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

Day 29 of 100 days of AWESOME.

I really want to write something angry tonight about how someone felt the need to dig around the internet and gather enough supposed evidence to accuse me of shooting ‘porn’ in their neighborhood. But I really want to address something that goes a little deeper than that…I honestly have been blamed for everything from Satanic cults, to global warming so I really don’t give a shit what’s talked about behind my back.  In fact, it’s helped tremendously in expanding my audience.  The lies spread far and fast, people look at my work, discover who and what I’m about… and some of them convert into great friends and fans of what I do after discovering what they heard was bullshit.  One must have thick skin to take this approach but this is something I’ve literally worked with for 20 years. 

Where I really draw the line is when they take that target off my back and move it on to my family.  Every time I hear that my parents or wife had to deal with people’s nosy questions about “why is Justin taking naked photos of himself” or “doesn’t it bother you that Justin works with hot women” I take it hard.  I really do.   And knowing that it’s only a matter of time before people start to tell their kids to stay away from my kids, or seeing them defend me on the school yard among other kids I will simply lose my shit.  

Thankfully today didn’t escalate to that severity, and I’m hoping…on good faith, that whatever concerns were raised were put to rest.  I fully embrace pissing people off and being the target, I love the attention. Truly.  It’s built right into my ‘brand’. If someone wants to question the legality of what I do I will be happy to provide all the required permits, the business license required to do so, and proof of age and consent of every model I’ve worked with.

It’s really as simple as that. 

If someone wants to take the low road and try and drag my name through the mud instead of dealing with it in a civilized manner that’s their choice too, but I won’t be meeting with anyone on those terms. That’s what lawyers are for!   :)

jq.

Day 24 of 100 days of AWESOME.

Today I’m going to share my recent reading list.  They say that every writer is a reader first, and while I hated reading the assigned books throughout my school life that didn’t stop me from reading 100s of books outside the classroom.  It really has been my ‘true’ education in life.  Never stop reading!!

1. The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World - Chris Guillebeau

This book has inspired me beyond what I can put into words.  It’s helped me bust out of the rut of thinking the ‘status quo’ will forever be my prison.

2. The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future - Chris Guillebeau

More from Chris, less inspiration but more practical advice.

3 & 4. Steal Like and Artist / Show Your Work - Austin Kleon.

High on inspiration AND practical advice for artists, creatives, and getting yourself noticed.  LOVED both of these.

5. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World - Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary’s books are always fast paced and full of great and up to date advice.  This one is geared specifically towards using social media and getting noticed (for yourself, business, or product).

6. The Awesome Guide to Life: Get Fit, Get Laid, Get Your Shit Together - Jason Ellis

The ultimate man-guide.  It’s crude but practical. I’m a fan of Jason’s radio show so I knew what I was getting into. 

7. The Secret to Success: When You Want to Succeed as Bad as You Want to Breathe - Eric Thomas

Eric Thomas changed (and continues to inspire) my life. Period.  If you are not watching his YouTube channel on a regular basis then you are missing out.  THANK GOD IT’s MONDAAAYYY!  

8. To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others - Daniel H. Pink

This is probably my least favorite out of my recent list although it is still packed with valuable information and ideas.  He demonstrates how we are all sellers, in every aspect of what we do professionally (and even at home) we are faced with moving others into some kind of action.  I got a lot from it but my attention span was a little too short for his often longer explanations of topics.

————————————-

That’s my list of books I’ve read in the last couple of months, I typically multitask while I’m reading (because who has time to read?!).  My eBook is always with me if I’m running some cardio in the gym, if I’m waiting for someone/something, I take it in the bathtub (they don’t like showers), and I read instead of watching TV.  That’s how it’s done!

jq.

Day 22 of 100 days of AWESOME.

Today I realized that it’s approximately 90 days until mid-June.  This is significant because one of my biggest goals this year was to look HOT, like I mean model hot. Best shape of my life HOT…by summer.  I am not there yet!! I am closer than I was several months ago, and I’ve done some great life improvements to look my best, but I got a ways to go and the only thing going to get me there is hard work.  Uuuugh.  I’m not a good gym guy..it’s a chore for me, especially when the routine is off.   Today I managed to hit the stairs for 3 laps that had my lungs burning, and tomorrow morning will be a gym visit for lots of core lifting and bending and grunting.

I’ve never really bought into the idea that being married with children means you have to give up on yourself. There is a phase where you are just too exhausted but as your kids get a little older it’s really time to consider your health (for better life quality, longevity, vanity, or all these reasons).  Being in good shape simply feels better, and considering that we only get one life why not spend at least a part of it looking and feeling the BEST you can. Just ONCE reach that goal.  I don’t know.. it means a lot to me. One life, and 100 days to turn it in the direction I want.  That’s my journey here.

Thus far I’ve been dropping the ball on the fitness and sharing that failure.  But today I followed my eating, and did my exercise. Today was a win.  I’m going to share progress photos every 10 days to be accountable for this.  Talk is easy! Photos aren’t! 

Be awesome, friends!

jq

Day 20 of 100 days of AWESOME.

When I work in public (as I often do) I type in a really small font so people can’t read what I’m saying from over my shoulder…paranoia? 

This is day 20 of 100 days of awesome, 80 left to go! Things have been going extremely well for me in the last 3 weeks. I can’t even jinx it really. It’s not because no bad things have happened to me, it’s because I am able to control how I react to them better than I had in the past. Choosing to filter out all the petty bullshit that means nothing, tackling REAL issues that require my attention without emotional attachment, and really just “doing the work that must be done”. It’s getting easier. If it can for me then it absolutely can for anyone. I’m not special in that regard whatsoever.

My Pecha Kucha presentation at the Esplanade went really great last night! The weight of what I talked about didn’t really hit me until today…I talked openly to a room full of people about how mental illness has effected my life. Complete with nude photos of myself in the slide show (although I did censor out my butt). That may have took a little more courage than I realized I had for sure. However, I really do want to help remove the stigma associated with mental illness and talking about it is the only way I know how. I am going to record the presentation and share online for everyone to watch that couldn’t attend last night.

The best thing was to watch the others present their topics and get to meet SO MANY awesome people. Not to mention the overwhelming support from friends and family to come out and listen to what I had to say. It’s a lot to ask someone on a Friday night to go watch something they know nothing about. I appreciate it so much!

Now that that is done it’s time to move on, I have 2 photo shoots today and they are probably going to drain me creatively as shoots typically do. But that was in the past and today I’m living on a different level than before. It’s time to really push those comfort zone boundaries way out of sight and just do what I have to do. Eat that fear for lunch and turn it into FUEL. Take that away from the blog today.

!!!FEAR = FUEL!!!

*Edit* I’m finishing this blog now after the first shoot is done.  Great success and a lot of fun with local musician Andrew Plait.  Genuinely the nicest guy I have had the pleasure of hanging out with in ages.  He made this funny BTS photo too.

Now for a quick nap… going to be covering St. Paddy’s day party photography till 3:00am! 

Day 18 of 100 days of AWESOME.

I’ve been so busy this week it’s been hard to blog.  I really don’t have time for it tonight either so I’m typing really fast and will probably skip proof reading. You’ve been warned. 

All this week I’ve been prepping for a short presentation I’ll be doing tomorrow night at the Medicine Hat Esplanade. I was invited to speak at the second Pecha Kucha Night gathering.  What the presenter needs to do is follow the format of 20 slides, 20 seconds per slide, for a total of 6 minutes and 40 seconds to make you point (or lack therof, it’s pretty informal).  Me, being the over achiever I tend to be…created a 20 slide personal journey though mental illness and creativity.  In hindsight I think if I talked for 6 minutes about brushing my teeth (or some other mundane detail in life) it would have been the way to do this.  Anyway, in 24 hours it will be all over and I can put that one in the box of life experiences. 

I can’t tell you enough about how excited I am about setting up a permanent studio space for my photography by the end of the month.  I have a list of mile long of people I want to collaborate and work with and been pushing it out forever due to lack of suitable shooting space.  Things have been falling into place, opportunities have been coming my way, and I just wake up every morning believing that it will only get better. 

On top of this my band Blind Hill got together last night and really rocked it out hard.  You really must find yourself a musical instrument and learn a few chords.  It’s THE BEST therapy.  Even if you sing your ass off in the shower, in your car or at a karaoke bar.  Just do it man.  There is something magical about the frequencies that must get your mind back to a happier place, I can’t recommend it enough. 

Hope to see you tomorrow night!  The presentations starts at 8:20pm in the Esplanade. 

jq

Day 14 of 100 days of AWESOME.

I am noticing a huge obstacle in my daily routine to reach my goals. Maybe it’s something we all experience when setting our sights higher and breaking out of a routine that isn’t going anywhere. We have a starting point, and an end goal.  What do we do with the weeks, months, possibly years between the two?

I can wake up every morning inspired to work hard, excited, energized…but to do what?! I can’t just wake up, fist pump the air and then follow my old habits.  No… a person needs TASKS.   You need to give yourself (because no one is going to do it for you) a list of micro goals to do daily.  It’s similar to doing meal prepping for the week if you are on a training routine.  Spend Sunday filling in a calender of what has to be done to make you closer to your goal.

I am pursuing a career in the creative arts.  I haven’t pinpointed exactally what that means because it’s like a first year of university, I know the direction, I know what interests me, but I need to experience first hand the work. Either way, photography and music is my skill set…with a budding knack for writing. (that’s taken 20 years to quietly build).  I need to invent daily work for myself to get me on track.  I don’t have a boss handing me photography projects, I don’t have a teacher giving me homework. It’s all coming from within.

This can apply to yourself too when you want to get better at something.  There is nothing holding you accountable to failing.  You can wake up with all the energy in the world but its being wasted or misdirected. You gotta focus that in to a LASER BEAM! pew pew pew.  

Seriously.  The way to do that is planing tasks.   One of mine for example is to write in this blog 3 to 4 times in a week.  I’m doing this to both share my experience to whoever wants to read, but also to test my ability to write that frequently.   Blogging will be a huge part of what I want to do and I need to prove to myself I can work a full week, have time for my family, have time for myself, and still pump out a few 1000 words.  It’s basically a training exercise and a way to connect to people…also, it’s a task that I had to ‘invent’ for myself.  No one cares if I don’t blog, the internet is full of other things to read.

Know your goals, assign small manageable, daily tasks to get you there. And focus your ambition on those small steps.  Pop your head up every couple weeks and see that BIG goal getting closer. 

Have a great week!

jq

Day 12 of 100 Days of AWESOME.

I just finished reading a great book called Show your Work! by Austin Kleon. It’s short and to the point but I guess I can’t really complain about that, we’re all busy people and books take a lot of time.  The words that the man writes though are gold and maybe if he doubled the size of the book it would get really watered down.  The way it is now every line is great.  I just want to quote everything, go read it. 

One of the lines that did stick to my brain went something like “If you want to be interesting, be interested.”  I know he didn’t write that but it was in his book…and it really has a good point.  I have been blogging and sharing things for years. Maybe since college (2001-2004).  My writing has probably improved a lot but the topics I discuss hasn’t really change at all.  Mostly me babbling about life, photography, or music. The one thing that I changed (and I worked really hard on discovering this) is how much more people care about what I’m doing, when I care about what THEY are doing.

I know how popular it is now for people to say how much “humanity sucks” and “I hate people” and things along those lines, and yes if you judge people by your everyday interactions (shopping, driving, social media, work, etc) then I understand where that comes from. But I don’t believe that those situations define who other people are.  It’s all very shallow and often wrapped up in not giving a shit in that moment.  If you look deeper into that you will often find common ground where everyone is simply hurting from the lack of empathy we all experience.

About a couple years ago I tried something different, I just started to care about others.  It was hard. Not going to lie…when you are going through life with only yourself (and maybe your kids/spouse) as top priority then trying to be sympathetic to someone elses pain isn’t easy.  A lot of us have the attitude “Oh you think YOU have it bad? Well I have it WORSE!” Maybe you do, maybe you don’t, it’s not even relevant.  The real thing happening is that everyone has their struggles.

I started sharing my own.

I share my life, honestly and openly. My battle with depression since I was a kid.  Being diagnosed with bipolar disorder a year ago.  My struggles providing for my family, my success and failures with weight loss, with being a dad, with everything.  I found something amazing…that there is a wonderful strength buried deep in being vulnerable.  So many people came to me with their own stories that I discovered everyone is hurting on some level.  This changed my entire approach to what I do with my work and my relationships.  I became a people person.

Can I walk into a room and work a crowd like a professional salesman? Absolutely not. What being a people person means to me is I genuinely care about you. Every single one of you reading this most likely follows me in other social media places like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and I truly care about you. Some I have never met in person and some I know personally, it doesn’t matter. I’m on a mission to do my thing in life and everyone that takes an interest in that get a high five and my attention. 

I developed a tremendous respect and gratitude towards people that take an interest in my story and my friendship because I went years being ignored and misunderstood.  Actually looking back I was really just being selfish and yelling “Look at me!”.  Today’s awesomeness is gratitude, and how it’s been working for me. 

Now check out that book.

jq

Day 10 of 100 Days of AWESOME

I’ve been focusing on a couple things these past few days on the path of awesomeness. Those are mediation and visualization. Actually it’s just visualization because I have failed miserably at making time for meditating. Now some people might think that they are one and the same thing, however there is a major difference.  (I’m no expert TRUST ME) But meditation is about emptying your mind, and visualization is about filling it up with the amazing things you see for yourself. I like to think of it and breathing in your head.  Meditating is like one big exhale of breath, you let go of the bazillion thoughts bouncing around in there with hopes that for a minute or two, probably only seconds if you suck as much as I do, your mind won’t be thinking anything at all. Visualization is like taking a big breath in, you are drawing in all the awesomeness you see yourself doing.

There are 1000s of books dedicated to explaining this better than I ever could but I’m more or less saying that it’s actually working.  And not just in some bubbly “oh I feel happier today” kind of way, I mean in actual real opportunities. Within 10 days I have been asked to do a public speaking presentation, I have booked a performance with my music, I have been given a place to set up a permanent and comfortable photography studio in which I can launch my business, and today I had a friend pull up in my driveway randomly and told me I can take his old car because he no long has a need for it (I haven’t owned a car since last year).  Not to mention at least 10 people have either come into my life that I have never met before, or have been old friends that want to strengthen our friendships even further. 

I can’t make this shit up. I am merely choosing to live in the moment, as if I am living my dreams TODAY. Not in some unknown future that I’ve been chasing for years.  Some of you might be reading this and thinking “well duh, of course this works” but you see I’m not a believer in anything. Period. I am highly skeptical of anything that falls outside the realm of provable and observable science. So even this, with all the obvious turns in my general luck in life could very well be a coincidence.  Or maybe it’s because I’m working harder, and nothing to do with belief.  I’ve worked hard for years though, and the only time it ever gets easy is when I trust that it will.  I’m having ‘faith’, it’s really the only thing left I haven’t tried.

jq

I took this photo in Newfoundland the summer of 2012. I grew up fishing off this wharf…time claims everything. You must be awesome today. 

Day 8 of 100 days of AWESOME.

Over a week into awesome living and I’m still strong! I am going to put an exclamation mark on that too because the last 24 hours have been a test on all things I’m trying to accomplish.  Sunday nights are always the hardest, and aside from the temporary distraction of the Oscars (I’m a movie junkie, but not to the point where I’m ‘above’ watching award shows), I was ready to quit everything.


I mentioned on Saturday that I went hunting around town for a venue to perform a solo acoustic show filled with cover songs and original music I have been compiling over the years. Well it didn’t actually happen on Saturday because it was -40 with the windchill and even I couldn’t resist the call of a warm couch and tea with cartoons and kids.  But Sunday I sucked it up and negotiated a date with Inspire Cafe in downtown Medicine Hat for May 15th! Yes. I’ve set a date, made a deadline, and have zero excuses to wait any longer.  That was the high point, after that Sunday fell apart. 


Making commitments is really my killer.  I can be the most ambitious person in the world, I can practice, learn, rehearse, research, network, negotiate, you name it.. all day.  Relentless.  As soon as things become ‘real’, that is when another person is now expecting me to deliver on my promises I immediately regret every thing I just did.  I have puked before doing big photo shoots.  That’s the level of anxiety it can cause.  When that feeling starts it triggers my depression (because I’m bipolar) and before you know it I do not want to face anybody or anything due to being in a full depressive swing of bipolar.


The first thing that comes to mind is ‘ok, lets not do anything creative. Lets just keep going with the status quo. Work my day job that is very predictable with no challenge or surprises. Lets pretend I’m just a normal dude that can be happy with that.’  Of course that in itself tightens the grasp of depression even harder because I know it’s a lie.  Also keep in mind that it’s still Sunday and I’m eating supper with my family and they are all looking at me wondering why I’m so quiet and disconnected from everything.


I want to puke again.  I’m so angry at myself and how I’m starting to believe I’ll never do shit with my shitty pathetic attempt at life.  It’s complete self aware, self destruction.  I’ve been though this so many times that I even know the stages before I feel them.  Bed time comes, insomnia. I know that Monday morning we start all over again. 


The difference this time is I am choosing to believe one thing. One word. Awesome.  I am awesome. What I want to do with my life and what I HAVE done thus far is nothing short of …awesome.  The goals I have, and the life I want to live will never be obtainable if I don’t push through this shit with tunnel vision.  I can’t back down, I can’t stop.  It’s now Monday night and all that negativity finally shut up.  I fought it off, made it my bitch.  Time to get back to work. 

jq.  Kill ‘em all!!

image

Day 6 of 100 days of AWESOME.

It’s almost always the middle of the night when I write my blog so if you want to follow along maybe go directly to my website and catch up when you’re awake. 

I have been putting off something for years.  That is to perform a solo acoustic gig here in Medicine Hat with a mixture of cover and original songs.  I have everything I need to do it and the songs I’ve been playing since I was a teen.  It’s crazy that I’ve been putting it off for so long.   This takes me back to one of the core issues why I am doing this challenge to live awesome.  The only reason I have not done it is simply because it’s easier to not do it.  What a stupid reason right?! Or is it…  Wait, maybe that’s the reason everyone (who isn’t) living up to their potential is not doing what they should be doing.  Here is something I love to do, absolutely LOVE to do..and even that is not enough to overcome the excuses as they pop in my head. 

- I can do it anytime
- There is a good show on TV tonight
- I’m tired today, tired and hungry.
- My kids have activities
- OH LOOK ITS THE INTERNET

It all sound dumb really.  These little things can derail even the most passionate of passions. When you are trying to do something that maybe you’re not passionate about such as going to the gym the excuses become an impenetrable couch fort full of warmth and Netflix.  You basically don’t have a chance. 

I only have one tactic to avoid this pitfall and it don’t involve trying to live awesome for 100 days either. 

———-You MUST set deadlines———

Preferably much more urgent than a randomly circled day on your calender.  If you want to get in better shape sign up and commit to running a race with a team that needs an extra person.  If you want to do more art then talk with a gallery and commit to a showing. If you want to play your music… book a gig!!   Infinite timelines will always produce little to no results.  So with that being said I’m trudging around downtown in the -35 windchill today looking for a gig.

jq

Today’s blog was brought to you from Station Coffee Company in downtown Medicine Hat.  Seriously yum.