About mykesworld

musician, writer, photographer, spiritual humanist, foodie, coffee addict, neurotic.

another journey around the sun

This past year has been a somewhat interesting one.  I am both satisfied, yet have a sense of disappointment, often for the very same reasons…

I completed the touring cycle for table for one. and in the process recorded Foundation.  Foundation was released with some fanfare, but very little response.  I’m happy to have the “next step” clearly taken, however am honestly disappointed in the poor response to the music.  In my honest opinion, the songwriting is stronger and more concise than the predecessor, but yes, it’s far less personal.

Oh well.  Sophomore jinx, etc. etc. I guess.  I’m rethinking the whole paradigm of gathering songs and releasing them as an item.  So the next step will be a single release with one song that I’ve written and, perhaps, another b-side to be determined at a later date.

I’ve progressed with my studies in spiritual matters and expect to take my next step towards that in the fall.  I am content with where my studies are leading me and am enjoying the personal and spiritual growth that these studies are providing me.  Things are far less “urgent” feeling and I’m finding more peace in my daily living.

Throughout all of this, I’ve continued to downsize my musical needs and hone the arsenal of instruments in my collection.  I believe I have found my musical main squeeze guitar-wise and have begun paring back the collection to the bare essentials.  My main acoustic brings me joy when I play it and it does everything I ask of it and often surprises me with what it allows me to do.

My relationship with my Mom continues to progress as we both process our widowhood and grief.  Traveling to Arizona with her over the Christmas holidays brought me closure with certain episodes in my life and continued to refine what is important to me.  I found  a new peace in the desert and any angst from past visits has disappeared.

My family continues to bring me joy in new ways.  It’s refreshing to watch the remarkable young women that my nieces have grown up to be.  I am lucky to have them in my life.

I continue to explore what it means to be single at this point in my life.  While I still feel the loneliness of widowhood to be rather difficult at times, I am not as frantic to find the next life partner as once was.  What I do know is that potential friends and companions never cease to find new ways to disappoint me and that my tolerance for such shenanigans continues to disappoint.

I have much love in my heart, however I realize now that I should be more selective in who I choose to share it with.

The house continues to feel more and more like my home as I refine what I have in it and pare back what is in it.  I continue to reduce the clutter and decide what furniture will stick.  I will be downsizing in the future, but downsizing on my own terms.

Chloe continues to be a joyous, loving companion.  Every morning that I awaken to her happy face and wagging tail – is a good morning.   I am blessed.

Work is a means to an end.  I have incredible team mates and a supportive and patient manager.  They are what makes my vocation endurable, that and the fact that it funds my avocations.

I continue to heal from my PTSD, depression and my struggles with anxiety are ongoing. I am getting better at knowing when my triggers are being pushed and able to intervene before the excrement hits the ventilation – so to speak.

So this year has been a year of consolidating the changes, evaluating and then making appropriate steps towards my next goals.  It has been a year of slow, steady progress and continuing to build my foundation.

Hopefully next year will be more productive for growth.

Peace to all.

m.

 

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yes. let’s talk.

Once again, it’s a telecommunications giant’s day of hashtagging to promote themselves and an open discussion of mental illness…

But for one day only.

That being said, mental illness is a 24/7 365 kinda thing for those who live with it. My struggle with mental illness, particularly depression, PTSD and anxiety disorder has been ongoing since 2014. I still go for treatment and I am often told that I should:
– be grateful that a large corporation runs this campaign.
– REALLY should try to get over things.

And one person asked “what are YOU bringing to the table?”

These are people who have used the branded frame on their profile picture and reposted the hashtag many times. They’re all pretty aware folks however repeated the VERY SAME stigmatizing talk that the day is supposed to be avoiding IN THE NAME OF the day!

Let’s talk is a good first step towards ongoing conversations regarding mental health issues. It was a good first step taken in 2011 and seven years later we’re STILL ON that “good first step.”

Let’s talk raised $100 million and counting for mental health organizations, yet a 50 minute session with a counsellor still costs $160 for those without comprehensive health insurance plans.

I won’t comment that one of the organizations who benefits from this is notoriously “top heavy” with executives and has a reputation of a focus on “white collar” mental health issues while trying avoid the “messier” diagnoses.

THIS is why I seem ungrateful:
– If they truly cared the hashtag would read #letstalk without the advertising. I’m all for talking about destigmatizing mental health, however, even as a customer, I am NOT going to extend social media reach.
– This campaign treats dealing with mental health issues as a “holiday” instead of removing the stigma by forcing people to deal with Mental Health issues as I do – 365 days a year. This is why I post about my struggles – often triggering the “get over it/yourself” comment.

And it wasn’t just me – I know of other people struggling who were targeted for being critical of the campaign while sharing their experiences. These three other people have been up front and open regarding their struggles and LIVE “mental health awareness” 24/7 365.

I guess by talking and writing publicly of our struggles, we are whining and not contributing. Because we currently don’t have a bright and shiny story that ends with a “happily ever after” to suit a corporate video campaign, our struggles don’t fit the “let’s talk” paradigm.

I guess my having an inexplicably bad day where things are just “meh” or worse for absolutely no reason whatsoever doesn’t fit the “let’s talk” paradigm.

I guess by repeatedly advertising services who support mental health treatment and provide crisis intervention, working as both a social worker and lay minister doesn’t fit the “let’s talk” paradigm.

I’m not doing this to complain or to be an “inspiration,” I’m trying to get people to understand that mental illness treatment is an ongoing process that may not have a tidy ending with all loose ends neatly tied in a bow.

Dear friends, if you were truly invested in ending stigma around mental health beyond feeling good for posting/tweeting a hashtag to raise 5 cents, you would engage your friends who haven’t had their happily ever after and still struggle.

You WOULDN’T tell them to get over it. You’d be there to listen, you’d ask them if there is anything they can do and if not you’d JUST BE THERE.

Fuck. The residents in the Hundred Acre Wood accepted Eeyore, despite his chronic depression!

To instead of a hashtag, let’s share information regarding the resources.

#letstalkhamilton #nomorestigma

If you are depressed, in distress, or in crisis, call the Distress Centre.

Coast Hamilton Hamilton Crisis Line 24 hours – 905-972-8338

Barrett Centre for crisis support 905-529-7878 (24 hour crisis support phone line, 10 residential beds for 3-5 day crisis stay, DBT skills group, CAMS therapy)

Salvation Army army HOPE LINE…1-855-294-HOPE

Sacha Hamilton 24 hour support line 905-525-4162

moving on?

A number of my friends have/are coming up on anniversaries where they’ve lost a loved one – be it their spouse, partner, parent, pet.

They all have posted on how they “move on” and rediscover who they are. My answer is simple:

You don’t.

You don’t “move on” – you just keep on moving along your path. Don’t remain mired in the past and ruminating on what life “could have been like” if the loved one still lived. Stop ruminating on what they are doing now and focus on YOU.

Stop counting the number of years, months, days, hours, minutes since your life changed. Your life has changed and what was in the past is in the past. It is the foundation on what you base your future life and growth upon – it’s part of you but it’s time to build upon what was started, instead of contemplating the work already done.

You don’t rediscover who you are. Because you are no longer a “we” or “they” you are a “me” and a “you.”

You are still the same person as you once were. You were not defined strictly by the loved one whom you shared your life with. You still have the same fears, the same cares, the same spirit and heart, albeit a little more tattered and torn due to recent losses. But it’s up to you to mend what you can and continue to add to the quilt that your life is.

The pain of those old wounds will remain. Stop trying to ignore it and forget that it happened, but at the same time – stop picking at them and trying to get them to bleed. Let them heal and wear your scars proudly as they show your character and that you have fought battles and come out (hopefully) victorious, or at least a survivor.

Treat your past like looking in a photo album. Remember the happy times, the funny stories, the painful moments and yes the heart-wrenching tragedies and loss. Revisit them from time to time but try not to wallow, put the album back on the shelf for you to revisit again further down your path.

Your loved one would want you happy. They would want you to remember the better times and what joy or happiness they brought to your life. They would want you to find a similar joy so you can have that sensation regularly in your life.

They would NOT want you sad. Angry. Depressed.

You are not replacing them. You are not forgetting them. You are honouring their memory and the love you shared together.

Try to remember that myke!

Edit:

I wrote the above in my personal journal last night, because this Valentines Day would have been the 20th anniversary of my first date with Larry and will be the 5th anniversary of his death in August. I had noticed my beginning to psych myself up and tear myself apart and finally stopped to ask myself why I was setting myself up for a meltdown.

I, too, have had at least one other devastating life changing event but I managed to come to terms with it and didn’t set myself up for anniversaries and rehash “what could have been” because I accepted it as a fact and tried my best to build upon the outcome. I still bear the scars but I don’t let them control me…

spinning my wheels

Despite my best efforts, 2017 was a year of being on pause.  Nothing I set out to do transpired as external forces precluded me from following through on plans and dreams.  2018, so far, has been a series of unfortunate surprises and disappointment.

It’s hard not to get discouraged in life these days.  Despite all the goodness that is happening in my world, it seems like I’m mired in the mud, spinning my tires, doing little more than getting frustrated and dirty.

Getting back in the saddle and “putting myself” out there has resulted in a whole lot of frustration and one pretty darkly funny thing – I now have the ultimate “icebreaker” for functions – “Hi, my name is Myke and I’ve dated a potential serial killer!”

Fuck.  If that’s the highlight of my past year…things are looking pretty bleak for me relationship-wise.

By the way – it was a coffee at the Second Cup on Church St., little more – he told me I really wasn’t his “type” before I sat down to drink.  I guess I’m lucky?

I met another great guy who was charming, intelligent, spiritual, EMPLOYED (!) in good health and had dashingly good looks.  All was well until I found out that he is 78 years old and will turn 80 in 2019.  I’m okay with an age difference, however when he has a grandchild who is older than me – it’s an issue as statistically speaking, he won’t live long enough to share my retirement years with me in a meaningful way.

I’ve already buried and mourned one husband…I don’t want to be worrying about going through that again in the near future.

Musically, it seems I’m stuck in a rut.  The Foundation EP was disappointing.  Despite it having 2-3 of my best songs so far, it hasn’t sold and I’m hard pressed to pull the trigger on CD copies when I only have three pre-orders – I’ll have to do it soon because I owe those folks their CDs – maybe I’ll turn the rest into a VERY expensive art project.  I have two bags of custom guitar picks from my “pre-Hamilton” days with my name misspelled on them, despite my being a D’Addario/Planet Waves artist at the time…the story of “Myk’s” life I suppose…

I’ve put myself “out there” for gigs, which has fallen on deaf ears so I’m wondering at this point…why bother?  People tell me I need to play more and get out, however the very same people always have an excuse for not attending, even if the shows are free or pay what you can.  The next gig will be small, local and likely live streamed…we shall see…

At the same time, people whom I’ve given support, chances and opportunity to have failed to engage me in their projects, despite assurances in the past they’d do so.  It’s quite clear that support and opportunity flow in one direction away from me…

I’m beginning to get mercenary in my decluttering and cleaning house.  I’m also getting mercenary in NOT bringing in any new clutter or unnecessary objects, having to justify moving them in the near future.  I’m beginning to see less reason to keep the house at this juncture in my life – we shall see what transpires as I continue to determine what the future will or will not bring for me.  At the moment, I just want less shit weighing me down!

So if you see me and wonder why I look so pensive and dark – please don’t tell me to smile because there’s a high likelihood you WILL get a VERY honest reply from me.  By the way did I tell you I want on a coffee date with a person who’s suspected of murdering two people, perhaps more?

There’s a song in there, I’m sure, but at this point it seems that nobody’s listening.

<sigh>

dear santa

Dear Santa,

Once again for this time of year, I know you’re quite used to people writing to you asking for things.  My letter will be, once again, different.

I am writing to thank you for all you have done for me throughout the years.

When Larry decided to portray you, I was happy he found something to keep him busy during the months of November and December.  Little did we know that his portrayal of you would become something much deeper for both of us.  The men who portray you are often incredible people who set aside their lives to portray you, and eventually their lives are shaped by you and what you represent.  Many of Larry’s friends and mentors who don the suit of red have become good friends, mentors and spiritual advisors to me.  The men who portray you are often incredible people who set aside their lives to portray you, and eventually their lives are shaped by you and what you represent.

It never ceases to amaze me.  And those that remain in my life have been blessings to me – I am reminded of your giving nature and love in their actions.  My faith in humanity is refreshed when I am with them.

Your biggest and best gift to me was Larry being given a focus and drive.  Your next greatest gift to me are all the men who portray you who have stood behind me and supported me when my world fell apart.  You continue to give in the men who were inspired by Larry to grow their beards and don the suit of red and portray you.

At least two of these folks have been a large part of my life before you entered it and they remain a large part of my life.  They continue to support me in their actions, words, prayers and deeds and they remind me that faith can be a powerful thing when given the right intent and reason.

This year, I was finally able to make Larry’s last bequest and a promise I made to him on his deathbed a reality. This year – I gave Santa Michael Larry’s last suit, a belt buckle and various other resources to help him become you.  Michael is important to me as he kept me going when I hit rock bottom with PTSD and Depression and I am blessed and honoured to call him friend.  The only reason why I’m still walking this earth is because of him and I am indebted for his quiet love and peaceful resolve to keep me talking when my mind and heart were trying to shut down, screaming for my body to join them somehow.  I wear the semicolon on my left forearm because Michael gave me reason to stay alive.

You have given me a good friend who both portrays you but also has taken me under his wing and works with me musically.  David has been my most ardent supporter, believing in me even when I didn’t believe in myself.  He still does.

You have given me a number of spiritual supports and guides who are showing me that faith is a personal thing and can be balanced with my scientific mind’s desire for rationality and evidence.  Just as I believe in your existence in the hearts of the people who portray you, I believe in a higher power that exists in the hearts and minds of people who are searching for more.

You have given me the drive to keep going when everything within me fought forward motion.  I continue to make and release music that represents who I am and provides a foundation for whom I hope to become.

You have continued to keep my family in my life and I am blessed with a supportive and caring Mother and an amazing brother, sister-in-law and nieces.

So.  For once, it’s time that someone thank you for all you have given me.  Gifts that aren’t material, however gifts that have supported me, provided me strength and kept me alive.

Thank you, Santa, for all you have given.

Love,

myke.

P.S. I’d still like to ask you for one thing.  If there’s someone who is supposed to be in my life to make me happy, can you make it happen soon, or if he already is can you reveal him to me?

questions nobody seemed to have the answer to four years later

It’s been four years and I STILL have a number of questions that have remained unanswered to date.  I’ve talked to counsellors, friends who have lost spouses, clergy and coworkers and nobody has been able to provide a succinct, pat answer to any of these.

I suspect nobody will actually ever have an answer to them but I’m going to answer them as best I can from my perspective anyways:

  1. When does it stop hurting?

    It doesn’t, it goes from being a constant pain to more of a dull ache that waxes and wanes as your emotional reserves flow.

  2. How long does the feeling of incredible loneliness last?

    Four years and counting.  Again it ebbs and flows.  However I’ve learned to take every chance I can to get out and be with people, even though the homecoming to an empty bed may hurt.  You can rejoice in what your partnered/married friends have while reflecting on where love fits in your future.

  3. When is an acceptable time to start considering “moving on”?

    Whenever you’re ready to move on.  Don’t let anybody tell you anything else dammit!

  4. When does the guilt for even thinking about moving on subside?

    It doesn’t.  You just learn to cope with it and manage your response to it better.

  5. How can I even consider the possibility of anyone to replace the one person who meant more than anything else in this world to me?

    I’ve learned that there will never be someone who replaces Larry’s place in my life.  The people who come close create their own space and position that may be close to or similar.  Sometimes they may even encroach and fill a gap where Larry once was but they will never be him.

  6. Will I find someone who is just as good as the one person who meant more than anything else in this world to me?

    That’s entirely up to me.  I’ve been close and have made some damn good friends in the process.

  7. When will my anger for losing the one person who meant more than anything else in this world subside?

    Hmm…good question.  I’m no longer angry, perhaps lost, sad and hurt are better descriptors – the anger kind of morphed into a combination of things.

  8. Am I justified in feeling this constant combination of hurt, pain, fear, anger and guilt?

    Yes and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

  9. Are people being nice to me simply because of this?  Am I being handled with kid gloves? Are they being honest with me or protecting me from some dark truth?

    Yes they are, and they are likely being dishonest with you because they don’t know how to handle the truth of your situation.  They’re the kind of people you should keep a close eye on.  You want people who are respectfully honest in your life – the kind who will tell you when you’re being unreasonable and yes, an asshole!  People who are willing to lie to you to protect you are not someone you should keep close, even if the lies make you feel better.

  10. Why are some of my friends avoiding me?  When I need them now more than ever?

    If they didn’t even try to reach out and talk through their fears, their side of losing your partner and dealing with your grief, they likely were not friends to begin with.

  11. Why can’t some people just leave me alone?

    Because people want to feel like they’re helping.  Those whom you told to leave you be for a while but were still there when you needed them are the people who care about you and understand you enough to be considered lifelong friends.

in memoriam

To those who have passed afore me
I give remembrance.
Your sacrifices, your lives, your very being
I honour.

I can only hope that my actions
allow me to
stand as tall as you once did.
Inspiring, commanding.

Your spirits live in the hearts
of those who loved you.
Your memories echo in the minds
of those whom you touched.

May your rest aeternal grant you
the peace, knowing that
future generations continue to live, to love
all because of you.

I kneel before you and pay homage.
An act of supplication and submission.
Your wisdom continues to guide me.
Your memory rests its hand on my shoulder.

Today I remember.
Tomorrow I will never forget.
Until my time comes
and I join you in spirit.