This blog's for ME

Almost 25 years old, asking my parents if I can sleep in their bed with them. I had thought I was going to be the 25th Prime Minister of Canada. Things had changed. 10 years later, I was still a scared little boy. The time had come to slap myself awake. One Saturday morning, November 19th, 2009, I declared to the world I would be riding my 10 year-old motorcycle from Vancouver, BC Canada to Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, and back.

The official departure was August 28th, 2010. A group of well-wishers saw me off at 8:03 am.

I arrived in Rio de Janeiro around 6 pm March 1st, 2011.



My return to Vancouver came on July 5th, 2011 about 2:00 pm.

Drug & alcohol abuse, ADD, social anxiety, health, chronic pain, night terrors.

So many concerns. But I am far more interested in this question: Do I have the capacity to make this trip despite all my shortcomings?

My mission: To inspire myself to face my fears, enlighten myself on how all living things can peacefully co-exist, enjoy every moment, and see the world as plentiful and generous.

Go ahead. Call me crazy. Call me anything you like.

I'm out to save my world.



I LOVE YOU ALL



Questions, comments, concerns, threats? Contact me: jason.chapman99@gmail.com


Starburst, Montana

Americana at it's best, and a border town at that. After the harrowing customs experience, I had found a group of high school kids at football practice. While driving to find the gas station (unattended, but took visa), I saw a church that seemed to be a bar. A little drink wouldn't hurt, especially if I justified it. Dee Dee, the proprietor, served me up a beer, and let me come down and connect with a human being again. A vivacious, and ambitious character, Dee Dee moved to Mayerthorpe, Alberta to give a friend a new lease on life, and had left only a couple months before the 4 RCMP officers were shot down. 6 years of paint scraping and TLC has made the Mint Bar an international attraction. I was glad it was a slow time, and that I wasn't one of the farmers that were too busy in the field to come have a pint. A personal tour of the backyard, and some pics of her place in Sweet Grass were inspirational. If you end up having a negative experience at the border, throw your business her way - she'll make you feel at home.

www.mintbarofsunburst.com

I've Been Here Before

One, massive, black cloud hovers over Great Falls, Montana. It was in the middle of winter, when I was in Grade 6, when a bunch of crazy parents decided to take a couple hockey teams from Stettler down here to have a little competition. We ended up taking both trophies back home with us, as well as memories to last a lifetime. The last time, I had kidnapped my best friend in '94 as a spontaneous decision to bring up some male bonding. Canada had lost miserably in the Olympics, and his girlfriend (now wife)has just recently forgiven me for it. We paid off the state trooper for the speeding ticket, an experience resulting from singing Billy Idol accapelo at the top of our lungs.
From Taber, Alberta to here, the bike was tilted consistently at 15 degrees to compensate for the heavy winds channelling through the Rockies. I must have resembled a bobble-headed doll, my massive helmet on my skinny neck catching every gust as if it were a wind chime. There has been several warnings of dangers in Mexico, but as I suspected, the dangers are much closer. I had stopped to take a self-portrait in the river valley south of Taber, only to have a truck with flashers honk at me shortly after I returned to the camera to grab it. "Hmmm," I thought. "Another closet motorcycle fan giving me his support." Suddenly, a house drove by. Watching him as he drove by, I realized he had to drive in the opposing lane just to give me way. Noone thought of this as a probable danger to consider surely. It dually made me appreciate life, and the marvels of human ability. Thousands of pounds hoisted onto the back of a machine to be transferred safely to a new location. It seems the photojournalist needs to work harder for a better shot, or at least practicing riding a motorcycle and camera simultaneously. The rig turned off before I could.

Customs Kerfuffle


I intentionally stalled at the duty free shop before getting into the Coutts US Customs lineup to enter the states. I just had a feeling. A cooler full of carrots, water, and other food items could not have fared well. What about the Burning Man Festival? Oh, they probably wouldn't want to hear about that. I wasn't worried about getting into the country, actually. I was more worried about being interrogated. That is exactly what happened. After I explained to the female customs officer that I was riding my motorcycle to Brazil via LA, she asked why I was doing it, and I replied, "Carnaval, business opportunities, a chance to test my skills and have an adventure". "Please park your vehicle in the lot, and enter through the main doors, sir". I walked in, and was immediately ushered into a locked room with a metal cage separating myself and the male officer. "Why are you going to Brazil?" "How much money do you have saved up for this?" "Do you have any firearms in your jacket?" "Do you have any weapons on you?" The questions were coming like a rapid-fire machine gun, and I struggled to stay calm. "Take a look in my pocket, there's a card there." He walked away, and was sitting at the computer for what seemed like an eternity. I thought he was probably checking some interesting video that his coworkers sent him. Meanwhile, still struggling, I filled out the paperwork he requested I go through, and had many moments of thinking time. "What AM I doing? How in the hell do I expect to do this? What other madness will befall me? What if I can't get through the bloody us border???" AFter about 20 minutes, the officer came back and discussed a few things with me. He had obviously read my blog, and I noted a bit of personal connection there. He was intrigued to say the least. "We've never had a situation like this before. I will not be able to authorize you entry in the country. I'll need to speak with my supervisor" he said. I scanned the office for the illicit supervisor. A couple women were jovially laughing at their desks, one other officer needed help to fix the printer, but no 'supervisor'. Finally, the officer came back and said "I've spoken with my supervisor and explained what you are up to, and I believe you are telling the truth that you will not be working illegally in the country." I said, "you have my word. I have no interest in working in your country, and no intention of doing so. In fact, I hope that you are working on the day I come back through so I can show you what I was really up to." "I hope I am working that day" he replied "I'd be interested to see how you did". "Make sure there are no names included in that blog". "Of course," I said "Not a problem. Take care of yourselves."
So, $15,000 is not enough to travel to south america and back, Juarez, Mexico is the most dangerous area on the planet right now, and every country needs to be notified that I'm passing through. Thank you. I'm awake.

Here's Your Nickel Back


Say what you will about Starbucks (and I know I have) their wi-fi service is both generous and ample. Chad Kroeger, rock star extraordinaire, was able to stay alive as a starving artist by working for Starbucks, hence the name 'Nickelback'. Every time a customer would receive their change, he would say "here's your nickel back". I love those stories, and I'm so proud of those boys for making it big. Whether you like their music or not, go to Hanna, Alberta and see how small it is. They had to have had a community of people supporting them to not only make it in show business, but to win Grammys and sell millions of albums. I was waiting at the Roxy lineup for a beer when he started chatting with me, several years ago. He's a nice guy, and reading some interviews on him, a checkered past of several bad-ass activities has gone in his favour. You have to bend some rules in life to get what you really want.

A Parent's Concern

I finally had to tell mom "It's going to be ok". The final moments of departure from the farm were filled with concerns of this or that. Once I was able to find the ipod that my sister hid on me (she actually told me where she put it, but I had forgotten), I was assured. A quick, and simple goodbye Chapman style was performed at the gas station, and I put my hand on my mom's head and told her "I'll see you soon". Iknow this experience has been very difficult for them, but despite their feelings and fears, they came through for me with an outpouring of huge support. From dad's I let them. Mom even thought she had to tell me Burt Cox used to wear these gloves every winter shovelling snow for me to wear them. I would have tried them anyways, but she was right, and I'm glad as they have saved my fingers through the cold morning. I am simply in awe of a parent's love, who, will do everything in their power to convince you to be safe, and still support you in doing what you need to do to feel alive.

Goodbyes

As record low temperatures for August 28th began to fall, I was desperately trying to breath some warmth into the numbness of my fingertips and toes. The intermittment rain that started south of Jasper continued to Pocahontas, where I invariably chose to follow the neon 'Open' sign at the establishment just off highway 16. My gratitude was lengthened as the server in the restaurant surprised me by saying "You can stay here as long as you like". Welcome words, as I looked outside and saw the rain intensify. Hinton was as far as I could mentally see myself getting to that night, and the wonderfully warm and exciting ride through B.C. was a distant memory.
As I headed out from Hinton at 7 am the next morning with my breath billowing out of my helmet, I was spurned on by the thoughts of friends in Edmonton waiting for me. A nice, warm breakfast beckoned as well. The frantic driving to somehow beat father time created more than a few casualties: a backpack cover, a pair of pants, and a tent. The first two flew off somewhere between Jasper and Hinton, and the third was dragging beside the bike for a few minutes before a friendly motorist signalled to me with a gesture. It was Day 2 of a 7 month journey, and I had already experienced utter disappointment. My favourite tent, the one I hand-picked from MEC with $300 of my own hard-earned savings, was toast. Again, my thoughts came back to the wonderful friends waiting for me in the city.
Waited they did. 1 3/4 hours after our agreed meeting time at the famous Barb & Ernie's Guest House in Edmonton, I walked down the hallway only to see them coming out. "Thanks for joining us for breakfast, Jason" my friend sarcastically offered. They were not impressed. I pulled them out to the bike, now full of duct tape and looking a mess. All vehemence dissipated, and the 6 friends now were feeling quite sorry for me. Of course, we all had to laugh at the state of it. Rapid-fire questions ensued: "Why are you going?" "What direction are you heading?" "How long are you gone for?" I did my best to be patient despite my tiredness and physical pain.
The eventual drive to Stettler came off without a hitch. It included a friendly biker from Three Hills that stopped to make sure I was ok soon after the Bashaw turn-off. I told him I just needed to catch the sliver of sunshine that poked through the clouds, as it did more than warm me up. He ended up escorting me the rest of the way.
Rounding Buttermilk Slough, a most idyllic scene appeared. The grey clouds that sat in the sky had parted for a moment, catching reflections from the sun, which was doing double-duty by making the water shimmer. It was to be a sign of better things to come: within a couple hours of arriving at my parent's farm south of Stettler, 17 relatives showed up to wish me luck. The mood was so touching, I couldn't see myself getting back on that bike ever again. To have such an outpouring of advice, attention, and love was a warming feeling.
That was yesterday, and now today soon ends. The road beckons, and 24 hours of driving await me before my next destination near Gerlach, Nevada. This will be done in less than 2 days, but the memories of this day will accompany me on the road. As the sun was setting tonight, it caught the dandelions' fuzz and illuminated them as if they had an inner light. The stars soon came out and dazzled the sky. After such a harrowing ride, my body still feels a chill, but my heart is warm. The sentiment of 'There's no place like home' rings true, and will motivate me to come back in 7 months, physically intact with a smile on my face from a wonderful adventure.

Turnaround

Bone Chilling winds, rain and stoppages in 10 minute increments of hands-to-groin handwarming technique from 7 am Hinton time to 12 pm Edmonton time. Damage: $300 tent from MEC, waterproof bag both destroyed beyond repair, a pair of pants and MEC backpack cover lost between Jasper and Edson. All came to an abrupt end in my thoughts as I rounded ButterMilk Slough back home. The sun was reflecting off of a mass of grey, fluffy clouds into the shimmering water. It was no Club Med, but it felt like home. Although there seemed to be noone around the homestead, as I was expecting a crowd by the fire, cousin Larry popped out by the time I got off the bike. Within an hour there was a room full of cousins, aunts and uncles, numbering over 20. We haven't had a group like that in 25 years here. Rosco donated a replacement tent and bag, and I shot a couple memorable moments by video and camera. I'm just way too tired to do anything except lay down. I just want to bliss out with some old Archie comics, or National Geographic. The problem is, I sent them all to the Thrift Shop in town, so that I could mentally, and emotionally move on from my childhood. Well, like a DTES skid craving a recent addiction, I am on the move for one of those old goodies. I'm feeling guilty!

Stoppage

11 pm local time. The rain started coming, and a server graciously told me I could stay here for a bit. My yellow backpack cover is gone, blown off somewhere between Jasper and here, so the backpack full of clothes (thankfully in plastic bags) looked soaked. I noticed it was getting ripped, but completely gone was a surprise. Mom's globe will be lucky to make it in one piece. I'm feeling stupid and underprepared. I feel so violated!!! I always find a way to just ignore it, and move on but I need a moment to feel sorry for myself. It has been easy in the city to ignore the weather, and never concern myself with rain, snow or shine but when you are directly in the elements, it's crucial to know where you're heading. I banked on beating the dark, ominous clouds that were settled in the valley ahead, but my hands and feet were just too cold. Now, on the first day of this journey, I must wait. For how long, I am unsure. Getting tired, and fantasize about that $200 for the hotel in a nice warm bed. Well, I got myself into this, and I will get myself out. That helpless feeling is one I have worked to avoid for so long, and now it is here, once again. As soon as that rain lets off, I'm outtie.

Mountain PASS


My fingers are slowly unthawing as the cold, wet grasp of the Northern Rocky Mountain Range loosen their grip. It doesn't hurt that i'm in the Pocahontas lounge sipping on a rye and coke. My comfort food, of sorts. A wooden, rustic, cabin-style hotel a la Paul Bunyan, with a heated pool off to the side. I have been on the road since 8:03 this morning, sent off with a wonderful group of friends, who, led by Bonnie, counted backwards from 10 after my prodding. Marcel chaperoned me with his bike, amicably named Pumkin, until somewhere around the bridge, where I lost him.
Sea to Sky Motorsports in Langley were open early at 830, or at least they were nice enough to let me in. They are the only store i know of that sells the type of riding glasses i like; they have 3 interchangeable lenses of black, yellow, and clear so handy for all types of weather.
So, i bumped into a friendly group of Harley riders, and some extremely curious folks who came up to me because of the globe strapped to the back of my bike.
"Are you moving?" was the most common deduction. I hated to admit the truth, as it was so less exciting: my mom asked me to bring it back to her, so I said I would. I've had the most problems with that damn thing, wrapping it in plastic twice only to have the pins denoting the cities I've been to, rip right through the plastic.
Smelling the fresh, clean air today forced me to whoop it up on a couple occasions.
The scariest story I've heard yet was about bandidos in Mexico that string wire across the road to catch unsuspecting victims. Dangerous.
My toes had better warm up soon, though I don`t look forward to putting those cold, wet boots back on. Local Alberta time is 10:19 pm. i just asked the waiter if the cost to stay here was around $200 a night. He said only $179. So it`s off to Hinton, so I gotta make another 25 minutes. He also shared that their hotel is only one of 3 that have an outdoor pool in Jasper. Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is included in that prestigious list, which boasted Lance Armstrong as a guest this week. At $700 a night. I`m sure he`s thinking those performance enhancing drugs were worth it. Ooohhh! To close, I have been in a zone for much of the last 13 1/2 hours, and, again according to my new tour guide, a 3 1/2 hour drive to edmonton going "a buck twenty". My jaw is quite sore from clenching for the last 8 hours without knowing it. Feeling coming back into my legs and hands are pretty much back to normal. I am pleased to have passed the mountains, and think I relate a bit to the Fellowship of the Ring group after passing through their own snowy clime. This is only day 1. The words of my friend Dave rang through my ears a few times as I hurried to get to the next town: "take your time and enjoy the journey". All I need to do is get to Barb & Ernie's restaurant in Edmonton for 10 am.

The Night Before

I, for the first time in 9 months, realize I am leaving. It is real now.

Billy & The Beach Party


The extraordinary amount of organizing and multi-tasking came down to a huge reliance on friends. It was a definite advantage to have a little money to get things going. The sound system ($100), burgers & condiments ($240), rehearsal time & space ($210), hall and patio rental ($500) made for a hell of an organizational moment by moment plan. We pulled in $940 at the door consisting of $10 tix each, which included a beer. The night's tally on my credit card for those beers was $538. All said and done the total loss was over 5 bills, but I dare anyone to feed, entertain, and give prizes out to over 120 people for that. I was committed to having value for people, and to create an amazing memorable night. Bonnie's generous assistance with the screen, and projector hooked up to my laptop, as well as Amanda & Geoff's karaoke efforts, completed the experience.
By the time the police showed up to look into a noise complaint, the night had gone on without a hitch. Our final song, "Sweet Caroline" had every single person up dancing and singing. Jed and Sayo took over for a few songs, and it gave me a chance to connect with a few friends, and rest the voice.
The most miraculous of experiences for me was the transcendence of self. I chose to ignore self-conscious, and completely be generous to the people out there. It created a larger than life persona, and one that is necessary to bring together such a wide variety of people. We had the Latinas dancing in the corner, Marcel doing the funky moves on the dance floor, and all kinds of different groups of people conversing and sharing.
For the beach portion, it was me and Terry. That's it. The 2 am dip was chilly, but as my heart was warm, I could ignore it. The realization that my keys, wallet, and phones were all locked away in the Legion, forced an early experience of losing everything. I welcomed it.

After befriending some mid-20 folks on the beach, calming them down after Terry put a bottle under their tire, I felt anything was possible. There was still some miles to get back to bed, and I was without anything to make it there, except my feet, which I loathed as an option. A couple guys were walking across the street, and I flagged them down and explained. As I was using their cellphone, I put my hand in my pocket and pulled out a visa. Terry, who had vanished moments earlier, pulled up with a cab, and called me over. I do know that everything worked out without panic, and that there is always a helping hand when needed. My reliance on phones, and credit cards, and money has completely washed away my confidence in living without them.

An old letter

February 10, 2010


Mr. Bryan Hudgin
Yamaha Motor Canada Ltd.
480 Gordon Baker Rd.
Toronto, ON
M2H 3B4


Jason Chapman
#6, 516 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC
V5Z 1E9

Dear Bryan:

It is not often that someone up and leaves a perfectly good job, sells everything he owns, and gets on a Yamaha motorcycle to travel over 11,000 km from Vancouver, B.C. through 11 countries to arrive for Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. There’s one main reason most would choose to stay home: personal safety. For some of us though, there is a higher purpose that overcomes that fear. For me, it is the desire to use myself as an example for others, and inspire them to follow their dreams, and contribute to their families and thus, the world around them. This trip is much more than point A to point B; it is a journey of the soul, but more relevant to today’s times, a ‘journey to wellness’. I was elated to see your company sharing your involvement with CMHA on your website. Having struggled with social anxiety for over 30 years, this trip is also about conquering my own fears, and striking out into the world with a message of hope.

I remember, about 10 years ago, photoshopping a cigarette pack on the seat of a gorgeous black cruiser, as a motivation to stop smoking. Stop smoking; be able to buy a bike with the money saved. Seemed simple enough, but I neither bought the bike nor quit smoking! It was not until the middle of August 2008 did I make definitive steps toward a childhood dream of owning a motorbike. More than a break from my parent’s approval, a motorcycle symbolized freedom and personal self expression. I signed up for one month of motorcycle school starting September 1st of that year.

I researched motorbikes for several years. The V-star line from Yamaha always seemed to come out the leader in my mind. Performance, looks, resale, and available accessories were all statistics that shone out from any competitors. I did end up finding a sweet deal on Craigslist for a 2000 Classic model that already had after-market exhaust, windshield, extra chrome, a backseat, and saddle bags. By the end of 2009, I had driven over 10,000 kilometers between 2 provinces and 2 states, in icy snow, torrential rain, and billowing wind. Travelling on a Yamaha V-Star I realized it was the first time I remember ever being proud to show off my wheels. More environmental than a car, and arguably a much more interactive ride with surroundings, I didn’t even hesitate to ride over 3,000 km in 72 hours just to spend one day camping with my family back in Central Alberta.

She ran like a champ without fail until summer of ’09 when a cold start problem arose. For two months, my first ride of the day would involve a jump start, but she was fine anytime after that. I decided to take it into Daytona Motorsports in Vancouver in the fall of ’09 and ended up spending well over $3000 on new tires and a new battery, not to mention a particularly stubborn cold starting problem. I became a regular there and would often call Fenton, the shop owner, to get weekly updates. The bike ended up being the victim of a leaky valve inside the engine that Fenton had never seen in 30 years of the business. In fact, I was at a crossroads where I had to decide to ignore the problem, or fix it. Two days before Christmas, I had my bike delivered via the shop’s Dodge Sprinter, with me in the front seat. My 2000 V-Star Classic is as good as new, and looks fantastic thanks to the dealership’s detailing.

A big motivator to spend the money was the decision to ride to Brazil. The experiences to date have endeared me even more to the brand, and I am a proud supporter of Yamaha and V-Star. Despite having some bad luck in the shop, I unequivocally promote the name to friends, family and anyone who will listen. A by-product of my trip will be the introduction of many to the amazing experience of riding on two wheels, and I have no intention of being shy along the way.

Overall though, my goal is to share my ‘journey of wellness’ with others through my blog, that includes videos, pictures and regular journals. Riding a Yamaha motorcycle is indelibly linked to this journey in my mind. Since my motorcycle purchase, I have completed 61 days of Bikram’s Yoga in a row, fronted a band for a sold-out show, quit smoking for 5 months (so far), cut out wheat, pork and cheese from my diet, and entered into a relationship with an amazing woman. There is no doubt people are seriously interested in healthy lives, responsible environmental stewardship, and happiness, and these are the themes I’ll be writing about. Specific articles will also be published in newspapers such as the Georgia Strait, Vancouver Sun, and Stettler Independent, with Youtube links for video. Magazines such as Maxim and Playboy are on the horizon as well.

In marketing terms, my target market will be people interested in positive change, socially and personally. My friends and family, over 600 facebook friends, and almost 400 email contacts will be part of this too. We’ll be having a farewell breakfast on August 28th 2010 in Vancouver, B.C., a lunch in Stettler, Alberta on the 29th, en route to the Burning Man Festival near Reno, Nevada, and reach Rio late February 2011. I can assure you thousands of eyes will be seeing me throughout the Western Hemisphere.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration in this matter. Please feel free to contact me between the hours of 8 am and 4 pm PST if you have any questions or comments to share with me.

Yours Truly,


Jason Chapman
B. Comm., CELTA

How To Start a Rock Band


Through a cavernous maze of labyrinthine proportions, the night of my biggest show yet was already an hour behind. Frantically I move from high school gym connected to more high school gyms until I find the location of the gig. I am met with a hollow, empty feeling as I come out on stage only to find a group of 6 men sitting on the floor to the left, and a gaggle of people to the right of me. One of them, surprisingly, is my best friend Brett all the way from Edmonton. It's empty though. The rest of the hall has maybe 10 people walking around. My memorable night was a bust. No beautiful women swooning at the mere sight of me, or cool guys losing their cool as I grace them with my presence. Damn, I should have prepared more..... how are people supposed to find us without any signage on the doors? Then I woke up.
I started up a rock band just over 2 years ago. The inaugural performance was a nerve-wracking experience replete with 8 rehearsals, and 6 months of personal preparation. This time, 3 rehearsals and a couple of weeks of listening to songs on my ipod. Things have gotten easier, but August 20th is to be the biggest, and best show of the 2 previous incarnations. Each show had boasted a doubling in attendance, but as the free Michael Buble concert looms on the same evening, that trend could fall into decline. Regardless, I say, defiantly, as this time it will be about the music. But I get ahead of myself.
It had already been a dream of mine for most of my life. Singing in a band, in front of all my friends and family; anything less than a packed house would have been unimaginable. Perhaps the fear of that happening stopped me all those years from actually doing it. The stage fright was so palpable, it seemed an impossibility despite the intensity of my dreams. My desire to fight my fear forced me to start somewhere. Karaoke seemed to be a logical starting point, and with a pseudonym I would march down to the local bar and put my name on the list to sing. Noone knew me, and I preferred it that way. I would get up, sing one song, and sit down for a congratulatory beer. Fast forward 7 years, and the Japanese cultural phenomenon had lost it's lustre.
A person's subconscious is a powerful thing, to the point that it can actually cause it's master to say and do things it may regret later. A pre-Christmas party I held in early December of 2007 started innocently enough. It's host, casually conversing with a bevy of cherished guests, and a couple of drinks under his belt, was having fun and feeling like the king of the free world. Up comes a friend I had known only a couple months, and she asks me when I'm going to sing in a band. Her tone was not unlike an agent booking it's talent for the upcoming season. Whether it was the drinks that softened the fear, and allowed that subconscious to speak, or a temporary loss of reality, but I piped up "June of next year!" My initial burst of enthusiasm jetted me into another friend. "Hey, I heard you can play the guitar. Can you play in my band?" I asked courageously. "Sure, sounds good!" He replied.
By now my confidence was soaring. Another friend is found to be able to play the drums, and is on board as well. The party continued well into the night, and was met the next morning with an impending sense of doom. The first phone call was a quiet one, ambivalently re-stating my night's declaration to that friend, who said the first step is to book a night down at her local pub the Cottage Bistro. The next 6 months were dedicated solely to improving my guitar skills, and nailing the songs into my head. By the time June 14th came around, I was finally on stage. My choice was to sing 2 songs solo, just me and my guitar. Parents and sister in the audience, and a room full of friends. It was a night to remember, and my performance wasn't too bad.
Two years later, the pangs of performance have all but ceased. The singing has become more confident and strong, and has morphed into the anchor for a wildly self-expressed performance complete with brash, snappy and classy suits and styled hair. Michael Buble - eat your heart out and do your best. You've now got some competition!

Celebrities and You

Whether you peruse the tabloids at the grocery store check out, watch movies, or go to massive rock concerts, you probably know of a celebrity or two. You may even have a favourite. Did you ever think you might have something in common with one? Talented, rich, beautiful, spoiled; these adjectives may have never been used to describe your disposition, but are often used for celebrities. What about hard-working? The stereotype of gilded spoons and 'diva' demands are commonly held beliefs about famous people, but hard-working is usually lower on the list, and rarely makes the headlines. Maybe it doesn't have the cachet, or perhaps the image of a hard-working actor doesn't sell magazines, but it's a crucial skill in the mind of Mr. Will Smith. The mega-star of 'Independence Day' and 'The Pursuit of Happyness' seems to stay out of the gossip columns, but a recent video on YouTube featuring several interviews from on the red carpet to Charlie Rose's hot seat show a side seldom seen, or talked about, when it comes to celebrities.
Have you ever had to get off the combine you'd been on all night, go straight to work for 10 hours, and do it all over again, for 6 weeks? For some Alberta farmers, that may be the reality required to make ends meet. Do you think the thought ever crosses their mind, "Geez, that rich and famous Will Smith and I are like two peas in a pod!" You may find his attitude on life surprising, and worth a moment to ponder. Here are a few words on hard-work that he shares with his interviewers ina couple clips.
On the difference between talent and skill, Will is clear. "Skill is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft." "I've never really viewed myself as particularly talented. Where I excel is ridiculous, sickening, work-ethic. You know, while the other guy is sleeping, I'm working. While the other guys is eating, I'm working." One can surmise from the videos that Mr. Smith has such a strong desire to succeed, that he would be willing to die for it. What would be possible in someone's life if they had this attitude? Although he is talking about his career as a Hollywood actor, his reputation as a solid family man, musician, and friendships may hint that his philosophy bleeds into all aspects of his life.
It's called "Will's Wisdom". A refreshing change from all the celebrity gossip, and a hearty helping of advice for living a life well lived.

Crazy Heart

Pick up your crazy heart give it one more try.

An Artists Contribution


My friend John Wang just did a little artistic work on my photo. I love it!

Tough

Last evening was one of the most trying yet, mentally, emotionally and physically. I had just finished my Golden Feet acupressure, got picked up by Eddy so we could deliver a present to Ben for helping me with the bike. I had ordered some pizza from Gigi's, and we proceeded to pig out before heading out to the west end. By the time we got to his house, he wasn't home, so I took the jack out of the trunk, and brought it to his garage anyways. Meanwhile, hydraulic oil had been dripping on to my leg, as my forgetfulness as to how to dismantle the handle of this jack caused the entire oil nipple to pop out. I'm trying to fix this damn thing for 1/2 hour and Ben and Christina show up. I felt embarrassed and uncomfortable, being in their backyard, giving them a present that didn't work, and having my 82 year old friend with me. Just social anxiety stuff, but it discouraged me so much; talking to good friends I trust and love, and feeling so distant, so unloved and unwanted. I knew I was creating all this hardship in my own head, but it was hard to shake it. It took a long conversation with Bonnie to sort it out. Woke up this morning with a whole new attitude, but if I hadn't taken the time, or had been given the time, to settle down, who knows. What I learned from it was the ability to 'settle in' to the pains, not to panic, and to calm the thoughts down. Give it some emotional salve. When the body, mind and spirit are in disarray, it can be excruciately difficult sometimes to pull oneself together - but it is the only option. The precipice leads to a deep and scary well of negativity and sorrow.

Competition

Forget the Old Spice Man. The Dos Equis Man. All the Way.

Oh What a Night

Not much more to say. Amazing experience to contribute to my friends Alex and Noriko, who gave me complete creative control over the Master of Ceremonies job. Alex's uncle thought I was hired!

My Big Fat Greek/Japanese Wedding

Word from the wise: When you're at a friend's engagement party, and the opportunity to say a few words comes up, make sure you keep your trap shut! My experience now shows that, depending on your performance, could lead to a request to be the MC at the wedding. Now, if you've ever been a Master of Ceremonies before, you know it can be a challenging duty. What if the wedding is between a Greek, and a Japanese?
4 siblings, and 12 nieces and nephews on one side with the bride's mother, sister, and friend visiting all the way from Japan...... can you see a cause for concern? Remembering 3 Japanese names pale in comparison to learning all the names in a Greek family. As I prepare for my job at the reception this Saturday, I can only hope the crashing of plates happen as a Greek tradition, not as a reaction to what came out of the MC's mouth.

Questions

Do you ever have a question in your mind every night before you go to sleep ? If you do, what is it?

Stay away from 5

Rice, bread, potatoes, pasta - and one other :-0. My friend Jenn told me tonight that as long as she stays away from these 5 foods, she feels lighter. As a Bikram Yoga Instructor, she learned a few things from the master himself - "I eat only air and water". Oh, and some omega fatty acids, and electrolytes! Imagine that if you eliminated one food from your diet, and that left you feeling 10x better than usual - 10x lighter, 10x happier, 10x more energy. Could it be that simple? yes. Don't overcomplicate it. Then I met another wonderful person who told me about Monavie's Acai Berry drinks, and how they can eliminate pain in the body. Nothing will work unless you stick to it - check after 3 weeks, as you should see a difference by then.

Inception

Without a spoiler here folks, I will comment on the most indelible impression I witnessed within my own mind, and a trend I become more and more aware of. What is most intriguing to me, is that this impression has probably been going on since I was a child, and I ignored it. As I didn't normally hang out with the 'popular' kids, I most certainly missed most of the goings-on at the top. Jumping to the point: business men and women who would do ANYTHING to succeed - manipulate, lie, cheat, charm, influence. This, my friends, will never change. It is built-in to our mechanics. Would I be any different if it was me at the top of that company?

Meatatarian


We had a most plentiful meal of ribs and chicken that would make a Vegan faint. My great friends Tommy and Lee, as well as their children, had Bonnie and I over for dinner. Check out this feast:

A Family Reunion Between Two Families


I never worried much about this day happening, so I never had much stress, or attachment to it happening. The wonderful world of invitation - inviting my parents and my birth mother to meet each other, ended in an amazing bonus opportunity for Bonnie, as well as my birth cousin Dennis and his wife Jane. We fished, we ate, we talked. Most of all, we liked each other. This was the greatest gift of all; in my mind and heart, my two worlds became one, and I was at peace on that river in Valleyview that day.

War

Definitely a moment of feeling very small, very insignificant, and also marvelling at how easily grown men will fight. Dennis tells me that he had heard a South American leader died, and either Venezuela and Argentina were involved somehow. It was pro and anti American parties. Whether the truth was stranger than fiction, it only momentarily stopped me.

Friends

I am the luckiest man in the world to have a group of friends that can laugh together as if we were teenagers again. It was a wonderful experience to see my boys together for the first time in years.

Putting it out there

Why is there always a tinge of fear when I put myself out there? Today I created an event page, and invited all the people I knew from Central and South America. Surprising results - I had one person ask for my address so he could send me money!

Videos of my journey

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