Tag Archives: Lifestyle

Is Happiness a Place?

photo 1I’ve watched three episodes of Bourdain’s Parts Unknown since last night and now my thoughts are consumed by food and culture.

It surprises me how much I’ve been thinking about food, culture, and the next phase of my life — in which I sell most everything I own and take up the wanderer’s lifestyle for hopefully the next five years.

I had to write a foreword for my cookbook last week and it made me more contemplative than I expected. What did I value in life? Why? What did I want more of? And I found myself echoing in the words I was writing. I too was lost “in the whizz-whizz/whoosh-whoosh pace of city life” I’d been writing about. I work too much, live too little. But I have a goal in mind: Five years abroad, and a year to go before I want it underway. The clock is ticking. The end is in sight. The race is on. Yada, yada.

Watching Bourdain wax poetic about the timeless lifestyles of Granada, Spain, or Ecuador, or Peru, or Croatia, or… It all makes me realize how far off the mark life is here in North America, or where I’ve been living. Or how I’ve been living. Life here, though, is all about the Benjamins. Or would be, if we had American currency.

With one of the most costly lifestyles in the English-speaking world, Vancouver (and therefore Victoria, where it’s only marginally cheaper) has suddenly become a struggle to live on a budget. A lot of people I know, if they can work from home and aren’t tied down, are taking the risk of living abroad. Some have made permanent ventures of it. And why not? If one can tap into a different lifestyle in a place that, after so long hamstrung in Vancouver, where life feels like a vacation because everything feels new and shiny for a year or more — well, why not? And if it’s 30–60% cheaper? Fuck, yeah.

I understand that we have it pretty good in Canada, and that’s where our money goes, but I also think it’s pretty ethnocentric to make bold claims like “best place on Earth.” After all, there’s a lifestyle in places like Spain and Ecuador and other fantastic places where they do have long vacations every year, and they focus on life first/work last, and they celebrate real food and wine and nature, and they do it all for cheaper than we do here, while still having a nice social safety net for the citizens.

We don’t have a monopoly on lifestyles. In many places, living really is pretty good, and they’re honestly too busy living life to bother trying to sell an image of it. Here, it feels like it’s so fast-paced and distracted that we’re constantly being reminded of just how GREAT everything is and how WOW SPIFFY our world is so we don’t start questioning how ridiculous it is that we have among the least amount of vacation time in the world, with the longest hours.

It’s like that time a friend read The Secret and told me what a powerful thing it was, and I should read it, blah blah blah. And I said, “Dude. You’re not happy with your job, where you live, and your relationship is in tatters. Prove to me that The Secret works by fixing your fucked-up life and oozing happy-happy/joy-joy, and then maybe I’ll buy the book.”

If life here was so sensational and happiness was the natural byproduct of it, do you think we’d be selling Xanax and Prozac like it was going out of style? Do you think self-help books would be so endemic? If life’s so amazing here, why do we need to keep being reminded about it?

When I was living in Vancouver, I kept telling people I wasn’t happy there anymore. Everyone said I was nuts, it’s the best place on the planet. Well, I can tell you wholeheartedly that selling the dream ain’t the same as delivering the dream, and for me, Lotusland just wasn’t delivering.

photo 2But maybe I’ve just got a restless heart. This time and place, it’s not right for me. I don’t know where is, but it ain’t here, not now. Not today. I think, for me, the joy will come from looking. From going to one place and being blown away and thinking “Nothing can ever top this,” and then, boom, next town, next country — “Nothing can ever top this.”

What if there is no place better than where I am today? What if, for the rest of my life I remember about the magical two years I lived in a magical neighbourhood?

Well, that could happen. Sure. But it’s a pretty big planet packed with a lot of wow, and I’m pretty sure things get amazing anywhere there’s mountains, trees, ocean, good wine, beautiful food, and kind people.

Happiness, for me, is a state of being. Having the time to be in the moment, not distracted, not paying a ton of money for an experience. A quiet place, a few kind people, the ability to speak my mind (or stay silent), a great glass of wine or a tall lemonade or strong coffee, some nature near me or surrounding me. Usually many of these criteria get met when I get to feel “happy”. It’s the recipe for happiness we hear so much about. Or my recipe, anyhow.

But to get there, to have that, I need to spend another year working like a dog to set my plan in play. Taking moments like this to think about the what-ifs of living abroad, the potential that life might hold, it makes knowing I’m working through another Saturday and Sunday all worthwhile.

That balance will come. For a little while, it means I have to prove how much I want it. And so I shall. With that, it’s time to do some work.

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The Will to Write: My Story

On Twitter, I just described the sound float-planes make as “They sound like a riding lawnmower mated with a drunk bee.”

It’s not the greatest thing ever, but for the first time in a while, I wanted to describe something, and it came out the way I was thinking it. You think that SOUNDS like a logical turn of events, but when you’re a persnickety writer like me, it happens far more seldom than we’d hope.

I’ve had a pretty intense bout with writer’s block this year, and only lately am I starting to want to write again.

I’ve been creatively recharging this summer via doing this kind of photography.

I’m not sure if it was really writer’s block and not just mental fatigue. Last fall I had the most complicated time-management ever, too much commuting, etc, then I was planning the move here, executing it, et cetera. Writing was work in a life that already had too much work. I was drained, uninspired, and had fuck all to tell you.

And, frankly, gets to a point where sitting down and NOT thinking is about the only thing you want to do. Just… not think. Nothing. Boom. Chill. Disconnect. Enjoy. Rinse and repeat.

For writing is a burdensome thing.

And I don’t mean your food reviews, your educational or business writing. That shit almost writes itself because you know the bones of it, so you sort of just have to flesh it out. It requires craft, but it’s not so intimidating creatively.

When you’re writing on personal or creative themes, writing is a place you go to all alone. You can’t get handheld in writing. It’s you and the screen, man. Mano-a-screeno.

It’s genesis of something from nothing. What do you feel like writing today? It’s taking ideas out of dark mental corners and poking a stick at ‘em.

Me, I’ll admit it, I’m a fucking scaredy-cat sometimes.

It’s easier to do non-fiction personal-based stuff for me, I think, because the places I go to in creative work have been pretty heavy. I write death well, I find. I do really much darker stuff when it’s creatively rooted. I’m a little too aware of it, and I’m not a big fan of the delving I do for those writing things. Or, I haven’t been.

I can’t imagine it’s all sunshine and roses being in Stephen King’s head, and that’s almost the genre I like to write in, but more Denis Johnson-ish.

I’ve had moments of writing fiction and such over the last years, but it was really about 16 years ago that I was last focused on doing creative writing. I dismiss myself from it because I don’t take myself seriously.

But I should. And now I am. Or, well, soon I am.

I moved here to pursue writing. I moved here to put the brakes on and turn my life 180 degrees away from where it was.

Have you ever seen the movie The Wonder Boys? I think the ending’s a bit of a sell-out, but let’s face it, sometimes life actually works out, so maybe it’s buyable if you’re a less skeptical soul like myself.

Anyhow, there’s this whole bit where Michael Douglas’ a loser has-been author-cum-professor whose book-in-progress is read by his student Katie Holmes, and she tells him how he’s always teaching them in class that writing is about making choices. She points to his manuscript and says she feels like he made no choices.

Life’s like writing. It’s about making choices.

When life was sapping my will to write ergo be myself, my choice was to get the hell out of the city that was distracting me so constantly and move to a quiet seaside small city on an island so I could find myself and be the writer I ought to have been by now.

I read not too long ago some famous creative talking about some writer they love, saying the guy took time off writing to “have an interesting life.”

I promised myself I’d do that in my new city. Take a break, enjoy it, and in the winter get my focus on.

After all, life isn’t interesting when you’re a writer. You turn off the TV and turn on the mind’s eye. You sit, you tap your fingers, cross your legs, uncross them, lean on your elbow, scratch your head, and occasionally come up with a few words before you decide your back’s stiff and you need a cup of tea.

That’s writing, I’m afraid, in all its unsexy glory. It’s a triumphant assault on everything that’s fun in life.

I mean, I live HERE. Would YOU rather be writing, or exploring for your first six months?

And it’s probably why I love it and wish I could latch onto it without so much “shoulda coulda woulda” bullshit that happens when one’s failing to adopt the new “habit” of writing.

But I’m a Canadian. In three months, I’ve gone from having 18 hours of daylight a day down to 12 hours. I’m desperately trying to enjoy the rest of this amazing “Indian summer” as the air freshens, breezes intensify, and leaves go Technicolor.

Soon, we’ll be down to 10, then 8 hours of daylight. Winds will howl across the Pacific and beat the hell out of my little coastal community. Night will consume a full two-thirds of every day.

Writing is something that lends itself to the winter season. Every author has wanted to start a story with “It was a dark and stormy night” with good reason. Because they’ve got a glass of wine, warm slippers, and a November storm is crashing upon their windows. It was indeed a dark and stormy night, and the writin’ was good.

No, it is not often indeed that a writer says exactly what they mean to say when they meant to say it. It’s why, for every 10–15 things we write, maybe one is memorable.

Once in a rare blue moon it happens, and what do you do then? You write more and more and more, day in and day out. You devour words of every kind, you explore where they take you, and you hang on for your life.

Real writing is an unseeable journey. It’s like most things in life, you think you know where you’re going, but very often you’ll arrive having taken a path you could never have predicted.

But that’s the fun in it.

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The Move, The Life, The Update

A brief recap of my recent life.

Holland Point Beach, about 5–6 blocks from home, by me. Day 3 as a Victoria Resident.

I Moved West

I moved across the Straight of Georgia to the southern tip of Vancouver Island.

There, I live in Victoria.

A few numbers about Victoria: Downtown, some 74,000 people live, compared with Vancouver’s 680,000. Greater Victoria packs a total of 360,000 fine folk, compared to Greater Vancouver’s ever-increasing 2.3 million. Vancouver is in a rainforest, Victoria is not. Both are largely coastal, but Victoria has open ocean around it, large waves during storms, and speaking of storms, receives a greater volume of bone-chilling Pacific blasts of weather than Vancouver. It also gets less snow than Hollywood North, as it’s marginally warmer.

And, oddly, it is second only to San Francisco for the number of restaurants per capita.

Into An Even Smaller Neighbourhood

I moved to the oldest neighbourhood north of San Francisco on the West Coast. It is littered with heritage homes.

I live in a great building that has a “no pets” policy but is home to the arthritic cairn terrier Winston, who limps and wags his tail in the lobby when his boss, the caretaker lady, is doing her thing in her office. We love Winston. He makes me smile every time I see him.

And I see the ocean more than I have since I was a child. This makes my soul happy.

Not All Smooth Sailing

My move involved:

  • a ferry
  • five men, four women (four men on both sides, then the odd also-helper on both sides)
  • one 36-foot truck
  • 4,500 pounds of belongings
  • a massive furniture-hoist over a third-floor balcony
  • 24 beers, 2 litres of wine, 3 extra-large pizzas, ferry food for lunch, and an amazing John’s Place breakfast for 4

…And some very scary moments. It was $1,000 for the move itself, $350 for the food, and much more on other related expenses. But, all in all, a low cost for a complete lifechange.

Or Smooth Riding

Last week, upon deciding to take my cruiser bike — which I had not yet ever ridden, and which has pedal-back brakes and not hand brakes (the only kind I’ve used in the last 25 years) — out for a bike ride, I realized the seat was too high and needed adjusting. I tried doing that, but both feet came off the ground for the briefest moment. This is when I learned how steep the incline to my apartment step was, because my bike lurched forward. I had two choices as I panicked because there were no hand brakes (the pedal brake didn’t compute) and those choices were: Go straight into traffic, or turn and let myself stop via smashing into a road sign.

My face hit the metal pole but I luckily had a helmet on, or it could have been much worse. A week later and the bruises are just healing. I spilled to the ground, stunned. The parked car was fine, the car I avoided hitting in traffic was gone. An old lady and a girl who was walking her dog both ran to check on me. The fancy tape on my cruiser’s handlebars was split. But my head would be all right. A minor case of whiplash, and life goes on.

Needless to say, I’ll be practicing riding/braking in the back parking lot before I take my big-girl bike out for a big-girl ride in the real world. *cough*

Sunset at Victoria’s Ogden Point Breakwater. Photographed by me, day five of Victoria residency.

And Then There’s The Spaces

My apartment is great. My landlord cares. I’ve had plumbers in three times and now all taps and drain work perfectly. A new oven is on order. The building’s newly renovated gym will be open in a week.

I’m a five-minute walk from one of Canada’s Top 10 public spaces, Beacon Hill Park, and also from shoreline on all three sides. I’m 10 minutes from downtown Victoria by walking. I have the best of every world within a few minutes on any side.

It’s a walker’s paradise. Now I just need to become a walker. Workin’ on that.

But I’m Not At The New Normal (Yet)

I’m adjusting to the work-from-home life, but liking it. Riding buses once or twice a week is enjoyable and a change of pace. I’m liking the stores I’m discovering but don’t have a shopping routine — not even close — just yet.

In all, every bit of my life is an adjustment. And I’m not even done unpacking!

I’m the sort of person who writes as part of a routine, but when I don’t even have a routine, writing doesn’t occur to me. I think, I do lengthy pithy Facebook updates, frequent tweets, but I don’t sit down long enough to pound out my thoughts at length. Apologies, sorta. I’m doin’ what I gotta do.

This has been an epic month for me, and I really do look forward to obtaining my “routine.” I have strong suspicions this won’t happen until April, after Easter, which is when I’ll have a four-day weekend, my first real chance to breathe and adjust, and my work schedule stabilizes.

Until then, when it comes to EVERYTHING in life, I’ll just take what I get. So too, minion, shall you. Soon, we shall be together with new material, and often, since life here will be much better paced for that.

Because, all the way around, this new lifestyle, new place, new way of operating is doing more for my soul after two weeks than anything I’ve done for happiness’s sake in the last five years.

Sometimes, change is the only way forward. I’m glad I learned that sooner than later, because I can’t wait to hit my stride here.

 

Little girls playing at Holland Point, a few blocks from my home.

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Soon to Come: New Space, New Life

I’m sorry I’ve been away, Minions, but life has been full-tilt of late.

Since the last time I wrote and now, I’ve gotten a lot more of my belongings packed, and took a three-day trip to find my new home. Which is to say, soon I’ll be living in a new and awesome space.

It’s not a bigger space, like I’d wanted, it’s almost exactly the same size as my present home, but it’s got water within 5 blocks of me on three sides, downtown’s less than 10 minutes away by walking, and Victoria’s famous Beacon Hill Park is five blocks, too. Shopping? Everything I need is 2 or 3 short blocks away.

The beach I’ll find just five blocks from my home. Fantastic.

For convenience factor, my so-called “convenient” big-city life is a joke compared to what my situation will be once I’ve moved.

My soon-to-be new landlady makes me smile every time I think of her. So sweet, caring, and knows all her tenants by name, and details about their lives. Standing 5 feet tall, she’s short, squat, and full of love as her little arthritic terrier waddles behind her. She rushes to the door to help people in, talks to everyone. I love that.

In my new apartment, they’ve gutted and replaced literally EVERYTHING except the stove, but I’d be unsurprised if I turned up and she thought to throw in a new one of those too. The deck’s being replaced in the spring. The building is spotless, well-loved by tenants and owners, and I’m excited to be joining what looks like a pretty caring community-type apartment building.

I don’t know why people seem to think I’m so urban and hip. I’m really not. I love the water, I love people-watching, exploring, private time, quiet, and space to think. Just because I can chat with just about anyone doesn’t mean I want people around me all the time.

Somehow, some way, all my quiet space and nature-connecting evaporated on me in Vancouver. Without a car, it’s hard to access the awesome in this town, and the town doesn’t allow for the financial freedom of owning a car, so you know how that works. Where I live, which is about all I can afford and stay sane with in Vancouver, there’s the constant drone of traffic and planes landing at the international airport, there’re frequent sirens and horns honking. There are people and tons of traffic everywhere I go. Even my building has turned against me. There are my weird neighbours downstairs who slam everything because none of the kitchen cupboards close (mine don’t either) so they think SLAMMING will make it better.

I think, like me, Victoria is in a time of transition. I don’t want to be where it’s busy and crazy. I like the location I’ve chosen. It’s close enough to everything, and far from the homeless and the university students. It’s close to everything I need, both spiritually and in my day-to-day.

In my new life, there will be both inspiration and time a-plenty for writing, silence, photography, and just being.

And this, BC’s Parliament Building, is just about 6 blocks the other way… and with more ocean to see. Shot by me, my first night in town.

My friends were all ganging up on me, saying I should live in another area, but after two full days of walking everywhere, and realizing the so-called convenience of Cook Street Village meant “convenient geography but without much convenience in the form of food and other necessities.” I realized they’re all talking out of their ass. They don’t know what’s “right” for me, not any more than I know why X is right for them.

Deep down, I know I need my new space. I think some higher power knew, too. I had planned to cancel my first apartment viewing but never did. After that appointment, I walked out and the place across the way shone for me. An unadvertised place, I walked up to and buzzed the manager. Sure, I could see it, she said.

I still saw everything I had booked, and more, and returned to my new home for a second viewing, and the “this place is right for me” vibe got stronger and stronger.

It seems spooky and awesome that it worked out so serendipitously for me. The gods are on my side in this move, it seems.

There are things about city life I’ll miss, and I know that before I even leave, but my soul needs it. I can’t be doing this rat-race of stupidity any more. It’s not who I am now. I get home angry more often than I’m relaxed. I don’t feel like walking around the neighbourhood or exploring. I just don’t give a shit now. That’s no way to feel about life.

When I walked down to the end of the street after viewing my spaces, and I came out at Dallas Road Beach, my heart swelled. Really. I could imagine myself wanting to walk there daily. When your heart reacts like that, if you don’t listen then you’re an idiot. I’m listening.

Back in my car-owning days, I would be at the ocean for no reason so often. But in Vancouver, being on the ocean means seeing evidence all around me of the fact that there’s 2.3 million people scattered out there. All those lives twinkling in the lights of the city night. I don’t want to be thinking about 2.3 million lives. I just want to think about mine.

To get to ocean where you see no one, you need a car, a hike down lots of stairs on a cliff, and a liking for naked people sunbathing. Oh, right, that’s not “no one” either.

My soul needs slow and simple. My soul needs exactly what I’ve found.

In 24 sleeps, 18 more office days, I’ll be moved, big-city-free, and thrilled about it.

[No pictures for you of my space until I’ve moved in, at the least.]

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The Deeper Reasoning Behind My Going

I wrote 1,300 words earlier but they don’t feel right after coffee. So, let’s try this again. [deep breath] Om…

***

My Friday post about leaving Vancouver is inspiring a lot of discussion, and I’m thrilled for the comments. So much is being said. I plan to mine the comments for posts in the coming weeks, because I think what’s going on in Vancouver, how the Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” has become an anthem for a select class of Vancouverites, deserves a lot of discussion.

[If you’ve discovered my blog by way of others, hiya, and thanks for visiting.]

I’ve grumbled for a while that the cost of living is just ridiculous in Vancouver. Through an unfortunate series of events — bad vehicular accidents, stupid injuries, illnesses, victim of industry slowdown, over eight years — I’ve had one financial hit after another in recent years, like a boxer who keeps taking blows when he’s struggling to his feet. Well, when you’re down so long, it’s hard to see what way’s up.

I was an early financial canary in the recessionary coalmine and I’ve been hurtin’ in the bank for a long time comin’ now. The question of “how much is too much” when you’re throwing money at a way of life that leaves you an observer always on the flipside of the action starts to get a little old after two, three years of serious cutbacks and struggle.

There comes a day when there’s a line in the financial sand you can’t get over anymore, and if you don’t get gone, you just might get swallowed up. I have worried that if I stay in Vancouver much longer, that line in the sand will be crossed and I’ll no longer be able to get myself out of this situation. I’m not planning to stick around and find out.

I’ve said before about life that sometimes we just need to be uninvited from the party. Well, after so long of just getting by, and seeing my ability to afford even the meagre indulgences in life dwindle, I’ve taken the hint.

#OccupyWallStreet really amped up my thinking about what quality of life means, and what I’m willing to accept in life.

I don’t need a lot, you know. A good computer, a nice apartment, some comfortable belongings. I love the stuff  I own. I want to replace very little of it, actually. And I’m grateful for what I own, too. Then there’s cooking — like the ability to use good ingredients for cooking, that’s important, and is something I can’t always do these days. Wine two or three nights a week, also important. I’d like some more kitchen gadgets and a whole enameled cast-iron cooking set, but that’s a whole ‘nother matter. Aside from that? Pretty content on the possessions front.

So, there’s not a lot I really “want” in life. It’s not about that, and never was.

I don’t feel entitled. I don’t feel ripped off. I feel occasionally bitter that simple things I used to enjoy — dining out, concerts, games — are out of my means now, because life keeps getting more and more expensive but my salary stays the same, a common theme I hear from others. But, then, I don’t think often about restaurants, games, or concerts anymore, so they’re not really a factor any longer, either.

So, if I’ve made my peace with the idea that I don’t go out, and that’s sort of my level of expectation in life, and I’ve lowered my standard of living and simplified my expenses, and I’ve caught up with all my bills, and I’m on top of my finances that way, and I still can’t live “up” to my now-adjusted-and-simpler standard of living, well… something has to change.

Other people don’t have the same connection to place. I understand this. Some thrive to pick up and go. But I’m a sticker. I love my home. I’ve lived in 5 places in 38 years, with two of them alone compile more than 30 years of my life — my first home and my most recent apartment. I don’t like being in places for a short period of time. I want to know people, haunts, secrets, and more.

But it’s really hard to look around this place — a rainforest with world-class mountains, the Pacific Ocean, culture, great food, rivers, and more — and think “Yeah, I can do better than this.” Leaving doesn’t exactly sound like a step up when looking at everything around me here in Vancouver.

Then I remember it’s all dragging me down ‘cos that awesome comes at a price, a price too high for the payin’, and leaving’s the only thing I can do to break my  downward spiral.

So, it’s a really heavy heart that has made these choices.

But now that the choices have been made, I’m excited about the change. This is gonna rock, you know?

I love “learning by experiencing” in a new place, just like getting to know a lover. Every day it seems there’s some new thing to discover, and that’s just a fantastic way to live.

As a writer, I’ve long since lost my fire within. There’s something missing inside me, and I think being able to get up and see Difference around me every morning might be the thing to fire me up again.

Besides all that, it’s a monumental time in my life, and I’ve known that  as I’ve waded through the deciding of late. It’s the fork in the road — do I choose a city career or do I roll the dice on my writing dreams?

By choosing to get out of Vancouver, I’m telling myself I deserve more, I’m asserting that I won’t settle for less. I’m putting a value on my time, what I’m willing to waste on a commute, versus giving back to myself via writing and other passion-based endeavours.

I’m proving that I’m meant to live a slower life. I’m living up to my ethics and finally making the switch to a lifestyle where I can mostly walk and cycle, and stop leaving a big-ass carbon footprint.

I get to continue being surrounded by arts, culture, and open-minded people. I’m affirming that a life spent pursuing greater creativity, and living closer to people who inspire it within me, is something that’s critical to my nature.

I know, down deep, that acting on all those values in this way is something that will resonate and ripple for me, and for a long time to come.

I’m being forced to move by today’s economies, but that doesn’t make me a victim. It makes me someone with my eyes wide open, who’s choosing to turn it into a opportunity for positive change.

I might still be on a tight budget as I make my way to where I’m going, since most of the costs of living are somewhat similar to hear, save for rental and the ridiculous commutes, but it’s a really exciting time to be running down a new dream, whatever the price.

And so it begins.

***

Yes, I plan to continue blogging in Victoria. Yes, I will write about the experience of moving toward the big day. Yes, some will be panicky and insane. Yes, I will address some of your great comments in postings to come. Yes, my head may explode before Christmas at this rate. And, yes, it’s kinda fun. Stay tuned for more. Thanks for reading.

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Darth Vader’s Right: Anger’s Good For You

I had that “lightbulb” moment a couple of weeks ago that has served as a real catalyst for a change in thinking and being.

A moment of my own stupidity just reminded me how many things happen to us due to a lack of care or attention in life. Big, small, whatever. Often, that lack of attention tends to not be neglect or ignorance, but just that we’re so damned thinly stretched.

I don’t really want to share my “moment” with you, except that it was my getting mad. Really mad. At myself, at the cosmos, at the passing of time.

Whom/what I was pissed off is irrelevant, beyond the simple “thinly stretched” mode of living. Some of it financial, most of it physical related to my complicated 8-month Yo-Yo of back injury struggles, and a lot of it due to the vacuum of time that is modern life.

Much of the sustaining of my back injury came from the reality of my love for cycling keeping me injured, but not in an immediate cycle-and-hurt way, rather in a cumulative way that wouldn’t become obvious for a few weeks. So, every time I was improving, I would suddenly have a dramatic backslide with extensive flare-ups.

We figured that out in August, then I ignored that until the end of September. Then I paid the price.

Now, though, I know. I know why, how, and when it all happened. I get it.

More importantly, at the end of that whole stupid, definitive journey, I got pissed. I had my Peter Finch Moment, from the movie Network, of wanting to open the windows and bellow I’M MAD AS HELL AND I’M NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE at the skies, at the world below, raging into the wind.

MAD AS HELL! NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE! RAWR! RAWRRAWR!

That was two weeks ago, when I was still having my ass kicked by a flu. On the 1st of November, I slipped into a new gear. I’ve worked out 7 of the last 9 days, began a new physiotherapy routine, have started to rethink food (though haven’t excelled there yet), and put a new focus on resting and sleeping, so my body can bounce back from the workouts and physical grind I’m throwing at it.

At least now I’m not literally an active part of the problem via bicycling and exacerbating that which I’m trying to heal. At least now I seem to be getting things right and having more good days than bad.

I suspect a few weeks will make a world of difference. I think I’ve found the magic bullet physio that will undo the punishment I dish to my body, IMS, and I know the roles sleep, nutrition, and exercise play.

But it means I won’t see people, I won’t have money to spend, and I won’t have a whole lot of fun… for a little while. The thing is, I’ve been here before. I’ve been this MAD AS HELL. I’ve been this focused. I’ve demanded this of myself in the past — 6 to 10 hours working out a week — and I succeeded like few people do, and for the better part of a year.

Somewhere along the line, I stopped doing things that had made me successful in 2008–2009. The year 2010 was my undoing and I’ve spent much of 2011 paying for it.

I’m not mad at myself for that. It is what it is. Somewhere in this stupid era of back troubles are life lessons I couldn’t buy. My anger is slowly turning from something I’ve been exacting on others into something that I’m using as a catalyst for changing myself, fuel for the fire, as it were.

Anger isn’t a bad thing. It’s what you let it do to/for you that matters. I have a hard time of harnessing it. I’m a pretty passionate person and there have been a lot of times of late my anger has gotten the better of me and turned into a self-pity-sorrow show, when frustration rules me, and much of the last year has had pockets of my Being That.

I had a hard time processing, for a really long time, that I could be the person who was pushing 300 pounds, lost 25% of her body weight, and became UNHEALTHIER, despite doing it all through better eating and exercise. Something about realizing that sort of crushed me. Still does, sometimes.

We get so caught up in the moment sometimes and forget life’s a long, long road, and this time of struggle might wind up representing less than 5% of our entire life, but TODAY it feels like it’s forever. When they talk about “big picture,” that’s what they mean.

If I live to 70, finally get past the worst of this back injury in the next couple months and never revisit Herniated Disc Land again, then these past three years of up-and-down injuries will represent a grand total of 4.2% of my life.

That’s a different perspective, isn’t it? That’s not even a nickel compared to a dollar, you know what I’m saying?

I think the hardest part of injuries, weight loss, all of that, is the mental game. I willingly admit that I was losing that game for the better part of a year. My unemployment last year showed me pretty much every wrong direction I was headed in. It honestly wasn’t until I was working again that I realized what I should’ve been doing when unemployed.

And that’s life for you. We figure out what we should’ve said, should’ve done, long after the ideal moment passes. Rearviewmirror Syndrome. We’ve all been there.

Have I figured everything out? Fuck, no. Am I close to the finish line? Fuck, no. Am I sure I’ve got the solution this time? Fuck, no.

But this time I have my anger to keep me warm and running. In a good way.

Feel the Dark Side, Luke. Then kick its fucking ass.

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