Photographer | Musician | Blogger. Lead guitarist of Blind Hill. Often referred to as that naked guy. You can contact me here.

More Hugs, less shrugs.

I haven’t taken the time to write about my daily struggles with mental illness in a while.  Maybe it’s a sign that I’m going through a period of calmness and contentment.  Maybe I have finally made the correct adjustments in my life to ease the pain on a more permanent level.  I know better than to believe that…it’s always waiting to latch on to anything I wish to feed it.  All I have to do is say the word (or think a couple thoughts actually) and I will spiral into some very deep dark emotional places in minutes.  With the suicide death of Robin Williams fresh in our minds those of us suffering with depression need no further proof that neither money, success, fame, nor laughter makes this illness go away.  We need support (some of us need medication too), but really we need support from not just loved ones…but support from others that understand this illness.  We need openness. We need to look into the eyes of someone else that is going through this and give a mutual nod of acknowledgment.  We need to give hugs.  Not just a friendly ‘hello’ hug but the hug that squeezes the person hurting behind the smile.  The kind you hold on a half second longer.  

I am very happy to be experiencing a longer period of joy right now, but I’m bipolar.  I know, KNOW that it will turn around any day, unexpectedly, and last for any length of time. I know that the plans I make today will not make sense to me after my mind shifts.  I know the promises and commitments I’ve made will be very hard to keep. I know some people will see this as being unreliable or untrustworthy.  It’s ok…the people that care (most of you reading this) have been there since I started talking about mental health and have given me so much support. I can’t express my gratitude enough for that.  Thank you.

If there is anything I’ve learned over the last couple years is that there are so many of us fighting huge battles with depression, anxiety, and suicide…that no one hears about.  And that most of us are standing right next to each other.  My story is not unique!! I’m not a ‘special’ case that is any more or less than what yours might be.  I’m telling it because I once believed I was alone…and then I discovered you.

…and then I discovered peanut butter on a spoon, it’s the little things.  jq.

False steps.

I don’t know how anyone else does it but have you ever been so focused on taking that “first step” that it becomes 10 miles wide?  You wait months, even years, of planning and thinking and replanning and rethinking and so on… that one step is suppose to take you from start to finish in one impossible leap.  Then you stand there with you leg dangling in the air thinking “there is NO WAY I can take this step, I know I can’t reach…I can’t even see that far!”.  In spite of all your knowledge and inspirational quotes spinning around your head you know that the first step will change your life…and that is terrifying! No matter how positive the change will be it will scare the shit out of you.  The fear of the unknown is often greater than the pain of staying where you are and doing nothing.  We default to the path of least resistance and don’t take action… we go back to planning and thinking because it still feels like progress.

If this goes on long enough we start taking false steps.  We buy a batch of business cards, but never hand them out.  We register a domain name and never build the website.  We start social media accounts and never use them.  We write a business plan and never show it to investors.  We apply to schools and don’t follow through.  I could go on.  The false step is a killer.  It gives you the high of making progress without the results.  I have spent the last 10 years of my life (maybe longer) waking up in the morning and spending my day in search of the next false step.  What could I possibly do today that will give me a sense of accomplishment  without actually committing to anything?  I’ll go work at my 9-5 job to “pay the bills” and come home and spend 4 hours on the internet looking at photographers/musicians I wish I could emulate because in my mind I’ve twisted this pointless activity into “research”.  

Let me tell you, in caps … SPENDING ALL DAY MINDING OTHER PEOPLES BUSINESS IS NOT DOING ANYTHING FOR YOUR OWN.  

To be fair I have made ‘real progress’ in the last 10 years.  I have a solid portfolio of photos and many musical gigs I’m extremely proud of doing.  Maybe you do too, at the core of what you want to accomplish with life is usually some skill or talent you have fallen in love with and put serious work into behind closed doors before anyone knew what you were doing.  If we get it into our head that it’s more than a hobby then we must be brave and realize these false steps are like landmines.  The real steps create ripples in the water.  They make noise.  They rustle the leaves and leave footprints that others can follow.   

JQ.

 quack… 

Nude Friday!! (I had to wear shoes because there was broken glass everywhere)  Shot in Trinity, Newfoundland June 2014.

If you waited for the right time, the right tools… you wouldn’t make a damn thing. #create

Day 100 of 100 Days of Awesome

The end of the 100 days!  Check the calender, mark the progress, evaluate goals.  I failed some, I struggled with others, I fell apart for weeks at a time. I’ll tell you something though, I did great things in those days.  I met great people, I found passions within me that were flickering sparks that are now burning hotter each day.  I thought going into 100 days of awesomeness was about fast tracking to some huge life goal…but what I found out was that there is no finish line.  You can’t even SEE what the hell is going to be there for you in a week, a month, a year.  I have opportunities I didn’t think was possible, I have people I’ve never met tell me how I’ve opened up communication on mental illness in their family, I’ve made friends I could never have planned on meeting, doors open that I didn’t even know were there.  The one door I was counting on was actually slammed shut and brought my photography to a temporary halt (my studio space didn’t work out).  But hey,  I was asked to go to Los Angeles in June to be part of something way more exciting.

I’m not saying this to brag either, at the end of the day I have a long road in front of me.  Like all of us.  I believed in myself for a couple short months (probably only 6 weeks if you minus the days I lost my focus) and out of nothing came many things.  I trusted in my abilities and believed it would happen and when I was at 100% those things came in like a FedEx truck delivering the goods you’ve been waiting for.  As soon as I stopped believing, the opportunities also stopped.   This is where the magic happens, when you take the risk, believe it’s possible, and do the work…the answers will come.

I can’t even talk to you from the standpoint of a success story yet.  I am not there, not even close!  I can only tell you that I pushed my comfort zone out a little bit…took notes…and ran back into safety.  Like looking over the edge of the high dive and turning back, I wasn’t able to jump.  However tomorrow is only a few hours away and I plan to continue with another 100 days.  This time it’s not about reaching an end result on day 100, but waking up and living every day on my own terms. The vision I have for my own life is way more awesome then what anyone else told me it should be anyway.  

JQ

*Note:  Why should you care about what I’m doing? Good point. I get that from strangers or people that don’t understand what this is about.  This blog is personal and often self centered, I get it. I’m just a guy locked into the same wage-slave, production line, mouths to feed, bills to pay situation that thousands of us are.  I share my struggle to live my dreams in real time.  The value of that to you is simply inspiration, and knowing you are not alone.

Also, check out what the team over at I DID are doing, great source of inspiration!

Day 98 of 100 Days of Awesome.

Okay I didn’t blog in 60 days…so my 100 days of sharing awesome living publicly turned into a private journey.  I don’t know if I’m further ahead or right back to where I started, I suppose many adventures end back at the beginning but with some sort of valuable experience/lesson. I may have failed to blog but I did not fail to keep moving.  2 months have passed and I look at the calender in disbelief that it’s almost June.  What’s really crazy is that I’m currently listening to the Tool - Lateralus album, an album that I would play on constant repeat while doing marathon study sessions in college…to me this album takes me back to my little study space at home in St. John’s Newfoundland, going crazy over electronic theory and math. 12 years ago…where has THAT time gone? 

There is a lesson here, and one that has been hard to accept for years.  In spite of my crazy creative pursuits, underneath all of that I have always played the game of life very cautious.  I put music down in order to complete college.  I left a city I loved to increase my chances of employment in my field of study. I stuck out every “good” decision, listened to all the “good” advice.  Worked hard, doing all the “right” things. All of this to have stability, the promise of a good career, a happy family, to live life on a path that has the best odds of success.  I didn’t come from a background of success, and by doing this I was not only making family proud but felt my own sense of hope that as hard as it was at least when I hit 35 years old I can look back and say I did it.  This is the perfect formula… if it was 1960. 

Welcome to 2014, I’ll be 35 in 2 months.  I did do it. I did everything right…the only difference is I do not have the success I expected.  Sure…life throws some curve balls at everyone, I’m thankful for what I have. Yet a part of me wonders about that dreaded “What if”.  What if instead of playing it safe I took the risks I avoided 12 years ago.   Instead of college what if I played music. Instead of moving I stayed where I wanted to be. Instead of putting 100% of my effort into my Plan B I just went Plan A from day one. 

I got THIS FAR doing something I only ‘kinda’ enjoy.  I have made it THIS FAR with very little motivation or interest in my career.  What if…I applied that work ethic into something I’m actually passionate about? I would be unstoppable.  Anyone would. 

The hard truth is I now have family and financial responsibilities I have to consider…12 years ago I didn’t and I was too scared to risk it back then.  To rock the boat now screams insanity to the average person.  But there is one thing on my side, I am far superior a musician and photographer than I was 12 years ago.  I am not a kid anymore.  The risk is huge but my tools to succeed have grown equally…and I am anything but an average person. A scream of insanity is a mere yawn in my life.  More to come…

12 years ago.  Study life.

JQ.

Check out my band Blind Hill at the Redcliff Hylton May 30/31 if you’re into live rock and fun! #MedHat

I’ll be performing solo and acoustic at Inspire Cafe downtown Medicine Hat, May 15 (this Thursday) 6 - 8pm. Come out for a time!

Check it out Medicine Hat!  “Celebrity” judging just added to my resume.  :)