Archive for the “Challenges” Category

It’s that time of year again. The time when CBC announces that their Literary Awards are open for submission. I don’t know about you, but I always get giddy around this time of year… like a kid at Christmas. I dream of submitting dozens of works by November, only to put it off until the last second and submit one piece at the 11th hour. I’m that kind of writer, I guess.

Well, not this year. This year it’s going to be different. I’m going to step out of the cycle of procrastination and into the cycle of… writing a lot (that’s an example of award-winning writing, by the way). I’m challening myself to write and submit at least one entry per month until the end of the contest. To keep things interesting, I’m going to submit to all three categories (Short story, creative non-fiction, and poetry) and I’ll likely burn out in the process. It’s going to be AWESOME!

I think I fielded a pretty good short story last year (which I’ll publish on my site this fall) and after a winter and spring of puttering over story ideas, character sketches, and short story segments, I’m ready to dive in and get some stories going. That also means that I’ll be looking for some trusty editors to constructively criticize my works (no ‘yes men’) without crushing my fragile ego and spirit.

So if you see me in an air-conditioned cafe (more likely an air conditioned bar) this summer writing furiously in my Moleskine notebook, it’s pretty safe to say I’ll be working on fulfilling this challenge… or writing love poetry to my soon-to-be Volvo.

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Despite what you may have heard about chocolate rations going up and the wonderful victories in our war with Eurasia, this actually has very little to do with our fearless leader (despite how great he is, and how highly I think of him, and all that stuff). No, this idea is purely mine and I’m going to float it out into the ether to see what you folks think.

After writing and performing a spoken word piece on sunday, and submitting my name for an open-audition gallery show (for paintings), I’m wondering if I shouldn’t challenge myself a little bit this year. Sure, it’s a little late to make a New Year’s Resolution (they’re just garbage anyways), but is it ever too late to pick yourself up by the boot straps and apply some gumption? Some elbow grease? Some old-timey metaphors that don’t make sense anymore… consarnit?

So, without making the regulations TOO stringent, I’m going to try to get some artistic work publically displayed before the year is out. Hopefully, I’ll sell some as well. I’m thinking that a public reading of poetry or a story (or both) and some submissions for publication, a few paintings or sketches, and some photos. I won’t do anything cheesy like read in my own living room to a group of friends or anything like that… part of this is an excercise in getting myself ‘out there’, as they say.

What do you think? Can you recommend places to show/read/submit? Are you a publisher who is thinking “I’d like to publish whatever this guy will write”? Are you a millionaire with some wallspace who is colourblind? Then have I got a proposal for you… consarnit.

I guess this means that my Moleskines will be getting even more of a workout. I hope they don’t get rationed because we’re losing the war in Eurasia… which we aren’t… losing… the war… in … Double-plus good!

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For long time readers, you might remember a trip Jared, Joel and I took last November to Dangerous Dan’s Diner on Queen St. E. I wrote about it before we went, and then posted a lengthy review (with photos) when we got back.

Well, it’s been almost a year, and my arteries are almost cleared out again… so it’s time to head back.
Mmmm
The plan is to meet up at Dangerous Dan’s for 4pm on sunday afternoon. We might play some soccer or football in the afternoon (weather permitting) to work up an appetite, so keep your ears open.

I’ll be posting a new review when the dust and fat have settled, so you’ll want to watch out for that. Just so that we can all feel gross, here are the two specials we’ll be choosing from on sunday…

The Coronary Burger Special
2 8oz Patties, 4 Slices of Bacon, 2 Slices of Cheddar and a Fried Egg on top. Served w/ Fries and Gravy, Can of Pop and Mayo as a garnish for sure!
$ 12.95

Quadruple C
“Collosal Colon Clogger Combo”
24oz burger served with a quarter pound of cheese, a quarter pound of bacon, and 2 fried eggs. Also comes with a large shake (flavor of your choice) and a small poutine.
$ 20.99

I’m having trouble breathing and pains in my left arm just thinking about it… Mmmm…

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Starting at midnight tonight, Shari-Anne has challenged me to consume nothing but fruit, veggies, and water for 24 hours. That means no breads, no beer, and worst of all… no coffee. I was okay with this until this morning, when I realized that she also meant no meat. I doublechecked and sure enough, the consumption of meat wasn’t inferred (as I always think it is).

I’m not sure if I’ll make it, but at least my will is up-to-date, and perhaps even with my limited energy due to lack of meat-goodness, I’ll be able to dictate tomorrow’s post to a nurse who can type it out for me. With just over 12 hours to go before the challenge begins, I must mentally prepare myself to wage war against the food that my food eats. The first few hours will be the hardest, and will determine wether vegetables are friend or foe to my body…
The Eternal Struggle...
If all goes well, I’ll live to tell my grandchildren about the day I went head-to-head against vegetables, and came out victorious! Mind you, I’m not likely to live that long given the amount of red meat I eat. It’s just a matter of time before my ticker stops ticking. But I’ve digressed… as usual… bring on the greens!

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I’m short of time right now, but wanted to say something before it got to be too late in the day… Today is the last official day of Jay’s challenge, and I feel great. My eating habits have changed drastically, and that is something that won’t stop tomorrow, or the day after, or the day after that.

Not only have I gained weight consistently (which is a good thing… a VERY good thing), but my energy levels are constant and consistent and my sleeping habits are generally much better. I feel more alert at all times, and find myself having less food-related cravings (especially for salt). I’m not sure if that’s part of all this, but it’s a good thing, I guess.

Anyways, thanks a ton for challenging me, Jay. Assuming today goes off without a hitch, we’ll be setting up our dinner date sometime soon. ๐Ÿ™‚

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We’re around the halfway mark, so this should be a better indication of what all of this is doing to my body. As I said on March 4th, I’m keeping detailed notes about how I’m feeling from day to day, but I’m starting to regret not having taken pictures of myself along the way.

Generally, my health is GREATLY improved. I have more energy, and I have it consistently. I wake up more alertly in the morning, and I’m finding that I can think more clearly throughout the day. Pretty cool, eh?

At the start of the challenge, I dropped quite a bit of weight… I mean a significant amount… and it’s not like I had a lot kicking around to throw out. Recently, I’ve noticed that my weight is slowly increasing and I have no visible body fat. As near as I can tell, I’ve dropped all my ‘fast food fat’ I’d built up over the last few years (honestly, it was all just in my gut) and it’s starting to replace with a bit of muscle… mostly in my legs (I walk a lot). I’m still grossly underweight, but that’s pretty normal for me. I guess my next challenge is going to be putting on some healthy mass… pecs maybe? ha ha ha.

Probably the most noticable difference isn’t in my weight, or in my disposition… it’s in my face. My skin-tone has changed so much in the last few weeks, that people have started to comment. I’ve even noticed that my eyes look healthier, as do my gums. Weird stuff. Not only do I feel healthier, but I look much healthier.

My appetite has changed somewhat as well. I’m still pretty consistently hungry, but I just want to graze all the time (eat bits and bites through the day) rather than having a big meal. I think part of that is adjusting to eating a lot of healthy food. My appetite is slowly increasing, likely in response to my increased and consistent energy needs.

Here’s the coolest thing I’ve noticed so far… part of our deal was that my birthday was a day of grace where the rules didn’t apply, and I was looking forward to cheating my face off with a fast food burger or two and tons of unhealthy food. Not only did I still eat all my servings of fruits and vegetables (without even thinking about it), but the only cheat I pulled was to have a club sandwich on white bread instead of brown… and that was a concious decision… just to take advantage of my hard-earned day of grace. So, this is how healthy habits get started?

In summary, I feel great… I look better… my body is reacting well… and I’m such a fan that I’ll keep this up well after April 1st. Thanks Jay.

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Well, so far I’m still on track and I’m actually spending far less money. Who knew that eating fresh foods would be cheaper than constantly eating takeout? Oh… yeah… everyone.

I’ve been keeping a pretty deatailed journal of what’s been going on, and although it might be a little early to tell, here’s what I’ve got so far…

1) I have more energy in the morning than I used to. I’m actually able to get up a little earlier than I used to, and stay awake. Part of that might just be actually eating ANYTHING for breakfast, but we’ll see.

2) I’m hungry all the time. I haven’t figured this one out yet. It might just be that I’ve never really eaten much, and my body is getting used to grazing all day.

3) Protein is an important part of any diet. I’ve actually dropped a bit of weight (some people will want to kill me for this) in the last few days, but I haven’t been eating much protein. I think it’s time to bulk up on beans, meat and eggs. –Keeping weight on is a bit of a challenge for me, so dropping a few pounds in a few days is nothing new. Don’t worry–

Generally, my energy levels have been about the same as before, if not just a little bit higher. Next week, I’m going to start a light-duty exercise regime (in preparation for quitting smoking) and that will be a good gauge of what my energy levels are like.

Another interesting thing is that my sleep habits (which have NEVER been good) have been steadily improving. Now, that started before the challenge, but I did notice a bit of an improvement this week, especially when it came to actually getting out of bed. I think it’s a little early to comment on this though.

To track my progress, check each day’s food list in my calendar, and if you have no idea what all this is about, check out my post outlining Jay’s challenge.

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Well, so far so good on Jay’s challenge. My day started with a pretty green banana, a VERY crisp Granny Smith, and some time of reflection about why it is I’m really doing all of this.

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body”
–1 Corinthians 6:19-20–

That’s my primary reason, and improved health, more energy, and possible weight gain are just the gravy on the fries…er… the icing on the…. um… the vinagrette on the salad.

Update: Yes, I’m fully aware that the verse is somewhat out of context, but I think it’s use works pefectly in this instance. Feel free to agree/disagree/comment.

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