The Bucket List – Version 2.1

So last week I begun a new series on updating my Bucket List. After writing a few weeks ago about my most popular posts, I realized that my Bucket List needed some major fine tuning. 

What is a Bucket List? Well…for those unaware, a bucket list is basically a wish list of things that you want to do before you “kick the bucket“.  It was an idea brought to the forefront by a movie that came out in 2007 starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman called…you guessed it…The Bucket List.

So here is Part Two of my all-new Bucket List series…

  • Phil Collins liveSee Phil Collins in concert.

This one, at this stage anyway, is more of a “pipe dream” than something that’s actually tangible. Collins is not currently touring and may not ever tour again. Still…he’s long been one of my favourite artists and he’s one of my biggest guilty pleasures. What’s better is that my wife also enjoys the musical stylings of one Mr. Collins (she walked down the aisle to an acoustic version of “Groovy Kind Of Love”), so this would definitely be something that we both could enjoy.

I don’t know if he’ll ever tour again, but if he does I want to be there. He’s one of the greatest performers of the past 40 years with songs that don’t just catch my ear, but speak to me and make me want to listen to them again and again. Any concert I’ve seen him perform in (including a live DVD that we own) has been magical, with vocal and instrumental perfection that makes me want to see him live and in person even more.

  • Drive Across CanadaDrive across Canada.

This is a carry-over from a previous Bucket List and there’s good reason for that. One of the greatest joys that Sunshine and I have is our ability to have fun within the confines of our car. We have been on 10-hour drives to Maine from Nova Scotia and have driven the famous Cabot Trail together. We talk, we laugh, and we end up falling in love just a little bit more than before we left.

I have never been west of Toronto before and Sunshine has only experienced the Toronto airport. It would be an incredible bonding experience to sit inside of a vehicle and experience the wonders of this beautiful country of ours together. Because of the planning, time, and money required for a trip like this, this may not happen any time in the next decade. But I definitely want it to happen because I think we’d have an amazing time.

  • 365 Photo ChallengeTake a photo every day for a year.

This is the type of meme that bloggers try to tackle all the time and usually fail. For me, though, I want to try to see the world in a different way. I don’t want to just take selfies or pics of the family every day for a year. I don’t want to take food photos every day or try to follow some type of daily “challenge”, either. I want to go out of my way to see something new and different every single day, regardless of whether or not I’m going outside of my house. I want to try to open up my eyes and my mind and see things that I haven’t seen before.

It’s one of those things that is really a case of “easier said than done”. I remember trying to complete the 100 Days of Happiness (I did, by the way) and realizing just how tough it was sometimes to not only find something happy about my day, but to take a photo and tweet about it. So to actually take the time to photograph something every single day for an entire year will be a very difficult task. But at some point (maybe even in 2015 through this website?), it’s something I definitely want to do.

  • 5KRun a marathon.

Never in a million years did I ever think that this was something I would ever even consider doing, but after running a 5K back in June and then completing a 10K TWICE over the past couple of months, I’ve realized that not only do I want to do it, but it feels like an attainable, realistic goal. So before I can ever consider running a marathon, I need to work my way up to a half-marathon. It’s funny…Sunshine told me that it would be easier to go from 5K to 10K than it would be to go from the couch to 5K. She was right. She also said once that was done, it wouldn’t be that difficult to go from 10K to a half-marathon…so there isn’t any reason why she isn’t right this time, too.

So that’s now a goal for 2015. Crazy, but true. I’m going to do whatever I can to train for a half-marathon. Wow…to actually write that down and mean it is a weird feeling. But yeah…that’s my goal. If it doesn’t happen in 2015, it’ll happen in 2016. I’m definitely going to make this happen.

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So this is the second part of my list. What would YOURS include?


Depression

I think I may be actually battling depression.

It’s weird to say that, because it’s not normally something that people come right out and say, but after having a conversation with Sunshine last week I decided to do just a little bit of research. I realized that I hadn’t been myself over the past couple of months (after telling myself that I was totally fine) and wondered if I was depressed. Again.

Depression makes it tough for anyone to enjoy life in a functional way. Let’s face it…being sad or having a “downswing” are normal reactions to things that happen in life. Just because someone is feeling depressed about something, doesn’t mean that they’re clinically depressed.

I searched online and found a number of signs and symptoms of clinical depression. And unfortunately, I identified with many of them:

  • Loss of interest in daily activities. This could be a lack of interest in anything from social activities to sex. Basically, one has lost the ability to feel joy and pleasure. Without going into detail, Sunshine has recognized a major change in this area with me. I just want to come home, sit on the couch, and then eventually go to sleep. That’s it. Even if I’m not clinically diagnosed as being depressed, this is not a healthy situation for me.
  • Appetite or weight changes. This means that one has either lost their appetite or has found that they can’t stop eating. I’ve gained over six pounds in the past two weeks alone. I have gorged myself during the past few visits to see my son, eating large quantities of food that aren’t good for me just because I’m “on my own” and not under the watchful eye of my wife (which I’m not complaining about, for the record…I need her eyes!). I’ve come home from my past two visits feeling physically ill because I had eaten so much. Sunshine says I have a “sugar problem” and she’s probably very right.
  • Sleep changes. This means that one can’t sleep or sleeps too much. For me, I’ve had a difficult time sleeping past a certain time over the last few weeks. Sure, it could totally be the time change and I recognize that. But if I happen to get up during the evening to use the washroom (say…2am or 3am), it takes me over an hour to fall back asleep because my mind is racing and thinking about everything going on in my life. If I wake up after 5am, forget it…I’m up. And this is sometimes after going to sleep after midnight.
  • Anger or irritability. While not feeling violent in any way, I’ve definitely been easily agitated and restless lately. My tolerance level is low, my temper is short, and a lot of life in general gets on my nerves. THIS isn’t good. It affects those around me at work and it definitely affects my wife and kids. This actually scares me because I don’t want to get upset at the smallest little thing. I want to be the “every day happy” CBG that my family loves so much.
  • Loss of energy. Wow…this is me in a nutshell. I went from running a 10K TWICE in two weeks to doing absolutely nothing but have my ass suck the cushions on the couch. I feel fatigued, sluggish, and physically drained even when I didn’t do anything. My body feels heavy and small tasks (like grabbing something out of the freezer in the basement) take a lot longer to complete because it tires me out. I feel like I’m always draggin’ my ass around, and it’s tough to motivate myself to be any other way.
  • Self-loathing. In fairness, I’ve been a self-loathing person most of my adult life. I have very strong feelings of worthlessness and guilt. I’m my own worst critic when it comes to pointing out faults and mistakes. It’s brutal that this is how I feel, and I never would even recognize that I do it if it weren’t for Sunshine telling me. She sees it and she hates that I do that to myself.
  • Concentration problems. This happens both at home and at work. Sunshine will tell me something at home and I’ll drift off. When the topic comes up in conversation at a later time, I’ll ask about it and she will be frustrated at the fact that I didn’t listen to her the first time (or didn’t remember) even though we both had talked about it. At work, I feel as though I’m constantly making dumb mistakes and that I’m one step away from getting shit-canned. Is that the case? Probably not, but that’s the feeling I have right now and I get frustrated with myself for making dumb mistakes.
  • Unexplained aches and pains. This one was the icing on the cake for me because I’ve been battling unexplained headaches for the past few months. And the headache doesn’t just go away after a day or two. It’ll come back and pierce my skull for a week at a time. I pop a couple of Ibuprofen and it goes away for a few hours. I’ve had other weird aches and pains, as well, that I just chalked up to running…but now it all makes sense.

Now being clinically depressed may be something that’s totally in my head. I fully admit that maybe I’m just looking for a reason for how I’ve been feeling over the past few months. But when you look at the symptoms and add them all up, it certainly seems like a very distinct possibility, especially where I battled depression before.

For some people, depression is a long-term illness. In 20%-30% of people who have an episode of depression, the symptoms don’t entirely go away. According to the American Psychiatric Association, at least 50% of people who have an episode of major depression will go on to have a second. About 80% of people who have two episodes will have a third.

I’m not saying I’m going through a major episode by any stretch. But I also realize that I may have trouble even trying to figure out how I feel right now. If I’ve been depressed for an extended period of time, I may not even remember what “normal” is supposed to feel like.

So this is going to be a process. I’ve set up a doctor’s appointment to take place next week and I’ll see what he says. I’m open to anything at this point, whether it be therapy or medication. I just want to go back to being the man that my wife fell in love with because I kinda liked him, too.


Positive Reinforcement

Because of how I was brought up, I’m a person who is constantly in need of positive reinforcement.

Let me explain…

My dad never told me he was proud of me for anything as I was growing up. I was the constant screw-up and when something was done well, it was just assumed that’s how it was supposed to be so nothing was said. When I made a mistake or did something wrong? Boy…I heard about it.

My dad was (and still is) the guy who shit on me for not knowing how to look at the engine of a car and figure out why it’s not running, yet he never took the time to show me himself. He’s the guy who constantly harps on my poor financial decisions, yet never used his experience of being a bank manager (!!) to help educate me into making better financial choices.

So here I am, a man in his early 40’s, trying to get through life in search of the positive reinforcement that I never got from my parents from those around me. Regardless of whether I receive good feedback or bad, though, all I hear is the bad.

And it weighs on me.

Sunshine noted last week that I never give MYSELF positive reinforcement…I’m always harder on myself than anybody else. She said that it was no wonder I needed positive reinforcement all the time from others because I constantly take it away from myself with constant put-downs and self-criticisms.

And she’s totally right.

I’ve tried to see the positive in me, especially in the years since my first marriage ended. Yet every time I do I end up telling myself that I’m not worth it and back down the rabbit hole of self-destruction I go.  

Example? I just recently I ran a 10K on my own twice (!!) in two weeks and I was inching my way to being 220lbs, something I haven’t been in a decade. Then for whatever reason I sat on my ass for two weeks, stopped running completely, and then gained over six pounds in the process. I feel crappy physically and that, in turn, has affected my mental and emotional state.

At work I seem to be scatterbrained. When starting a project I read the document but skip through certain words in a sentence. When I complete what needed to be done, I find that I’ve missed something and it comes back to bite me in the ass. It comes across as me making careless mistakes and that, in turn, affects my mental and emotional state because I start questioning my abilities.

Sunshine has told me that I need to wake up, take the time to look inside myself, and somehow see the good things in there. Whenever I begin to hear the negative feelings pulling me down, I need to find a way to shut them up and shut them off.

Sigh…y’know, I find it’s embarrassing to be writing this all down. I mean, I’m a grown-ass man…why should I let these stupid feelings and emotions run my life? I’m the one who should be in control, shouldn’t I? Do any of my buddies from high school even HAVE these types of feelings? They’re just “manly men” who are steamrolling through life and grabbing it by the balls.

I wish that was me, but it’s not…and that ends up affecting my mental and emotional state because I want to be “that guy”.

I picked up a book a few months ago about controlling my anger, but I didn’t read more than a couple of chapters because I don’t feel like an angry person. I don’t think having a quick temper is the issue; it’s the result of the issue. I think it’s a lot deeper than just being an angry guy…so I’m going to have to do some research and find some reading material on how to find the positives in life.

Jeez…am I suffering through depression? I sure as hell hope not. I shouldn’t be depressed, anyway. I’ve got a great family, a solid marriage, awesome kids, and a pretty decent job that I have the potential to excel at. Why should I be depressed?

But I guess that could be a big reason why I’m still in need of positive reinforcement at my age. For whatever reason, I need somebody telling me that I’m doing a good job in order to believe that I’m actually doing a good job. I need Sunshine to tell me that I’m attractive in order to believe that I’m actually a decent looking guy. I need to hear that I’m allowed to be happy in order to let myself actually BE happy.

Is that what depression is? Yeesh…I hope not, but that might be the situation (I’ll have to do some research on that to know for sure).

Whether it’s the smart move to make or not, I might be getting a bit more “real” over the coming weeks and months on the blog. I need to go back to what started me blogging in the first place: sorting through my emotions and seeing if I can’t work through my shit.


Fun Music Flashback Friday – Find A Way To My Heart

Have you ever had a song connect with you in a way that others don’t quite “get” or understand? Sure, some people may say that they really feel a connection with the latest hit on the radio…but that can sometimes come from hearing it a hundred times. 

What if you have a song that connects with you because the lyrics hit you like a ton of bricks? Or perhaps the music itself makes you feel something that you can’t quite describe?

That’s the way I feel whenever I hear the Phil Collins song, “Find a way to my heart”.

The song, to the best of my knowledge, was never a single. In fact, I’ve only been able to find a couple of live performances of it on YouTube, which leads me to believe that it was never a big favourite of his, either.

But for me, it made me feel a certain way from the moment I first heard these lyrics…

Find a way to my heart, and I will always be with you
From wherever you are, I’ll be waiting
I’ll keep a place in my heart, you will see it shining through
So find a way to my heart, and I will, I will follow you

The song is about falling in love with someone who isn’t quite ready to fall in love with you. But he’s asking that person to give him a chance. If they actually let themselves fall in love, they’ll see that he’ll be there for them forever.

This journey’s not easy for you, I know
If your footsteps get too faint to hear, I’ll go
Cos you know, questions are never that easy
And never the same
You have the answer believe me
If you have the faith 

Time may come, and time may go, I know
If you should call out for me, I’ll go
But you know, there is a code to be broken
I wrap it around
Without a word being spoken
Without a sound

There’s a reason I hide my heart
Out of sight out of mind
And when I find out just who you are
The door will be open for you.

I’ve never been one to open myself up to my partner. My longer relationship is the 6-year one I’m currently in. That’s right…I’m 42 and my longest relationship is SIX YEARS. This song spoke to me from the first time I heard it back in 1990.

To me, it was a song about true love…two people finally finding a way to each other and letting themselves be truly happy with one another. It’s been a favourite of mine for over 20 years and it’s as relevant to my life now as it’s ever been. 

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Is there a song that speaks to you?


Throwback Thursday

There haven’t been too many opportunities to travel to Ontario and visit my daughter, Rugrat. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done it…but with work and my new family routine firmly in place, it just makes sense to fly her down to visit us.

Having said that, there was a time back in 2008 when I had to travel to Toronto for work. I decided to make the most of my trip and plan a surprise visit.

Because I had to fly out the day before anyway, I chose to book the earliest flight out of the city. That meant I was in the air by 6:30am and in Toronto before 8:30am. I booked my hotel and contacted my ex to let her know about my plans. She suggested making up a story to keep Rugrat home from school that day, which was a pretty cool thing for her to do. I told her what time I planned to arrive and she came up with a story of a broken water pipe at the school, so we were all set to go.

I didn’t want to bother with a rental car (though looking back I probably should have), so I jumped on the bus from the airport and (slowly) made my way from Toronto to Whitby, which turned into a 2-hour ride (it’s normally just over an hour by car).

I arrived at the house and rang the doorbell. Rugrat came to the door and her eyes nearly popped out of her head. I took a quick photo, but it’s a little difficult to make out her expression.  You can barely see me smiling on the left, too. Trust me when I say that I’ll never forget this moment:

Rugrat surprise 1

We hopped in a cab and went to Chuck E. Cheese’s. We ended up being there for a couple of hours. We played games, we ate pizza, and it was awesome just to be able to hang out for awhile.

Next up was a quick walk to The Putting Edge for a round of glow-in-the-dark indoor miniature golf. After that was done, we wound up my quick visit by heading over to Caffe Demetre, which is an all-dessert restaurant.

We were sitting there eating our $10 sundaes when the manager stopped by. Because we were the only ones in the place, she talked with us and heard the story about my visit. At this point, she offered to take a photo of us. This is definitely one of my all-time favourite pics because of the memories attached…

Rugrat surprise 2

I took Rugrat back and, after much hugging goodbye, jumped on the Go-Train back into the city. This will always be one of my most memorable trips, though; that time I surprised my daughter with a visit.

Rugrat surprise 3


The Bucket List – Verson 2.0

What is a Bucket List? Well…for those unaware, a bucket list is basically a wish list of things that you want to do before you “kick the bucket“.  It was an idea brought to the forefront by a movie that came out in 2007 starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman called…you guessed it…The Bucket List.

After writing a couple of weeks ago about my most popular posts, I realized that my Bucket List needed some major fine tuning. I mean, as cool as it would be to walk up Sydney Harbour Bridge, I don’t think it’s something I need to do before I die.

So here is Part One of my all-new Bucket List series. I’m going to tackle travel destinations, live concerts, and anything else that should legitimately fall on my Bucket List. I’d be interested to see what YOU would like to add to your own…

  • Magic KingdomFamily vacation to Florida.

I know that I’ve written about this before. Hell, it’s the primary reason why Sunshine and I are writing a new blog together. I’ve got a life-long dream of taking my own family to my favourite place in the world. I’m a massive child at heart and I’d definitely consider myself a theme park junkie. I remember the sense of wonderment that hit me like a ton of bricks the first couple of times that I walked into Walt Disney World and I cannot wait to provide that same experience to my own family. If there was anything that was considered to be at the top of my bucket list, it’s this.

  • Mediterranean CruiseGo on a Mediterranean Cruise.

Sunshine and I have fallen in love with cruising. From the first time we sailed on a Carnival cruise over three years ago, we have been in love with the idea of going to sleep to the gentle rocking of the ocean and waking up in an exciting and new location. We’ve been desperate to get back to another cruise ship in the Caribbean but a little promise we made to our kids about a Florida vacation has got to come first.

Still, my dream is to go on a Mediterranean Cruise with Sunshine. I have always wanted to visit that part of the world and to do it with my soul mate on a cruise ship would be incredible. Just thinking about it…Greece, Turkey, Italy, Malta, Tunisia…waking up in a new city every morning; it would be like living in a fantasy world.

I don’t need to do an Alaskan Cruise or sail through the Panama Canal (though both cruises would be pretty awesome). But before I die, I want to experience a Mediterranean Cruise with my wife.

Of course, there are a few more Bucket List items that can come from experiencing such a cruise…

  • Rome ColosseumSee the Colosseum in Rome.

I have always had a sense of wonder when it came to the Colosseum. I fully realize that it’s not in the greatest condition today, but knowing its history really provides all the incentive I need to see it in person. Gladiator aside, the fact that this massive structure was used for so many contests and public spectacles is extremely intriguing. It’s an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome, which is a fascinating period in history. I would love to be able to see this in person.

  • VeniceRide a gondola/water taxi in Venice.

The city itself would be worth seeing alone without the gondola ride. It’s a city that was originally built over 117 islands and has over 170 canals flowing in between its structures. Transportation in the historical part of the city remains entirely either by water or by foot. How incredibly awesome is that? So to actually step into a gondola and have someone slowly move us around the city would be a memorable experience that we would never forget. Venice is considered one of the most romantic cities in the world, too…how could that NOT be on my Bucket List to experience with my wife?

  • ParthenonVisit Athens and experience the Acropolis and the Parthenon

As you may be able to tell, I was a little bit of a history buff when I was in high school. Sunshine actually majored in history while at university, so visiting Athens is a “must” at some point in our lives. I can only imagine the wonder I would experience from seeing the Acropolis in person for the first time. It’s a massive structure that houses other famous buildings (like the Parthenon, pictured) and is extremely rich in historical significance. How many stories have you read or movies have you watched that dealt with Greek Gods? Just imagine experiencing the origins of some of those beliefs in person!

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So this is the beginning of my list. What would YOURS include?


Our Vacation

If you were wondering where my posts were last week, there is a good reason for my absence. Y’see, Sunshine and I took the week off for a well-earned vacation. And yes, I certainly have a few photos to show you from our time together.

Here’s the first…

Our room

Oh…you were expecting, maybe, a picture from a trip? Well, the only trip we took was to the local hardware store to pick up some paint.

Here’s the deal…last week was initially supposed to be when we took the kids to Florida. Unfortunately, that didn’t quite turn out the way we thought it would (hence, our new “how to save money” blog). We talked about maybe not taking the entire week off, but then decided that (a) we needed a break from the office together and (b) there was a lot of work around the house that needed to be done.

The girls had been asking for two years to paint their rooms, and we had said for two years “yes” but never followed through. This was the perfect time to follow through.

On Monday, Mo joined Sunshine and I as we painted her room a purple that she picked out herself. Purple is her favourite colour and she was absolutely stoked to be able to have her very own purple room. While I was a little hesitant at first about the colour, I think it all turned out great in the end.

Mo's room

Kiddo wanted a green colour for her room. She actually wanted a red room, but we put the kibosh on that pretty quick and she went with her second choice. I wasn’t a fan of either option, but what the heck…it’s only paint, right? The room is certainly green and it’s pretty bright, but she helped paint it and is really happy with the results, so I’m happy with the results, too.

Kiddo's room

Not content with painting two rooms, Sunshine and I went about painting two more. She painted our bathroom in a pretty snazzy shade of grey (doesn’t anybody even say “snazzy” anymore?) and then we both turned our attention to the bedroom.

We had this plan; this wonderful, glorious plan. We wanted to have the feel of a Caribbean beach in the room, with three walls having a “sand” colour and a bright, vibrant blue as a feature wall (pictured, top). The focal point of the room would be an incredible photo that Sunshine took when we were in Roatan, Honduras a couple of years ago. We’d blow it up into a poster and everything would be complete.

Like a dream

Unfortunately, we didn’t blow up the pic until AFTER we purchased the blue paint. Needless to say, as awesome as the wall looked on its own, it didn’t match the photo or even blend with it in the slightest way.

Sigh…

We now have a new idea. We’re going to put our favourite photo from the wedding on the wall and we think it’s going to “pop” beautifully.

The wedding photo

We’re going to take our Honduran beach poster and put it in our living room, where it matches the walls perfectly.

Throughout all of this painting was about ten full garbage bags of items to be donated to charity (clothes, toys, games, tec.). We’re not quite finished yet, either, as there were a number of items that we had on our “to do” list that we just didn’t have time to do. Those items will have to be done next weekend.

So we’re both back at work today and, quite frankly, could use a vacation to recover from our vacation. Sunshine worked her ass off all last week and we both still have things we need to do this coming weekend. It’ll be worth it in the end, though. Nothing good ever came from not working hard.


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