I have a plan!

Actually, no I don’t! And that’s okie dokie.

Or is it?

I’ve often wondered if I should have a plan for my life. Looking at other kids as I fumbled through my teen years, I wondered how they could have such direction for where they were headed. When asked, “what are you gonna do when you grow up?” they had a response all lined up. Whereas I did not. And while that didn’t usually bother me, there were times in which it did.

Don’t get me wrong, there were times I declared I was going to become a veterinarian, a teacher, a mad scientist, or what have you. But I’m talking about actually putting those ideas into a plan that would eventually be put into action. I didn’t really do that. Well… I didn’t really do that deliberately (and with great malice of forethought 😜).

I was, and still am, a tinkerer. Someone who takes something apart to learn how it works, puts it back together, and eventually builds off of what was learned from the experience. I did this especially with computers and, more specifically, the internet. Eventually, this led me to become a freelance web developer. That wasn’t a conscious plan that I had devised, it just happened.

Also, while I didn’t haven’t yet become a school teacher as I declared as a kid, I did end up teaching in other capacities. I was a music tutor, paddling instructor, and even ran workshops/programming while employed as a librarian. The desire to learn and then share that knowledge, as a teacher does, stuck with me and it ended up naturally influencing my trajectory in life. So while there wasn’t a plan per se, there was an underlying driving force. Yanno?

So you don’t always need a plan, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan at all. Right? I honestly don’t know. Though, I do think that’s mostly true. Life is the great unknown. We don’t know what’s going to happen in the future and even the best-laid plans are subject to change. Sometimes you don’t have a plan, but you do have a goal—something that you strive for. I think goals are kind of the building blocks of a plan, though. Think about it; if you have a goal, you’re going to keep adapting your plans so that you can realise that goal. The plans change, but the goal doesn’t. But without the goal, you wouldn’t have something around which to plan.

Do I have a point to all of this? Not really. I’m just thinking out loud.

At this point in my life, I have no clue what’s next in the bigger picture. I have some short-term goals and a few long-term goals with very few solid plans. Things keep changing (yet remain the same, somehow) making it hard to lock-in anything. But I keep moving forward! Sometimes less boldly than I’d like, but that’s just the way things are right now. Things will happen. Things are happening. But without a plan, I’m not entirely sure what’s happening.

We’ll have to wait and see.

Enjoy the ride!!

M3

Four ways to help a struggling friend.

It’s frustrating dealing with mental health issues including depression and whatnot. Not many people understand it and fewer people know what to do about it. People want to help, but their either too far away or don’t know what to do.

There’s a lot that can be done for those struggling with mental health. I don’t have all the answers, and it can be different from person to person, but here’s some ideas I’ve had.

1. Listen

This can be the hardest thing to do. When you want to help someone through a situation, you feel like you have to actually do something. Something complicated or involved. Maybe you need training or a book with steps on what to do. But often times, the most effective help you can offer is a sympathetic ear.

Take time to listen, really listen. Ask questions. You’re not going to understand everything, but that’s okay. Show concern, empathy, and just listen. It doesn’t feel like you’re doing much, but time spent listening can be the most valuable thing in the world. People want to know they’re valued and being heard—listening is one way to show that.

2. Be There

Sometimes a person having a hard time just needs a presence nearby. Maybe that’s a friend watching Stranger Things 2 with them or simply sharing the same room. You don’t need to actively engage with each other but they need someone around them. Whether there’s talking, eating, or silence, having someone that cares nearby can be comforting and reassuring.

3. Gently Shift Focus

Depression, anxiety, and other related mental challenges can be all-consuming. Sometimes the person dealing with these issues can’t see anything that’s right in front of them. Or perhaps they can’t do things for themselves. Whatever the case, sometimes they need someone to step in and redirect their attention.

One way to accomplish this would be to suggest a simple activity like taking a walk down the street. It may seem insignificant, but a change in scenery with some fresh air and scenery really help to clear their mindset a bit. The problem is that a depressive might not be able to do this themselves; they need another person to gently push them to get out. Someone to be there to hold their hand.

4. Encourage Creativity

Engaging the mind in creative activities is therapeutic. It centers your attention on a single task, gives an outlet for emotional expression, and helps to organize thoughts. These are all beneficial for a depressive.

Suggest activities such as colouring, drawing, painting, cooking, looking at clouds, knitting, making music, writing, brainstorm movie ideas, sculpt clay, build a cardboard town, draw tattoos with markers, put together outfits, etc. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece or anything complex, and you might have to lead by example, but make sure that it’s a stress-free outlet for creative expression.


I don’t know if this is making sense. It’s late and I’m not good at explaining things right now. I just… I wanted to share some simple ways to help those around you. Even if your friends aren’t depressed or dealing with mental health issues, these are good ways to be a better friend. Everybody needs help and encouragement. Listening, being there, and sharing activities are good no matter what. And for those who are struggling, these simple acts can make a world of difference.

M3

Am I being lazy?

Am I just being lazy?

Short answer: yes and no.

Well thanks, Matthew! That really clears it up. I don’t even know what you’re talking about and you’ve given me both possible answers as the tldr; answer. Yay!

Sometimes I feel like I’m just being lazy and using my Crohn’s, depression, or anxiety as a poor excuse to get away with it. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say that I feel like other people think that of me. Yanno? The reality is probably a mix of those two things or something else completely, who knows.

Whatever the case, it reminds me of imposter syndrome. I struggle with that a bit in certain areas of my life but I try to keep it at bay. I’m sure that a lot of people with chronic illnesses struggle with this issue. When you’re unable to do things for days, weeks, or even months on end you start to think that you’re choosing to be like this.

My body really can’t deal with much these days, but on certain days I’m able to push through and get more accomplished. It depends on what I’m doing, how I’m feeling, if I have support, and if I’ll have time to recover afterwards, but I am capable. I know that, and I think that’s what starts me thinking that I’m choosing to be lazy. And yes, I am choosing to take care of myself a lot. Sometimes I’m not doing the best thing for self care—staying in bed for extended periods without any movement isn’t always self-care even if it feels like it is. I mean it can be… but it depends.

A friend of mine wrote a bit about this before and it got me thinking about the issue, doing some research, and evaluating my behavior. Yes, I need to focus on my health first because without that, I cannot function at all. Like… at all. So it’s perfectly alright to be slacking on some things or missing out on events that I could attend but decide not to. That’s all okay. But when I’m spending time on self care, I need to make sure that, on top of relaxing and letting my body do what it needs to, I’m actually doing things for self care. Otherwise… yes, I’m kind of being lazy even though I’m actually not able to do things.

Anyway… this is something that I think about from time to time. I’m found some articles and blog posts that I want to read and reflect on since I started writing this post. Maybe I’ll get more insight and be able to speak more intelligently about it. Until then you have to put up with whatever nonsense I decide to post.

Beep beep boop!

I hope you’re enjoying the weekend, everyone!

M3

I’m a pendulum.

I’m a pendulum. And not in the fun way.

Note to self: Find out what the fun way is.

I keep going back and forth between okay and not okay, it’s getting really irritating. I can’t deal with things, but I have to. I’m really trying, but I… I just can’t. Being sick all the time gets really tiring. Being exhausted all the time is tiring. And as tired as I am, I still can’t sleep. I’m lying in bed for hours on end doing nothing until I finally fall asleep, but then I sleep all day and get nothing accomplished.

On top of that, I feel very little. Like, emotionally. It’s been like this for a while, but I think that it’s been amplified over the past few days. Last weekend was good, and I felt good. My spirit was up and I was extra optimistic and stuffs… But now I’m just numb and meh.

Like, I don’t get super pumped about things, or super sad either. Emotions are very short-lived and either weak or very strong. Yanno? I dunno.

It’s just… I want to be normal but I’m not. I know what will help and I know that it’s also partly beyond help. It will be what it will be to some degree and that can’t be changed. But I’ll try to do what I can. It’s incredibly difficult, but I’ll try.

And don’t give me any of that “there is no try, only do” nonsense. I mean, I get what you’re saying with that and I often agree with that sentiment, but I know I’m going to fail. It’s just a fact. I will do what I can, I will try to push forward, but I’m not going to be hard on myself because when I fail that just makes it worse. It’s not even failure, it’s more… not being able to do something (sometimes anything) because of physical and mental limitations. Yanno?

Anyway… I couldn’t sleep last night. I was awake in bed until 8-ish when I finally drifted off. Then I slept until 5-ish when the day is nearly done and there’s not a lot of time left before I have to do this all over again. I need to sleep at a decent hour later tonight so I’ve been focusing on non-intense self-care type things like eating, singing, reading, and stuffs. Although I’ve also been marathoning a TV show while doing that other stuff. It’s one of my top favourites of all time, Please Like Me. It’s a beautifully shot and very honest show that I just love and it’s so personally relevant. Freakishly relevant, actually.

Wow, I was just not expecting so much to come out so easily tonight. It’s just so weird that I’m writing so well when my mind and body feel absolutely like shit.

I need to do more to connect with people. I’m in a city of millions and I feel alone? I mean it makes sense, especially since I’m introverty and awkward and stuffs. But I’m also super outgoing and friendly, which makes it really weird. Though, the depression doesn’t help. I’m also incredibly self aware, which can be fabulous most times… but it can also present in a less productive way which really doesn’t help.

Haha, now I’m rambling. This is now essentially an externalization of my inner thoughts (Carlos [my phone] just tried to put “thighs” instead of “thoughts” there… well played, Carlos) which I’ll read back later and just go “huh…”, yanno?

Anyway, so life is hard but it’s especially hard right now. It’d be nice if my body and mind would be alright so I could focus on the larger things. It’s like the operating system isn’t working so I can’t even worry about getting Spotify running again let alone crank up the tunes because before you can run the app you have to have a device that works, yanno? Just a little bit of an analogy there for you.

It doesn’t help that it’s been raining the past couple of days. I mean, rain is lovely and all but I’ve been less inclined to go out because of it. Though, being honest here, I probably wouldn’t have left the house even if it were mostly sunny without water falling from above. I’m just unable to do things. It’s a miracle I made food and did some housework.

Anywhozzles, I’m gonna try to sleep here in a bit. I’ll probskis be unable to sleep because that’s just been what happens these days… but we’ll give it a go anyway. I’m already insane, trying again while expecting a different result won’t change that much. Haha!

Note to self: I know you spelled “pendulum” correctly, but it looks completely wrong. Just… I think that’s somehow important here for whatever reason and I wanted to point that out. Pendulum is a weird word. But really, all words are weird aren’t they? Also, you’ve written over 800 words now which is crazy.

Have a fantastic Friday, friends!

M3

The purpose of a giant fibreglass hand.

Community. One of my all-time favourite television shows!

In the sixth season there’s an episode that stands out to me. That whole season is fantastic, but in the sixth episode the Save Greendale Committee is transporting a giant fibreglass hand to sell after the dean bought it on an impulse. Their vehicle breaks down along the way and the group descends into chaos. Eventually Abed says something about the situation in a short speech to save the day.

I found the speech to be quite profound and uplifting. While it carries specific meaning for the show as a whole, it’s also quite applicable to life as well.

Yes, I know… A giant hand being transported by seven people in an RV… The show’s weird. But that’s why it’s such a favourite of mine! Whatever the case, here’s the full speech:

I have discovered the meaning of the giant hand.

A hand has two functions; to grip and to release. But without both of these powers it is useless. Like newborn infants we grab what comes near us. Hoping to control it, taste it, jam it into another child’s eye.

But the time we spend in control of our world is the time we spend letting go of others. Ideas, stories, pride, girls in soft sweaters, video games, buttered noodles… Grip one for too long and you lose so much that you’ve never held.

This giant hand was sent to all of us as an invitation to increase our mastery over the power to hold on.

And let go.

—Abed Nadir, Community

Here’s a clip from the show with Abed making that speech.

And that’s all she wrote. For now.

M3

What’s on my mind?

What’s on my mind? Glad that you asked!

Well, I’m not really glad that you asked…I’m more, “eh. I can’t really think of anything else to talk about, so might as well share what’s going through my mind right now.” Although, come to think of it, you didn’t really ask me anything. I posed the question myself and attributed it to you, dear reader. Why would I do such a thing? So I could set the stage and hopefully pull you into my madness by giving you an active role to play.

It’s late and my arms feel like rubber. I had a headache earlier this evening so I took some medication.

Hey, I work at the coffee house tomorrow! I’m doing the closing shift with on of my favourite co-workers, which should be fairly fun.

Speaking about the coffee house, I’ve discovered that I can’t be a coffee person anymore. Turns out that caffeine negatively affects my Crohn’s. I knew that was a possibility as it’s on the list of possible bad foods, but I hadn’t really experimented with coffee/caffeine before I started working at the coffee house. So now that I do know, I’ll be minimizing my exposure to caffeine. Small amounts now and again shouldn’t be a problem, but I should still avoid it.

Yanno, the more I look at my list of “foods to avoid” and the list of “possible foods to avoid”, the more that I feel there is nothing that I can ingest without negative effects. It’s more like I have to choose what level of bad response I want from my gut on a scale of water to popcorn.

Speaking of rubber, my arms feel like it right now. Rubber that is. Wait… I already mentioned that. *eyeroll* That’s silly of me.

Anyway… I know that there’s decaf coffee available at most places, but that isn’t completely caffeine free. Either way, I think that I should still avoid coffee. I mean, what else can I do? Even chocolate has caffeine in it. If I want to keep eating chocolate, I need to cut out other sources of caffeine so the effects aren’t compounded so much from the chocolate. Yanno? #Logic #WinningAtCrohns

There was a new episode of The Orville tonight but I missed it on TV so I’ll have to stream it online later. The last episode was very fun and guest starred Charlize Theron! There are rumours that we’ll see actors from Star Trek: The Next Generation appear in future episodes this season, including Patrick Stewart and Brent Spiner. Possibly even William Shatner! Wouldn’t that be fun?

Earlier tonight while I was making myself some rice, I cut my foot on a sharp corner somewhere. I didn’t even notice until I saw blood, then I thought, “huh… I guess my foot is hurting and I should take a closer look.” It’s not that bad, but I thank you for your prayers and comments of support.

Anyway, I should go to sleep while I continue to bleed into the bandage I applied to my foot wound. Hopefully I don’t lose so much blood that I die while unconscious in my bed. Haha! Could you imagine? That would be horrible.

M3

Who am I?

I have a question. Who am I? Who are we?

There’s many ways that this could be taken, there’s the physical aspect to myself with my body being composed of cells and whatnot. We could also go into the whole “you are the sum of your experiences” thought train. What I’m interested in, though, is the matter of time and how that impacts who we are—who I am.

I can say with 99% confidence that at this very moment I am me. Ten years ago I was also me. In another thirty minutes I will still be me. However, ten years ago I was different from the me now, and we know that I will be a different me in thirty minutes too, right? Right. (Right? I’m confused now.)

You might be thinking, “hey, sounds like you’re having an existential quarter-life crisis, Matthew,” and yeah… perhaps that’s exactly what is happening. But I’ve thought about this issue in various ways over the years; it’s one of those thoughts that repeatedly pops into my brain. It’s also a central point of exploration in several episodes of Star Trek.

Seriously though, I’m just wondering for the sake of wondering. People change. But their past is still part of them, yet it isn’t. Yanno? I dunno. I was going somewhere with this and then I walked away from the computer and now I have no clue where my mind was taking this post.

Note to self: Have you ever thought what human tastes like? Well you should know, your tongue is only constantly tasting yourself.

Yay for my spasmodic brain!

M3

People aren’t just one thing…we’re complex.

Question. How much of planet Earth can anyone see at once? Practically speaking… very little. But even if you were standing on our moon (why are you doing that?) you would only be able to see 49% of Earth’s surface.

Does this mean that only less than half of the Earth exists?

If you were holding a Timbit (also known as a “donut hole”) in your hand, you’d only see a portion of the Timbit. Taking this example further, let’s say you are somehow able to flatten the Timbit so you could see all of its surface at one time, you still wouldn’t be able to see everything below the surface.

So we agree that even though you can only see a fraction of a Timbit at a time, we can piece together the information and come up with a mental understanding or a mental picture of what the whole Timbit looks like. Right? Okay, glad that we agree.

Now let’s go back to the Earth example.

There are those that maintain that the world is flat. Now, let’s forget the fact that we can prove that they’re wrong using data and observable clues. They’re somewhat right.

The average human height is around 1.65 meters (depending on your source data) which means that the average human can see about 4.6 kilometers of the Earth’s surface in any one direction while standing on smooth land. Most of the time you can’t even see past the trees, building, or whatever is around you. So from your perspective, the planet does indeed appear flat. Within our reality, and at our scale, for all intents and purposes of daily life, Earth is flat. But it’s also not flat.

I bring this all up partly to mess with your brain and partly because it’s late and I have a headache yet I still have to write a blog post. I also bring this up as an analogy.

The Earth is many things. It’s flat, it’s round, it’s wet, it’s dry, it changes shape, it’s immovable, it’s hurtling through space and spinning around in a bunch of directions at once. All of that is true at the same time. The Earth being wet in the middle of the Pacific Ocean doesn’t negate the fact that it’s super dry in the Gobi Desert. You have hurricanes happening in the Caribbean at the same time as perfect tanning weather elsewhere.

It’s complex.

It’ about perception.

It’s about knowledge.

You take the bits of information you can observe or learn and then stitch that together into a larger picture.

And then you throw time into the mix. Just because it’s not raining right now doesn’t mean it hasn’t or won’t rain. You know that the rainy season is about to begin so you prepare for rain. But does it actually arrive? We’ll have to see.

I try to think of people in this way. People are ever-changing. You can never see every part of another human’s soul, mind, or personality at the same time. You see bits here and there and you piece it together to get a larger picture.

When someone is crying and hiding their face, it doesn’t automatically define them as a crying sad person. It doesn’t even necessarily meant that they’re sad at that moment. You only see one part. It’s only one expression of a narrow sampling of their being.

Every single person is a complex being with countless aspects of their being. You won’t see all of it. You don’t know everything that’s going on. You don’t have all of the information. People can be happy and sad, fearful and brave, or any combo of emotions/states at the same time. One emotion or state being true doesn’t preclude another emotion or state also being true.

Let’s keep this in mind as we interact with other humans in our daily lives. We each have a unique perspective, each with our own window into the world. We affect others… our actions can both do good and do harm. You can’t know how you affect another person—you might not even know that you have affected another person.

Let’s be kind and understanding to one another.

And let’s be kind and understanding to ourselves as well, because you are just as complex as any other person. It’s hard to figure out what’s going on with yourself let alone another human being. You might be “an introvert”, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t outgoing in the right situation. We have many facets to our being and we are never the same all the time. Labels like introvert help us understand each other and communicate, but we should never limit someone—or ourselves—by those labels. Labels shouldn’t create separate boxes. We are constantly evolving; we’re not static.

We’re complex.

We’re beautiful.

(Please note that I am having a hard time writing this blog post [partly because of a headache] but I’m trying to make a point that’s been rattling around in my brain for a long while now. Maybe I’ll read this in a week or two and come up with a more concise way to communicate it. Thanks for sticking with me, friends.)

(Also… I recommend watching this. And this. And also this. But especially watch that first one.)

M3

I’m becoming a coffee person!

I’ve never been one for coffee. I’ve never even wanted to drink coffee, but over the summer that’s changed. I started drinking iced coffee every once in a while. And while I still don’t like straight coffee, the bitter taste of coffee in general has become more palatable in frappes and such.

Never did I peg myself as a coffee person. (I still don’t think I quite qualify since I don’t drink just coffee.) But I guess the change makes sense, especially now that I’m working at a coffee house. I’m a barista! What’s up with that?? It’s crazy! And because I’m kinda new to this world, I’m making a lot of practice drinks that I end up consuming myself… and now I like coffee.

Haha! It’s just a funny observation mostly, but it does make sense. If I’m gonna be a barista I should be at least somewhat familiar with what I’m serving. I’ll probably cut back on my intake once I’ve figured out the job a bit more, but for now… it’s oodles of coffee for me!!! 😍

Keep it loose, peeps! 😜

M3

 

Thanksgiving is coming up!

This weekend is Thanksgiving weekend (in Canada)! I’m going to be here in Vancouver by myself for the holiday, but that’s alrighty with me. And when I say “by myself”, I’m talking about with my immediate family. Everyone else is going to be up in Grande Prairie.

While I won’t be seeing family, I will be attending a Thanksgiving dinner Saturday evening at the nerd cafe down the street. It’s going to be amazing! This is the fifth year they’re doing it and I’m told that everyone leaves stuffed so much that they can barely breathe! In fact, the owner started preparing some of the dishes today and will continue through the rest of the week. It’s cray.

I was talking with a few friends about Thanksgiving earlier today and while sharing our usual family traditions and favourite dishes at dinner… I was reminded of my Grandmaman. She passed away this past March. She introduced many recipes to our family, one of which I really like and especially connect with this time of year. It’s a broccoli casserole that we call broccoli puff.

*big sigh*

It’s been said that major loss and grief will take a full year to work through completely. As you go through every season, memories and feelings come up that might not have been resolved before. Thinking about my family’s annual traditions at this time of the year is doing just that. I mean, I have sorted through most of the issues I had around her death… but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel a little sad or mixed up.

Every thanksgiving, Grandmaman would join us for a large dinner at our house. It had become a bigger deal over the last couple of years because she would need more and more help trekking over with her oxygen machines and whatnot. I cherish those memories.

And now I don’t know what to say. A blog post isn’t necessarily the best place to work through these kinds of emotions. Especially when I’m tired and have to turn off my screen asap.

Have a fun Tuesday, everyone!!

M3