Sunday Volunteering

Yesterday’s volunteer shift was kinda cool, for the most part. I was a mess all weekend, as far as staying on top of my meds/vitamins and getting, like, sleep. So I wasn’t sure how long I’d be able to stay, but I made it pretty much as long a shift as usual.

I feel like I physically did less, but I did spend a lot of time bonding with animals, so I figure that counts. For me, anyway!

The other Sunday volunteer, Shanny, and I were talking after about how it’s become like therapy to both of us now. Even though we only go once a week for a few hours, the animals are getting to know us better, and that makes a huge difference. We spent time near the end of our shift just walking around visiting our favourites and left smiling. Willow the capybara didn’t tackle me this time, but she did drool all over my forearm and attempt to rub my tattoo off again! haha

I started my shift off in the skunk enclosure, of course. This time all but two were out at shows, but even though the most skittish were left, they were both at the door to greet me when I went in. They’re still skittish, naturally, but I feel like we all did really well together. I let them smell my hands this time, but managed to resist the urge to try and pet them. It’s not the right time for that just yet.

While I was in there, I got summoned back down to the main floor because Cricket, the baby kangaroo was being passed around so we could meet her! I cradled her in my arms and she licked me and we took a boatload of pictures and then she hopped around the shelter for a few minutes before we put her back in her pouch for a nap. She didn’t want to go in, at first, because she was super curious about all the new stuff she could check out, but within minutes she was asleep again. So super cute, guys!

I finished the skunk enclosure, and then took on the Small Animal Room. I took my time with everybody – except the sugar gliders, because they all sleep during the day – and made sure they were all comfy and fed and watered and spot cleaned. I snuggled one of the rats, and held one of the ferrets (Hamburglar) for the first time. I did a couple of extra good things when I noticed they needed to be done. I find the routine is getting easier (ie more of a routine) and our little team works really well together, so we’re getting things done pretty quickly now. Which is even more awesome because it gives us time to cuddle a baby kangaroo, or spend a few extra minutes letting skunks get to know us better, or talking to birds and watching Rapunzel ring her bell because she’s happy for the extra attention. Being more effective at the labour part gives us more time for the fun part, which is always a good thing. Everyone is getting more comfortable, I think, and for me, that makes me more determined to get in there each week. I’m still technically week to week, but I’ve been feeling a shift towards anticipating that I will be there next Sunday before I even leave from this Sunday’s shift.

Sensing that some of the animals are getting more familiar with me, and recognizing me more each week gives me hope that Hudson will be able to “know” me sooner or later, as well. I’ve only seen him twice so far, but I already have plans to see him this week, too, which would make it three weeks in a row. Even if I go back to every other week like when he was a wee cub, there’s still a good chance that I’ll be more familiar to him after a time, and that possibility makes me smile, too!

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Officially Amazing

According to my Facebook memory feed, it was one year ago today that I first learned I was officially a Guinness World Record holder. I started to cry pretty much immediately. Tears of happiness, relief, vindication – a myriad of emotions went through me in the moments following that message. I had to read it twice to be sure that it was real; that I had actually done it.

I actually had.

I needed to confirm a couple of things for them, and even then it would be a few days before the website reflected The Mind Reels’ official amazing-ness, so I decided to only tell a couple of people right then, and make it all more public later. Tim and I created an announcement video to thank those who had donated to our crowd-funding campaign prior to the event, but the majority of the celebration would have to wait until after visible proof was available.

I got home from work that evening and cracked open the bottle of craft beer that one of our lovely guests had gifted to us at the event. I’d told her that I would only open it once I’d heard back from GWR, and drink it either in celebration or to drown my sorrows.

Naturally, I drank it from my Guinness glass.

I’ve had mixed emotions about the whole thing all along, really. It was almost exactly a year between the time I came up with the idea to attempt breaking the record, and receiving the notification that I’d been successful. It was a bittersweet success, however, because I’d also learned a lot of hard truths along the way, and the toll it took on me – on every level – is still affecting me even now.

All the stress and anger and frustration and just staying awake for 55+ hours wrecked my body, of course, but it also did some damage to my state of mind, my heart, and my spirit. I learned that I am a terrible leader, in that I do not inspire confidence nor action in anyone else. I learned that things would likely go better if I just set out to do them myself from the start, because depending on anyone else to step up and help will only end in stress and failure. Most heart-breaking, though, was learning that I’m unable to get others to see my vision and work towards helping me to make it a reality.

That whole thing was intended to be an event to pull the entire channel together, raise our visibility in the public eye, and propel us all forward as a team. Instead, it ground everything to a halt, and even a year and a half later, we are still struggling to get started back up again. Those of us who are struggling at all, I mean. Most just seem to have stopped all together.

I couldn’t even get local media interested, even though I was trying to shine a light on Canadian talent, among other things.

Learning that we are no longer the official record-holders made me want to take another run at it – to make it bigger, stronger, better – rather than feel defeated by it. I have SO MANY ideas for making the attempt epic – even more so than the first one was envisioned to be – but it would require a lot of teamwork, and I do not have the ability to inspire that in others. I can’t even get my own little show going again, let alone something on that grand a scale.

And this isn’t me being down on myself, really. Maybe a little, but I feel like it’s mostly me being down on everyone else, and just trying to be nicer and more polite about it than I actually feel much of the time. Since the GWR attempt elevated my awareness of how things are, I’ve been constantly torn between asking for help to make other visions a reality, and just doing things myself/not doing them at all. Even small things require effort, and while I am no stranger to putting in said effort, I recognize that I can’t do everything myself. Not well, at least. So I’m not sure whether to focus and do one thing as well as I am able (despite my admittedly mediocre talent or ability), or do a few things half-assed, or accept offers of assistance, even though I no longer believe in anyone’s ability to follow through.

That’s pretty much the crux of it, I think. I don’t know what it is about me that makes those closest to me not believe in me, as I’ve proven time and time again that I am stubborn enough, at the very least, to do what I say I’m going to do. From where I sit, it’s everyone else who is falling short of the example I set. From a relatively young age, I’ve tried to lead by example, in fact. Yet for some reason, however, no one follows. It often makes me frustrated and angry, yet it’s an impotent anger – the kind that lets me cry and yell and stamp my feet and even slam the door…but still go to my room.

Maybe it’s time for me to focus on finding the source of that disconnect; the reason that I don’t inspire the confidence in others that I feel in myself – that I start off feeling in all of us, until I am let down yet again. I think I need to figure out what it is about me that holds people back from believing in me, and also determine why I keep giving out second chances, hoping for different outcomes, and whether or not I should continue to do so.

I broke a Guinness World Record, guys. Just imagine what else I can do – and how much more we could do together.

Because I imagine it all the time, you know. And it’s amazing.

Sometimes I even feel sorry for some of you, because you can’t see it, too.

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Mikey

I dreamed about a friend last night, one I haven’t seen in a couple of years now, but who was – at one point – one of the closest friends I had in the world.

We haven’t just not seen one another – he pretty much dropped off the face of the Earth once he was laid off from where we worked together. We hadn’t been as close once I moved to a different department, but the love was always still there.

I miss him a lot. I’ve dreamed of him often since then – that I’d bump into him somewhere and basically be, like, “Dude WTF? You can’t just exit my life like that!”

Last night’s dream was different, because I dreamed that he still worked here, and that we were the only people working in that department again, but that he was quitting. I remember thinking the HR Manager would be shocked when she got back from her vacation (which she is on in real life). There was something so familiar and comfortable about just being around him again in the dream. We were an amazing team work-wise, and even better as friends outside of work. It kind of boggles my mind how much we’ve been through together. Relationship ups and downs, illnesses, emotional trauma of varying sorts – I helped him choose the engagement ring he gave to his now-wife, he called me when “SHE SAID YES”, I was there the day they brought their newborn son home from the hospital, and I can’t count the number of times we went out together after work just to talk through whatever was going on in our lives. He took very good care of me, both at work and as a friend. He went with me to my first appointment with a new therapist, and from then on, every time I saw her, I’d tell him all about the session after.

Usually over beer.

I miss that guy so freaking much sometimes. Like now.

This morning I woke up thinking I might just show up at his door on Halloween, because I know he’ll be there doing his thing for his favourite holiday. I also found him on LinkedIn and sent him a request to connect on there, as it would be a start, at least. Obviously we won’t be hanging out every day like we used to, or anything, but any bit of something is much better than the nothing we’ve had in the past couple of years.

We have a lot of catching up to do, after all, and I refuse to just let that one go.

The Frustration Of A Worthless Wait

I’m not entirely sure how to talk about this, in part because I know it’s yet more whining, and in part because I’m also not entirely sure what I am trying to say. However, I’ll do it, anyway, because I’m me. Haha

I’ve become increasingly frustrated with my dependance upon other people to get things done. At work – I mean, that’s just the way things are, and I don’t really want more responsibility, or anything. I just get frustrated with waiting on others to help me complete a task. Only sometimes, though.

My larger frustration in is other aspects of my life. I feel sometimes like I spend more time waiting on other people than I spend actually doing anything. Logically, I know that’s not the case, and even if it were, it’s not like I’m not capable of doing things on my own. I just catch myself up in wanting to do things as a team, or share the workload, or even just get another opinion before moving forward with something. I think that’s more where my frustration lies – not in the other people, nor even in the waiting for them (well, maybe sometimes it’s those things, too) – but in the fact that I bother to wait at all. Why not just forge on ahead and do my own thing? If someone catches up and wants to join, all the better. But otherwise, why am I waiting? Why do I hope that someone will meet me partway and work with me to achieve even more? It’s not like anyone is taking my possible contribution into account when going about their days, doing their own things. So why is it so important to me to try and include them?

I don’t really have any confidence in my own abilities, that’s true. And, to my mind, it’s with good reason. So that might be part of the reason why. Yet, I’m the one getting frustrated with my own self, so really…do something, or don’t do something. But don’t not do something and then whine about not doing it.

That’s some sound advice, there, Self!

I guess sometimes I want to share my creative brilliance with people who have actual creative talent. Yet I also don’t like people, so why I would want to share anything with them is kind of beyond me. Unless I just want to use them for their talents, to push us both toward possible success. That probably sounds mean, using someone, but when it’s for both our gains, I think we could both stand to not whine about that! Haha

There’s also the recognition and acceptance that I can’t do everything I want to do entirely on my own. But there’s plenty that I can do, so again…stop whining, and do something, or don’t do something.

The whole thing makes me angry, and nervous, and excited, and empowered, and sad. So, in essence, I stall. Freeze up. Stand in impotent defiance of what I’m not sure I’m ready to change, or even know how to go about it.

And so, in the meantime, I continue to wait.

Girlfriends

Went Bowling For Kids Sake last night, in support of Big Brothers Big Sisters Toronto, and had even more fun than I could have possibly imagined! Beyond the two teams I was there with, there were some familiar faces – more than I’d been expecting to see, actually – and everyone seemed to have a great time together. SO much fun!

Of course, I am much more hungover today than I’d been planning, as well, so there’s that. Still worth it, though.

On the way into work yesterday morning, I was talking with a coworker friend about the fact that I’d be bowling that evening (I think that was my first time with the big balls, too, actually), and she started telling me about how she used to bowl in an Italian Women’s League years ago, and how much fun THAT was! Apparently the women had all known one another for years, and they’d get to telling stories and laughing a lot, then go out for drinks after and tell even more stories, and make each other laugh all the harder.

It got me thinking about how women should do things like that much more often in our general lives. Spend time together in a group and just be silly together. My team last night was all girls, and even though everyone didn’t know everyone else at the start of the evening, we all still had an amazing time playing together. We also talked about how cool it would be to make a semi-regular thing out of it. Maybe bowling, maybe something else, maybe incorporate a few different things. Just to go out and be goofy and not subconsciously be trying to impress anyone else the way we do when there are other kinds of relationships around. Family, work, romantic relationships – they all have different dynamics than just straight up friendship, and even the dynamics between men and women in platonic friendships are usually much different from what men have with other men, or women have with other women.

There are of COURSE exceptions to all of that, but what really got me thinking was about the kind of friendships that can develop between women specifically, and how I don’t think I’ve ever really experienced it first-hand. I have seen it with others, and have caught shades of it in my own life, but not nearly to the degree that I was thinking about yesterday and last night.

Not like an Italian Women’s Bowling League.

I’ve been trying (and largely failing) to nurture stronger one-on-one friendships with other people recently, but this group dynamic was suddenly just as fascinating to me. It’s different somehow, in a way I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s a kind of release, when there’s less of a need to keep one’s guard up. It’s so habitual I wouldn’t even say I notice it until I’ve let it down without even thinking about it or trying. Suddenly I’m just a little bit more myself, and it still feels safe. For the majority of the evening last night, I’d completely forgotten there was another entire set of lanes on the other side of the room! All of those people just ceased to exist all together. As did the others bowling on our side, save for the 3 other teams I was there with.

With whom I was there. Haha

And while we all went back and forth to visit and chat with people on those 3 other teams, it was still my particular group that made me feel the most like myself, including the ringer I had to deal off to one of the other teams because mine had too many. But she spent enough time with us that she still felt like part of my team, anyway. She was part of that same dynamic in a way that none of the others were.

I’m curious to see what prolonged exposure to feeling more like myself would do for my public presence overall. To my sense of self. Would I start being more me all the time? Would I ever let my guard down completely in a group like that, and just not give a flying crap about trying to impress anyone else (thus making me all the more impressive)? Would that feeling extend back to closer one-on-one relationships and let forge stronger connections that way, too?

There’s something there, for sure. Something different. Something fun.

Something that makes me want to be an old lady giggling with my old lady friends and making everyone who sees us together jealous of our unique friendship, and wonder what the hell we’re laughing at.

That thought alone makes it worth taking a shot, don’t you think?

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What I’m Up To Today

I’m feeling a bit light-headed today, for some reason. It’s annoying today especially because there’s quite a lot going on. Also, I somehow forgot to mention Fizz candy in my post yesterday! How could I forget delicious Fizz?!

Working on getting teams together to #BowlForKidsSake in support of Big Brothers Big Sisters Toronto. Super fun, but the date is fast approaching and we were just trying to come up with team names last night, so technically we aren’t even registered yet, let alone starting fundraising. Hopefully it all works out, though! I’ll be hitting everyone up in our fundraising efforts soon, I’m sure!

A few new things – this morning I sent in an application to be a volunteer at the Toronto Wildlife Centre! As a Nursery Assistant! How amazing would that be?! I hope I get to do it. I’d sent an application late in the season last year and never heard anything back, so hopefully this year it’s early enough that I can get through the training and such before baby squirrel season is in full swing. Because I really want to feed and care for and clean up after baby squirrels. Baby animals, really. Or any animals. I really want to be around animals more. So fingers crossed that I can get that opportunity to happen!

Additionally, I did a little research, and ended up submitting an application to make an attempt at setting a new Guinness World Record! Not breaking an existing one. Setting one of my own. I won’t likely hear back from them for awhile, and so won’t go into details unless I am approved to make the attempt, but I will say for now that it involves hearts. ‘Cause how appropriate for me would THAT be?

I love the Guinness World Record thing, apparently. It’s all so…I don’t know. I get all excited about it, and was so obsessed with having a successful first attempt at breaking a record, that now I want to do it more. I’m addicted! I love how it feels – every step from first thinking of an idea, and pouring over the website, the application process, planning the attempt, doing the attempt, and then collecting and submitting the evidence. I love looking for materials to use, especially from the GWR official store. For the first attempt (and only one I’ve made so far, but there are more in the works), I even got some fancy birght yellow vests with the GWR logo on them, and balloons! So much stuff!

This one will be much smaller in scope overall, but the feelings are much the same. I’m excited and constantly thinking about how I hope to set it all up and what I hope to achieve. I’m considering adding a charity, but my brain came up with, like, 5 different ones I’d like to include, so either I choose just one or figure out how to start a fund from which each of them would get an equal portion. Or something. Or not add a charity. It all really depends on whether or not I am given the go-ahead by Guinness, and because it’s a new record, rather than one that’s been set before, it can take up to 12 weeks to hear back.

Though it is very similar to other existing records, so maybe that’ll make it faster. And they might alter the title from what I suggested to something in the same vein but more suited to their ideals and guidelines. I don’t think the record attempt will be declined outright, but there is always a chance, so I’m trying not to go too far into planning and excitement mode until I hear back from them officially. I’ve only made one other suggestion for a record before (so far) and it was declined because it wasn’t globally recognizeable enough. Hearts are known around the world, though, so maybe I have a shot at this one! Then I could be GWR’s Queen of Hearts, at least temporarily!

What was I just saying about trying not to get too excited? I’m failing.

So, change of subject. I’m trying to get more clips from my first big GWR attempt cut and posted as often as possible. Still a long way to go until all of them are up, and admittedly I am less enthused about the ones I’m doing now because the audio quality is so bad. But I’m still managing to work on it pretty much every day. I won’t be cutting any new segments tonight because I will be getting home later than usual, but for the most part, I’m back to making slow but steady progress. I’m happy to be back at it, too. As much as part of me wants to move on to new endeavours, that weekend-long record-breaking event was pretty spectacular, and I never quite get enough of revisiting it – even almost a year and a half later. I mean, check out the complete photo collection here! Some of those alone are bound to bring back sweet memories and/or a smile or two! Sometimes I still just stand and stare at the signed poster and – to a lesser extent – the official record-holder’s certificate hanging on my living room wall. It’s all kind of surreal (especially now that the record is no longer mine…currently), but easily one of the greatest weekends of my life, and I love to revisit it all in my mind once in awhile. As much of it as I can remember, anyway!

So going back over all the footage and cutting segments together is actually really fun, but also really time-consuming on my ancient home computer. I’m so thankful it’s still churning stuff out, though, because I really can’t afford a new one right now!

I’m also about to get the next round of voting going for the Reelie Awards! That’s the Mind Reels award show wherein fans and viewers get to vote for their favourite Canadian films and television shows. It’s the People’s Choice of Canadian content. But mostly it’s just a fun little way to draw attention to and celebrate the talent and creativity we have going on in this here country.

I feel like there is so much more ongoing projects and things on my plate right now – getting a short story ready for a contest, updating my resume, crafting and writing and coming up with yet more ideas of things I want to do. There’s not enough time in the day, I tell you. Not while working full time! Haha

I know it’s about finding a good work-life balance, and I’ve mentioned before that I really am trying. I’m just also so tired all the time.

I need a good work-life-sleep balance, I guess!

Making An Attempt

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I keep thinking that, had I known ahead of time that I’d have to do most of the work involved with making my Guinness World Record attempt by myself, that I would have done a better job. I would have taken on each facet of the attempt head on from the beginning, instead of thinking someone else was taking care of certain aspects, and then having to scramble late in the game when I found out that wasn’t the case. I feel like I accomplished a lot, and ultimately the attempt itself was successful, but I’ve always been kind of disappointed in myself for not trying harder to make the event more of what I’d envisioned in the beginning. I’m still – more than a year later – trying to get the footage posted online, and the fact that I’m having to use the back-up footage with it’s crappy sound quality is a constant source of frustration and regret. Just – for example.

I go back over it all in my head, and make vague plans for “next time”, how I’ll do it bigger and better, and basically blow myself away with my ingenuity and creativity.

There is, of course, another possible outcome to finding out that I am doing something alone. It’s possible that I just won’t do it at all.

That’s where constant nagging self-doubt comes into play. When I didn’t know I’d have to do something alone, but was too stubborn to admit defeat, I can usually accomplish what I set out to do, or at least a stripped-down yet still acceptable version of it. If I know ahead of time that it’s all me, though, then the stubbornness doesn’t have a chance to kick in. Because I don’t set my mind to it yet.

Retrospect tells me I could have done something on my own, but looking ahead – it’s not that I see failure, exactly. It’s more like I don’t see anything at all.

Which is weird, because if we take my amazing idea for a themed bar as an example, I’ve been thinking up the steps to take to make it happen, how it will run, and how it will keep drawing customers. But all of it, in my head, involves a team. Even though the whole thing just exists in my head – and my head alone – it comes with an imaginary team of individuals who help along the way. One of those I-couldn’t-have-done-it-without-you things. Only I haven’t done it. I haven’t done anything but think about it. And even my thinking about it involves other people. Just not the thoughts of, nor input from, other people. Haha

So, I guess my thing is this: I can conceive of things without help, I can retroactively see how to have done it without help, yet I can’t seem to translate that into any sort of sense that I can actually do anything without help.

Or maybe I just don’t want to. Who wants to do everything alone, really? Also, I have trouble delegating, because it’s often easier for me to just do something than to explain to someone else how to do it…though that may be a product of my work environment for the past 15 years, now that I think about it. But maybe despite all that, I still long for a team to take part in my vision, and to share in its outcome with me. To make the seed of an idea in my head grow into something we can all be proud of, together.

It’s like my head wants to work as a team, but I can’t make my reality translate that desire into a functional outcome. It’s a push-me, pull-you battle inside me, all the time. I really want to do something – and then remind myself that I can’t. I start and stop a project internally, and nothing ever actually happens outside of my brain. And that’s ridiculous.

I’m a strong believer in balance, in trying to find balance in my daily life. Though, on a physical level, I have terrible balance. And I’m afraid of heights. I can’t even walk across a bridge in a video game without falling off. It’s humiliating yet hilarious.

Anyway, maybe there’s a balance to be sought here, too. Maybe there’s a way for me to take the first step or two on my own, and use that progress (assuming I make any…let’s call it the initial manifestation of my personal think-tank, the physical outline of my idea, instead of ‘progress’) to begin putting my dream team together. Even if it just leads to a brainstorming session with a couple of people, which opens up other ideas and questions to add to the list, that still has to be better than brainstorming with myself, doesn’t it?

And then those actual people might take a more vested interest in the whole project, because they will be involved from the beginning. Of course, everyone was involved from the beginning of the Guinness attempt, but at the same time, once we’d had an initial meeting about it, everyone kind of went their own ways, and we didn’t reconvene until it was way too late. I assumed things were happening, but I should have checked in more often just to keep everyone on point. You live, you learn. And I really did learn a lot. So hopefully if and when I do something like that again, I’ll be far better equipped to make it a success.

First, though, I might have to dip my toe into the waters of this themed bar idea.

Just in case.