Saturday, December 12, 2015

2015: The Year of Chad

Way back in February I made a list of 10 things that I had wanted to accomplish of the course of this year. Some of them I’ve succeeded with, others I’m continuing to work on, and still others have not panned out. But that just means I can work on them next year. Hindsight is always 20/20, so let’s take a backwards look at my 2015.

#1. The first Item on my list was travel. That, my friends, was a resounding success. To be fair, I had booked my flights before I made the list and once I made it into Spain I didn’t venture much past Barcelona, but it still counts and it was an item to check off my list. While I was away I met some incredible people and had a ton of fun (both of which were on my list. Items 4 and 7 to be exact), but it went beyond that. It reaffirmed that I can be alone and that I can be alright with it.

#2. Next up was Operation: Superhero. Alas, that one did not make it onto my list of accomplishments for the year. Fitness and Wellbeing will always be a goal, I just need to make a solid commitment to it and stop making excuses. And some monetary funds to pay for aikido and yoga would be nice too… However, my real failure is lack of motivation and, again, commitment. Hopefully 2016 sees a reversal in that.
Now, I’m not saying that I wasn’t active at all over the year. There were spurts of activity throughout the summer months and into the fall, just not as much as I would have hoped. I probably spent more time running this summer than I ever have before and I did partake in Edmonton’s first Wanderlust Festival in August. I just need to keep it regular and ongoing.

#3. Who would have thought that as a writer (or wannabe writer if we’re being accurate) communication was something that I would need to work on? It wasn’t just communication that I wanted to work on, but Sincerious Communication. Having this blog has been a great help with that. As a writer I produce my clearest communication in writing, not so much in verbalizing. I feel that through here I’ve been able to open up about my thoughts and feelings better than I have been before. Not a complete success, but not quite a failure either. Just an item to continue to work on.

#4. I mentioned that I had met some incredible people while I was travelling and let me tell you, it was pretty awesome! I met some incredible people from around the world, some of which I’m still in contact with. If I wasn’t travelling alone, I most likely wouldn’t have put myself out there like I did, and I wouldn’t have met half the people that I did.

#5. Downsizing material items that I don’t need never ever happened… However, I didn’t acquire as many items either. Just another thing to carry over to next year.

#6. I didn’t want to spend my money on frivolous items. See the above point for that one.

#7. I had wanted to go out and have fun and that has been another big accomplishment. Not only with travel, but here at home too. I spent much more time socializing with friends and just enjoying myself. Sure, I didn’t do any of my usual things that I like to do. I never made it to Fort Edmonton Park, or down to the St. Albert Farmer’s Market, or camping and fishing. But I did my share of entertaining things throughout the year from Wanderlust to heading out for drinks and darts with friends. You don’t always have to be on the move and have an event to go to to have fun, and I’ve enjoyed both my alone time and the time I’ve been surrounded by people.

#8. This is a hard point to measure on a success or failure scale. How do you decide if you’ve taken something for granted? All that is done in hindsight I suppose. What I can say, though, is that I’ve put a more effort into just being present in the moment, and not worrying about what’s behind me or what is ahead. And that, I think, is the meaning of taking something for granted. Not being in the moment to fully appreciate it.

#9. This one, I think is probably my biggest success of the year. Strengthening the relationships with my friends. I’ve gotten to spend much more time with my friends and truly appreciate them. They’ve been there with me throughout my lowest lows of the year and as I said in my Thanksgiving Post, now they get to see me happy and finally me again.

#10. Ok, this one is just the cliché item on the list. Keep in mind that when I wrote the list I was going through a lot of grief. But I added it so now I have to decide if I’ve accomplished it and here it goes. Finding myself. I don’t know… Did I? Didn’t I? Who knows? What I do know, though, is that I am still independent. I’m still not afraid of being alone. I am happy being me. I ended this point in February by asking ‘who is Chad?’ And I think I can answer that question now. This whole blog is me. It’s kind of interesting to go back and read from how I started this year to where I am right now.


I’m not going to point out which items I succeeded on and which ones I didn’t. To be honest, I don’t really care. This year was one of learning and growing and by that mentality, all the points were a success.

Sinceriously,

-Chad

Monday, October 12, 2015

Giving Thanks

This weekend is Thanksgiving in Canada. A time of family gatherings, turkey dinners, pumpkin pies, and memories. And, as the name would suggest, giving thanks for what we have.

Me? I’m thankful for my family, who have my back no matter what. They are family after all, and that’s what family is for.

My friends, who’ve stuck beside me through thick and thin. Who have had to put up with me throughout my worst and now get to see me happy for the first time in a long time.

Having the freedom to do what I want, when I want, and without having to consult with a ‘committee’ before making the decision. Personal freedom isn’t something that a lot of people have, and I’m grateful to be one who does.

A good book to read is always something to be thankful for. And I’m thankful that I have a plethora of books to read and Chapter’s is an insanely close distance to my place.

 And lastly, for the sake of this post, I’m thankful for a wonderful cup of coffee. Whether it be a Double-Double from Tim Horton’s, a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks, or a Bailey’s and coffee at home or the pub, a good cup of coffee is what keeps me going throughout the day.

So for all my Canadian friends and family, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Sinceriously,


-Chad

Friday, October 9, 2015

Friends With Benefits. Writing Benefits.

More and more lately I’ve been thinking about writing (among other things). I used to write a lot. Over the past couple of years, however, I’ve let my writing slip. I have an idea for a book. And one day I would like my career to be writing. I want to be an author. That’s my end goal. But I’m finding the motivation to start again lacking. I’m a procrastinator by nature, but as the old saying goes: Tomorrow never comes. I’ve also been finding that it’s intimidating as well. “What if my writing isn’t good enough?” and “What if no one likes it?” mixed with a little bit of “What if I can’t say what I want to say with it?”. All fears that I have to overcome if I want to accomplish my goals.

Enter the Writing Friends

I never knew it until earlier this year, but a couple of my friends have the same goal as me. We want to be writers. How perfect is that coincidence? Sure, my other friends know I want to write and fully support me. I have agreements from them when I mention that I need to write more. Cassie is my biggest supporter, even suggesting that I pick up artwork for my place that relates to writing. God bless them for their faith in me.

However, having friends that actually write as well? Well, that’s like being a movie critic and finding someone that you can talk obscure movies with. It’s like people just intuitively understand your dilemmas just a little bit more. And conversations make just a little bit more sense. A friend can talk about the things going on at the dance studio that she works at and it goes right over my head, I can then talk about burning down a fictional town and how that affects my main protagonist and I’m pretty sure it goes right over her head (or not interest her in the least, that makes sense too). I wouldn’t trade those talks for anything, mind you. But I can mention it to other writers (such as my friend Melissa) and they can ask questions that I haven’t even thought of. Or make suggestions on how it might affect not just my protagonist, but also the rest of the region.

Writing friends also come with some added benefits. Here are a few:

Accountability

Like a workout buddy, your writing friends keep you accountable when you don’t show up.

“So, how’s the burning going?”
“What burning?”
“You know, the city you were supposed to burn to the ground last night?”
“Oh. That. Yeah, didn’t happen. I wasn’t feeling motivated and watched three episodes of Lois and Clark instead.”
“What?!? You’ve been building that up for a month now! Go! Burn, rape, pillage!! I don’t want to hear from you until you have nothing but ashes!!”
“But I’m just not-“
“ASHES I SAY!!!!”

I mean, how can you say ‘no’ to that? Yes, the city will fall. There may be some pillaging. But rape? That’s a bit NSFW for me… Not saying that it won’t happen (in a fictional world of my creation), but it most likely won’t be described.

Understanding

“I just can’t figure out how to kill this guy…”
“Tell me about it! I have to burn a town and I just can’t go about it like everyone else does. I need fresh ideas!”
“Do you think we’re losing our touch? I mean, I killed someone before, but this is different. He’s been around longer and I’ve become attached to him.”
“Hmm… What if you have someone burn HIS town down? He doesn’t have to die that way. Maybe he gets moved out by the government afterwards and he can’t come back?”
“No, I have to do it. If I don’t it’s a loose end. I have to tie those all up.”
“Well good luck. I mean, killing someone you’ve spent so much time with is hard. I had to do it- I’m sorry?... Oh. Yes, please. I’d love another cup of coffee.”
“…….. Did you see the way she looked at us?”
“Yeah. What was her problem? She looked as if we just kicked a dog…”

Some of the conversations you have as a writer can just be weird. Take the above as an example. Who else in their right minds can be sitting at a café/restaurant/coffee shop and have that conversation besides writers? Well, writers and hitmen I suppose…

Support

Support comes in many forms. From the sympathetic phone calls, text messages, or e-mails to the pushing to actually sit down and write. I guess that can also be grouped under the accountability section too. Support could just be a shoulder to lean on when you’re stuck in a rut, or a coffee meeting to vent a few things out.

“I don’t think I can do this anymore…”
“Do what? What’s wrong?”
“This writing thing… Nothing turns out the way I want it to. I should just quit.”
“I’m sure it’s not that bad-“
“I just can’t kill this guy!! He’s pretty much her best friend right now! How can I take that away from her??”
“Shh… It’s ok. Let’s grab a coffee and talk this through. Coffee always helps.”

Non-Competition

Like Aikido, there is no competition between you and your writer buddy. It just makes sense to help each other. Everyone writes in a completely different voice. Everyone will have a different manuscript they are working on. And everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to writing. Wouldn’t it be awesome to combine efforts and help each other out? Make each manuscript the absolute best that it could possibly be? Yeah, that’s what I thought too. One of the friends who has strength in dialogue can help make a conversation flow naturally to the ear, where as the other can help with the pacing of the scene. Who wouldn’t want to help a friend in need?



And there we have it. Four benefits of having a Writing Friend. Of course there are many, many more. But for this short blog post, four is enough. Now I’m curious: Did I miss anything crucial? What type of support and benefits do you get from friends with the same goal as you? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Sinceriously,

-Chad

Saturday, September 12, 2015

A Mindful Triathlon

My blogging has been failing lately. I know it. I haven’t done much of anything really. Unless I’m out with my friend Cassie, I’ve been at home attempting to save money. That means putting time onto working on a costume for the Edmonton Expo, or playing either Dragon Age: Inquisition or Batman: Arkham Knight. Not a whole heck of a lot going on currently.

However, on August 29th, my friend Mandy and I did Wanderlust 108 down in the Edmonton River Valley. Usually the events that I go to involve comic books, video games, and/or media guests from television and movies. But this one was an active event. A 5km run, two hours of yoga, and a half-hour of guided meditation. Hopefully participating in that would boost the lacking physical activity that I’ve been missing lately.

The run was the part that I was worried about. I only really started running this year, and by no means is it on any regular basis. But this 5k wasn’t competitive at all. That appealed to me. It didn’t matter how fast I went or what place I crossed the finish in. It’s cliché to say, but ‘the only true competition is with yourself’. As long as you do better than previously you’re winning. And I did. I haven’t been able to make it to 5km in my running previously. I have a route that I follow and It’s just shy of 4km. This time I made the 5km mark. A good accomplishment.

Following the dash through the River Valley, it was time to set up the yoga mats for two hours of yoga. Something about yoga outdoors (or any activity for that matter) has a different feel than doing it in a studio. It’s hard to describe… Maybe more of a feeling of contentment, if that makes any sense. Less like you’re going to be judged. I don’t know. As I said, it’s hard to describe.

Anyway, two hours of yoga. That’s the first time I did yoga since just before I left for Spain. The second time I’ve done yoga since the beginning of November last year. Needless to say, I was feeling tight and sore all over.  It was very much needed and I’ve been thinking since then that I need to get back into doing it. Hopefully once I have a bit more of a steady income again I can return to both yoga and aikido.

After yoga was a half-hour or so of guided meditation. Unfortunately I found that the meditation part wasn’t anything stellar. But it was still nice to just be still and allow the accomplishments of the day to soak in.

The day closed out with a brief wander around their market place and dinner at Kyoto for some sushi. If there was one thing that I could eat for the rest of my life, it would be sushi. And Kyoto has always been good to me when I’ve gone in before.

Wanderlust 108 was a great experience! Yoga (and other internal arts) is becoming more and more ‘mainstream’ and attracting more people to it all the time. I can only hope that events like this become more common around the city. I, for one, will definitely be going again.

If you’re interested, you can read about the Wanderlust Festivals by clicking the link here.

Sinceriously,


-Chad

Friday, August 21, 2015

Moustaching Awesome!

Roughly a month ago I stumbled upon Moustache Stationery when they liked a photo that I had put up on Instagram promoting a blog post that featured my story The Traveler. Intrigued by the name, I clicked on it and browsed their Instagram account. The bio line is: “A monthly box of AWESOME stationery with FREE worldwide shipping!” Even more intrigued, I clicked on the link to their web site and read up on them. It didn’t take me long to decide that I wanted in. I signed up and sat down to await my first box of stationery.

Well, that box has finally arrived and I could hardly wait to open it up and see what was inside. The contents are pretty awesome! Three notebooks, two pens, a pen loop, and a Moustache Stationery sticker. Definitely a useful haul of writing supplies. Now, to most people a monthly box of stationery might seem pointless. But to me, it’s golden. A nice pen gliding smoothly over a sheet of paper… It’s like skating on fresh, clean ice. And as a wannabe writer I love a good pen and notebook. Anything to inspire me to write is always welcome.

And now for the contents of the box:


As I sat down to write out the draft for this post (most blog posts start off written by hand in my Fox notebook before being typed out on the computer) I broke out the Fountain Pentel Fiber Nibbed Pen, put it to paper, and began to write. I am quite pleased with it. It writes quite smooth for a fountain pen (I find that they aren’t the smoothest of writing utensils) and depending on the side that you write from with it, it has a different feel. Definitely a unique pen. That’s for sure.

The next item is the Pentel White Hybrid Gel Pen. I haven’t tried it yet (as it has white ink and I don’t have any dark coloured paper) but I can imagine that it writes like pretty much any other gel pen. Smooth and flowing. It fits the Black and White theme of the box for the month.

Don’t you hate it when you have your notebook out to do some writing and then you have to go digging for a pen? What? You forgot your pen at home? For shame! Supplied in the box was a handy-dandy Leuchtturm1917 Pen Loop. It has a self-adhesive on the back so that you can secure it to the back cover of your notebook. Never forget your pen again!

The Leuchtturm1917 Black Softcover Notebook may just become my new go-to for writing out stories. It has 121 lined pages that are all numbered and 8 of which are removable, a Table of Contents, and an envelope to fill with scraps of paper for when I’m at work and filling ideas out on receipt paper. A winner in my books.

And the final item(s), not one, but two Leuchtturm1917 Jottbooks. One is lined and the other is blank. Both have 60 pages (32 are removable) and a Table of Contents page. For when the Notebook is just too much, the Jottbooks will keep you writing.

I’m looking forward to breaking in all these items and I can’t wait to see what next months box has in store! You can find Moustache Stationery’s write up of the contents here.



Sinceriously,


-Chad