30-day Writing Challenge – Day 23

Write a letter to someone, anyone.

Dear young Brayden,

Hello from the future! Wisdom is gained through experience, and so I wanted to impart upon you a few things that got learned along the way – not that what was done was bad or wrong, but that the path of life can be so different if you look at things through another lens.

Quietly driven. That’s probably the best way to describe the last twenty-ish years. I haven’t always been satisfied in the present, which explains my great tendency to plan for the future, and revel in the past. Don’t get me wrong, there have been plenty of moments along the way that were most enjoyable, and they have been the result of planning, and remain in my memory as joyful, but remaining in the here-and-now is so, so important.

In that “driven” part, too, is the need to be just slightly off-kilter in your thinking and how you do your things. It’ll serve you well over time as you work hard to find your way in a world that doesn’t know quite what to do with you. Even by the time you get into the Regular Force, the system loves you, but you’re not like the others. There’s a hunger for knowledge, and, like dad, you know how to leverage it so that the next great thing comes around.

The last piece of advice I want to offer is two-fold: Don’t be afraid to be yourself, and don’t be afraid of the future. It took too long for me to feel confident enough to really know who I am, and I didn’t spend enough energy trying to stand up for myself and go after what I wanted. Fear is powerful. Don’t let it take over.

The rest is easy – you’ll do just fine. Be good to yourself.

B.

30-day Writing Challenge – Day 22

Put your music on shuffle and post the first 10 songs.

Music, obviously, is a major driver in what I do. I also have a very large and very eclectic collection of tunes. I’m personally curious to see what will turn up…

  1. She’s Out of My Life – Michael Jackson (Off The Wall)
  2. Bonus Mystery Track – Black Crowes (Shake Your Moneymaker)
  3. Design for Living – Flanders and Swann (At the Drop of a Hat)
  4. Oh Girl – The Chi-Lites (Soul Box)
  5. Human – Tank and the Bangas (Think Tank)
  6. Spring High – Ramsey Lewis (The Wonder of Stevie)
  7. Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene – Hozier (Hozier)
  8. Mister Magic – The Philadelphia Experiment
  9. Go On – Jack Johnson (Sleep Through the Static)
  10. Rock Wit You – Alicia Keys (Songs in A Minor)

Personally, I’m surprised, but not surprised. All of these are tracks I’ve had in my library, most of them for a long time, a couple that I’ve never ever listened to either. Now, if we had to post my personal top-10 right now, here’s what would likely show up:

  1. Lost Without You – Will Sessions & Amp Fiddler (feat. Dames Brown)
  2. Love is a Beautiful Thing – Vulfpeck (Hillclimber)
  3. Never Will – Terra Lightfoot (Every Time My Mind Runs Wild)
  4. Tints – Anderson .Paak feat. Kendrick Lamar (Oxnard)
  5. Peaks & Valleys – Dan Mangan (More or Less)
  6. All Ashore – Punch Brothers
  7. Ain’t Nobody – Chaka Khan
  8. Lonely Town – Vulfpeck (Hillclimber)
  9. Troubled Mind – Dan Mangan
  10. What It Is – Will Sessions & Amp Fiddler (feat. Dames Brown)

Much more narrow in scope, but very much in line with what I’m digging on these days.

30-day Writing Challenge – Day 21

What three lessons do you want your children to learn from you?

Very timely, this one.

  1. I want my children to learn to be kind to themselves. This can take so many forms, but the way I want them to see it is that they need to be good to their bodies and to their minds. Take the time to nourish the body and the soul. Find healthy ways to sustain yourself physically and mentally. With my kids where they’re at these days, I’m starting to see some progress, but it’s slow.
  2. I want them to know that it is more than ok to make mistakes. I’ve long been a supporter of honesty and coming clean when something happens. Acceptance of responsibility is a tough one, but it’s so much easier for everybody if there isn’t the burial of secrets and errors, only to be uncovered later. This one is particularly difficult, as no one likes to be in the wrong, but I’ve tried to emulate this behaviour with them, so that they can see that I can apologize, work to make things right, and make change for the better.
  3. I have tried my best to show them that they are not a product of their circumstance, and that they can really choose their own adventure. If they want to achieve something, they can set goals and work towards it. Also, they need to realize that goals can change along the way, and that shifts in their path are just that, and not something that will necessarily derail the entire operation. Giving my kids the freedom to explore who they are and what they want to do has led to great growth in all of us.

30-day Writing Challenge – Day 20

Post about three celebrity crushes.

Really? I can’t say I’ve ever been super-enamoured with celebrities, so I’m going to instead pick three people I had crushes on over time, and omit some names.

M.C. – She and I took a semester or two of French class together when we were in college. We became friends, and spent a fair amount of time chatting over the internet. We parted company as I left school but reconnected many years later, just prior to me moving to Ottawa (and the advent of Facebook).

S.K. – An original crush. I think we met when we she moved to town and we were in Grade 3 or so. This crush remained throughout my high school years, and we keep in touch to this day. At one point, we worked together, and as I was getting ready to pack up my life and move away, I told her that I’d had feelings for her this whole time.

A.M. – I always admired her brilliance. We’ve known each other since we were six. She’s always been strong, incredibly intelligent, kind, driven, focused.

All three of these wonderful people have gone on to great things in their lives, and I’m thankful that we had the chance to cross paths along the way at some point.

30-day Writing Challenge – Day 19

Discuss your first love.

I’m very susceptible to reading deep into these prompts. Are we talking about someone I loved or an activity I loved? Today, I’m going to explore the former.

Like the army says, “no names, no pack drill”.

We met, literally, this one time at band camp. There wasn’t a flute involved, but she was this blonde girl who caught my eye and that I managed to find myself in a gazebo with late in the evening along with a group of friends. One by one, the others dwindled, and then it was just the two of us, and before I could even realize, there was a kiss involved. My first kiss. It took until the age of 14 to get there, but it was monumental in my mind. We started dating immediately. It was the spring of 1993. I was in Grade 9, she in Grade 8.

I know that I was a giant ball of teenaged hormones, and honestly it’s hard to know anything about love at that age, but I really learned a lot about the feeling of love with her. As a kid who felt like he didn’t get a lot of positive attention from folks, to have someone, and especially someone I was attracted to, spend time with me willingly, and who actually seemed to like me, this was something absolutely out of this world.

Our relationship didn’t last long – three months, I think – but it was three blissful months where I realized just how intoxicating love could be. I still remember the smell of her shampoo, the shape of her hands, how she kissed, all manners of little details from 25 years ago.

Our lives orbited around music and each other for the rest of our high school days. We dated again for a brief period a couple of years later, again with the same blissed-out feeling for me. Alas, it didn’t last long again.

She and I shared a bed for a spell once, although nothing ever happened between us. We were at band camp, staying at my aunt and uncle’s place in Kelowna, in their guest house that they lovingly referred to as the Bates Motel.

We both ended up in post-secondary in Vancouver, but didn’t see a whole lot of each other. We went to separate schools. I’d joined the army by this point and was starting to forge that whole part of my life. She wound up marrying my best friend, and I attended their wedding.

She moved off to Saskatchewan, and later the Kootenays, where she’d taken up jobs teaching. Many years later, we were both in Calgary – she there with her husband while he was undergoing cancer treatment, and me being on the road and performing at the Calgary Jazz Festival. It was a night where it would have been so simple to re-create that scene under the gazebo, and even a chance for things to go further (or maybe that was just my read). We didn’t, and that was okay. But there was this one moment as we’re standing outside my hotel and “Reelin’ in the Years” was playing:

You been telling me you were a genius since you were seventeen

In all the time I’ve known you I still don’t know what you mean

The weekend at the cottage didn’t turn out like you’d planned

The things that pass for knowledge I can’t understand

Steely Dan – “Reelin’ in the Years”

There was something so incredibly poetic and/or cliché about that scene, a song from one of my favourite groups of all time playing while I was with the girl I’d first fallen in love with.

After I got posted away from BC, she’d drift into my thoughts from time to time, and get stuck in my head for awhile. Finally, once I was posted back to BC, we regained contact. For a brief moment, I had it in the back of my head that there might be a microscopic chance that we might reconnect, but alas, it wasn’t to be. Eventually, we got a chance to meet over drinks, again, while I was on the road, and it was wonderful to see her after all these years. She really hadn’t changed at all – still beautiful.

30-day Writing Challenge – Day 18

Post 30 facts about yourself.

Without ado, here we go!

  1. I don’t think I can go back to riding anything other than fixies.
  2. Tattoos fascinate me. I’m nowhere near done collecting, either.
  3. I’m insecure about a lot of things.
  4. I’m disorganized, but I’m trying to fix that.
  5. I work well when my environs are in flux. I love my home and my situation, but change of location feels good. Transitory.
  6. I almost had a career in IT.
  7. I love making crazy situations come to fruition.
  8. I’m on a perpetual quest to go further. Faster. It’s like I’m secretly a trumpet player or something 😉
  9. Despite the rapid pace of life, I’ve learned that doing nothing is also a really great place to be.
  10. I like leadership. I’m getting better at leading and not doing.
  11. One of the toughest things I’ve ever had to do is to learn to let go.
  12. I’m scared to consider what it is I’ll do when I actually need to grow up and leave this job I’m in now.
  13. I like brewing. It’s a calming activity.
  14. Being outdoors keeps me grounded. Running, hiking, whatever.
  15. I dream a lot about being chased or followed, and I’m perpetually trying to get away from something – a situation or a feeling or someone.
  16. I still have nightmares about college.
  17. I love classic soul and R&B. I came really, really close to crying at the Motown Museum.
  18. I was pretty much blond up until the age of five.
  19. I’ve rediscovered reading. I was a voracious reader as a kid and there are always words going past my eyes, but reading for fun and learning has come back to the fore lately.
  20. I have a certain someone in my life who makes me weak in the knees.
  21. I don’t have a whole lot of deep dark secrets left. I’ve gotten most of them out to at least one other human (including a very, very big one today that kinda snuck out on a hike).
  22. I like sugar. It wreaks havoc on me, though.
  23. Coffee helps.
  24. The job I’m in right now is the one I feel most comfortable with out of all of the jobs I’ve held previously. I really feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be.
  25. The breakdown of my marriage was unbelievably difficult. Conversely, I’ve grown in ways I couldn’t have even imagined over the last four years.
  26. It’s taken me a long time to come to terms with the state of my mental health. I’m getting so much better at paying attention to what’s in my head.
  27. Come to my house and if I’m home I will feed you dinner. Try me.
  28. Hockey is how I chase the crazy away. For three 20-minute periods, all I have to focus on is not getting badly injured.
  29. I have amazing friends and family.
  30. I get so caught up in the future that I forget about the here and now. I’m working to make a change.

This prompt was a lot harder than I expected. Sure, I could’ve rattled off some figures and some facts, but none of them really seemed to resonate.

30-day Writing Challenge – Day 17

Post about your zodiac sign and whether or not it fits you.

I will admit I’m not big on zodiac at all, but this could be fun.

If you read the tea leaves at face value, I fit the bill pretty close. The first website I pulled up contained the following traits:

  • Strengths: Creative, passionate, generous, warm-hearted, cheerful, humourous
  • Weaknesses: Arrogant, stubborn, self-centered, lazy, inflexible
  • Likes: Theater, taking holidays, being admired, expensive things, bright colours, fun with friends
  • Dislikes: Being ignored, facing difficult reality, not being treated like a king or queen

So at first glance, this particular assessment is fairly bang-on. Those strengths resonate in me in varying ways. I’m making a conscious effort to work more on creative work (hence why I am writing every day), and the remainder definitely apply in how I generally roll in life.

I can identify with those weaknesses (although my self-centeredness waxes and wanes as I’ve had difficulties in identifying my centre, who I am, and what I need), and Kristy would definitely agree that I can be inflexible at times. Personally, I do feel I’m lazy a lot of the time, although my productivity would say otherwise.

All those likes and dislikes ring true as well. The admiration piece is a weird one, because I worked so long and hard to just be a wallflower, but for some reason I keep on getting tagged and being seen for what it is that I do. In some ways, on the dislikes side, facing difficult reality has been a struggle, and definitely squarely on that side. I’ve had a number of times (most especially in relationships) where I’ve fought to deal with the reality that I’ve been handed. I can be pretty meek a lot of the time, but also have a tendency to quietly subvert processes in order to get to where I want to be, and I’ve had good success at engineering things to where I like.

30-day Writing Challenge – Day 16

Something that you miss.

I have these occasional flashes where I really miss playing bass full-time.

My job is such that I’ve advanced up the ranks and gotten myself into a command team position. Historically, people in my position have been able to continue playing, but occasionally it comes down to not being able to keep that up. Right now, my boss is on maternity leave, therefore I’m doing her work and I’ve left my managerial responsibilities to someone else. This means that I’m primarily responsible to conduct the band, and it leaves me no opportunity (at work) to be a player.

This does, however, give rise to me pursuing work on the outside, and so far, 2019 is looking good in this regard, but it also places a challenge on my time in having to ensure that my chops are together to play at the level that’s expected of me.

I had a lengthy period there where, due to the deployment to Chile, I wasn’t applying hands to instrument on a regular basis. Once I got back from Christmas, it’s been slow and frustrating to get back into playing again, but it’s getting there. Making it a conscious, habitual thing to practice will help a lot.

30-day Writing Challenge – Day 15

Bullet-point your whole day.

I’m finding great interest in each of these writing prompts. This one is particular fun because my routine is in a state of flux. Here’s what a “normal” day looks like, if the kids are staying with me.

  • 6:15 – Out of bed, do 75 burpees
  • 6:30 – Have coffee, do some writing
  • 7:00 – Breakfast; wake the kids
  • 7:30 – Get dressed, continue to harangue the ones who aren’t yet out of bed
  • 8:00 – On my bike, headed to work
  • 8:15 – Get changed into uniform
  • 8:30 – Get the sick report from the duty musician; check email, put out fires
  • 9:00 – Full Band rehearsal
  • 10:00 – Coffee break, check emails, issue instructions as needed
  • 10:30 – Full Band rehearsal
  • 11:30 – Collect emails, prepare for announcements
  • 11:40 – Unit Announcements
  • 11:55 – Lunch/Hockey/Run
  • 13:00 – Back to my desk, shuffle some email, meetings, etc
  • 15:00 – Contemplate shutting down, getting changed, back on my bike, ride home
  • 15:30 – Home, tidy up, have a quick nap
  • 16:00 – Reading, practice, score study
  • 16:45 – Grocery shopping (if needed)
  • 17:15 – Dinner preparation
  • 18:00 – Dinner
  • 18:30 – Clean up, supervise kids’ making of lunches
  • 19:00 – Evening project (reading, laundry, helping the kids)
  • 20:30 – Kids heading for bed (2/3)
  • 21:00 – 2/3 kids in bed, prep my own lunch and breakfast, more relax time
  • 22:30 – Get ready for bed

Obviously, I do have some variability with the schedule. Hockey, in season, will sometimes affect my afternoon or evening, or if it’s just me, or just Kristy and I, or if I’m staying over at her place, etc, etc, etc. Planning has become essential for me in order to make sure that I’m getting things accomplished on my list.

30-day Writing Challenge – Day 14

Post your favourite movies that you never get tired of watching.

For this one, I have to say, I’ve got a bit of a gap. I’ve long loved movies, but did give up on them for a little while, and have all but sworn off of television since moving to Victoria. I wasn’t ever a really avid screen viewer in that regard, but I did enjoy the occasional film or TV show when it came around. Kristy is much more film and TV oriented, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have some favourites. Some of them are older, obviously, from when I worked at the theatre, some just because they’re films I’ve seen recently that really resonated with me.

Complicating today’s writing is that I’m in a hotel room in Ottawa, away from my usual resources. I’m lackadaisically following Mel Robbins’ Mindset Reset program for the month of January, and there is a lot of talk about the death of productivity through distraction. I’ve carved out time every morning to write (hence why I’ve gone 14/14 on this challenge so far), but one small destabilizing force can really derail a process.

Regardless, here are some of my favourite films!

  • Pulp Fiction
  • Star Wars (ep IV-VI)
  • Hunt for the Wilderpeople
  • Leave No Trace
  • Forrest Gump
  • Woodstock
  • Y Tu Mama Tambien