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Posts Tagged ‘Emotional Health and Wellbeing’

How to Forgive a Thief

August 24, 2012 2 comments

How to Forgive a Thief

INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!

As an unexpected follow-up to my post earlier this week, while I was chatting with an old friend at a coffeehouse in Victoria, my bike’s odometer – which I had forgotten to remove from my bike in the midst of hello-hug-greetings – was stolen.

(sidenote: Always in Victoria! I’ve had bike lights stolen three times, a helmet once, and now an odometer. Never lost anything in Vancouver or Kelowna – bigger crime capitals – oddly enough.)

INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!
Stone rubbing of an ancient Chinese Han Dynast...

Stone rubbing of an ancient Chinese Han Dynasty odometer horse cart (Wikipedia)

That moment when I realize something of mine has been stolen, sucks. No way around it. It frustrates and angers me. It makes me suspicious and mistrustful of the people immediately around me.

Fortunately, as I mentioned before, I have a coping mechanism in the way of tithing. I can’t get rid of the frustration so easily, but the last thing I want to do is compound these frustrations by adding the financial replacement cost of buying a NEW odometer. I also need to find a way to forgive the thief. So here’s what I’ll do.

Right now, due to my blessed time working the Kelowna Summer Theatre Festival, I have in my budget an August tithing balance of -150.58$. That’s money strictly earmarked towards tithing actions – using the money for a good cause, for gifts, and the like.

First I need to decide upon a replacement cost. The odometer that I purchased cost about 25$, but that was due to a dramatic sale at a Zellers going out of business. I was unable to find a similar odometer at the Zellers here in Victoria, so I can’t expect that amount to cover a new odometer. So I’ll put my replacement cost at the amount for a similar odometer from MECC, which, including taxes, comes to about 45$.

So, emotionally, I offer my odometer as a gift, so I can get over the feeling of being a victim, and be willing to forgive. Financially, I subtract 45$ from my tithing budget, reducing it to -105.58$, and the only hassle for me is the act of going out and buying another odometer, and the time I am currently without one. It could even make sense to put a dollar figure to that time cost, if I found it overly frustrating.

All that said, every incident has its own personality. Today is particularly frustrating because they took the odometer, but not the sensors attached to the wheel… which means that rather than a homeless person taking a bike-light that can be used as a flashlight… today’s voleur has walked away with a piece of useless electronic junk. Which makes forgiveness harder. But without my tithing system it’d be so much worse.

INVISIBLE!
INVISIBLE!

Thanks for reading.


Cheers,
Andrew Wade

Six Secular Reasons to Tithe

August 22, 2012 4 comments

Six Secular Reasons to Tithe

For me, tithing consists of setting aside 1/10th of what I earn, to be given away for the benefit of others. While I am a Christian, the benefits of accepting a tithing mindset and habit are huge for anyone – regardless of spirituality – who chooses to take on this challenge.

Note: My definition of tithing includes using this 10% of earnings for non-reciprocal gifts, donations to charities, help for friends and strangers in need… whatever you feel is appropriate, which may include giving to religious institutions, but doesn’t need to.

Hunky-dory? Great. Onto the reasons:

Tithe Tenth Mormon

(Credit: More Good Foundation)

(1) Good Deeds

Let’s get the obvious one off the bat. By giving money to worthy causes and actions, you help make the world a better place than it was yesterday, and that is huge. Whether you’re helping education and health by deworming the world (http://www.dewormtheworld.org/), giving to a local shelter, or encouraging mentorship (http://www.bigbrothersbigsisters.ca), you’re making an impact.

(2) Budgeting

While the actual 10% figure isn’t too important, taking on this challenge requires taking note of your income and figuring out just what it is you’re actually earning. Also, it’s unlikely you’ll give exactly 10% of what you’re earning each month, or some opportunities might come up that require you to give a little more, so some numbers may carry over into the next month. Spreadsheets may be scary to some, but I personally find it a lot of fun (yes, fun) seeing one adjustment affect my next year’s worth of numbers. A skill well worth learning in case the public school system didn’t help you in this regard.

"Have you seen this man? He is Ant Hill H...

(Credit: Wikipedia)

(3) A Way to Forgive Thieves

If you’re like me, there is nothing that gets in your craw, that rankles you, that makes you downright peeved and pissed off so much as having something be stolen. The worst part of it all is that feeling of powerlessness, which can often devolve into a fear for one’s own security. It’s not hard to go from having a possession be stolen to adopting a mindset of distrust toward anyone you don’t know (or perhaps even toward people you do know). Which, as I’ve discussed before, is not a good way to live. But with a set tithing plan in place, I’m able to stick a mental trick on myself and choose to let the object that was stolen instead be a gift. If they’re resorting to pilfery, they probably need it more than I.

With this method, I then take the replacement cost off my tithing amount, so I’m not even short any money in my budget. It still sucks to have stuff get stolen, but I am now able to consider it a gift, forgive, replace, and move on, without my finances taking a hit.

Cover of "Pay it Forward"

Cover of Pay it Forward

(4) Karma / Pay It Forward

Alright, perhaps not an entirely non-spiritual reason, but plenty of people believe in a worldview where doing a good deed will come back around in the end. I don’t necessarily believe this concept, but I have respect for people who do.

(5) Encourages a Positive Perception of Money

It’s too easy in our society to become obsessed with the goal of obtaining money for security, or even hoarding money for money’s sake. Intentionally giving away money each month instead reminds us that money is just a tool to help us pursue other goals – not a goal in and of itself. Doing so also reminds us of what we hold to be more important in life. Don’t get me wrong – money is a fantastic tool, but that’s all it is.

(6) Encourages a Generous Mindset
Giving encourages more giving – a positive reinforcement loop that creates more generous individuals. Before I started tithing, I would often spend time debating the pros and cons of any behaviour or action before (possibly) making a decision. Since I’ve begun tithing, however, I find I am far more likely to freely offer aid to someone in need, without hesitation. It’s a far more fulfilling way to live.

I also find I am far more willing to accept and ask for aid from others, now that I know just how good it feels to be a giver. Generous minds build communities, neighbourhoods, friendships. Optimism. Happiness.

I encourage you to at least give tithing a trial for a few months, and open your eyes to all the opportunities to give and support the people around you, and around the world.

——————————

Passive Income Update:

As previously stated, I am on a plan to produce a monthly passive income of 80$ per month by the 1st of December. I have decided that I will let this goal include any passive income stream I create in that span, rather than have it need to come all from one source.

GOAL: 80$ per month.

PROGRESS: 7.16$ more in passive income per month due to moving cash from a low-earnings savings account to a higher earnings situation.

STILL TO GO: 72.84$ per month.

——————————

Thanks for reading.

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

Life as Seasons of Television

August 16, 2012 Leave a comment

The old season is ending. Long live the new season.

***************

English: Icon of television that is off

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I often consider my life in the metaphor of a television series. (I like structure.)

Lately I’ve been looking at each year as a season. And since I’m not yet too far removed from 20 years of education, each year begins in September. Now, with any good episodic television show, there are individual stories and arcs that last over a few episodes, two-parters and the like, but there are also season arcs, overarching stories and themes that have their feet in every minor story that year. An arc could be a career path, a relationship status, a focus, a series of coincidences, health, friendships, projects… anything, really. What makes a season arc what it is is that pervasive nature with which they are progressed (or obviously stagnate) throughout the whole season. It’s these arcs I’d like to pontificate over.

THIS SEASON’S ARCS

This past year (September 2011 to September 2012), significant arcs I can identify that have made their way into almost every day of my life are (A) my career goal to connect with the Vancouver theatre scene and find paying work doing theatre, (B) reconnecting with my family (as last September included a move close to home), and (C) Being single without letting myself be single. (Like I said, stagnation can be an arc as well.)

English: TV icon

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As for (A), as with good TV, it started with a BANG (four days to write and learn and build a Fringe show for Vancouver Fringe?), then fell into a rhythm of better paced growth experiences throughout (A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, The Great American Trailerpark Musical, The Boys In The Band, IGNITE!  and The You Show with The Romantics, Shpadoinkle Day, and the National Voice Intensive), and showed a strong arc build, with my recent paid work at the Kelowna Summer Theatre Festival. This arc emerged from last year’s season finale (Stage manage, direct, and write/act in three different shows for Victoria Fringe?), and this year’s finale features an echo of last season with a return to Henry V with KeepItSimple, and an unexpected call from Bard on the Beach, asking if I could audition for them – a call I did not receive last year. The finale of this month also helpfully points toward plotpoints for next year, with auditions for paid work and opening hints of Dracula: The Musical.

For (B), seeing my parents and siblings every few days has been a blessing, giving me a sense of roots and the resolve to stay on the mainland and follow my path, rather than find somewhere to hide. An anchor.

television

(Photo credit: Walt Jabsco)

And with (C), well… all I’ll say is I went on a total of three dates all year, and that while this year’s season finale won’t be what I’d hoped for, it might be what I need. As with many real television shows, this season will end with a meeting at a party. (Part of the reason I think in arcs is an act of hope and will that there will indeed be a great shift ahead.)

NEXT YEAR’S ARCS?

While I’m no clairevoyant, here are my predictions for possible arcs:

(A) Film and TV. I want to make a big career push in film and TV. I expect a slow build-up with student films, extra-work and the like, but I’ll happily accept a break if it comes. 🙂

(B) The Move Into The City, Proper. Not only does my family look like they may finally move out of Richmond after many years of pondering doing so, but the building I am currently living in is due to be demolished at some undetermined point – most likely in a year’s time. Just in time for the big finale. 😛

Television

(Photo credit: davydubbit)

(C) Breaking The Social Isolation. Tied to the former arc, perhaps living with other people again, but more importantly, cultivating strong friendships and accepting new beginnings on the relationship front. More evenings spent with people, and not just for the purpose of rehearsing.

(D) Income Boost. Be it a successful passive income project, a lucky opportunity to act in a commercial, or something else, I expect growth from last season’s 10k income figure.

Other possible arcs include: Writing regularly / getting published (though I’m not sure I have the discipline for this in me, quite yet – through perhaps writing/running a D20 game could be a step), bouts of depression, a brilliant romance (apparently there’s still a hopeful romantic in me), connecting to political spheres, and connecting to nature (a highly rare experience throughout all of my life).

NOW.

Now I head off to Victoria for the season finale – a step into my old world to see what experiences, which people, I’ll get to take from it into next season’s arcs, and what will get left behind.

I don’t know what will happen, but I plan on following the metaphor through. I want a big finale, with this season’s arcs resolved or transformed into something new. Next year’s arcs set-up. Surprises. A cliff-hanger. When I return to the mainland, I want my life to have been inexorably changed.

So if you want to help write the next season of me, or become a regular, now’s the best time to make a guest-starring appearance.

I need something big to happen so I can begin next year feeling renewed.


(yes, I ended this on a pun.)

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

The Lie of ‘Never change who you are.’

July 23, 2012 2 comments

The Lie of ‘Never change who you are.’

Protean Personality

Protean Personality (Photo: FeatheredTar)

One of the core, central beliefs by which I live is this: that all human beings are malleable. That I, and all of us, are capable of change, of growth, and of discovery, of making fundamental shifts in our worldview and in how we relate to others and ourselves. I’m a junkie for self-help books, websites, and audioguides ranging from C. S. Lewis’s Christian conundrums to Marc and Angel’s motivational posts to Morty Lefkoe’s limiting beliefs to Steve Pavlina‘s open discussions on everything from worklife to domination-submission. To anyone with an eye for how a person can improve.

In my own, personal story (elaborated on more substantially here), the single most important moment in my life was a time when I was in church, ten years old, with tear-filled eyes, my head down at my knees. At that time, I said to God, ‘I don’t like who I am. Help me become someone else, someone better.’ After that day, I looked to the people around me and observed what I admired about them, then sought to instill those values within myself. Courage. Humour. Honesty. Openness. Community-mindedness. Counsel. Extroverted exuberance.

When I tell this story to people – my origin story, essentially – the most common reaction I receive is this:

Well, you shouldn’t ever have to change who you are.’

Bullshit.

(If you know me in person, you know it’s exceedingly unusual for me to use such strong language. If you don’t know me and don’t consider this word as ‘strong language’, please replace it with a suitably surprisingly bold word of your choosing.)

Don’t change? Bullshit. I say, change who you are. Constantly. Discover the very core qualities that make you, you, and on a deep, gut level, grok them, understand them, and then decide whether or not you want them as a foundation for who you are. Reevaluate. Over and over again. Everything from how often you smile and laugh, to how you spend your time waiting in grocery line-ups, to what you believe is fundamentally true about human beings, to how you interact with strangers, to what makes you afraid, to how honest you are, to whether or not you’re as good a friend, lover or acquaintance as you could be… constantly identify ways to grow, prune, build, and level. Then do it. Change.

Be the Change

It’s not surprising I entered the world of theatre. Here, I can wear the skins of people with different intentions, worldviews, tempos, and rhythms to my own. Sometimes while exploring a character I’ll find an aspect of them that satiates me on a deep, gut-level – a whole-body grokking – and decide to try to hold onto that aspect for myself. Iago (see here, here, here, and here) helped me explore the intensely gratifying thrill of untethered ambition. As Donald (The Boys In The Band), I discovered the honest love behind unconditional loyalty. As William (William vs The World), I spelunked into the dark world of how a person can use self-delusion to shield oneself from loneliness, and into the desperation that kicks in when those illusions disappear. Malvolio (see here, here, here, and here) taught me how to use heartbreak as a powerful driving force, and performing improv taught me to trust not only my own gut instincts, but also those of whomever with whom I am sharing a moment. Over and over again theatre has helped me continue to shape and mold the very nature of who I am, cutting into the marble, adding slops of wet clay, drilling and firing and smelting and blooming.

One of my other core beliefs is this: I respect anyone who is trying to better themselves, be they an addict, my mother or even a former serial killer. We can all be better than who we are; we are all works in progress, always. That doesn’t mean we are not good, honest, eager, excellent people in the here and now. What it means is that we’re human. Malleable. Full of hope and opportunity.

Whether you want to or not, we all change. It happens. No one remains the exact same person throughout the course of their life, or heck, throughout the course of a year, or a month. What we can do, however, by admitting our protean possibilities, is direct that change for the better, be that through eliminating beliefs that are hindering, through shifting your perspective of yourself and of the world, through adopting new practices and personality goals such as honesty and openness, or through pursuing an innumerable other opportunities to grow, weed, cut, feed, nurture, and breathe.

There are many reasons someone might tell you to never change who you are. Perhaps they’re worried you don’t feel self-worth in who you currently are. Perhaps they worry you’ll trip up somewhere along your personal journey and get lost. Perhaps they’re afraid you’ll become someone other than their expectations of you. Perhaps they worry you’ll leave them behind. Perhaps it’s just their way of saying ‘I love you for who you are now.’ But I would add to each of these that anyone who tells you to never change who you are, refuses to see how amazing-brilliant-marvelous your future self will be.

Keep consciously changing,
Andrew Wade

Why I Trust Strangers (and hope you do too!)

March 9, 2012 3 comments

A Matter of Trust

Image via Wikipedia

 

I can honestly say that I spent much of my time at elementary school as a miserable coward. As I wandered alone, step by step, along the concrete dividers outside my school each recess and lunch, my mind raced with intimidating scenarios.

What if that boy decided to fight me? What if they swarmed me with insults and pushed me? What if they approached me, cracking their knuckles? What could I do?

I was constantly figuring out escape routes, deciding whether or not I could outrun them, or reach that teacher in time, or the classroom, or safety, somewhere, anywhere.

(It’s worth noting that I was never punched once. Did get shoved into a bush. Was bit once. But that one was my fault.)

If I was walking on my own, dark, light, day, night, whatever, I would imagine muggers emerging from every shadow, and I would continually run scenarios over and over in my head. That’s one reason why I bought an mp3 player: So I could have something else in my head as I went from point A to point B other than running through what would happen, were I attacked.

In every scenario I ran through, I either ran away… or more rarely imagined myself getting the piss beaten out of me.

Eventually, I came to realize that this wasn’t healthy. Certainly not a useful use of my time. But I that realization alone didn’t cut it out entirely. No. I thought the healthiest thing was to make sure that when I envisioned these… ruminations… that I would imagine myself ‘winning’ the encounter. With tact and compassion, I would employ myself like a master hostage negotiator and defuse the situation (okay, or sometimes with physical intimidation, grabbing the right weapon around me). Then they would give in, reform, and become a better person.

Seriously.

My poor baby.

But that wasn’t healthy either. And whenever someone stole something from me, or I lost something (which amounted to the same thing in my mind), I became angry. Spiteful. The loss of my poor M:TG Lightning Dragon really ate me up.

Then, BOOM! Moment of clarity. Shining, shimmering splendid! I realized how I could solve both of these problems – my constant scenario-making, and my anger. I had a choice to make.

I chose to trust strangers. And everyone else. To assume that they were good people. To assume that the man in the shadows would have a kind heart. To assume that no one would have stolen my hat – I must have left it somewhere, or someone must have taken it by mistake. An honest error, t’is all. Well, that’s alright. They can have it.

And if it really was stolen? They must need it more than I do.

This past December, I got in trouble with a lady’s parents when, at the end of a dinner spent at their place, I asked if she could show me the way to the bus stop. Because I didn’t know where it was, and needed to get home. (That, and having a minute alone with her would have been nice.)

Well, apparently that doomed me to their bad books for life, because once I got on that bus, she had half a block to walk back to her place. At night. In a suburban area. Horrors upon horrors.

And yes, being a man, the potential dangers are different for me. But living to the point of being afraid of walking half a block away from one’s home… I am so glad I don’t live like that anymore. So glad that I can enjoy the solitude of a good walk, or be happy to see an unknown face on the street.

The world is safer, less violent, more peaceful, than it has ever been. I will admit, however, that the dangers and evil deeds of the world are better reported than ever before. So I don’t watch the news, other than a feed on politics, science and technology. There’s always hope on those fronts. (Yes, even in politics. From time to time.)

Once I chose to trust in strangers, I stopped worrying about mythical muggers and became a much happier man, and that trust has been repaid countless times, over and over again. I highly recommend it.

Lightning Dragon (Photo credit: Jon_Tucker)

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

The Mysterious Energy of Edwin Drood

February 20, 2012 2 comments

I’m not prone to generalizations, but I don’t think it a stretch to say that everyone wonders at some point in their lives what other possibilities were out there, if they had gone down a different career path. What if I had gone into the sciences, instead? What if I had aimed to stay as a full-time staffer at that observatory? What if?

I will freely admit that I do wonder whether or not my own is the wisest course of action, whether my ambitious drive into the world of theatre is a quest worth pursuing, a goal worthy of fitting my whole life around. Whether I might be just as happy doing something else, somewhere else, for (assuredly) more money. More security. More regularity. Whether or not I should be proud of my current life of balancing part-time jobs in order to make just enough rent that I can spend all my weekends and evenings creating theatre and performing (typically without pay, no less!). After a stretch of working daytimes and rehearsing evenings, these thoughts can run through my head. I admit that.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1993 film)

Image via Wikipedia

That said, I flat out deny the notion of ‘if you can imagine yourself being content doing anything else, then DO THAT OTHER THING INSTEAD’ that gets floated about concerning all the arts (be they acting, writing, visual art, you name it). Hogwash. Of course I could find a decent modicum of happiness somewhere else. The world is great and vast, and there are so many excellent potentials out there, so many avenues to pursue, adventures to explore. Any man who could not find happiness in more than one pursuit is a man I pity. But I wager that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, like standing centre-stage and igniting two hundred people into laughter, compassionate silence, or enthusiastic jeers. Nowhere else makes me so completely and wholly grateful to be alive.

Do I act to be famous? No, but it’s nice to be recognized. Do I act for the continually renewed challenge of live theatre? Partly. I’ve found that when the challenge of a job disappears, so too does my interest, whereas live theatre is a new and different adventure every single night, because the conversation between actors and audience is different every night, even if the lines and choreography remain the same.

But no, the main reason I perform is because the act of sharing a story fills me with a delight unlike anything else on Earth.

Except perhaps the happy dance I do after a lady agrees to go on a date with me. Even there, theatre might win out.

Saturday night was opening night for The Mystery of Edwin Drood, a pseudo-pantomimish musical absolutely brimming with delightful energy. Big, bold, and British. Marvelous. And this show has instilled me, nay, possessed me, with a spirit of gratitude, from the moment we found our first preview audience. Since that first night, I have found myself treasuring my friends and family moreso than usual. I have repeatedly thanked God for all the opportunities in my life. I have found new ways to deeply enjoy my work. I have had a grin plastered on my face. I’ve had to suppress a strong urge to hug every friendly acquaintance I meet. I’ve needed less sleep. Heck, after opening night, and the opening night festivities, and post-festivities, I arrived home at 6am, and STILL had too much energy leftover to sleep for another couple of hours. I am vitalized, potent, present.

The lesson from all this? Life is a bigger, brighter wonderful when I have a stage and a story to share. It happens every show. Every project. And any time spent between performances, between opportunities, is a valley in comparison to this peak of exultant contentment.

And THAT’S why I’ve chosen a career in theatre. Not because I couldn’t possibly do anything else, but because, by gum, I have found nothing so irrationally fulfilling as this.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood plays at The Metro from now until March 3rd, with 8pm evening performances on the 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th, 29th, 1st, 2nd, and the 3rd, and a 3pm matinee performance on the 26th. Review at: http://www.reviewvancouver.org/th_drood12.htm . Tickets at: http://ticketstonight.ticketforce.com/eventperformances.asp?evt=1682

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

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My Honey Bottle Valentine – at West of West

February 13, 2012 Leave a comment

Like this, but with a squeeze top like a water bottle. How romantic.

Hello, all!

Following along with my healthy compulsion toward understanding myself, I have written up a story, My Honey Bottle Valentine, about the first Valentine’s Day gift I’ve ever given. You can find it on my brilliant friend Tom Stuart’s web showcase of Vancouver Island writings at WestofWest.ca .

Last month he also posted my short story, A Journey of Barren Landscapes, which won the 2010 Martlet Short Fiction competition.

I am proud of them both. Well, not so much proud of my own actions in the first story, per say. I’ve never been as forthcoming or adventurous in my social/relational life as would be good for me. But it is a window into who I am.

And as for Barren Landscapes? Originally written as part of a workshop at UVic, it’s one of those pieces where each time I look back at it, I am dumbfoundedly surprised to see my name up there as the author. It’s a genuinely good piece; I just can’t believe that I was the person who wrote it. An adventurous road trip relationship story from a person who, at that point, had barely been on a road trip and never been in a relationship. And yet, while it is a story about someone getting swept away by an unpredictable, charismatic woman… it’s not merely me penning a personal fantasy. If anything, it might be more of a warning.

And… the links again, for good measure:
My Honey Bottle Valentine
A Journey of Barren Landscapes

Cheers,
Andrew Wade