So you are probably reading my blog on your phone. Perhaps you were endlessly swiping up on your Facebook or Twitter feed and discovered the first line and an image of today’s post. Or maybe you subscribe via email and the little icon showed the inbox has a new message.
But are you going to read just a line or two before just scanning to the next thing? Probably. I do that it too. And I’ll scan through my feeds endlessly until I hit something that I recognized from the last visit to the social media app.
The I close my app. Just to open a different one. Until that gets boring also. The phone then goes away. Not for hours or days. But rather minutes. Until my brain thirsts for more “Social” sensations. And the cycle continues throughout my day. An endless consumption of stuff I don’t think I need to eat.
Thus the day ends. Unproductive except for all the useless fodder that fills a void that I somehow created. My social media fridge is filled with junk food that I gobble up. Leaving me feeling mentally bloated and lazy.
But that’s the way my life works. Holding my phone, keeping a keen eye on the battery level, all while using my pinky to balance my phone. With sound turned off and subtitles on- so as not to appear rude with my family in the same room as me.
Because they are doing the exact same thing. Consuming media content. Time to clean out the fridge.
There comes a time in every person’s life when they pose the question, “Just what the heck am I thinking?”
I’ve had those moments all too often in my life. Looking back, I can see how I’ve learned from them. But in the heart of the juncture, I can’t always see the results. Or whether they will turn out good or bad.
So I’m here. About to make a big decision in life and I don’t know what the future holds. I desperately desire a perfect result. Or I can just go on being and living my life the way it is. Only time will tell if it was the right choice or not.
One thing is certain- I will be asking, “What am I thinking?”
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.
Not so positive feeling today. So don’t bother to read this if you expect some fun filled uplifting story from Castle Havelka. I’m feeling overwhelmed and under appreciated.
I’m over halfway through my current Staycation and I haven’t felt like I’ve done anything worthwhile for myself. It makes me frustrated and I want to just lash out at everyone. I feel like going out a grabbing some beer to wash away this frustration… And that sucks.
The start of my time off was emotionally rough. I sob cried during a hug from my oldest daughter, which felt uncomfortable enough. Showing that kind of vulnerability to my 18 year old made me feel like I broke a sacred pact. The kind of unwritten promise that says “Dad is the strong one, here to protect you.” Only not this time. This time I broke down.
Then came my wife’s birthday. Uneventful- the way she likes things. But her feelings of aging are the same fears that we all have. Getting old shouldn’t feel like losing our youth. it should feel as though we have gained wisdom and experiences. During these Covid times- I have become her sounding board. Allowing a lot of venting and emotions to come forth towards me.
Then there’s this Christmas thing. We have three trees set up- undecorated still. No Christmas movies have been watched yet. And the family hates that I want to listen to Christmas music in the home. I get a lot of groans and Bah Humbug feels when I try.
Undoubtedly it feels like I have wasted my time off by not doing anything for myself. My 3D printer needs a part and it won’t arrive until the end of the year, so my new hobby is on hiatus. I also don’t have my own space for this new hobby. Our spare room is the office where my wife works and oldest does her online classes. The studio is where my wife does her side business- Ningen Headwear– which is far busier in fall/winter because she sells fleece hats. So I get a two foot square space to set up my printer in our 4000 square foot home.
Escaping to my bed is all I have left. Sleeping in has only happened once and that was this morning. Until my wife woke me and had me get up to make her and my daughter ham and cheese omelettes. I even cleaned the kitchen afterwards since the two of them disappeared to do their own thing after brunch was over. Now I’m crawling back into bed feeling like crud for having these thoughts of resentment and being trapped.
I know I’m not alone these days. Covid restrictions have made everyone feel constricted and trapped. There’s good intentions to be had, but sometimes feeling like crap is okay as well. Right? Just let me sleep away the rest of my time off so that I can just float through until my vacation is over. Or at least let me vent this one time without judgement.
Normally on November 25th I go out and see my father’s final resting place, followed by a beer or two. Not today. Today I will not be drinking a beer for my father. Nor will I share any stories about him. Instead, I’d like to tell you that I hit a personal milestone that I’m genuinely proud of.
I’ve been sober for three months today. I may not have seemed like an alcoholic to most people. Looking at my posts on Instagram and the fact that I have a category called “Alcohol” in my blog- I thought I was just having normal fun- with booze.
I was a social drinker. Hanging out until last call, stopping for “a beer” with friends. Joking that “It only takes me one beer to get me drunk, I’m just not sure if it’s the fifth one or the sixth one.” It’s also one thing to have my friends looking to me as the person who is always ready for a drink.
I would often come home from work and drink a few beers. On my days off I’d drink at least twice as much each day and then finishing whatever alcohol I could find once the beers ran out. Its in my genetics to go way overboard when I do drink. However when my heart is racing after a few beers and my kids are calling me out and telling me I drink too much- I needed to reassess my life.
What started as Sober September this year has escalated into a three month win. A huge victory that I am proud of. The pilgrimage I set upon was only spoken of with those who were close to me. Talking about the burden of alcoholism isn’t easy.
If I could pat myself on the back, I am going to do it here publicly. The next month will probably be the most difficult for me to get through. I always took pride in setting up my “First Christmas Tree” of the season- the booze dispenser. My coffee would be spiked, and the eggnog as well. Not this year. This year is the new me attempting to emerge and conquer the world.
I needed to share this three month milestone. As embarrassing as it seems to be at times. Alcoholism is something I’ve lived with all my life. I have been drinking pretty regularly since I was 17. Making a fool of myself on many occasions and not knowing when or where the limit was. Alcoholism was destroying my health and my bank account. I also had a few negative memories that I left for my children. From stupidity to anger to embarrassment- I was easily losing “Father of the Year” chances more and more frequently.
Thank you for reading. I am trying to live the rest of my life the best way I can. If I falter, I hope to get back up and work towards being a better me.
Sometimes you just need to let out a cry. One of those deep, sobbing, flush your heart of pain kind of cries. During the cry- it sucks. Emotions are suddenly overwhelming every sense in your body.
Afterwards, you feel good- almost empty. And no one hates you for doing it. No one judges you for letting the pain get expelled. We all go through it. Sometimes there is no clear reason as to why the tears kick in. But it happens.
Fighting back the tears doesn’t help. Doing that can make the feelings worse. And sharing why you hurt isn’t always easy. But take solace in knowing you are not alone, even if it feels like it.
Whether you know me personally or through this crazy cyberspace world. I have bad days and need to share sometimes. I also have good days that I keep to myself.
I thought that at the end of August, we wouldn’t be out on our kayaks for the rest of the year. Turns out that the weather is cooperating these days and proving me wrong.
Late yesterday afternoon, my wife and I drove for about an hour to Aloutte Lake to set in the water. We arrived shortly before sunset and the lake was still alive with boats and people enjoying picnic dinners.
Even though the haze from smoke was still in the air- we were able to enjoy the autumn colours. The trees shared with us the oranges and browns that they were changing into. The sky even reflected the glass like quality that the lake had to offer up.
My wife and I headed back to shore shortly after dusk settled in. It was a short excursion, but the time I had with my wife both on the lake and driving, was some enjoyable quality time.
Sometimes my wife is right. Taking time away from the hustle and bustle- as short as those moments may be- is worth putting the effort into.
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.
Facebook loves to share “Memories” when I log in. I’m sure many of you see yours as well (if you still use Facebook). Sometimes I love seeing the old photos or bizarre status updates I once did. I can’t even remember the last status update I did… I also removed all friends a year and a half ago, so no point to update into thin air…
Today Facebook shared with me- my most “Liked” photo of the year 2009. It’s a cute picture of the time my children made a train out of cardboard boxes for me. Having deleted 400+ friends, how many “LIKES” would you say this picture received? 200? 100? 50?
My most “LIKED” photo of 2009 had FIVE likes. For the entire year of 2009. One of which was my wife. I’m not saying this is the greatest photo ever of 2009. But for a person who had a few hundred “Facebook Friends” you’d think that I could get a higher number on any of my photos.
In the end though, looking for satisfaction through other people’s opinions doesn’t equate for the sheer happiness that this photo brought to me personally. My joy isn’t measured in numbers from other people clicking a thumbs up for me.
Its part of the reason I don’t try and sell myself or this blog. Sharing personal stories is for my mental well being. And in the end- that matters most.
This is my third year going for “Sober September”. In fact I am already starting it early because last year I slipped and had a beer part way through the month. I won’t let that happen again this year.
If all goes well, I’m going to push for an Alcohol-Free Autumn. I’m not sure if my wife will try and join me this year. She doesn’t possess the same internal struggle as I when it comes to having a vice. In general I have more of those evil addiction traits than her.
Most of my year has had me in pictures with various beers at a variety of places. I appear to be touting the joy of drinking like an old magazine advertisement. As if drinking and fun go hand-in-hand. But seeing the last image of myself in front of my favorite watering hole, I realized I don’t look as healthy as once was. I have put on some unhealthy weight and a fake smile that I really do not like.
So wish me luck in my journey of Sober September 3. Each year gets harder than the last to let the drinking go. That is a sobering statement in and of itself.
The skies always had little fluffy clouds in them.
I love staring into the skies and seeing the clouds floating there. I’ve done it since I was a child. Sometimes I just get lost in thought as I daydream. I sometimes think back to my late teens and listening to “The Orb”.
Stereophonic and psychedelic- a peaceful easy feeling. Listening to music while staring off was a great way to pass the day. A simplistic time in my youth where nothing mattered.
Clouds continue to take me away to my happy place. A spot in my mind that no one can control-the depths of my id. The inner me of me.
The skies continue to bring tranquility to me. I love taking photos of the clouds. I try and take pictures with clouds in the background as well when doing pictures of the outdoors.
“Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got. Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.”
Okay… So it’s Thursday today. Many people do a Throwback Thursday post on various social media platforms. I think it’s time to go waaaaaayyy back. It’s time to do a mental reset for everyone. Especially adults who’ve forgotten the simpler things in life. Where this was the hardest question to answer as a child:
What is your favorite dinosaur?
I began asking everyone this question yesterday, continuing into today. And I mean everyone. To my surprise there are two types of people who answer. Those who answer quickly, and those who get confused by the question.
The ones who answer quickly are usually the ones who have small children in their lives. Either their own kids or grandkids. The other ones who have to think about it- do not have kids. The second group is also weirded out that I ask. And many do not remember anything about dinosaurs.
Just for fun, here’s the top five answers adults give me:
That is also pretty much the order of most popular to least. I had some people answer by describing the dinosaurs to me. Reaching way down into their memory banks of what these creatures once looked like. (That one with horns like a rhino… The one with a club tail… the dinosaur with a long neck). I also got into deep conversations with some about dinosaurs, museums, children, etc. This simple question opened up conversations.
My request for all of you out there- start conversations today with, “Mind if I ask you a question? What’s your favorite dinosaur?” You will be glad you did.
I’m finally through the longest mentally exhausting work week ever. Even though it was just my regular schedule, and the workload hadn’t changed, I’m done. I can actually feel my body loosening up and needing rest.
I’m going to take some much needed “me time” this weekend. I hate to do it, but I may need some time away from the family as well. If only for a couple of hours. I feel like I’m mentally overwhelmed and not making sense any more. I want to get back to normal.
By normal, I don’t mean “The New Normal” that everyone is talking about. I need to get back to my “Joyous Josef” normal. Fun t-shirts, silly discussions and laughing. That’s the normal I desperately need.
During these crazy times in the world, when everything seems gloomy- keeping it light and bright is paramount. Sharing positivity, or support to those workers who get out there daily is important. It keeps their spirits up knowing that what they do is important. I’ve also been glad to see the Google Doodle showcasing their efforts daily!
The rest of us need something bright as well. Sharing a phone call, or a text to someone who you’ve lost contact with. Or share some thoughts on Instagram or Facebook. It may have seemed trite and melodramatic in the past, but now it really feels necessary.
In our home, I washed the windows and repainted the walls in order to brighten our living space. We even moved our dining table to be closer to the windows. Seeing the outdoors and how much beauty it holds brings me joy. A fresh coat of paint indoors makes for a new lease on life as well.
I am an adult. I do adult things. I work hard to be the best husband and father that I can be. I also have friends and coworkers who rely on me and whom I rely on equally. I think I’m doing a pretty good job out there.
Over the years, I have chosen to lose contact with certain friends. Sometimes we just drift apart. Other times it was a misunderstanding or disagreement. That’s totally fine. Recently I was contacted by an old friend out of the blue. We shared stories and thoughts as if we hadn’t skipped a beat in our friendship. When I’m usually the one reaching out, it was heartwarming to know that he reached out to me instead.
As an adult with a life I in which I am trying to have filled with joy and happiness, I’ve chosen to lose contact with my mother and sister. My mother and sister have their own lives. I was often putting forth the effort to stay in contact and don’t have the energy to do it any further. It’s been a few months now, and I’m okay with that. After a few decades, it’s time to move on. I have other people who mean more to me in my life.
On the other hand, it’s also hard to want to miss somebody who could’ve been a bigger part of my life. How do I miss someone I’ve never met, like my Unknown Half Sister? It’s weird to think that there could’ve been someone I could look up to and ask advice. But that never came to fruition. That was more my parents’ choice to hide her existence for most of my childhood. As an adult, I just don’t care to discover an estranged stranger on the other side of the planet.
I sometimes dwell on the past. But I also move forward from these thoughts rather quickly. As I write this I know that it is helping me move forward with my life. I’m excited about the possibilities that my future has in store with friends and immediate family. Perhaps one day I’ll miss someone I haven’t met yet.
Lately I’ve felt as if my existence is inconsequential. I’m floating through life day to day without making a mark. Work treats me like another number that can easily be replaced or removed. I feel as if the company doesn’t value what I bring to the table after a dozen years of service. I keep going because I like getting a paycheck. That’s sort of important I guess.
At home, our kids are busy being teenagers wrapped up in their own lives. With our oldest graduating this year from high school, our youngest working towards his speed skating goals, and our middle trying to figure out where she fits in in this world- daddio here takes the back burner. I’m easily ignored and forgotten about.
I also haven’t interacted with my friends in ages either. Everyone is busy being adults nowadays that it gets tough to get together. I’m not even sure what’s going on in their lives anymore since I don’t follow anyone on Facebook. Almost a year ago I thought the right thing to do for my Mental health was remove everyone. Now it feels lonely and a dreaded feeling of FOMO has crept in.
Perhaps today I just needed to vent and air out what I’m thinking. Feeling small and insignificant is a sensation I know many of you have felt as well. Usually I’m pretty positive and upbeat. Sometimes happy just doesn’t happen. This too shall pass, right?
But, uh, everything’s perfectly all right now. We’ re fine. We’re all fine here, now, thank you. How are you?