Archive for 30-day Writing Challenge

30-day Writing Challenge – Day 30!

I made it! I’ve definitely learned a few things along the way, but the fact that I got through all 30 days, and did so on a schedule, generally planned out, is a pretty major thing in my books.

Today’s topic:

Your highs and lows for the month.

There have definitely been a bit of both for me, but this month has been a net-positive one for me.

Definitely in the positives department would be the lightning-fast 5k I did at Formation Run last week. 20:48 for a 5k is something I’ve only ever dreamed about, and to be able to pull it off was a huge win.

Also good this month are the conducting opportunities I’ve had and will continue to see into next month with UVic. Things are starting to come together in that department, and after Midwest, I’ve had a good period of personal growth with how I translate to the group.

I’ve worked hard, too, to be more organized, to plan my day deliberately, and I’ve had good success there. This writing challenge formed part of that – I committed to writing for around half an hour a day, and I succeeded, for the most part.

As my doctor said to me this week, “age and responsibilities are starting to catch up with you”. I’ve been feeling fatigued, and worse still, I’ve had this ache in my back for weeks now that just won’t go away. On top of that, my tinnitus is particularly prominent right now, so much so that I’ve got a touch of concern as to whether I’ll be able to continue in this line of work for much longer (hearing protection is a thing but I’ve yet to find some that work well enough).

30-day Writing Challenge – Day 29

What are your goals for the next 30 days?

While not an exhaustive list, here’s a few things I’ll be working on over the next month:

  • Successfully conducting UVic Wind Symphony and Naden Band in concert
  • Getting contracts and contractors in place to replace the flooring in my house
  • Having a great visit with my parents and sister
  • Finishing the touch-ups on my arm
  • Trying to get a 21:00 5k as a solo endeavour

30-day Writing Challenge – Day 28

Post five things that make you laugh out loud.

  • Joking around with Kristy. My gosh, our brains, when they get together, we say and do some funny stuff. We’ve had so many days or nights where our sides ache because we’ve been laughing so hard.
  • The Haribo Sugar-Free Gummy Bear Reviews. If you need to laugh so hard that you’ll cry, this is it.
  • My own stupidity – I don’t mean this in a demeaning way, but sometimes I can really say or do some dumb stuff, and it’s nice to be able to have a laugh at my own expense to try and defuse things.
  • My kids – as they gain in age, they get so much funnier, especially as they try and navigate adult language.
  • Dark humour. Sometimes, my job can feel bleak – having to make crummy decisions or deliver bad news is not my favourite thing, but to actually get to try and inject a little humour into situations allows me to become Dark Chief, and he’s a pretty funny guy.

30-day Writing Challenge – Day 26

Write an area about your life that you’d like to improve.

I look at where I was four years ago when my life kinda blew up and the kind of progress that I’ve made, and I’m fairly astounded at the progress. The progress part we’ll get to tomorrow, but for today, I’m going to have a go at an area I’d like to improve on.

Time management is an area where I’ve really, really struggled over time. I have always had the capacity to get lots of shit done, but I’ve never had the organizational wherewithal to make it happen. I have been less good at prioritizing tasks, and definitely not good at making time for myself.

I’m as guilty (or more) as the next person of losing hours on social media. I have to admit that the Screen Time function in the recent iOS update was a very telling thing, and it’s caused me to think about my own screen time. I’ve had a couple of periods where my social media consumption patterns changed – focus more on Instagram, less on Facebook, less time reading the news, times where I’m off the grid completely. Lately, the trend has been ticking downward. I’m still spending north of an hour and a half on my phone every day, but a good chunk of that is text messaging, thankfully. FB and its politicized drivel is pushing me away, and Instagram, well, the photos are cool from time to time, but it’s often just mindless.

Not spending time on social media gives me some time to do other things, like read, or take up writing (ahem). Maybe even spend more time doing things like score study, and practicing. Things I’ve maybe subconsciously been avoiding over time.

I’m making inroads through planning out my days/weeks/months, looking at over-arching projects and tasks I need to take care of, and trying to not get overwhelmed by the day-to-day things that are (or aren’t) getting done around here.

The B-side to my time management issues also tie in with my natural tendency towards slovenliness in my household. Admittedly, I’m doing much better than I ever have, but it’s tough, too, when I have three extra humans in the house who consume and don’t necessarily do much in return other than leave messes for me to clean up. I’m not great at ensuring their tasks get completed, and they know that they can just put up a fight and eventually I’ll just do it myself, sometimes angrily. Nobody is winning in this situation.

Tomorrow’s topic of conversation is the opposite of today’s – the discussion of things that are going really well for me right now. I much prefer focusing on positives.

As an aside, I really notice a difference in trying to write at 9pm vs. writing at 6am. I’m SO much fresher first thing in the morning. Right now, the words are there, but it’s pretty noisy in my head from a day’s worth of input. With this post, it took a good half an hour to get going, and this after agonizing somewhat over yesterday’s post.

30-day Writing Challenge – Day 25

Think of any word. Search for it on Google Images. Write something about the 11th image.

Anxiety and ADHD have really taken the forefront of my oldest child’s life. The anxiety portion, while undiagnosed in me, is something that I’ve dealt with for an awfully long time. Most of the time I can keep a lid on things, but this image really sums up quite nicely how I feel when I get trapped into an anxious thought.

I see this most prominently in Elijah though, and he’s been having a large number of anxious days. He’s not been getting the kind of help that he needs, and it’s been a tremendous struggle for everybody involved, especially us as his parents. It affects everything for him – his ability to function, relationships, work, school – and it’s problematic for everyone around him as his behaviours are really disruptive.

Having Kristy in the scene, though, is helpful, as she’s dealt with a tremendous amount of anxiety on her own, and has found ways to deal with it in a manner that it doesn’t affect her nearly as bad as it once did.

The next big question surrounds medication and additional therapy to help him sort out his ability to function in a way that will see him prosper. One day at a time…

30-day Writing Challenge – Day 24

Write about a lesson you learned the hard way.

Probably the toughest thing to learn is to try and tackle fears head-on. My instincts for self-preservation through life are deeply rooted in fear. One of it comes down to vanity and the desire to maintain what meagre standing I have in the world, as nobody likes to be seen as the person who doesn’t know or who comes across as an idiot. The other side also delves into relationships, where fear can prevent growth in so many ways.

On the learning side, when I was much younger, I was at once brimming over with ideas, and on the other side, completely terrified of demonstrating what I knew (or didn’t know) about the basics. I hated opening my mouth and asking questions, because I had natural talent, and therefore would not want to look like a fool for asking a question to which I didn’t already know the answer. Completely stupid, yes. One special side skill that came from this, though, was the ability to quickly extrapolate information from incomplete data sets. Later in life, I’ve been able to use this to good effect to keep pace of conversation in a room full of people I don’t know discussing things I have no idea about in the military (or musical) context. I’m better able to keep pace and track what’s happening. It still comes up, though, where I’m in a room full of near-academics and I’m just not in my element. It’s uncomfortable, and that’s the point where I just hang back and listen. Listening is key.

On the relationship side, I just didn’t ever deal with issues, and that in turn spiraled things out of control. Much like with educational fear, I had places that in my mind I wanted to go, but was afraid to communicate with partners for fear that I would be deemed unlovable, and end up alone, which would then spin off into its own kind of special hell. I would often not deal with issues (“put my head in the sand” as was told to me), but I would also know that a situation could be remedied over time through patience. I got through a good decade and a half of not dealing with stuff before it all came crashing down on me. Therapy helped a lot. Having good friends, and now, a partner with whom I share even the deepest, darkest secrets, is tremendous.

Letting go of fear has allowed me to give love and receive love better. It’s also the scariest shit I’ve ever done in my entire life.

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.


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.