A Visitor in my Own City

It’s been a good summer thus far, despite the fact that my wife had her gallbladder removed following a second visit to the ER in two weeks.  While she’s doing phenomenally well, and is recovering nicely, it forced us to be a little low key for a few weeks.  When I wasn’t working, we spent our nights and weekends bingeing Netflix series.  Even now, two weeks out of the surgery, she’s getting out of the house a bit more, but we’re still keeping things quiet.  And I must say that I’ve enjoyed the summer because of it.  It’s allowing us to enjoy the little things.  As much as we used to sit and binge TV shows periodically, I truly enjoyed the experience this time.  Even our outings are small scale, but fun.  This past weekend, we opted to do a stay-cation.

We headed off to Place 1604 in Dieppe, a whopping 2 minute drive from our house.  We hadn’t yet been to see the new sculpture unveiled on Canada Day, so we strolled through the property, soaking in the beauty that is our city centre.

Then we crossed the street and headed to Café Archibald for lunch.  As it was such a beautiful day, we lucked out and got the last free table on the patio.  Lunch was delicious as always.  Over the last few visits, I’ve had the same menu item and it has quickly become one of my favourites in town.  Flatbread topped with goat cheese, figs and balsamic reduction.  So. Good.  I opted to have some dessert as well and went for the dessert of the week – a Nanaimo Bar crêpe.  They’ve had the same dessert a few times in the past.  We had the privilege of having it when they first made it a few years ago and it had actual chunks of Nanaimo bar in the crêpe.  It was to die for.  While this version didn’t have pieced of Nanaimo bar in it, it did have the right flavour profile.  Not as good as the original, but tasty nonetheless.

Following lunch, we did a bit of touristy browsing of local boutiques.  We stopped by Carte Blanche, Maddie & Sofia, and Gifts Galore.  We also did the rounds of some of the spiritual/New Age shops in town – Boutique Mystral, Mystic Moons and Le Passage.  While at Le Passage, I made a couple of purchases.  I’ve long had an obsession with ancient Egypt.  I’ve been fascinated by pyramids since I was a child.  So I opted to buy a beautiful dark blue energy pyramid.  Over the past year or two, I’ve also become interested in learning more about Archangels.  The one that I’ve “connected” with (for lack of better terms) is Uriel.  Lo and behold, they had a beautiful 8-inch statue. Two more fine additions to our meditation room.

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Once we arrived in downtown Moncton, we took a little stroll through Festival Inspire.    They had set up a little space along Downing Street with kiosks, vendors and a stage for some musical performances.  One of the big pieces of the festival is the creation of murals around the city.  This was the main reason we headed downtown, so we could see the turtle.
The turtle was created by an artist based out of Portugal named Bordalo II, using pieces of plastic garbage from around the city and from the recycle centre.  It’s a stunning piece to see in person, emerging in three-dimensions from the side of the building.

All in all, a beautiful day!  I enjoyed strolling around the city enjoying things that we don’t usually take the time to appreciate.  You have to enjoy the little moments in life.  They are what make up the bulk of your life.  Soak them all up and live your life to the fullest.

 

Look, a new post!

It’s been a while since my last post.  I’d apologize, but that’s on me.

One day last week, getting out of the shower, I had a great idea for a blog post.  That’s what brought me to the site today, but now that I’m here, I have no sweet clue what it is I wanted to write about.  Instead, you’ll get a couple of short(ish) posts over the next few days.

I’ll start with an update on my reading challenge.  So far this year, I’ve read 17 books, with another 2 in progress, and a couple more in the queue.  It’s been a busy year, book-wise.  Granted, I’m not at 30 books completed like Adam Copeland (WWE Superstar Edge), but I’m quite pleased with having 17 completed.

Finished:

  1. Tales from the Haunted Mansion – Amicus Arcane
  2. Disney At Last (The Return, book 3) – Ridley Pearson
  3. The Obsidian Chamber – Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
  4. Universal Harvester – John Darnielle
  5. The Lost City of the Monkey God – Douglas Preston
  6. The Woman in Cabin 10 – Ruth Ware
  7. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – JK Rowling, Jack Thorne & John Tiffany
  8. The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower, book 1) – Stephen King
  9. The Universe Has Your Back – Gabrielle Bernstein
  10. Voilà pourquoi cette fille n’est pas ta mère, T1 – Justin Guitard
  11. Voilà pourquoi cette fille n’est pas ta mère, T2 – Justin Guitard
  12. Voilà pourquoi cette fille n’est pas ta mère, T3 – Justin Guitard
  13. Solving the Innovation Mystery – Steve Gladis
  14. The Search / D’aulnay’s Legacy – Louis Robichaud
  15. Full Wolf Moon – Lincoln Child
  16. Be Feel Think Do – Anne Bérubé
  17. Constellations – Nick Payne

Reading:

  • Meddling Kids – Edgar Cantero
  • The Book of Joy – His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams

That’s all for now folks!

 

 

Sh-Boom

Oh, life could be a dream (sh-boom)
If I could take you up in paradise up above (sh-boom)
If you would tell me I’m the only one that you love
Life could be a dream, sweetheart

Sh-Boom, The Crew Cuts (1954)

Over the past few years, there has been an ever-growing chatter as to whether our existence is real or just a simulation in some super powerful computer.  Reading these metaphysical discussions can end up causing an existential crisis of faith type moments in some people.  But that is only partly what this post is about.

Continue reading “Sh-Boom”

I’m not myself today

How many of you can say that they always honestly answer that basic question – how are you?  The usual response people give is “fine” or “good.”  But are you really being honest when you say that? Or are you just telling the other person what they want to hear so as to avoid awkward conversation?

May 1-7 is Mental Health Awareness Week.  Having known many people who have experienced mental health issues throughout their lives, I feel it is important that we break the stigma around talking about these issues.  I’m happy to say that my employer is on board with this initiative as well. For the second year in a row, we’ve partnered with Not Myself Today as a means of getting the communication going here in the workplace.  Being an insurance and health care organization, particularly one with nearly a thousand employees here at our head office, it’s important that we be open and honest about mental health.  It’s okay to not be okay.

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Many of our employees will be walking around with these mood buttons this week.

Being a Reiki Master, I understand the importance of taking care of oneself, of being mindful of how you feel and when you are feeling unaligned.  Yet despite this, I still have the same challenges.  Over the past few months, I’ve struggled with my job.  The work I do has not changed.  It has not gotten more complex or demanding; yet I’ve struggled with it.  I’ve realized that it’s a mental block that is in place currently.  My moods have been shifting, and I’ve felt down and with no drive.  I’ve lost some of the passion that I had.  I have found little interest in what I’m doing, and I feel it’s beginning to show.  It reached a high point a few weeks ago when I took two mental health days to stay at home and just get away from it all. When I returned to work on the following day, I had a mini panic attack at my desk at 9:30AM… not even 2-hours back to the office.

While mental health days are not always well-viewed in the workplace, I recognized that I needed them.  I needed to take a step back, reassess and find a way forward for my own well-being.  But those two days were not enough.  As part of my realignment process, I decided to take a couple more days this past week, but this time it was scheduled vacation time.  I headed off to do a 2-day silent retreat by myself at a site nearby called La Solitude.  My two days did me a lot of good.  I spent the two days walking through the woods, looking inward and trying to get back on track mentally.  No phone, no internet, no TV, no books.  Just me and my thoughts.  Scary, right?

This is an on-going challenge.  One that I will need to be diligent with and continue working towards finding the right balance for myself.  The couple of days of solitude did me worlds of good, but having now been back at the office for half a day… I can already feel some of the old mental state trying to creep it’s way back in.  And that’s okay.  I just have to be able to recognize it and talk about it.  It’s okay to not not be yourself.  But you need to ensure that you don’t lose yourself down that spiral either.  I’ve identified a few things that will help me on my journey.  I won’t list them here since they are the right tools for me, but not necessarily you.

Any of you reading this now, whether you feel that you truly are good or okay, or whether you’re feeling down, sad, grumpy, lonely, numb, etc… do some soul searching.  Listen to that little voice inside of you and find ways to turn things around.  Sometimes all it takes is to talk to someone.  Or find that one tiny glimmer of light/happiness/joy in your life.  It might be the smile of a child, the nuzzle of a pet, a thank you someone says when you hold the door open.  No matter what is going on in your life, there is some good.  It may not always be easy to see, but it’s there.  When you find it, latch on it it and nurture it.  Help it grow and spread it to others.  Maybe the act of holding the door for that person will be the one tiny glimmer of light in someone else’s life today.  Think about all of the good you can do when we stop focusing on ourselves and spread a little light in the world.

My name is Chris, and I am not myself today.  And that’s okay.

Chris

 

 

Disconnected

In my previous life, I was well-connected.  From morning til night, I found myself in front of a computer for nearly every instant that I was not working or sleeping.  Actually, even sleep did not always dissuade me as I’d often pull my laptop next to my bed in case someone would message me in the middle of the night.  (I did have friends in Australia, Europe and on the West coast after all!)  I would get up in the morning and the first thing I did was sign in.  I would get home from work – sign in.  I had even set up my apartment so that while seated at my computer, I could watch TV.  My life consisted of being online. I had become an extension of the internet.

It was during these years (the majority of my 20’s really) that I “disconnected” from the real world and connected electronically.  All of my friends were chat buddies.  I would spend countless hours in chat rooms, or just messaging my friends.  I’d communally watch TV with people, chatting about the show during commercials.  (How many “OMG can you believe that?!” conversations about Lost did we have Nat?)

hatch

LOCKE: Why don’t you want to go down there, Jack?

I’ve found myself, over the past couple of years, going in the opposite direction.  By becoming more “disconnected” from the online world, I am becoming more connected in the real world.  I still have my online presence, but it is severely limited.  Even my net-surfing is almost nonexistent.  There are 5-6 sites that I check once per day for various reasons (Facebook, email, local newspaper, wrestling news, t-shirts).  I’ve realized on a few instances that I hadn’t even been in to check my email in over 24 hours, which would have been unheard of a few years ago.  As another example, I started writing this post 2 days ago during my lunch hour at the office.  I just needed to sign it from home, reread and add a couple of pictures.  I didn’t touch the computer last night and had to force myself to finish this post tonight.

I’m wondering if this is something that is occurring due to my own life journey, or if it’s something we’re seeing more with my generation?  For those of you in your mid/late 30’s, do you see yourself having a smaller online presence?  Maybe it’s part of the fact that we’re growing up.  We’re in the age of having children, families, real world priorities.  Even in a world with constant contact via smart phones, I’m finding myself online less and less.  I’m even too cheap to pay for a data plan, so only use WIFI on my phone.  I just don’t see the necessity or value of having an internet connection at all times.

On our previous trips to Disney World, the one thing that my darling wife and I have loved nearly more than anything else was our disconnected rule.  From the time we arrived at the resort until we were on route back home, we did not go online (in actuality, we would turn off our cell phones all but for 5-10 minutes a day in case there were any urgent messages from family, which there never were).  We did not watch the news (or TV really, apart from Disney programming).  We did not look at newspapers.  We would completely disconnect from the rest of the world and live in the present moment – enjoying the magic and splendor that is Disney World.Cinderella's Castle - Magic Kingdom

On our last visit this past summer, things changed.  Disney has now moved to an online-driven account to book your reservations for restaurants and Fast Pass bookings for rides.  Their app would provide real-time wait times for the various attractions around the parks.  WIFI is available in all resort hotels and in the four Disney parks.  We caved.  We both brought our phones with us the entire time we were there.  While we did agree that we would not really “go online” other than the My Disney Experience app, both of us did.  While the trip was still amazingly fun, I did have a sense of sadness over the fact that we weren’t able to fully disconnect the way we usually do.

Next week, I’ll be heading to a silent retreat for most of the week.  No computers, no cell phones, no radios, no iPods, no books.  I am very much looking forward for this chance to disconnect once more.  Disconnect from the world in order to connect with myself; in order to connect with the universe.  I can’t wait for the experience. While some people are uncomfortable with this type of activity, I’m very much okay with it.  I like the introspection.  As a call-back to the quote above, this Jack isn’t afraid to go down there.

So what do you think, dear readers?  Do you think you could do it?  Could you cut off any and all communication and connection for a few days and just be with yourself?

Disney World – August 2016

It’s been well over two months since I’ve had my trip to Disney World.  Two months, and I’ve not yet written a word about the trip.  Since I’m sitting at work with all of our systems down (over two hours now!), I thought I’d take some time to write a bit.  I didn’t know what to write about, so I thought Disney would be a good way to start.

It had been 4 years since Isabelle and I had been to Disney World.  While we did make a visit to Disneyland in California a couple of years ago, the magic is definitely not the same; to the point where we debated taking a trip to Disney World as a palate cleanser.  But it did not come to pass.

We’ve been wanting to return to our happy place for a while, but with the low Canadian dollar, combined with our doing the “responsible, grown-up thing” of replacing the windows in our house made for a tighter budget over the past few years.  (That’s something that you don’t really notice when you’re buying a house – how many windows.  We remember thinking “wow, look at all the natural light that comes in” but not “wow, look at how many windows we’ll need to replace some day!”)  This October marked our 5th wedding anniversary.  We had agreed that we’d do something special for our fifth.  The discussion didn’t last long – Disney World it was!

As my wife is a teacher, we have limited windows of time in which we can travel.  March Break and Christmas are uber-expensive to travel to Disney World.  The other option is during summer vacations.  This is our usual travel time.  The end of the summer sees a lull in crowd volumes as many schools return to class mid-August in the US.  The trade-off to the lower crowd volumes and cheaper rates is the heat.  It is routinely mid-90º when we leave the hotel at 8AM (that’s mid-30’s for us Canucks) with the temperatures climbing to 100-115º by mid-afternoon. (mid/high 40’s C)  We’ll put up with the heat.  And we’ll do it with a smile!

We organized a bit differently this time.  Our flight only landed in Orlando around 10:30PM, so by the time we got to the resort and checked in, it would be close to midnight.  Our usual pattern was to find the flight that landed the earliest in the day.  Because we landed before midnight, and were spending the night, we were able to get a start on the parks first thing the next morning.  A bonus to this was also that, as we were on the dining plan, we had an extra day’s worth of meal credits!

Despite the fact that we have been to Disney World multiple times in the past 8 years, the four year gap had allowed for many new attractions and restaurants to open, so we had lots of new things to experience.

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Welcome ceremony at Magic Kingdom

For our first day, we went to the rope drop ceremony at Magic Kingdom. This was the first time we’ve seen the welcome ceremony.  I am not ashamed to admit that when Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy & the rest of the gang were all standing there on the Main St. USA train station, music blaring, fireworks roaring, I cried.  I was filled with so much joy and enthusiasm.  Pure unadulterated happiness.  Just thinking about it now gives me shivers and makes my eyes well up with tears.

Some of the other new experiences for Isabelle and I were:

  • eating at Be Our Guest in Beast’s Castle
  • riding the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train roller coaster
  • riding Frozen Ever After at Epcot
  • meeting Baymax from Big Hero 6
  • eating at both Kona Café & ‘Ohana at the Polynesian Resort
  • eating at California Grill at the Contemporary Resort
  • experiencing Animal Kingdom at night
  • meeting Kylo Ren and Chewbacca
  • the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular fireworks display at Hollywood Studios

 

Given how amazing some of the food has been, I might steal a page from my darling wife and write a full post on the food. Unlike her though, I will not focus solely on desserts.

Nose-Picking and Butt Stuff

If there is one thing that I can say about myself is that I am an observer.  I am always watching, listening, observing everything around me.  I tend to notice things that other people don’t.  Over the years, I have always delighted in picking up snippets of conversation of people that I pass by and wondering where the conversation was going or where it started.  Am I alone in doing this?

Occasionally, these little moments of conversation will spur on an idea or catch me in such  a way that I need to jot them down.  Who knows when you might find the perfect reason to use them?  I’ve started keeping a list of pieces of dialogue, ideas, characters, etc. with a hope that I can someday use some of them.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had three specific snippets of conversation that have stuck with me.  The first was by a 4-5 year old kid who said to another child “ça va faire mal à la butt-crack, Nicholas!”  It struck me as so funny at in the moment.  While I know what the context of the dialogue was, I’d rather leave it unspecified here and let you make up your own scenario.

The second was a day or two ago, walking through our building while at work.  “Just let me touch your butt.”  That was it. And they were gone.

The most recent happened today, again at work when I overheard someone utter the phrase “It never fails – every time someone gets up to ask you a question, you’re picking your nose.”

I don’t know that I’ll ever really need or have the opportunity to use these pieces of dialogue in anything I write, but I like to think that by sharing them with you all, you’ll at least imagine a scenario where these bits and bobs were being used.

Happy imagining!

gratitude rock

Appréciation

appreciation

Aujourd’hui, je suis très reconnaissant et appréciatif de tout ce que j’ai dans ma vie.  J’apprécie:

  • mon corps parfait dans son imperfection
  • ma santé
  • l’amour, l’amitié et l’accompagnement que je reçois de ma belle femme
  • notre vie en couple
  • notre belle petite famille avec Roxie
  • toute ma famille et mes amis
  • mon emploi
  • ma belle ville
  • le fait que je suis capable d’aller marcher pendant deux heures un vendredi matin le long d’une rivière, sans me déplacer
  • ma dualité linguistique
  • que nous pouvons nous permettre de retourner à Disney World dans 50 jours pour célébrer nos fêtes
  • que je puisse me traiter à un PS4
  • la musique qui m’entoure
  • le silence qui m’aide à apprécier le bruit
  • le bruit qui m’aide à apprécier le silence
  • ma belle, belle maison de lumière
  • tous les animaux qui viennent visiter notre cours
  • l’amour et la joie que je vois dans les autres autour de moi

En court, j’apprécie ma vie, comme elle l’est.  Parfois je dois me rappeler ce fait, mais de plus en plus, je le reconnais à tous les jours.

One step at a time…