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.

Healthy, Wealthy, & Wise

This past year I have been doing my best to work on all aspects of my health. Drinking alcohol less, enjoying the fresh air more, and swimming almost daily. I’m looking better (Dad Bod is diminishing) and feeling better. This has helped in my mental health as well. This past weekend was time to work on one more piece of the puzzle.

The Dreaded Finances!

It sort of started at the beginning of August. My wife and I sat down and wrote out an updated budget for the household. We decided to use Google Docs so we can edit spending in real time so that we can keep on top of spending. This past Friday, we met up with our financial advisor and talked about our future, and the future of our family. I highly recommend an outside source for financial planning. Free advice with a knowledge of the industry. We have been using the same advisor for nearly twenty years, and feeling successful as we grow.

Yesterday we went through our old bills and paperwork. It was time to shred as much as we could. With everything going digital and paper free, there really isn’t much need to keep a physical copy any more. We have kept copies of vehicle maintenance and income taxes, but almost everything else turned into paper streamers.

That was a good feeling- shredding old credit card bills. It makes me feel bad for old me and how much my wife and I struggled at times to keep the debt load down. Using credit cards is a luxury and a curse. Getting back on track is a challenge.

So my health in all aspects is improving. Including my future financial health with my wife. I’m happy with how things are working out and where our future is going.

Six Times Nine Equals Forty Two

Okay. The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything is…

42

That’s 42 days from now!

In six weeks we are moving to our new house. Our entire life, universe and everything will be changing. This is hitting a 9 out of 10 on the stress scale now.

I’m terrified and excited at the same time. The fact that we had such a long closing date for leaving here and the possession of our new home has been both a blessing and a curse. The countdown seems so far away still. Yet we have the majority of our home packed up. Which is great, except that we are living in only a portion of our house at the moment.

Our living room is packed with boxes all labeled to where they need to go in our new home. No more theater room and watching shows on our big screen. My wife’s studio is also filled. All of the bedrooms have a stack of boxes and this new chaos feels like it is running rampant in our home. The most empty space we have at this time is our yard. We cleared out so much debris outside that our land looks enormous once more.

For the next month and a half, we will be enjoying the outdoors a bit more than normal. Every year we have enjoyed dining outdoors. This year will be no different. Even when we move- we will enjoy the outdoors.

Enough blogging. Back to packing. Hmmm… I wonder which Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy quote I should focus on:

  • “Don’t Panic.” …
  • “Time is an illusion. …
  • “Would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?”

Spring Break Vacation 2021

It’s that time again. My first vacation of the year is starting. It feels great to know I don’t have to go into work for 11 days.

It was definitely a stressful day at work as I tried to keep focused. My mind was clearly elsewhere as buying and selling of our future homes is forefront in my life.

The next few days will be some decompressing time. I’ll get some time to myself and then next week my wife and the kids will be on vacation as well. That’s when we will be busy packing more stuff for the move.

So “Spring Break” won’t be much of a break. Just time away from work in order to do more work.

Le sigh

What Day Is It?

Working night shifts is pretty rough these days. My sleep pattern is so broken because of all the extra stuff going on with selling and buying a house. I get phone calls, emails and texts from our realtor during “normal” business hours while I’m trying to sleep. I was glad last week when I only had to work Three Shifts.

I can’t get angry at those who contact me. But I do wish that I could pass them off to my wife. Problem is she is working normal hours. Usually she is good at leaving me alone. My kids however… they tend to be louder and noisier when they know I need sleep.

I’m about to go in for my third 12 hour shift in a row tonight. I feel like a zombie- getting just barely enough sleep in order to function. I have one more to go after this as well.

Hopefully I can catch up on some sleep on my days off. Then I can become normal once more.

Inspection Preparation

On Monday, our prospective buyers are paying for a bunch of inspections on the property. This is completely normal and will lend to a peace of mind for what they can expect once they take possession of the house.

In doing so, we needed to help make everything more accessible. We don’t exactly have a “regular” house for sale. We are in a neighborhood of acreages and farm land. First thing we did was dig out the septic tank access points. It was a ton of fun getting my two youngest to dig. Hashtag sarcasm.

I then headed into the attic to take a quick gander. The roof and insulation look great- nothing out of the ordinary there. I did enjoy the escape from any other burdens while I was up there. If it wasn’t for the dust and insulation, I would have contemplated taking a nap.

Lastly, I went under the house and into the crawl space with the help of my son. I wanted to do a quick survey of the foundation and if there were any possible leaks or damage. Nope. It all looks well aged and sturdy.

The bones of this home are strong. Which makes it really hard to say farewell to it. However, it also means that the future owners (maybe this couple, if not perhaps someone else) will have some great building blocks to work with should they do choose to change things up.

Since they are putting up so much money for these inspections, I would hope that the seriousness of the purchase remains in tact for when the subjects get removed. Now to let the stress build up for a few more days and eat away at me from the inside out. But hey, at least our attic is full of cotton candy!

Stress Crying

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. Things are going to get better! Positive Mental Attitude.

Three Day Work Week Stress

Hooray for the upcoming four day weekend!

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.

Now We Wait

Over the weekend we had nine viewings of our home. I have no idea if that is high or low or about average. But it does mean that people wanted to see our house. So that’s a good sign.

Now it’s a waiting game. We wait and see if there is a purchaser for this house. I’m positive that there is someone out there that would take great care of this home the same way we have over the years. Hopefully a family with little kids to enjoy the yard.

But waiting to hear anything sucks. A bazillion thoughts go through your mind. The kind of thoughts that keep you up at night causing you to feel unrested and agitated the next day.

Soon it will all be over. The waiting will end and the stress will dissolve. I just wish for that day to come quickly.

Buying A New Home

Our house was put on the market late this week. Within the first 24 hours we booked half a dozen showings for today. We also noticed a lot of cars not from our neighborhood doing a slow drive-by of the home. Hopefully this is all a good sign and we will sell our home.

The thing is, my wife and I have not found a house to buy yet. We ourselves have been looking for the past two months and have gone to several viewings of potential places. Many of which are perfect- for someone else. Or we would need to change our lifestyle drastically to enjoy the home.

At some point our criteria for the perfect home will need to be trimmed. Especially since the market is so hot right now and places are generally selling within a week of listing. Good and bad for us. So we will need to act quickly on a place it seems.

Our biggest wish is for a place with a rental suite. This will allow us to help our adult children to live near Vancouver and save money towards their own place one day. The other “must have” is the the house should be fairly new, or at least be upgraded. A big kitchen is desired and a garage. Beyond that, most everything else is superficial extras.

We know that we are giving up yard space. But that also means that maintaining a smaller yard should be easier. We also know that we will finally have neighbors that we will see more often. And that’s cool,

I kind of miss the suburban lifestyle. Let’s see how long that lasts when we join it once more.

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.

I’m Done

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.

I’m done with not feeling normal this week.

Exam Stress? Not if You Don’t Know About Them

What the heck. Taking exams is mentally exhausting. I’ve done two days of classroom studying so far. During those two days- we also wrote exams. Every test was sprung on us as well. I was mentally tired by the end of the day.

I suppose I should be ready for the next three days and expect to do three exams (or more like we did on day two). The stress of the exams is somewhat minimal so far since we don’t have time to prepare and freak out.

Not passing these tests is not an option. On the bright side it’s all open book. A lot of the information has been ingrained into my mind over the past dozen years. So I know the answers, but I need to put it in writing in a fashion similar to what our rule book states. That’s on the last day I believe. So far it is multiple choice and I’m feeling pretty confident with my skills.

You got this Joe!

The sauna and pool at the end of the day washes away the stress.

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.

Wake Me Up When September Ends

September is rough month for me. I kinda hate this month. By the nineteenth of September- I’m usually a Grade A Asshole. Let me explain…

Memories of school and how much it didn’t do the right thing for my life are prevalent this time of year. The bullies, the terrible teachers (not all, but the ones who sucked- sucked bad), the routine of doing it each and every day.

But my time at school is nearly 25 years behind me. It should be a distant memory. Except I have kids. Kids who go to school. So I get to try and be a counselor as well as a parent when it comes to school. Taking from my own experiences to try and help them through theirs. Granted, it seems that things are going much better for my children than it did for me. Lucky bums.

September 19th is a critical point for me. That’s my father’s former birthday. It’s just one more reason for me to be a better man. He didn’t ever know what was going on in my life. Or if he did- he didn’t care. So I stopped caring.

My entire life, I always just wanted September to end. Just go away all together if possible. Maybe I should do a month long coma each year. Like some stasis pod thingy. Or maybe I just need to make the best of it nowadays. Enjoy the fall colors as they slowly set in.

I’m just going to go to back to bed and see what happens later. Wake me up when September ends.

She’s Got The Look

My wife began her new job on Monday.

Yay!

She made it through the first eight hours getting everything setup for working from home. The entire family left her alone in order for her to get settled in. It helped that the kids were at school and I was sleeping 💤. So I didn’t even get to see her after her first day, as I was on my way to work. But we talked afterwards.

She had kind of a rough start. As with anything computer related- there was a few hiccups. My wife was most unimpressed with that. About seven hours into her day and she was ready to shut it down and give up. All of the issues were out of her control.

She did not give up. She’s ready to take on day two with more gumption.

“What in the world can make a brown-eyed girl turn blue

When everything I’ll ever do I’ll do for you”

You go girl!

You got this!

You’ve got the look!

Maybe I should’ve chosen a different Roxette song to quote:

“Hold on tight, you know she’s a little bit dangerous

She’s got what it takes to make ends meet.”

In the end I think my wife feels more like this:

“She says: Hello, you fool, I love you.”

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!

How I Deal With Frustration- By Looking For a Place to Move To.

When I get frustrated or grumpy with my life- I look for a new house. I will go online and search what price homes in my neighborhood are going for, then search out other neighborhoods where I can buy a place and be mortgage free. I look for places with large kitchens, new bathrooms and enough bedrooms for the family. As I find new places, I send links to my wife and tell her to pack up because we are gonna move!

Last night, my wife mentioned to our daughters that I wanted to sell the home and move. I received two very different text messages from our daughters about this at almost the exact same time.

From my younger daughter I was sent this:

Her lengthy response was sweet and genuine. Her older sister on the other hand was a bit more curt:

That’s pretty blunt. Both responses are very typical of their personalities mind you.

I have no real intention of moving. Our home is fairly awesome. It has a ton of character for its age. Our location is just far enough from the city that the commute isn’t that bad. We are also on an acre that gives us the perfect amount of privacy from our neighbors that I like.

But looking at new houses is something I grew up doing. My childhood had me moving every 2-4 years to someplace new. I enjoyed it. I wrote about some of the places I’ve lived In My Hometown and will always call Langley my home. Sometimes searching real estate listings is like dreaming. Dreaming of a different life. One without stress.

Panic Mode!

My wife is going through Panic Mode again. We have a speed skating meet out of town coming up and the weekend after is the Fan Expo Vancouver


As much as I try and calm her down it only seems to make things worse. So my new plan is to run away. But that’s making things worse as well for her, but easier for me. Which makes it worse when I am around her. 


Her panicking is just a way for her to release some steam and frustration. Once the convention arrives, she is calm and fun again. It’s getting through this pre-game that is tough on the whole family. I’m also finding that our oldest daughter is the same when it comes to her music performances. She gets worked up before the show, then nails her performance. Once everything is done, either a convention or concert, my wife and daughter both feel energized and happy.

Anyhow, I should probably get home again soon and see how my wife is doing. I can only stay out of the house for so long before she tries to change the locks on me.

I May Not Be Strong, But I Possess The Strength.


Each and every day, the weight of the world is on my back.  Not the entire world.  Just my little bubble.  The pieces that I have put together to create my world.  The part that I want to lift and rise above myself.  

I don’t feel that weight is on my neck.  Nor does it press down on my shoulders.  With my head held high, sights remain focused on the future.  I can still see ahead towards my goals as I push on.  And push on I must.

My feet tire but my legs grow stronger- ever striving onwards.  I cannot lose sight of what I desire.  The wish to see my family and friends succeed gives me strength.  This determination keeps me going.

The weight of my world presses down on my back.  The pressures of work create knots.  The stresses of how to raise and care for my children as they grow into teens and adults, pulls at my ligaments.  The world is on my back.  It may cause me pain or discomfort, but I won’t let it down.  

I won’t let my world down.  

I may not always be strong.  I may have to stumble to one knee, pause for a moment, and lift again.  I possess the strength to keep moving forward- with the world on my back.  

My world.

Rules

Short post today. I need to prepare for my “Rules” exam tomorrow.

Working for a railroad, at least here in Canada, we have rules that we need to follow.  This ensures the safety of the employees and the general public.  We have an entire book filled with everything from Timetables to handbrake charts to understanding signals.  There are subsections in each rule.  When I first hired on at CN, our rules instructor made it very clear that almost every rule in the book is written “in blood”.  Meaning an injury or death caused changes in how we railroad over the past 100+ years.

Railroaders NEED Rules. We can’t live by “code” alone.


Every three years, I need to be recertified as a Rules Qualified Employee.  It’s stressful.  Studying and preparing for a job that I’m already doing is difficult.  After all these years, the way I work is second nature: mostly invoking common sense to stay safe.  But when sitting in a classroom doing the exam, wording the answers correctly is the hard part.  Even harder for me is writing out the answers to the Signals portion.  


Green means Go

Yellow means Slow

Red means NO! NO! NO!

Not even close.  There are variations on how the signals are displayed, Yellow over red.  Green over red over green.  Flashing yellow, double flashing yellow, it goes on and on.  There’s even letter plates on the masts that add to what the instructions are for how to use that signal.  I haven’t seen a signal in almost four years.  Remembering what they all mean is challenging to say the least.

Tomorrow I am going to rewrite my rules and hopefully be stress free afterwards.  But until then: Clear signals all the way.