069: I am grateful to be alive


Holy crap! When I said I was grateful for taking a break I didn’t think it would be for 4 and 1/2 years. A lot of water has gone under clichéd old bridge. My life and my approach to it has changed. I think, act and even look differently today.  I’ve been working steadily at a corporate job for just over 4 years, that wasn’t even on the radar when I stopped blogging here. In fact, at that time I was feeling pretty hopeless, and my daily gratitude was like whistling in the darkness at first, but eventually my mind changed.

I truly became grateful and try to maintain that frame of mind every day.

That’s not to say I don’t still have my struggles. I do. I tend to handle them a little differently today. I’ve faced a bunch of things that I was terrified of and am still working on some. We meditate every day and eat a bit healthier. I’ve lost 60+ pounds. I have new friends and have caught up with old ones. All in all we have a pretty great life.

I’ve found a creative outlet in photography, that has also sparked my, thankfully ever-present, sense of humour even further.

I’m ok. I might post more here, I might not. I think this will be the last numbered, “I am grateful for…” post though. Maybe this site will be more about defrigging myself, which was the original intent of this domain. Until then, here’s a link to some more of my photos on Flickr. Maybe it will remain an archive. I have a few other URLs I can be found on. Maybe that’s where I’ll be:

What inspired me to write today? Robin Williams death was the prompt I needed. Rest in Peace…

O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done;” ~ Walt Whitman

068: I am grateful for taking a break

I took a week long vacation from posting. It sure did feel good. I didn’t really have the gumption to come home and do more blogging after my first week of work. My brain was simply spent trying to take in all the new information.

Anyway, I’m back now and grateful for my little break. I feel recharged and have more desire to keep going.

What is a break?

Taking a break is interrupting one’s activity briefly, as in We’ve been blogging way too much lately; let’s take a break.
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067: I am grateful for red ribbons

Today was, like every December 1st since 1988, World Aids Day. Red ribbons are everywhere reminding everyone to protect themselves from the spread of HIV/AIDS.

I remember when the awareness of AIDS hit during the early 80’s. The gay community was the first in North America to be ravaged by the disease. A lot of ignorant misconceptions and fears arose around that fact. People actually thought that if AIDS awareness were taught in schools, it may “encourage” homosexuality in young people. Ridiculous.

As part of my education a man in his late 30’s with AIDS came to the school to speak with each class about the disease. He told us how he had come out of the closet to his family having already been married with children almost a decade earlier. I don’t remember what he said exactly but I do remember his face. Every year at this time I wonder whether he survived or not.

Not many at that time did.

What is AIDS?

AIDS or Acquired Immune Deficiency “is a condition caused by a virus called HIV. This virus attacks the immune system, the body’s “security force” that fights off infections. When the immune system breaks down, you lose this protection and can develop many serious, often deadly infections and cancers. These are called ‘opportunistic infections (OIs)‘ because they take advantage of the body’s weakened defenses. You have heard it said that someone ‘died of AIDS.’ This is not entirely accurate, since it is the opportunistic infections that cause death. AIDS is the condition that lets the OIs take hold.” [source]

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066: I am grateful for new beginnings

As you may have noticed I took the past couple of days away from blogging. I was fairly busy as I had a few things to prepare for the start of my new gig as the blogger / social media coordinator at the DOXA — Documentary Film Festival. Yes, I am working outside of home again.

I got tired of looking at these forest green walls here in my home office. Working you own hours in your pajamas is nice and all but I really missed interacting with other human beings. Thankfully I am in a busy, social office so I will have plenty of contact with people. What a relief. The cat, although lovely, is not a very decent conversationalist.

Believe me, I have tried.

What is a new beginning?

A new beginning, in this case, is a fresh start; a reset; a happy point from which to look nowhere but forward.

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065: I am grateful for charity

As I mentioned two days ago, we were off to the Movember Gala Parté last night. We had a great time and, as a result of our involvement in the event we have gotten to know some fantastic folks a lot better. Interesting how nice people are attracted to doing things for charity’s sake.

Our friend, John Biehler, participated in and won a video making contest sponsored by LG Electronics Canada. As you can see from the photo above, taken by Carol Browne, he was given a Happy Gilmore-esque novelty cheque for $5000. That’s a lot of cake to go to a great cause. Thank you very much LG and way to John.

What is charity?

Charity is “generous actions or donations to aid the poor, ill, or helpless; something given to a person or persons in need; alms; a charitable fund, foundation, or institution.” [source]

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065: I am grateful for meditation

I have tried meditation at various times throughout my life. Good friends of mine have been telling me about it for years. Only since May of 2009 have I made meditation a part of my daily spiritual routine.

My workout is my meditation. ~ Kyle MacLachlan

I am glad I finally listened to all those wise folks. The way I perceive and react to the world has undergone a real shift. I deal with adversity, or at least the appearance of it, much better than I used to. By no means am I some sort of guru or spiritual giant. I’m just a guy who meditates.

What is meditation?

Meditation is “used as a broad term for practices done by a sole practitioner without much, if any, external aid, often for the purpose of self-transformation. Often, though not at all necessarily, meditation is done as part of a religious tradition.” [source]

I am not into organized religion at all. In fact any temple, church or mosque I walk into is pretty sure to instantly either crumble to dust, explode into a million splinters or burst into flames. So it’s best I stay away and make my practice a personal affair. It’s better for everyone that way.

You don’t have to be religious or even spiritual at all to obtain benefits from meditation. It’s great for stress relief and helps with a variety conditions. Some of them are:

  • chronic pain
  • anxiety and panic
  • sleep disturbance & insomnia
  • gastrointestinal distress
  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • job or family stress
  • skin disorders
  • high blood pressure
  • stress factors in heart disease
  • [source]

When I had shingles this summer, rather than take any of the super-strong painkillers prescribed by the doctors, I used meditation for pain relief. It worked like a hot damn.

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064: I am grateful for parties

Tomorrow night we are headed out to a party to celebrate the end, or nearly the end of Movember; the Vancouver Gala Parté (tickets here). I have had a great time I’ve had participating. I have grown a mo’ustache, I have met some really cool folks, I have had some fun and now we get to go and be silly with the rest of the Movember bros and sistahs.

We haven’t been going out to a lot of these kind of things, but recently we are more compelled to be social and hang out with the awesome new friends we’re making. I can think of no better way to do that than at a party.

What is a party?

A party “is a gathering of people who have been invited by a host for the purposes of socializing, conversation, and recreation. A party will typically feature food and beverages, and often music and dancing as well. [source]”

There’s a movie I love called The Party, starring the late great Peter Sellers. If you haven’t seen it I recommend it. Sellers plays a friendly but bumbling East Indian actor who accidentally gets an invitation to a Hollywood party he should not be at. He just does not fit in. Here’s a clip:

Birdy num num!

I am fairly sure that there won’t be any parrots or English actors pretending to be from India at the party tomorrow night, but one never knows. These affairs can be rather wild. Carol will take lots of pictures I am sure.

Short post tonight. I need to get my beauty rest.

I’m going to a party!

Photo by Bill MacIntyre on Flickr

063: I am grateful for physics

Don’t mistake this for a post about mathematics. You will find no equations here; no long division; no cube roots; no measures of volume or mass. I am grateful for theoretical physics and how some new (but very old at the same time) ideas are making their way into the collective consciousness that ties science and spirituality together. I am interested in and fascinated by what makes the Universe, and ourselves, tick.

I want to know God’s thoughts; the rest are details. – Albert Einstein

The Universe works perfectly. Its laws are unfailing. Thanks to Physics we are beginning to understand it more and more.

What is physics?

Physics (Greek: physis – meaning “nature”) is a natural science; it is the study of matter and its motion through spacetime and all that derives from these, such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the world and universe behave. [source]

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062: I am grateful for oceans

Having grown up in a place like Nova Scotia, where you are never any more than 30 minutes to the Atlantic Ocean it isn’t surprising that I have such an affinity for oceans. I love the sight, smell, sound, taste and feel of the ocean.

People have asked me why I came to British Columbia rather than stopping in any other place in Canada, like Toronto or Calgary. I often joke and say, “It was the only other place in Canada with another ocean.” Joke or not, there’s a lot of truth to that. I don’t understand how anyone could live in a  place far from the ocean. Life just wouldn’t feel in balance.

What is an ocean?

An ocean (from Greek, Okeanos (Oceanus)) is a large body of saline water, and a principal component of the hydrosphere. Approximately 71% of the Earth’s surface (~3.61 X 1014 m2) is covered by ocean, a continuous body of water that is customarily divided into several principal oceans and smaller seas.

More than half of this area is over 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) deep. Average oceanic salinity is around 35 parts per thousand (ppt) (3.5%), and nearly all seawater has a salinity in the range of 30 to 38 ppt. Scientists estimate that 230,000 marine life forms of all types are currently known, but the total could be up to 10 times that number. [source]

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061: I am grateful for farmers

If it came down to it, could you feed yourself? I mean, if there were no more grocery stores and you had to grow or gather your own food, raise animals or hunt, could you do it?

I don’t know if I could. I can’t even grow bamboo and that’s supposedly very easy. As far as animals go I shudder to think of what a mess trying to raise them would be, as is evidenced by our latest cat shenanigans. And slaughtering an animal to eat? Forget about it.

When I used to mow the lawn for my father’s animal hospital a horse from a local farm was brought in via truck having cut its leg on a fence. The farmer and his son removed the animal from the back of the horse trailer with a large bandage on a hind leg. Dad removed the bandage and blood shot across the parking lot, at least 10 feet with every pump of the horse’s heart.

Dad quickly set to repairing the damage while I became quite woozy and needed a seat. Still wobbly, I left on my bicycle with the image of that bleeding horse burning a hole through my skull on the sweltering summer day.

I made it halfway home and everything started to go white. I got off my bike and fainted on my grandmother’s front lawn. She rushed out to tend to me.

I am a wuss, or “wooz”, as my mother pronounces it. I would not do well in a slaughter situation. So, I think I would starve. There are only so many blueberries in the world.

This is why I am grateful for farmers.

What is a farmer?

The term farmer usually applies to a person who grows field crops, and/or manages orchards or vineyards, or raises livestock or poultry such as chicken and cows. Their products are usually sold in a market or, in a subsistence economy, consumed by the family or pooled by the community. [source]

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