Chess

I love playing chess.  I think of myself as pretty good at it.  During grade 8 and 9 I was in the Chess Club at school.  Because that’s where all the cool kids hung out.  Or rather the ones who had no other friends.  Even in my yearbook for grade nine- they misspelled my name in the photo.  Hashtag loser.

Back in 1991 grade nine- sweaters weren’t cool. Now, my daughter thinks it looks great.


My love for chess has gotten me further in life than most people would have guessed.  It helped me understand how to run a railroad.  Putting the trains and crews in the best positions to successfully move traffic.  I’ve often explained my job as a large chess game.  In fact, I also look at my life as a game of chess.  Especially my career thus far.

I started as a pawn.  Moving forward one or two steps at a time.  Occasionally doing a side step to take on a new challenger.  I finally made it to the other side of the board and was able to swap my pawn for another piece.  While most would choose a queen as their dominant piece, I chose otherwise. 

A simple game of chess.


My career hasn’t been a straight line- like the path of the rook or bishop.  I find that I move more like a knight.  Either going two steps forward and one step to the side or going one step sideways and two steps forward.  Sometimes jumping over an obstacle or enemy.  It’s a crooked way of working towards my goal, but achievable nonetheless.

In grade nine, my math teacher said that some of the greatest leaders in history played chess.  It’s a game of wits and looking ahead a few moves.  

Life is like a game of chess.  Take your time and think out your future moves because it may affect your next five moves.  My goals are attainable and I don’t need to show my hand.  I’m not going to wipe out everyone in my way, but I may have to take on a few opponents as I go.

Perhaps one day it will be checkmate.  Or maybe I’ll give up and take on a new opponent.  Who knows.  Until then, don’t hate the player- hate the game.

Planning The Future


Where do you see yourself in ten years?  How about five years?  Next year?  What about next week?  Not everyone plans that far.  

Those questions are often asked by our employer or future employer.  It’s usually the only time we think about a prospective future.  Even if it is a lie just to get or keep a job.


But why only think about work when pondering your future?  Why not create a ten year plan, five year plan, or even a one year plan?  Such as plans for a vacation, paying down debt, education, or having kids.  How about buying a new home?  Or moving away to another city?  Most people are spontaneous with everything in life.  Usually only planning as far as six months ahead.  That kind of planning is often short sighted.  What are you doing for your life?


Starting to plan for the future is paramount.  You don’t want to have the past to be a dull story of “what ifs”.  The opening to a favorite film of mine describes it eloquently:

They all tryin’ to catch hold of one moment of time. To be able to say “Right now! This is it! I got it!” ‘Course by then it’ll be past. But they all happy, everybody havin’ a good time. Well, almost everybody. They’s a few lost souls floatin’ ’round out there. Now if ya’ll ain’t from the city, we have something here called a “the rat race.” Got a way with chewing folks up so that they don’t want no celebrating, don’t want no cheerin’ up, and don’t care nothing…

…Well the future, that’s something you can’t never tell about. But the past, that’s another story.

“The future is now.”

One Year

I can’t believe that I have successfully challenged myself to write a daily blog post for an entire year.  There has been no rhyme or reason for what I write about.  General rule of thumb about my posts- whatever pops into my head.

I have tried to write positive blogs as often as I could.  Some are even amusing. On occasion I have shared a personal story of heartbreak or pain.  Those stories have defined who I am.  But I noticed that for a few days after sharing a sad tale, I would feel miserable.  It was hard to get back into a positive frame of mind.

I am tall in general.

The one thing that I noticed about sharing stories is that I have led a pretty good life.  I have shared many moments with some great friends and family.  I’ve had a chance to relive my journey thus far.  I can honestly say that throughout the struggles and challenges, my life is exactly where I want it to be.

Writing a positive daily post about my life and opinions has made me a happier person.  Being a happier person has also improved everything about how I see the world.  There is a silver lining to every cloud.  There is a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow.  Unicorns have sparkly poop.

One Year…

One year.  I may be the only one celebrating this goal.  But that was the point of my journey.  Writing daily was for me.  I shared it with the world so that people could use my life lessons as advice.  I’ve had a ton of fun writing every day.  I’ll admit that I struggled from time to time to come up with a topic.  As well I squeaked a few blog posts in just before midnight.  I never had a set time of day that I would post.  In hindsight, if I want more readership I should look at those stats.  

I reached my one year goal and I’m not ready to stop the momentum.  I have a few stories still on the burner.  A huge thank you to everyone for the feedback and support.  If you’ve Come Here To See All My Mistakes– I’m sorry to disappoint.

I leave you with some Sinatra to end my one year:

And now, the end is near; 

And so I face the final curtain.

My friend, I’ll say it clear, 

I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain.
I’ve lived a life that’s full.

I’ve traveled each and every highway; 

And more, much more than this, 

I did it my way.
Regrets, I’ve had a few; 

But then again, too few to mention.

I did what I had to do

And saw it through without exemption.
I planned each charted course; 

Each careful step along the byway, 

And more, much more than this, 

I did it my way.
Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew

When I bit off more than I could chew.

But through it all, when there was doubt, 

I ate it up and spit it out.

I faced it all and I stood tall; 

And did it my way.
I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried.

I’ve had my fill; my share of losing.

And now, as tears subside, 

I find it all so amusing.
To think I did all that; 

And may I say – not in a shy way, 

“Oh no, oh no not me, 

I did it my way”.
For what is a man, what has he got?

If not himself, then he has naught.

To say the things he truly feels; 

And not the words of one who kneels.

The record shows I took the blows –

And did it my way! 
Yes, it was my way.

Year in Review or How I Conquered 2016

So much has happened this year that today was the perfect day to reflect on the changes.  For obvious reasons, I’m only going to write about my life, not the world in general.  There will be hundreds of other articles if you need to read about celebrities or world events.  I am but one man on a journey.  My wife used the term “retrospective” earlier when I told her about today’s topic.  I kind of like that term- because I’m always looking back on my life throughout my blog posts.  Here is my life over the past year:

Still Making It Up As I Go.

 

January 27th I wrote and shared my first ever blog post.  It was titled: Come Here To See All My Mistakes.  Honestly, since posting that title, I rarely made any mistakes in my writing.  My wonderful wife proofreads nearly every post prior to sharing it with the world.  She even proofread today’s post.  Writing daily proved to be a great challenge.  But I have made sure to post every day, no matter how early or late in the day.

My personal blog has 340 posts so far with 4500 different visitors and nearly 7000 views.  Not bad considering I’m not an “internet celebrity”, I don’t advertise my blog, nor am I selling anything.  Just word of mouth and some enjoyable moments that I have shared.  I have also been greeted by other bloggers in this world and welcomed with open arms.  No trolls for nearly a year.  Cool.

I love writing my blog posts.  I have shared numerous stories of my children, my work, and my life growing up.  It’s been a lot of fun to re-count my life and take stock of all of the wonderful (and sometimes sad) experiences that have defined who I am.

In March, I turned the big 4-0.  This brought on a bunch of emotions and feelings that I never knew a grown up could have.  I felt like I was ready to renew my life and start a new stage.  I jumped out of my comfort zone many times since then.

I fired my first gun and found a new respect for those who serve our country.  It also happened to be my most read blog post of the year.  Read about it here: Westie For A Day

I played with VR numerous times and was amazed at how hyper-real it was.  Here were some of my previous posts: Button MashingBohemian RhapsodyI’m Batman.  I even wrote a short story along the way: DOS Grampa.

My wife and I celebrated 15 years of marriage back in July.  She has been and will remain my best friend.  I’m still not sure how this came to be, but dang I’m a lucky guy.

I lost a friend due to depression which led to his suicide.  Even though all I could do was write a memory post about his life through my eyes (Jeremy) I wish that there was more that I could have done for him. Now I feel that I see the signs of depression and can do more for other friends in the future.  I’m still saddened by his passing, but I did reconnect with some old friends because of this.  Perhaps there is some good that came out of this.

I love where I work (Proud of Where I Work).  So I decided to change my career path at the end of the year and took on a new role at work.  Even at age 40, I still like being challenged at work.

I attended not one, but two NHL games in under a week.  What?  (Hockey and Game 2)  Not bad for a guy who isn’t very sports oriented.

My year has been pretty amazing to say the least.  Even with some ups and downs, I’m happy with how it turned out. I’m also really happy that my family and my friends have supported me throughout all of my endeavors.  I’ve said it before, and once again, I want to say Thank you for everything. (Thank you Jan.31)

Today, my social media is filled with some great inspirational images relating to the new year.  

I wish nothing but the best to everyone out there in the coming year.  Take the time to reflect on your life and your foreseeable future.  Who knows what a year can do.  Look at how much has changed in my life in 2016.

Changing It Up

Today I start a new journey.  One that I feel better suits me and my skill sets.  My current employer offered me an opportunity to change my work path into more of a career path.  After much deliberation and discussion with family and friends, I have taken a leap of faith into a more challenging role.

I’m not getting any younger.  I have children growing up and I want to deliver the best that life has to offer to them.  Be it a good education, travel, or just the necessities of life.  For the first time in what feels like years, we decided to celebrate my new journey.


My wife took me (and the family) out for dinner at Milestones.  Very fitting considering I’m reaching a new milestone in my life.  I haven’t been to this restaurant for a meal since we moved from our last home over a decade ago.  The food was tasty and the service was fantastic.  It was a nice treat for the family.  

Since I went rogue from my previous position and joined management, my expenses have changed and some money opened up.  Time for me to finally get a new vehicle.


I bought a new 2016 Nissan Rogue SL…  It looks like an angry Storm Trooper.  Tomorrow afternoon, it will be gracing our driveway.  Finally, a little bit of luxury for my drive to and from work.

As I further my journey over the next year from the title of Yardmaster to Trainmaster, I hope to still remain friends with those who matter most.  I understand that it’s not easy being friends with the boss or management.  But I know that in my journey through life, many people will grace me with their presence.  Many will stay connected with me.  Many more will just be passing through.  

With those thoughts in my mind, I have chosen to do what’s best for me and my family.  No one else could make the decision for me.  I believe it is the right pathway towards the betterment of my family.

Cold November Rain

It’s the beginning of a new month.  November.  An opportunity to start a new challenge in one’s life before the year draws to an end.  November is that last push before Christmas is upon us.  Another chance to make good on all of those promises we made to ourselves throughout the year.


This year I am going to do something I’ve thought about for years.  I’m going to try and write a novel in a month.  The NaNoWriMo challenge is for the entire month.  Write a few (thousand) words/day and “poof” a magical novel is created.  I am 100% sure that the majority of work is not worthy of anyone’s reading, but it gets those juices flowing.  Besides signing up for the challenge, where does one start?  “Once upon a time…”

I also use this month as a time to “Purge”.   It will be a great way for me to avoid writing.  Honestly.  I’m not going to lie about that, if the writing gets tough, I will distract myself by going through our old clothes- sweaters and hoodies come out of hibernation.  Some may not fit, maybe the style isn’t how we want to portray ourselves, or maybe we’ve outgrown its usefulness.  Or old toys and games.  Time to donate things we never use.

As well there is the yard.  Leaves have been falling, and a garden needs major pruning.  Today, we had a pretty significant rain fall.  It made me realize that the downspouts and roof need a good cleaning.  Yay!  More distractions from completing my writing challenge!

Ah, November.  A time to get lost in thought.  Everybody needs some time on their own.

And when your fears subside

And shadows still remain

I know that you can love me

When there’s no one left to blame

So never mind the darkness

We still can find a way

‘Cause nothin’ lasts forever

Even cold November rain


Dammit G’N’R.  You always sneak up and get stuck in my head at the worst moments.

Foggy Thoughts

These past few weeks have had me in a mental haze.  My mind is going off in a hundred different directions.  I lay awake going through numerous scenarios about “what if” and following each path through my mind.


It feels like I have been going to Blips & Chitz to play “Roy: A Life Well Lived” over and over again.  Trying new paths but always reaching the same result.  Born, grow up, date, get married, have kids, do job, receive “Greatest Dad Trophy”, retire, get cancer, die.  Is that really my lot in life?  How can I change it?  What am I needing to do to keep my lifestyle fresh and exciting?

Perhaps more vacations?

Maybe a new car?

Exercise?  (Hahaha sorry…)

What about a career change?

Or volunteer my time to some community cause?

Recycle more?

Read more books?

What lies ahead?


The answer is: I don’t know.  And I’m ok not knowing at this point.  I’ve been trying new things this year to find my own inner peace:

Connecting with old friends.

Making new friends.

Writing this blog.

Trying new restaurants.

Cooking new foods.

Learning new arts.

Changing my hair colors.

Repairing family relationships.

My journey is still ongoing.  I just need to let it take me where it needs to.  There is no right path or wrong path for me at this moment.  I need to stop worrying because everything will work out.

Extra! Extra!

I am about to step out of my regular routine and add some changes to my life. It all began while I got drunk while remembering my friend who I lost recently (I shared my feelings here: Jeremy).  The night I found out about the loss, I went to karaoke with some other friends.   It was the second time this summer that I went to karaoke.  The last time I ever went was nearly fifteen years ago.  I just wanted to be surrounded by friends having fun.

Look at all that magic!


While at the pub, there was this stranger there that looked very familiar.  It just so happened that he was the boss of a friend who was with me that evening. I began asking my friend about this stranger trying to piece together something about this guy.  Eventually, I decided to wander over to this fellow to talk with him.  I was doing my best not to make a drunk fool of myself, because I wouldn’t want my actions to affect my friend’s work.  

Motivational image inserted to add visual content.


After an I introduced myself, I mentioned that I knew him from someplace.  He and I both agreed that we’ve seen each other somewhere over the years.  Neither of us could pinpoint it.  A few mutual friends,  both of us have lived in the same general area for a couple decades, but nothing that gave me the “Ah-Ha” moment.  We continued talking, still having no clue where we may have met, but we were having some good laughs.  In the end he asked me to join his company.  Good “first” impression I guess.

Yesterday I applied to work for his company.  I don’t know what kind of work it will entail, or whether I’ll get any work at all.  You see, he runs a talent agency: Aces Talent.  I applied to become an extra in film and movies.  The thought of doing something like this has never been on my radar.  Living in the outskirts of Vancouver, you just become accustomed to filming going on everywhere.  

I can do this…


I’m not an actor, nor am I pursuing that goal.  But for a few years now I have wanted to try doing voice over work.  This may just be the opportunity to explore that avenue.  Or maybe I won’t ever hear from them because they don’t need a pink haired skinny forty year old for any films.  Who knows.  

The only thing I can say is that I’m willing to step out of my comfort zone once again to see what life has to offer.

I’m perfect.  Or so it seems.

I love writing my daily blog posts. I have a few devoted followers who read and comment nearly every time on my Facebook Page.  That’s pretty awesome because it’s encouraging to know that there are people actually reading it.  I’m also pretty sure that there are “bots” that search out tags and instantly “Like” my posts.  That’s ok as well because that info helps me in deciding what tags to use in future posts.  

The tie says it all.


The only thing I’m not getting from any of this is advice or constructive criticism to help my writing become better.  This may be from the fact that people may think I will be easily offended or that I will disregard their opinions.  At this point, as far as I know, everything I write is perfect.


I’m a Spell Check fanatic and Grammar Nazi.  Only recently have I stopped really being “that guy” on social media.  I found people just don’t care.  That saddens me. If I am making a mistake in how I structure my sentences or use the wrong form of a word, such as strait or straight, please point it out to me.  My wife does it to me without any worries of repercussions- and we’re still married.

I’d also like more critiques on my work.  Some examples of what is good criticism:

Does the story flow?

Do the images used help in what I am portraying?

Are my facts correct?


Criticism that isn’t needed:

You suck.

I disagree because you suck.

Your story sucks and therefore you suck.

I am also on the other side.  I have friends /family who also create art and writing.  At times I REALLY WANT TO SAY SOMETHING, but I am unsure how they would react to my criticism.  I don’t want to hurt feelings, but I also don’t want to read or see garbage all the time.  (Just kidding about the garbage comment.)  If any of my friends who create works of art have a tough skin, or want my opinion on what they have created, let me know.  Opinions are like assholes, everybody has one.  I try to not be an asshole when offering my opinion- but only if asked.  


Biting my tongue or deleting my comments before hitting “enter” has probably saved more friendships than I could imagine.


I would like feedback please.  If you aren’t comfortable with others reading it, by all means private message me or call me.  If you would like feedback (my opinion) let me know.  I’d love to help.  Whether you take my advice or not is up to you.  I have a certain style and it may not meet your standards.  That’s ok, because doggone it, people like me.

Passionate

Today was the first day since I began my daily blog post that I was truly stumped with what to write about.  A bit of depression hit me at the end of this week, making it difficult to focus and come up with what to write about.  Yesterday’s blog post was one I had been working on for a while- so I just polished the edges and tweaked it to completion.

Today I decided to follow the advice from The Daily Post suggestion.  I often skimmed over these thinking, “what a good idea” for those days that I really don’t know what to write.  Today was that day.  The one word prompt PASSIONATE seemed like a great way to get me back on track.  Some people write poems, some write stories, I’m going to blog about why I am passionate about me.


Now you may be thinking, “Hey Josef, isn’t that a tad bit narcissistic?”  Believe me, I’m not saying I’m a God in any way.  What I want to portray is that I am passionate about my life.  I’ve always been a firm believer in the “Golden Rule” and that you should do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  I don’t need to be religious to understand that this is the right thing to do.  

Working hard towards a goal often brings out my passion for quality workmanship. Whether it’s cooking a meal for my family or twenty of my closest friends, I am passionate about creating a tasty meal.  The same goes for doing home improvements.  I may not be the best carpenter or plumber, but I do the best I can and love the final results.  

I would like to say I am passionate about movies, but my passion only falls towards movies that make me happy.  Many films from my childhood/teenage years are the ones I am most passionate about.  (Can anyone say Star Wars?)  The same goes for the shows and movies that make my children’s eyes light up.  If we can’t stop discussing a show, I know that it will end up in our movie library.


Because of the passion I have towards a sci-fi and anime, I have become passionate about making costumes, cosplay & props.  I have been known to get upset at myself for cutting corners just to finish a costume.  I try and make it as accurate as possible; that is the challenge.  Making cosplay for my children has become almost a full time job.  They want the details to shine through, and because of their commitment to the characters, I do my best to make their costumes as close to perfect as possible.  I am always learning new tricks and secrets to improve what I make.  

Because of my passion for cosplay and costumes, we have been traveling constantly over the past few years.  These trips have all been road trips, with added stops and experiences on the way.  I have been passionate about bringing new and one of a kind experiences into my family’s life.  All of these journeys have shown me that I am passionate about educating my children beyond just the textbooks.  

I took a wrong turn.


Finally, I am passionate about my writing.  I have been on a personal pilgrimage to discover “my inner voice” since the start of the year.  Some of the stories I share about my life or experiences are humorous.  However, I haven’t been able to portray humor in a way that feels right.  Sometimes it feels forced other times it feels predictable.  Some of the stories I share are my way of talking about how wonderful life is and how much I am enjoying the moments I have on this planet.  

But my most read stories that I have written are my saddest ones.  The ones that show a vulnerable side to me.  The ones that, even as I write them, I have brought myself to tears.  These are the stories that people can relate to.  These are the stories that I pour my soul into and work really hard to perfect.  These stories may be sad, but are passionate nonetheless.

Thus concludes today’s blog post.  PASSIONATE.