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Anti-Anxiety

Back in June, I was in a position that I was struggling with motivation to do anything. There was constant nervousness about falling and not able to get up on my own and I was doing very little.

After talking with my doctor, based on online research, I read that it was a common side-effect of Gabapentin. A common reoccurring solution was to also take a mild dose of Sertraline.

Once I started taking the Sertraline, things improved a lot. I started doing more and focusing on my exercises. I also stopped crying myself to sleep every night.

Now fast forward to early this year, I was taken off the Gabapentin. It was causing weight gain and as I learned, most of the remaining pain was a side-effect of it. Which left me with just the Sertraline.

As I soul searched it really wasn’t making me feel any less lonely, or even helping with dating. In fact, it made me less motivated to go out and meet people. I went to a dance for a friend, but couldn’t bring myself to go in. My friend was having a special night and the Arcade Bar, and I struggled with motivations to go. I’ve been really tired a lot. I couldn’t even go to comedy shows that I loved.

I would make it to the parking lot and then give up. Staying in a cloud of loneliness. I haven’t been even able to write these posts. So now my prescription is over and I have stopped taking it.

Today I even waxed my car today that I lacked the motivation to do.

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StartUp Weekend Saint John

As most of you know I have volunteered at ROGERS tv for going on 19 years. Bi-weekly there is a talk show that I work on called What Matters most. A few weeks ago the had someone on as a guest from the Momentum Group to talk about a then-upcoming event for a Startup Weekend. Long story short that episode didn’t make it to air and was instead put on YouTube. Therefore you can watch the following 13-minute interview to get the idea of what it is about.

Or not… I guess I can tell you what it is about.

The premise is that you pay money for a ticket and choose if you are a Developer (can code), Designer (can design stuff), or Other (smart person, marketing person, money person, et cetera). Then on Friday you show up raid the buffet spread, socialize, network, and assess the competition.

Then you get to listen to speeches, “The is is how the weekend is going to go down”, “we love business”, “entrepreneurs are awesome”, “there are so many services you have never probably heard of that you are going to get a taste of”, “your community needs you”, and lastly “who has an idea!”.

This is the first taste of the opportunity where you get to line up and present and possible idea, everyone claps for you presenting your idea, then you walk off to write your idea down on a big piece of paper and stick it on the wall. After all the ideas are presented comes the fun. Everyone in the room goes an puts a post-it note on the idea they like. Then the top several ideas get selected and then they get moved around the room that the idea person stood beside their idea and if you liked their idea you could join their idea team. If an idea had at least 3 people it was then a team.

We then spent a few hours planning out the idea. Then we went to socialize at a special after-hours gathering at the new Saint John Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club.

The next morning we arrived to have a light breakfast. Then go off to work. It was this portion of the day where we got to choose the local business people and entrepreneurs we would talk to in a type of speed-dating to understand our idea and it’s potential best future best. Of course, we then had an amazing lunch. Then back to work on the afternoon working on the business plan, the supporting market research, prototypes of ideas, and to build a blow-away presentation for the next day. Then a large supper arrived and it was back to work into the night.

The next morning involves a lot of fine-tuning the presentation, and practice of the presentation. Our group used Prezi for the presentation and there were a few points where we had to add a few seconds of fill to transition the topics for the visual animations that done well, nails the presentation and, not appearing to be filler.

Then we got to do a test presentation and got some great feedback from the event organizers. Using the feedback it just made the presentation stronger. Then lunch arrived I think this one was from Toro Tacos and it was a rice bowl that was incredible.

Then it was presentation time. This was the first time I ever used a presenter button (or TV term GPI) it is so much better than hitting the arrow keys on a laptop and makes it easier to present. After the presentation, I was relieved that that was it. Now to listen to the other presentations. There were nine teams in total with prizes for the first, second and third place teams.

When the third place team was announced, I was a little surprised. The criteria I thought of that would make a great idea was not what the judges looked for. There were great but impractical ideas in the pack, some that when it went from the idea Friday night took a turn for the worst. Then there was some that got a whole thot better after research. The thirds place idea was one of those and in reflection well deserved and was championed by someone truly invested in the limitless potential of their idea.

My team won second place and again I was in shock not because I didn’t believe our idea but because I had spent the last hour being won over by some of the other ideas.

Then when the first place was announced it was definitely the one I expected. I’ll link to a CBC interview on the winning idea.

After the awards it was a bit more, socializing, networking, and business talk on where the ideas can go from there.

There is going to be another one in Saint John hopefully in the Spring, and there is going to be one the first weekend of November in Fredericton.

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My First Heckler

I love comedy and always have. Robin Williams and George Carlin are amongst my favourites. Over the past few years starting with the summer of trying things I have started going to see stand up comedy shows. Not to say I no longer love improv comedy, but there is just so much more stand-up lately in these parts.

One of the recurring shows is the No Jokes Barred put on monthly by Jon Forward at the R Bar. What I love about this show are the new performers. Back when I was rehearsing on A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Ken Bolton, he kept encouraging me to try stand-up. I never did however mainly due to my anxiety.

However this past June, Ken was going to be leaving town, and after the No Jokes Barred show, there was an open mic for the third anniversary post-show. I was considering doing it and was trying to think up some good material all day before the show. All of which I ran out of time to perfect and only used a bit as a preamble to my 2013 Amsterdam Trip story. (Which you will not find on this blog)

All during the show I was debating actually doing it. There was the option to do a Karaoke song, or comedy. They were giving past performers 6 minutes and other people 3 minutes. At this point, I was unsure about the comedy as 3 minutes was not enough time to tell my story. When the sign-up papers were placed on the table I grabbed one right away and wrote “Charles Frees-Melvin… Comedy”. I was still nervous and spoke to a few people and then, what the hell, gave Jon the piece of paper.

After a few others, my name got called and there was no turning back. From my 18 years of TV experience holding and talking into the mic was child’s play. I also love to story-tell as well so that was not an issue. The hard part was I had to make them laugh.

As it turned out my story was either really funny or the crowd was great because they were laughing a lot and in all the right places. Then the dreaded R Bar experience a heckler! That guy said something stupid and wrong and I made fun of him and moved on to finish the story. I don’t know how but the right words just came to me to shoot that guy down.

Obviously thrilled with myself I finished my beer and headed home.

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Photo a Month from 2014

Today I looked through MyFitnessPal and determined that my weight loss goals did not happen as I started the year as 134.7kg and ended it at 133.3kg although I have gotten smaller in all the other measurements. So I then I turned to my iPhoto to remember what I did this past year, and I have picked out the best one for each month.

January

Best of 2014 - January

Best of 2014 – January

Over the holidays there was a lot of freezing rain and my driveway had very thick unbreakable ice. My thought was if I could get down to the asphalt it would allow me to get rid of more of the ice as it would melt in the sunlight.

However, it resulted in charred remains on top of the ice, as the dried out wreath burned very quickly.

February

Best of 2014 - February

Best of 2014 – February

Since it was very cold and lots of ice, what else do you do but escape to where it is warmer. One of my goals of 2014 was to add as many countries to my list as possible. Another goal was that I would not go to Europe again until I reached 115kg (which is still the goal) as motivation to actually lose weight. Therefore very last moment I went to a travel agent for the very first time and booked my first cruise to add 4 new countries (which ended up as 5).

March

Best of 2014 - March

Best of 2014 – March

Needless to say, It snowed a lot more in March. I was still sporting a very nice tan though, and remained very bundled up. I also did not take many pictures in March so it was either this or the new former Premier giving a speech to a room full of people at the local riding nomination meeting, my first of two this year with two uncontested candidates.

April

Best of 2014 - April

Best of 2014 – April

This is a phone of Claire Hughes on her Claire’s Big Bike Ride for Bell’s Let’s Talk campaign for mental health issues.

For me April was a really good month this was when I started to get smaller and began the year-long process of replacing most of my clothes.

May

Best of 2014 - May

Best of 2014 – May

Besides being my birthday month, May continued the positive vibes of April. This photo is from the first test screening of The Divorce Movie. This movie featured many people who I have met from various areas of my past, and was a really enjoyable film that just happened to by the type of movie that I would have seen anyway.

June

Best of 2014 - June

Best of 2014 – June

From my past travels when anyone asks what is the greatest place I have ever seen, the only true answer is Berlin!

This brings us to the start of the World Cup season where I went out almost every day to watch the games and cheer on team Germany over when possible German beer, or  as close to it as possible. (Sometimes Dutch beer when the Netherlands were playing.)

July

Best of 2014 - July

Best of 2014 – July

Now I could have used my celebration photo from when Germany won the World Cup, however, who doesn’t love a fireworks show.

In typical Saint John fashion it was rainy, foggy, or something else on Canada Day and the fireworks got delayed, I went out to the grassy field at Portland Point where I ran into my old friend April and her gang that I had not seen in a few years and became a very great evening.

August

Best of 2014 - August

Best of 2014 – August

If you read my last post you will recall that I really enjoyed the 2nd Fundy Fringe Festival, this was a photo during one of the evening shows with many of the performers.

Most of the best memories I do not have, or would not post them here, but were a highlight of my year.

 

September

Best of 2014 - September

Best of 2014 – September

This year I started to go to the local stand-up comedy nights “No Holds Barred” with Jon Forward at the R Bar. These are great nights filled with laughs. This was from the September Show during the Harvesting the Arts festival. There are so may stay cats in Saint John that during the act this cat came wandering in the bar and provided for great improved moments of stand-up comedy.

October

Best of 2014 - October

Best of 2014 – October

In October, I took a trip to the Canadian Wireless Trade Show in Toronto did a lot of cool things that I probably should have blogged about. For Halloween I went to Medieval Times and did not know there was a costume contest so I did not dress-up but had a great time anyway. This is a photo of the Knighting ceremony for Mario, to try to get his princess. (Sorry Mario, your princess was in another castle.)

November

Best of 2014 - November

Best of 2014 – November

Up until June, it had been a tradition to go to the Urban Deli for breakfast every Saturday morning for about 4 years. Then they stopped serving breakfast and I wandered to several different places like Big Tide and Bourbon Quarter before I stumbled on Billy’s Seafood. The first few times I was not thrilled with its people watching potential, then I started sitting at the bar and the entire experience changed. After several weeks on the way to the Imperial Theatre to see The Sound of Music I stopped by Billy’s to try the dinner menu. This was the Cornmeal Haddock that I had that night.

December

Best of 2014 - December

Best of 2014 – December

Now to finish off the year, is my usual weekend haunt, The Canterbury Lounge. Typically, the highlight is an amazing drink that Adam creates with a smile, not this night. It was a giant Bear, on a Chair, with a Hat!

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Fundy Fringe Festival Memory

FFF Sign at SJAC

This year I had the privilege of volunteering at the Fundy Fringe Festival for mine and its second year.

I only managed to see 9 of the 15 performances but was very impressed with the variety and quality of the performances.

The experience was incredible not only to meet the other performers and volunteer but the general community that supported the artists.

On the last day of the festival, there was one experience that really stood out. I went to the Queen’s Square Market to get my Sunday morning croissant with chocolate gnash from Le Boulangerie Français prior to my final shift. There was this elderly woman sitting by herself on the bench and asked me what I thought of different shows.

It turned out that this woman was visiting the city specifically for the festival and has lived in Vancouver before no living outside Toronto. She was not a big fan of the comedy shows and was looking for something darker.  After suggesting William Ellis’ Dirty Work she said that was exactly the type of show she was looking for. We then continued to chat for a good 20 minutes about her travels and the various theatre she has seen over her years which was an impressive amount.