November 2, 2013

The Amazing Cadillac ATS 2.0T.

Yep, she's a beaut!

When I'm doing software contracts, I often end up travelling a LOT. Extensive travel is challenging, but there are ways of making it more enjoyable.

One of the ways I make my work travels more fun is by asking one simple question whenever I go up to the Enterprise car rental counter at the airport:
"Do you have anything… FUN?"

October 18, 2013

So you wanna be a Consultant, eh? (Part 3)


The Most Important Rule To Follow


Part 1: Why Contract Consulting?
Part 2: Making The Mental Leap
Part 3: The Most Important Rule To Follow


In the previous post, I'd referred to a cardinal rule that is absolutely important for all of us to follow regardless of whether we are a full-time employee (FTE) or an independent contractor.

THE RULE:
Never, EVER structure your life in such a way that you can't tell your boss to fuck off.

Yes, I just said that. Go back and read it again if you don't believe your eyes.

When I wrote that rule, I chose the words very carefully. I didn't write it using a four-letter word because I'm angry at former employers or bosses…  I wrote it that way because it's fucking important!

I can only think of 2 bosses I've had to date that I didn't like, and I only was truly angry enough at one of them to want to tell him to fuck off. Most of the bosses I've had have been awesome. In fact, I hate using the word "boss" and prefer "manager" or "mentor", because that's how my relationships with the majority of them were.

But back to the rule...

October 16, 2013

Minnesota.

I posted this on Facebook last week, and I thought I'd expand on it a bit more.

Minnesota has been disarming the armour I never even knew I'd built up over the years.

I'm not used to strangers smiling at me and giving me warm hellos. I'm not used to people letting me in on the freeway, or not honking at me if I don't gun it the instant the light turns green. I'm not used to not being tailgated. I'm not used to being pulled over by a police officer for minor speeding, having a friendly conversation, and being let off with a warning instead of a ticket. I'm not used to the hotel clerk chatting me up and cracking an inside joke she and I have whenever I walk out to my car. I'm not used to going to a gay bar on pride and hanging out with 5 locals for an entire night and sharing a lot of laughs. I'm not used to having a girl I'd met just once in passing walk past me and call out my name and stop to say Hello. I'm not used to walking around town with a relaxed smile on my face rather than a serious, "I'm going somewhere" face. I'm not used to questioning my reflex thought of, "What do you want from me?" when a stranger talks to me. I'm not used to not being asked, "Where are you from? No, I mean where are you REALLY from?" I'm not used to being in a small town and not being stared at.

I'm not used to this now, but I sure could get used to it!

October 6, 2013

To Rural Alberta, With Love.


I'm a logical, rational-minded person. But I also rely a lot on my intuition. Translation? Yes, I'm a bit of a hippy-dippy-granola-nature-gaia freak. Nothing over the top, but I'm definitely a 50/50 split between my science/logic-minded side and my "oooh - let's see what the universe says!" side.

So, a little over a month ago, as I do every year, I went to see My Guy. He's this dude outside of Ottawa who does these fantastic tarot card readings. (Now, stop your laughing for a moment and just roll with me here!) I've always found his readings to be very insightful and very helpful. It's not that he predicts the future… But rather, he is able to give me insight on what's happening now, why it's happening, and give me an idea of what to be mindful of in the near future. A bit kookie perhaps, but it works for me, so I run with it. (That's my hippy freaky intuitive side saying that. See what I mean? Sometimes I can't get the bitch to shut up!)

Anyway, in my reading last month, My Guy said something casually that I didn't really think too much about. He looked at the cards and said, "Everything that's been taken away from you will be given back." What? But nothing HAD been taken from me! I mean, I felt FINE.

I didn't think anything more about it, and went on with life. I went to Minnesota and started a software project there. And then, I came back to Edmonton to revisit my past and… Well, face some dark things that had been buried for many years - relentless homophobic, racist bullying and how it had affected me my whole life. (You can read about this here.)

Well, as shitty as things were when I was between 5 and 10 years old growing up out here in rural Alberta… There really was another side to growing up here, one that had also faded in my memory. It came to light last night.

October 2, 2013

Almost Gay Bashed In Rural Alberta.

I once heard that in Native American/Shamanic tradition, if you go through a traumatic experience, a piece of your spirit breaks off and goes away. There are ceremonies and rituals you can go through to call the piece of your spirit that has broken away back, to make yourself unified and whole once again. I never realized that there was a piece of myself that had broken off and gone away - until almost getting gay bashed in rural Alberta called it back and made me whole again.

The irony of using an idea from Native American spirituality to tell this story is not lost on me, but it's the most accurate way to describe the experience.


I've been visiting Edmonton and rural Alberta (where I grew up) for the first time in over 14 years. I've been having a lot of fun reconnecting with old friends and revisiting places from my childhood. So many fun, good memories!

However, my childhood here wasn't all idyllic. The darker side of my time here was the intense bullying I experienced for 6 years at the first school I went to. The school was on the First Nations reserve close to the acreage we lived on back in the 80s.

Remembering all the good times, though, I thought to myself, "Was it so bad? Maybe it wasn't. Maybe I was just a kid and it seemed a lot worse than it actually was."

September 28, 2013

So you wanna be a Consultant, eh? (Part 2)

Making The Mental Leap


Part 1: Why Contract Consulting?
Part 2: Making The Mental Leap
Part 3: The Most Important Rule To Follow


Working as a Contract Consultant requires a very different mindset than working as a FTE (Full-Time Employee).

In a traditional FTE arrangement, your days are structured, someone is telling you what to do, where to be, and when to work. As a Contract Consultant, things are quite unstructured. You are typically being brought into a project because of your expertise and experience. So there isn't anyone to defer to if you run into problems or if you're venturing into an area you've not worked in before. Oftentimes, you're it - you're "the guy" who is directing your area of the project and you don't have a manager to constantly specify how things are to be done.  This is a concern I hear about all the time from people who are considering contract work - "What if I have to figure something out that I don't have direct experience with?"

Let me assure you - if you're at a point in your life where you're considering doing contract consulting, you're probably smart enough to solve most problems that come your way, and find information about things you know nothing about!

Making the leap from a traditional FTE arrangement into the world of Contract Consulting seems quite daunting.

And honestly? It IS daunting!

Our education system and current FTE work structure descended from the Industrial Revolution… And so we've all been conditioned to follow a factory-style structured work day. Someone is telling us when to work, what to do, how to do it, and that there is only one right answer to a problem. One of the wonderful things about getting into Contract Consulting from a personal growth perspective is that it forces you to "deprogram" what you've been conditioned to believe when it comes to how much power and choice you have in your own life and how capable you really are.

September 26, 2013

So you wanna be a Consultant, eh? (Part 1)

In this multi-part post, I will talk about how Contract Consulting can be a welcome change from a more traditional Full-Time Employee job... And I will share how Contract Consulting can allow you to lead a more balanced, happier, engaging life of variety. I'll also get into some of the nuts and bolts of getting started. Enjoy!

Why Contract Consulting? (Part 1)


Part 1: Why Contract Consulting?
Part 2: Making The Mental Leap
Part 3: The Most Important Rule To Follow


When I quit my full-time software consulting position at the beginning of the summer and began road tripping and farming, I kept getting one question from people over and over:

"Oh - wow - you quit your job? You're going to be farming all summer? Are you going to become a farmer?"

At first, it seemed like a perfectIy logical question. But the more times I was asked this question, the funnier a question it became. Why? Because asking this question implies that we're only allowed to do one thing in terms of work… People assumed that if I left my software consulting job and was working on farms… That must mean that I'm going to become a farmer to the exclusion of all else.

It occurred to me one day… Why limit myself to just ONE type of work? In fact, why should YOU limit yourself to one type of work?

When I left my job, I'd maintained a good relationship with the consulting company I'd worked for, and they offered me a crack at a project with one of their clients in Minnesota. I went into it thinking that it'd be a good way to make some extra cash to support me on my next farming and/or other adventure. But when I started the project, a funny thing happened…

Goddammit, I actually was enjoying the work!

September 10, 2013

Thank You, My Sweet.

In times past, men rode horses to travel. And over time, horse and rider would form a strong bond that would last a lifetime. I don't have a literal horse, but I do have a Mustang. And so - here is a letter of gratitude to my horse, my Mustang. 

I knew we were meant to be when I first saw you, your shiny tail lights and chrome exhausts appearing from behind the opening garage door of your previous owner. In fact, it was only when I found you that I realized that I'd been looking for you since I was 12.

I've had many others over the years... And all of them, without exception, were fraught with problems resulting from neglect they'd experienced at the hands of their previous owners before they happened upon me.

But you... You were perfect. Even with your imperfections - I was ready to accept you 100% as you were. That's how I knew that this was it - that you were my horse. 

September 4, 2013

I Got What I Wanted.

It's been a little while since I've posted - I've been busy with family, friends, and some surprises that have come up in life. The summer may be coming to a close, but the Gay Mustang will keep right on driving! (-:


When I had my breaking point in April, I now understand that it happened mainly because I was so disconnected from my loved ones and because the guiding principles and values of my life didn't make sense anymore.

My life had become robotic, and I felt completely lost - but I had no idea how to change it or even what form my life could possibly take.

And therein lies the chicken-and-egg problem. I wanted to change my life, but I wouldn't be able to change my life without changing my life first. As in, in order to change things - I had to take a leap of faith without knowing what would happen and just trust that everything would work out.

And now... This crazy summer is already almost over. I thought that I would have everything figured out by now... That I would know what to do next, I would know how my life would be structured, and that my exploration would be over.

Far from it. The exploration of a different way of structuring my life isn't over. It's just begun!

August 16, 2013

Video: Cute Animals and Moving Sheep!

One of my favourite things about working on the farm is working with and being around all the animals. Let me introduce you to some of the animals, and show you what was involved in moving sheep from one area to another!

August 13, 2013

Got Racism? Not With Me, You Don't.

Sometimes, a hateful occurrence can be turned around into something healing.

I was checking my messages on The App last night, and this 20 year-old white guy had sent me a message. 

I won't share the exact message, but his opening line was, shall we say... Direct.

I swear that on these apps, a good proportion of men have lost their sense of courtesy and civility... If it was even there to begin with with some of these guys. 

Anyway, like an old man, I chided him on his rudeness and said that he should consider, oh, I don't know, saying "Hello" to a guy rather than talking to him as if he's a walking penis. 

Well, he was NOT happy. He let loose with a vitriolic rant and then ended with one word. A word I hadn't heard in years. 

"Nigger."


August 9, 2013

Video: Farming Update, Homeschooling, and WWOOFing!

I've been on the farm here in rural Nova Scotia for just shy of a week... And I love it! I've gotten to live and work with an amazing family - and I even got to talk to the kids about something that I've been interested in for a long time... Homeschooling!

I don't have kids (not yet, anyway!) but I've thought about ways I could prevent my own kids from going through the horrible bullying I went through when I was young... And - these homeschooled kids have blown my socks off with their intelligence and maturity.

See the video for all the details on what this week has been like.

Cheers!


August 7, 2013

Video: Made it to Nova Scotia! (Bonus: Bad Singing.)

An update from on the road! Made it into Nova Scotia!

Also: Please don't judge my singing.

August 4, 2013

Ever Slept in a 1990 Mustang Enroute to Quebec City?

A couple of days ago, I began my road trip in my seriously old Mustang! I'm a little off schedule, mainly because I thought my transmission was overheating on the first day... I stopped for a while to diagnose/test the issue but it turned out to be a false alarm - *PHEW!*

The first day I drove from Toronto to a small town called Iroquois, Ontario. Not much there... Just stayed for the night to catch some Z's for the next day of driving.

Yesterday, I drove from Iroquois into Montreal, Quebec.

I spent a number of hours in Montreal - I connected with an old friend and bought some new jeans for my apparently skinny ass (the farm work has made me lose a lot of weight!) There was, of course, lots of eye candy around! I will say that Torontonian guys and Montreal guys are both generally really hot - but in completely different ways. Toronto is more about beards and plaid and jeans and bellies (YES to all these things!) Montreal seems to be more European - so slim, fit, designer fitted clothes.

I left Montreal a lot later than I'd expected, and I was a little less than halfway to Quebec City before I really started to get tired. I was worried that I might fall asleep at the wheel, so I tried checking in at a number of hotels and motels... They were all either too expensive ($300!!!) or fully booked.

I've been asking the universe for more adventure, and boy did I get it! 

July 30, 2013

Video: How's Life After 2 Weeks on the Farm?

I've been out of my cubicle for two weeks... How's life after working on a farm and living in a community after two weeks? Find out!

July 24, 2013

Farm Life: Cherry Picking!

Cherry picking is both a delicious and relaxing job. I highly recommend heading over to a cherry orchard near you sometime soon!

July 23, 2013

The Beginning: How My Mustang and I Found Each Other.


I wrote this right after getting my Mustang back in April. Getting this car was the event that pushed me over the edge and set everything that's happened since then in motion.

So I ordered a copy of the book, "Anatomy of the Spirit", and I got to page 26, and the dam just burst for me. Mind you, I couldn't let it out in that moment as I was on a Boston-bound plane about to take off. Crying on a plane taxiing for takeoff? That's a recipe for delaying a flight!

It was these words:
"Peter's healing induced me to discover what we do that interferes with the energy that makes miracles happen. For instance, you can be a vegetarian and run six miles a day, but if you are in an abusive relationship, or hate your job, or have daily fights with your parents, you are losing energy - or power - in a pattern of behaviour that can lead to illness or prevent your healing from an illness. On the other hand, if you are spiritually centred and call back your energy from negative beliefs, you can eat cat food and still stay healthy."

These words just knocked the wind out of me. For the past 2-3 years, I've been in a challenging relationship, I've had a huge falling out with my parents, and I realized that my line of work has me living for the weekends. No wonder I've felt my health and energy declining!

July 22, 2013

Gratitude, Expressing Feelings, and Mom.


This was written about a month ago, when I was still in living in my cubicle.

One of the many changes that I'm trying to make as a part of this crazy journey I'm on is to be more expressive and giving of love and gratitude towards the people I care about in my life.

As men, we're discouraged from doing this and we're not even really taught how to do it, so the first step for me has been to simply give myself permission to really express how I feel towards others.

In my family, there is an unspoken bond of love. I know it's there, but it was never really expressed in an open sort of way. As a result, I never really learned how to do this... And so I've been teaching myself. There has been lots of #Fail, let me tell you! But that's how I've been learning.

People are constantly telling me how they admire what I'm doing and the courage they believe I have to make the choices I've made - buying my car, farming, and trying to change my life. And recently, when someone said this to me, I felt my heart just expand with gratitude towards my parents.

July 21, 2013

Farm Life: Stacking and Moving a Field of Haaaaay!

Moving and stacking a field of hay was an extraordinary amount of work... You'll never drive past a field of hay and think of it the same way again!

July 18, 2013

Reader Question: How did you know when it was time to drop everything and run to the farm?

I got this question from one of my readers:
"How did you know that you wanted to drop everything and pursue what you are doing?"

This is SUCH a good question, and MY GOD I searched high and low for an answer myself!

For me, it didn't happen in one moment... It happened over time. But there were three things that pushed me over the edge:

Ever Chase Down Ducks Before?

One of my favourite things to do in the mornings is the task of chasing down our two water ducks and putting them in a rain barrel!



July 13, 2013

It's Over.

A while back, I wrote a post called, "The Importance of Love". I shared how I told a dude I was in love with him, without any expectation of him saying it back to me.

So yes, I was the first person to say, "I love you." BrenĂ© Brown would have been proud. 

However, I also was the last and only person to say, "I love you."

It happened just now, over the course of this weekend. He said that he just wasn't in the same place anymore. The prolonged period we had of distance and being apart from each other so early in our getting to know each other had made the feelings he once had fade. I understood.

June 30, 2013

The Importance of Love.

I've been feeling this way for a few weeks. It's totally irrational, ill-timed, and inconvenient. But the heart wants what the heart wants, right?

I talked to my friend Jane Taylor, worked though my feelings… And then... 

I called him.

"I have something I have to tell you." I proceeded to sputter and stumble over my words, as I do in these moments.

And in his style, he said, "What is it? Fuck, spit it out, already!"

"Dude. I'm in love with you."

June 27, 2013

Austin: The Velvet Coffin.


This past last weekend was my last weekend of travelling for work. And so I decided to spend the weekend in Austin, Texas. I was looking forward to a weekend of beer, music, and awesome food. And that's exactly what I got!

But I also got something else unexpected. I got a bunch of old wounds dug up and brought back to the surface.

I use a couple of geolocation apps for gay men - Grindr and Scruff. For the uninitiated, these apps will tell you what gay men are physically around you at the moment. I've used these apps in Toronto, New York City, Boston, and even the small town of Greenville, South Carolina. In all these places, I've found the men to be fun, friendly, respectful, and kind. 

I expected the same thing in Austin, but boy, was I in for a surprise. The non-white gay men were cool - just the same as in other cities. But the majority of the gay white men I talked to over the weekend were real entitled jerks. Disrespectful, treating me like an object in conversation, and just general flakiness. After a few instances of this, I felt this torrent of old anger come up from deep within me, fired up as I remembered my own difficulties in the past as a brown gay guy. 

June 23, 2013

Bought a Mustang, Quit my Job, and Off to the Farm

So I bought a 1990 Mustang 5.0, quit my well-paying software consulting job, and am going to spend the next few months farming.

I'm excited.

But I'm also scared shitless.

When I think about how I got here, sometimes I wonder if I've imagined it all.

In April, something in me snapped. My relationship of two years ended. The stress and drain of my jet-setting job had wrecked me. I felt lost, depressed, fat, tired, and just… destroyed. I'd done everything I was supposed to do in life - finished school, listened to the authority figures in my life, gotten a great job, and was well on my way towards eventually getting a mortgage and a good-sized retirement nest egg. Everything was setup the way it should be. I should have been happy.

But I was miserable.