Free Time is Everywhere

I’m gradually mastering how not to be the “I don’t have enough hours in a day”, or the “I’m too busy” guy.

I have discovered new found free time in my daily life and I haven’t had to sacrifice anything significant to obtain it. How, you ask?

By simplifying my life.

If you’re curious, have a glimpse at the other articles on this blog to figure out how I’m managing to pull this off. This blog began about my alcohol recovery process, but it has organically transformed into a self-discovery and self-improvement channel.

Some practices I adopted to achieve a minimalist lifestyle with more free time were: decluttering physical items, streamlining my technology, analyzing what items or activities actually make a difference in my life, changing my views on consumerism and material possessions, making debt reduction a major priority, and eliminating time vampires. Ultimately, this has left me in a better mental state, which is, more focused, calm, confident, and most importantly, happier.

Each day I am still discovering and refining my lifestyle, but nevertheless, perpetually evolving and growing as an individual. I am becoming a person that I love, I haven’t been that for quite some time.

I study self-improvement online. I research the hell out of lifestyle ideals, then consider whether or not they’d suit me. If I think they would, I then conduct personal experiments or trials to test them and keep or dismiss them upon my conclusions.

For example, in order to acquire even more free time and improve my time management skills, I am undergoing a multi-tasking experiment. I am testing my ability to slow down and focus on one thing at time. I am not a multi-tasker. It causes me stress, a lower quality outcome, and takes me more time than tackling one project after another.

To give you an idea of how much time I waste, on the weekends when tidying the house I often bounce from room to room doing bits and pieces in each because something has grabbed my attention. I spend more time walking up and down the 25-foot long hallway than I do tidying a particular room. I likely make thirty trips to the kitchen garbage, when I could make five if I did one room at a time.

The worst part is I know I’m doing it! I just can’t help myself.

I’ll bring a load of clean laundry into the bedroom to fold and put away, but notice an empty glass on the nightstand so I’ll put the laundry down and bring the glass into the kitchen. Once there, I’ll discover the dishwasher needs emptying and begin doing that, then I’ll notice the dog’s water bowl empty and fill that. Off I go to the office to change the playlist I’m listening to, and I’ll notice an error message on the computer, so I deal with that. Finally, I’ll have to pee and returning to the bathroom, I notice the dryer door open and the wet laundry in need of finishing. “Jesus! There’s the laundry getting wrinkled in the bedroom!”. The saga continues…

So there’s a snapshot of something I am trying to improve. I keep looking for areas to work on because I am seeing my life steadily filling with great things that I enjoy. Having more time to write, learning guitar, watching even more NFL then I usually do, playing hockey, exercising, reading, taking walks, and spending quality time with my wife and dogs.

Life is good when you make time for the right things.

Follow me on Twitter: @bryanmccloskey

 

The Minimalist Mind

Having nothing weighing on your mind is a wonderful feeling.

Of course, it rarely happens in this day and age as we find ourselves bombarded with responsibilities, tasks, chores, errands, social commitments and numerous other things but if you can find 10 minutes of peace each day, it’s incredible.

I often use a method I refer to as a “brain dump”. I first read about it in book that a friend had recommended The Artist’s Way. It’s an exercise in releasing the stress and thoughts in your mind.

It’s incredibly simple, yet immensely powerful and takes only as much time as you want. All you need is your morning coffee and the writing tool of your choice. Mine used to be a notebook, but it’s now often Google Docs.

So how does this exercise work? You. Just. Write.

That’s it, I promise. Sit down and begin writing anything and everything that pops into your mind. It doesn’t have to flow, follow grammar rules, or even spelling. I’ll do a live example right now on this Friday morning to show you.

“I can’t believe the Packers destroyed the Vikings last night. Monty has to go to the vet first thing Monday, remember he can’t eat Sunday night past 10pm. I have a few projects at work to get off my plate today, hope they go well. I have to get dinner ready and pick up Kate tonight for the play at 730. The Sens are on TV tomorrow night, I want to watch that. I’m happy with how much I am enjoying my new streamlined technology, better than I ever would have thought. I need to get back to working out again, I am really missing it. Why is the damn hydro bill so high?? Need to meet up with Greg tomorrow for Kai’s hockey game.”

There, my quick brain dump for today. It contains good, bad, useless stuff that just popped into my head as I wrote on the fly. Notice that I didn’t bother with continuing a thought stream, or try to solve any of the problems or roadblocks I encountered? I just took all the crap rattling around in my head and plopped it on the page. Very freeing.

Your mind bounces all over the place, from one topic to the next and it’s easy to begin to feel slight stress or feel overwhelmed by them and their rapid pace. But by simply dumping them out, your brain feels as though it’s dealt with them in some way. My brain dumps are usually more lengthy than this example, as I try to spend 30 minutes on them to really flush out everything.

There are two steps to completing your brain dump.

  1. Reread your rant once
  2. Delete it

You feel better from rereading what you wrote down and reflect on the fact that most of what’s there is meaningless junk that was just bouncing around in your head. These thoughts are your own and meant only for your eyes, so you delete it after. You also delete it because you don’t go back and reread them like a diary or anything because you’ll just fill your head up with the crap again.

So there you have it, a simple easy way to free your mind and move on with your day hopefully less stressed and with a more focused mind.

Follow me on Twitter and let me know if this exercise works for you @bryanmccloskey

 

Streamlining My Technology

Much to my wife’s elation I’ve undergone an exercise in minimizing the prevalence of technology in our home.

A few months ago I began auditing my needs and usage habits, discovering I had way too much technology in all areas. Hardware, cables, adapters, remotes, software, apps, and digital clutter in general. Terabytes of hard drive space just full of junk not unlike an unkempt garage with digital boxes overflowing with old TV shows, movies, photos, and documents. Files and folders I’ve never watched, read or looked at in years. Much like moving, I’d just pack up my clutter and move it to my next computer.

Not this time.

Gone is the iMac, the MacBook, the iPad, the bluetooth keyboard and peripherals, the various media streaming boxes, and a set of desktop computer speakers and subwoofer. I was spending so much of my free time charging, updating, tweaking, hacking, troubleshooting, optimizing, downloading, syncing etc. that it just wasn’t worth it to me anymore. I am seeking a more minimized and streamlined technology lifestyle.

Before selling the iMac, I vigorously audited all of my software, apps, documents, music, movies, photos, fonts etc. before backing it up. I didn’t want to take much with me on my new journey. It felt VERY good. I lost count at exactly how many hundreds of gigabytes of storage space I had relinquished.

I had also made another decision to force my hand into having only the bare necessities:

Less internal hard drive space.

See, I unloaded all of that other equipment to help finance the new family laptop, that “only” has a 128GB hard drive. I’ve heard all the warnings about that not being enough space and that I’ll regret it, as it is not upgradable. They may be right, but I hope they aren’t. During my audit, I realized how much of my video content is streamed from Netflix, music streamed from Spotify, and documents and design files stored in the cloud with DropBox and Google Drive. If I ever do fall short for any reason, there’s always external hard drives.

A funny thing also happened with this experiment. For the first time in two decades, technology was a grudge purchase for me. Neither thrilling or exciting. It felt like having to buy tires for my car. Spend a lot of money on something you aren’t overly jazzed about. I couldn’t believe that I felt that way. Almost guilty and bordering on annoyed. So very backwards from my normal train of thought. Despite my feelings, I went ahead with the purchase knowing that it was the right thing to do to get on with tech downsizing.

In fact, we are now four days into owning the new laptop and it’s not even out of the shrink-wrapped box. Normally, it would be torn open in the parking lot and then covered in drool as I ogled over it. I know eventually it will be opened and will be utilized, but it’s interesting to have spent four days without a computer. I suppose that illustrates the power of smartphones nowadays.

Our tech life now consists of two smartphones, one family laptop (yet to set up) and a Google Chromecast. So far, just a few days in, it feels pretty freaking freeing to say the least. I’m not worried about syncing and transferring files, keeping as many things charged, software updates to countless devices, having cases, covers, bags, sleeves to protect them or tote them around in, less extended warranties to buy, less less less. Much simpler and more stress-free.

I think both my wife and I will be really happy with how this is going to turn out.

 

I Love Lists

My memory is awful, thankfully I love making lists.

My wife makes fun of me about the countless things I compile lists for. They span a variety of topics from groceries to chores, to-do lists and wish lists, tv shows and movies to see, tattoo ideas and design concepts. On and on they go.

I create lists not only to serve as reminders, but I get off on crossing out or deleting completed tasks. It gives me an immense amount of pleasure. A satisfying feeling of productivity. Screw game apps, my favourite downloads are to-do lists, calendars, reminders/alarms, anything that helps me feel on top of all the extras in my life.

It’s crazy and somewhat nerdy, but I can’t help it.

As great as I have always found lists to be, and as much as I feel they contribute to me living a more disciplined and organized life, one thing I’ve recently begun to realize is how much clutter they generate.

  1. Physically – papers, notebooks, post-it notes everywhere.
  2. Digitally – Numerous apps. So many that I’ve had to create folders just to wrangle them. Reminder chimes and pop-ups frequently distract me as well.
  3. Mentally – Constantly thinking about and referring to my lists to see what’s on all of them.

I’ve infused lists to every area of my life, and now rather than alleviating stress, they seem to be spawning it.

When I look around my home office I feel anxious because of the clutter on the desk. Bits of paper everywhere. My phone has endless apps, producing jumbled chaos on the screen and reminder notifications to point out that I need to do something.

I had spent the better part of the past year telling myself, they are a necessary evil. That due to my busy life and poor memory I need lists to stay on top of everything.

I still believe that to be true.

One change I will be implementing however is what exactly goes on these lists. I’ve spent the past month auditing all of my lists and what I discovered surprised me.

A vast majority of the lists were full of superfluous items and chores. Notebooks full of chicken scratches of things I will not ever get around to tending to. Ideas I had for projects more than 5 years ago. Why? Lost passions, old “great ideas”, lists and lists of movies and tv shows that I should “one day” look into. Bands to check out, software to learn, hobbies to take up, DIY projects to try.

All these things are completely fine to have lists for, plans to try, and interests in, but follow through already, Bryan.

Where I use to scramble to take note of something the minute I heard about it, or it popped in my head, I now take a minute to ask myself a question. “Does it really matter?” Most often the answer is, no.

My lists are rapidly becoming more streamlined and also more important as they just now are taking form of things that really matter to me.

 

The Facebook Experiment

Lately, I’ve noticed articles surfacing in regards to the potentially negative effects that heavy Facebook usage can have on someone. These articles inspired me to reflect on my own usage of the popular website.

The articles basically say that it is unhealthy to frequently (consciously or not) be comparing ourselves and our lives to those of others. That’s what they perceive is happening as we scroll through our feeds.

Apparently it can have negative effects on one’s self-esteem as we are usually only privy to the good news that people tend to share. Be it the wild party nights, new baby, job promotions, trips aboard etc. We allegedly analyze and internalize those status updates as a true reflection of how great their lives are, and thus how mundane our own are. After all, we’re staring at a screen hitting the “Like” button on posts about icewater, while college buddy Mike is traversing across France (that’s made up, kinda… no, it’s not at all).

If I may be so bold, I suspect that whether or not the above is true, would have to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and not such a blanket statement. I think the possibility of negative effects on the user would depend on their mental state, self-confidence, self-worth, and a myriad of other facets.

Those who know me personally, (or have me on Facebook) know of my “on again / off again” relationship that I have with it.

Usually 2 or 3 times per year, I get a weird feeling about ‘Blue Magic’ and deactivate my account only to return weeks or months later looking for a ‘fix’ of some sort. See how I compared Facebook to the heroin brand from the film ‘American Gangster’?

That was on purpose.

Certainly, I am far from what is considered a “heavy-user”, I don’t even have the app on my phone. At times, I do tend to use Facebook in bursts (my recent wedding) and certainly consider myself a contributor over a consumer. I use the actual site so infrequent, that my updates usually come via my Twitter account, and I will only login on occasion to check a message, or “Like” a comment someone has left for me.

Interesting conversations and debates are often spurred when the topic of social media usage arises – how, why, and how frequently we use it. Each user is unique in their participation, but there are, in my opinion, 3 stylist’s chairs in the gossip salon that is Facebook.

1. The user that is there only because a haircut is in dire need: Everyone has a Facebook account, I may as well get one.

2. The haircut booked every 3 weeks to the day: I’m on Facebook multiple hours per day.

3. Lastly, the 5-8 week haircut: I’ll check it when I have nothing better to do, even then, I might not.

I find it very interesting to observe people’s usage habits. I don’t know if it has to do with my age, sex, or what, but it’s fascinating to me the vast demographic of group 2. Men and women from all generations seem to really resonate with it. The phenonmenon that Facebook has become is incredible. It’s greatest success is without a doubt the ability to keep in contact with far away friends and family, the chance to spread good news to a large amount of people rapidly, or like my benefit, as an avenue for self-promotion.

While I understand and benefit from the positives, each and every year (since whenever Facebook beat out Friendster and MySpace as THE place to be online), I have been planning my next downtime. Enevitably for one reason or another, I feel the need to unplug and disconnect myself from the site. Admittedly, I haven’t spent a great deal of energy analyzing the exact reason why, I just go with my gut feeling that I’m better off without it for a while.

If I had to take a guess at just what my driving force to detach might be, I think it’d have something to do with my desire to leave the past in the past.

Yes, past experiences have helped mold me to the man I am today, but in life, I’ve always been a huge adovcate of never looking back. For me, looking in the past does nothing but keep you from moving forward. It was what it was, it’s gone and won’t return, so why revisit it? I’ve long removed the rearview mirror from my life. What’s in front of me is my road to happiness and contentment. My past was just the map that got me here.

Facebook acts as a time capsule and thus is littered with aspects of your past. After my divorce, going through and “cleaning house” on Facebook was brutally difficult. Something I wish I didn’t have to do. Removing the pictures, posts, tags, and events were all hard in their own way to deal with, but it was mutual friends that proved the most painful.

I know many people that have a rule that if they won’t say “hi” to someone on the street, then they don’t have them Facebook. I think that’s good rule that works for many people but it’s a bit tricky. I’d say hi to my ex-wife if I saw her on the street, but should she be on my Facebook?

My mutual friends from my past relationship are wonderful people whom I still care about. I would gladly say hello to them without a second thought, but where do they fit in my life today and where I am at? We still interact occasionally, and many have sent very kind words of support to me during my ongoing recovery. I have them on Facebook because I still enjoy seeing them grow and evolve, yet they are a link to my past that no longer holds any regard in my life. It’s an internal issue that I’ve been dealing with for years. One that wouldn’t exist if I were not on Facebook.

I have a bunch of friends on there, and I know for a fact I likely don’t converse with 80% of them. I don’t know why, I just don’t. I don’t have anyone on there that I’ve had a falling out with (that I know of) but over the years as the number of friends grew, my relationships did not. Now being that I don’t interact with the majority of my ‘friends’, why do I still have them on there?

That answer is easy, but hard to say : I’m afraid to “unfriend” them. It’s my own ego. I think they’ll take it personally.

But why is that? They don’t talk to me, I don’t talk with them – and let’s be honest I’m not the centre of their universe, they likely wouldn’t even realize it if I unfriended them. They probably look at my profile as little as I look at theirs, which is next to never. Unless…

Unless. They. Creep. Me.

Herein lies what I am most uncomfortable with regards to how people use Facebook. I apologize in advance to any I may offend, but (to me) creeping is, well, creepy.

You never talk to me, yet you feel the desire to sift through pictures and posts that I have published. I mean, go ahead and do so. I am not embarrassed or ashamed of anything on there, I’m just confused as to why you care to do so? You won’t drop me a note to say hi, yet you know where I went last weekend and what I had for breakfast on Tuesday?!

That’s weird. In the real world that’s called stalking, not creeping.

I always ask “creepers” if they perform the same exercise on LinkedIn and they always reply, “No!” When I prompt them as to why, the answer 100% of the time is “Because they’ll know I looked at their profile!”

This makes zero sense to me.

It makes it sound as though there is some dark agenda as to why you want to lurk anonymously around in someone’s digital life. If you feel awkward about them knowing you are looking at their profile, then why are you doing it? Do you hope they’re doing worse then they were when you knew them more closely? That’s not cool. If you’re hoping to see them thriving and doing well, then why not drop them a line with well wishes?

Perhaps I’m missing the appeal because I leave my past alone and don’t bother waking old ghosts, but Facebook has given everyone the opportunity and choice to be voyeurs. To peek into the window of people’s lives unknowingly. That just doesn’t seem healthy to me. Voyeurs typically derive pleasure from gaining access to the forbidden, and Facebook creepers must thrive on that, or else they’d be creeping on LinkedIn profiles as well.

The creepers consistent line of defence is always “If you don’t want people to look, you shouldn’t put it up there!” Now hang on a minute, should I then not have windows on my home? “You can lockdown your profile so only your friends can see it!” So keep my window blinds shut all day too? I’m not arguing that Facebook doesn’t have the features to keep out unwanted eyes, I’m questioning why those unwanted eyes are coming in the first place. I didn’t realize that the terms and conditions of Facebook were an information free-for-all.

If I have offended, again, I am sorry. I mean no disrespect, I’m just confused. If I were to look at someone’s profile it would be because I have a genuine interest in them, and therefore it wouldn’t matter if they knew.

But I digress, this post isn’t meant to be about anything more than an announcement.

As many of you know, I have been taking steps to radically simplify my life as of late. Aiming for a less consumer-driven, stress-free, and more fulfilling life. This is but another experiment in my journey.

I will be going off Facebook again (not that you really care one way or the other haha). I’m undertaking a 3-month hiatus to see if it changes anything for me, better or worse.

Will I miss it and feel out of the loop?

Will I end up hanging out with people more often face to face to interact with them (I hope so!)?

The major benefit that I am most anxious for, is trying to recapture what life before Facebook was like, because I honestly can’t recall.

So for my friends and family, until January, 2015, you can find me on Twitter @bryanmccloskey as I still have that little blue bird vice, or email bryska@gmail.com if ya wanna comment or chat (or hang out!) as I won’t see the Facebook feedback for quite some time.

High-School Days: The 90s Revisited

I was grumpy last night after work — grouchy in fact. It had been a good while since those feelings came knocking, and I was left wishing I wasn’t home to answer their unwelcomed call. I felt exhausted, barely able to stay awake, irritated at anything and everything. I was just plain miserable and powerless to shake the slump, despite having taken a nap.

What I discovered by this morning as I reflected on my previous night’s episode, was that I was a creature of habit. It was something I assumed for years, but had always suppressed for some mysterious reason.

The past month had been a whirlwind of activity that included moving apartments, last-minute wedding planning, visiting and hosting friends and family from out of town, and of course the wedding itself (which was an outstandingly special day). We were surrounded by friends and family, well-wishes, laughter and smiles, hugs and stories. It couldn’t have been a better stage to start life’s next chapter. But those 31 days had taken their toll on me. I now realize just how much those combined disruptions to my day-to-day life affected my inner harmony now that the dust has settled somewhat.

You see, I’ve spent the majority of 2014 really focusing on my health and overall happiness. Physically, I was watching my diet, exercising regularly, had quit smoking (of recent, drinking as well), and taken to extra curricular sports activities to get outdoors more. Mentally, I was reading much more than usual. I studied diet and exercise, minimalism, well-being topics like thinking optimistically, and keys to adopting a more simplified life. I also sought to devote my time online towards personal growth instead of entertainment consumption.

The problem was that I had built it all around a strict personal routine. Without even realizing it, I had my daily schedule dialled-in so tight that it simply couldn’t handle the increased workload that August presented. Begrudgingly, I began swapping workouts in favour of lunch-hour errands. Dinners were often prepared by high-school kids and were presented in brown paper bags through my car window. Restless sleeps left me too tired to attempt getting up early to squeeze in the omitted exercises. Lastly, I began smoking again after 9 months of being smoke-free. I told myself it was due to wedding stress, but I now know it wasn’t. It was stress for sure, but not from the anxiousness of my wedding day, it was from feeling as though my life had been flipped over like a breakfast egg. It’s not that the month had been bad or negetive, it was quite the opposite but I was still amazed at how a few distractions really threw me off my game. I need to get better at balancing my life on the fly and learn from this experience so I am properly prepared next time.

The “life off balance” realization I experienced felt great when it came because I now know how to fix it. I’ve admitted that I need and thrive on structure and routine. Whenever such words are uttered, I consistently associate them with authority, conformity, and boredom (probably due to my dislike of the school system). I will admit however, that the configuration really does suit me best. I guess I did learn something from my years there.

Wading Through Water

It was 34 days ago that I waded into the unknown waters of sobriety. I didn’t realize how quickly I’d meet its depths.

When one makes such a drastic life change, there will inevitably be challenges to overcome. Some of the tests repeatedly echo like soft rippling currents, while others seem to crash and explode like a massive tidal wave. Their force, frequency, and impact may vary — yet all must be taken in stride and carefully measured.

Today is my Day 34 and I have experienced both outcomes.

The gentle challenges become demanding over frequent exposure. Their protests slowly build, displaying their defiance to what you are trying to achieve. If they only come knocking a few times a week it’s not too bad, but after three or four days straight — they become a real threat. That is definitely one aspect I never accounted for, their relentlessness.

Then there’s the tidal waves. I knew they’d be bad. I knew they’d require focus, determination, and inner strength to persevere. What I didn’t realize however, was that I wouldn’t see the tidal waves coming before they crashed. For when they strike, the impact is that much more devastating.

When those brimming tidal waves hit, and you’re knocked off balance, disoriented — it’s easy to want to give in and let the force of the wave sweep you out to sea. Even though you know you’ll drown, sometimes the fantasy of drowning can feel so freeing. The euphoric rush, light-headed surge, and buoyancy. All of the memories of those feelings flood your brain and tell you to just let go and have the undertow carry you off. Feel the release. Feel your stress melt away as the haze envelopes your brain. The fantasy is romantic. How I miss it’s warm embrace.

It’s only when you come back to reality and reflect on your true experience that you admit that it isn’t worth it.

Remember the powerful grasp? The suffocating grip?

Gulping for air. Kicking your legs. Flailing your arms. Thrusting your head through the water’s surface and screaming for help as it encircles you like feeble prey. The undertow pulling you into the depths, the immense pressure on your chest as your lungs burn filling with salt water…

That’s how I recall the hold alcohol routinely had on me, and why I’m opting to stay on shore from now on. It’s a shame because I enjoyed swimming, but at least I can still appreciate the beach.

(We Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.

happiness

Really? We can’t find satisfaction, just settlement?

This week I came across a thought-provoking quote on Tumblr.

Now typically, I use my Tumblr account to follow subjects I am passionate about such as motorcycles, tattoos, sneaker culture, more tattoos, graphic design, even more tattoos, etc. Recently however, I’ve begun following a few inspirational and motivational accounts to help gain some traction for my new outlook.

The post in particular that caught my attention was a quote:

“The happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything.” ~ Sam Cowthorn

At first glance, I liked it. It seemed all flowery and inspirational blah, blah, blah. I thought to myself, who needs a Mercedes when a Dodge will do? Who needs $300 headphones when a pair already came with my phone? Why pay $4 for a coffee when you can pay $1.75? You know, the whole “make due with what you have” mantra. Which is some solid advice in a great many cases, but once I started reflecting on the quote as a whole, I began to see something else.

Now I’m not embarking on some anti-consumerism rant. In fact, I have no issue with material possessions. I like possessions that add value to one’s life. For example, items like my exercise bike, hockey equipment, Jeep, and Nexus 5 all add value to my life.

I just began to think what if consumer culture didn’t have a class system? We then wouldn’t have to “make the best” out of any possession because, to us, that item IS the best. Each of the afore mentioned items all fall into different levels on the class scale, yet each brings me equal satisfaction and happiness.

I don’t feel as though I am “making the best” of any of them, they all carry them same title as the best product(s) to suit my current needs. A Ferrari is not the best car for me at all based on my needs, therefore I don’t feel as if my Jeep is inferior in anyway. My hockey skates are the price point model, not the top of the line, yet they are great for one night per week men’s league games.

I know it seems convoluted, but the point I am trying to get across is that we needn’t make the best of anything if we’d just be open to the satisfaction we likely already receive in our current situations.

The Psychology of Clutter

clutter

Everyone has clutter in their life to some extent. Physical clutter, digital clutter, mental and emotional clutter.

This morning I came across a great little article from the Wall Street Journal’s Melinda Beck that discusses the psychology of clutter.

I found it interesting as I am currently going through the process of letting things go.

Does it remind anyone of Brad Pitt’s infamous Fight Club quote: “The things you own end up owning you.”?

Join me on Twitter, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Self-Reflection: My Aha Moment

bike
I never knew it was time for a change, until it was time for a change — my aha moment.

My friends and family know what I’ve been through in my personal life over the past 5 years. To quickly bring you up to speed: a divorce, a move across the country, job changes, meeting my soul mate, coming to terms with anxiety/depression/anger issues, and finally admitting to my alcohol abuse. It’s been a roller-coaster ride to say the least. One thing my Pops always says about my life, is that there’s never a dull moment.

I am going through a process of self-reflection and ultimately self-improvement. This blog is a sort of therapy for me. An outlet for me to reflect and collect my thoughts, get them down on “paper” and digest them. Why did I decide to make them public? I don’t know really, it just happened. But now that it is, I am receiving fantastic feedback, support, and well wishes that are serving as motivation to keep going and hopefully inspire others.

What I’ve realized from my recent lifestyle transformation is how truly beneficial it can be to shift your thinking.

Just last night Kate admitted to me that this moment is the best moment in our relationship, and I agree. I feel a genuine closer connection to her. I am beginning to find peace, confidence, and self-assurance in my sobriety.

I’ve always told myself that I am who I am, and that I cannot change that. But the truth is you can, you just have to want it bad enough. Maybe it’s because I was pushed to the brink, at risk of losing what little I had left. Maybe I was willing, taunting history to repeat itself to prove some self-fulfilling prophecy. Maybe I felt I didn’t deserve better. Whatever it was, I felt lost. I felt unhappy and in search of “something”. That “something” wasn’t at the bottom of a bottle I can tell you that, God knows I looked.

I very nearly hit rock bottom a few times both professionally and personally, and I’ve finally been scared straight. I’ve had a realization. I’ve come to know the feeling to truly value the opinion and respect of others. I am conscious of how my behaviours, words, and actions affect those close to me.

I am committed to growing stronger as a person and finding new sources of inspiration and happiness. I’ve learned that I want experiences over possessions. I’ve learned that it’s nice to actually remember the Saturday night you spent with friends. I’ve learned to not care if I suck at writing, that I am going to do it because I want to. I’ve learned that I want to be seen as more than a designer, that I have more to offer. Lastly, I look in the mirror and feel pride in who I am and who I’m challenging myself to become.

I’ve had an epiphany I suppose. For the first time in a long while, I feel like I am on the other side of the window. I’m outside and free. It may sound corny and strange but that’s what I feel in my heart. I really like this new Bryan.

Why the tricycle image at the beginning of the post? I’m pressing the reset button on my thinking, my habits, and my behaviours that I have developed thus far. I am returning to the fresh, unblemished state of mind that was childhood, so that I may start growing again, to become the man I want to be.

I’d love to hear your feedback. Hit me up on Twitter.