Sunday, August 28, 2016

Goal #48, check!

Discover an untapped skill

by emil tiedemann

You know when you get to that point in your life where you're like, 'Something needs to fucking give here,' and so you're on the verge of doing something drastic! Well, that was me in 2013. 
My personal website,

I hated the people I worked with at a job that lacked any real satisfaction. I felt like I could do something more than this, and that my creative juices were near draught levels. I had to do something and it had to be soon. 

Luckily, I had come across an ad for some school downtown that trained students for careers in audio production, animation, and graphic design, for the most part. I did some research on what graphic design actually was, and it sounded interesting, maybe something I could possibly be half decent at. Afterall, I've always been into doodling on my notepads at school, and this was almost like a digital version of that, sort of. Not really, actually. 

The logo I designed for my blog, 'I Heart Edmonton.'

I applied for student funding, applied for the next semester at Pixel Blue College, and gave my two weeks notice at work. It was exciting as hell, mostly because I wouldn't have to see most of my former co-workers ever again, unless I actually wanted to. But I was also excited about where this new training could lead to in my near future. 

It was just a five-month course, because that's really all I could afford to manage without a full-time job under my belt. As it turns out, I loved it! And I was pretty good at it too! 

We learned how to work with Adobe programs like PhotoShop and Illustrator, how to design logos and build websites, and even how to put together a whole magazine if we wanted to. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but it just so happened to be perfect for me, because it really allowed me to explore all sorts of creative outlets and avenues.

Thanks to Pixel Blue College, I learned how to design my own book!

As part of our training, I designed my own personal logo, business card, portfolio, and even website (which is HERE if you would like to check it out). While still in school, I was able to design posters for several local non-profit groups, as well as a website for the now-defunct Creative Edmonton, and then for these local knitters called The Knitting Divas. 

I also designed the website for the Edmonton Pride Festival, did some consultation work with Booster Juice, enhanced my photo editing abilities, and have used what I learned at Pixel Blue to work on all sorts of personal projects, such as Queer Edmonton, I Heart Edmonton, and even to put together a whole book, 101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton. In fact, not a single week goes by in which I do not somehow implement what I discovered I could do from Pixel Blue. 

Although I don't work in design on a full-time basis (because I don't actually want to!), it has had a meaningful impact on all sorts of aspects in my life, allowing me to be creative on levels I could never have imagined before. It also goes to show that we all have untapped skills lying somewhere in hibernation, just waiting to be tapped. All we have to do is be open to the unknown.

Goal #34, check!

Organize my life

by emil tiedemann

No matter how many times I would tidy up my desk, it would always resort right back to its chronic cluttered chaos. It was one of the few sure things in my life, but not one I looked forward to.

I would constantly forget appointments and upcoming events I had wanted to check out, or I'd lose important memos and information, and other times I would forget my phone or wallet when I left for work because they were buried under one of various piles of crap dangling atop my desk. 

Every few months, I would put on mt latest iTunes playlist, grab a glass of rum, and set to work on my desk, bulldozing the stacks of paperwork, books, memo pads, pens, spare change, business cards, car keys, Tums, bags of weed, and Post-it notes reminding me to download certain songs, pay certain bills, and clean my damn desktop! 

A couple of hours and a few shots of Bacardi later and I was finally satisfied with my ritual decluttering. Of course, I don't mean just my desktop, but it represented my place as a whole, and perhaps even my life as a whole. 

It was never just my desktop that got the scrub down, it was my book shelf, my closet, my nightstand, the whole place. And although it always still felt cluttered to some degree, at least it was manageable and gave off the illusion of organized. No matter how "clean and organized" I got the place, I'd still have trouble locating random items, many time to the point where I would just give up the search. And no matter what, the place always resorted right back to a chaotic mess within a week or two. 

I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. When my desktop or place was messy and scattered, it felt like my mind was too. But then, during a trip to a nearby bookstore, I happened to stumble upon a book on my way to pay for a different book I had actually gone to the bookstore for in the first place. It's title was The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo

It was on sale, but I had already found what I had come for and I couldn't get over the worry of being deemed a big fat lamo for owning a self-help book with a title like that. So I walked on. Then, before I got to the till, I turned around and went back to the self-help section. The book was on sale, and I used that as an excuse to grab it...why not?! Maybe this Marie chick could offer up an explanation to why I can't keep my life organized for longer than a week or two. 

I had the book read front to back within a few days and went straight to work implementing everything Marie insisted would work for getting organized in all aspects of my life, once and for all. 

I took everything I owned and placed it in plain site and then began to discard anything I didn't want, didn't like, didn't need, or didn't know why I had in the first place. It had to be immediate in order for this to work, so within a few days I had tossed out 30 bags and boxes of junk! I'm talking books, magazines, personal papers, office supplies, nic-nacs, gifts, bags, electronics, wires for electronics, remotes for electronics, and a shit ton of clothes that I didn't wear anymore and knew I never would again. 

It was liberating, and like a snowball, I couldn't stop! Next, I organized everything I did keep, making sure to find a defined place for everything left over. Then I did the same thing with my vehicle, my work place, and even my digital world. One big, fast, all-encompassing sweep. And guess what? It worked!! 

I had been doing it wrong all these years, because what I took and used from Marie's life-changing book stuck, and even months after I first decluttered, my desktop and my life in general remain free of chaos. In fact, I now make my bed every single morning, I clear off my desktop every night, I write down what I need to have done and I do it, and I no longer let things sit and wait for longer than they should. For the first time in my life, I can truly say I have my shit together, and it feels pretty frickin' magical. I don't care how lame that sounds anymore either.

Goal #63, check!

Forgive someone who wronged me

by emil tiedemann

I've always heard that forgiving someone who fucked you over is always the best method of moving on, and that moving on is the most ideal outcome. And so, I thought I would give it a whirl, even though I sorta didn't want to. 

That's because we as a society have gotten so used to staying angry and getting back by holding grudges, acting passive-aggressive, or implementing the all-so-effective silent treatment. It's what most of us tend to do when someone really pisses us off. There are other societies around the world who learn how to forgive others, even if what they did seems unforgivable to us. 

So, I wanted to learn the art of forgiveness, because it really is in the best of my interest. 

It's not that many folks in my life screw me over, at least not to the point where I feel like I want to punch them square in the face. But, every now and then, one of those folks will rise to the occasion.  

We'll pretend his name was Dale, just in case he doesn't want to experience forgiveness and sues me for all I've got (which ain't much!). We worked together for about a year at the time, in a branch of the company that had just one other employee. Let's call her Vicky. 

The great thing about our jobs was that our bosses were out east in Quebec and New York, and so we managed our selves for the most part. Vicky and Dale took it upon themselves to take advantage of our cozy little situation, and were forever coming up with excuses to come in late, leave early, or take off the afternoon altogether.

It got to the point where I had had enough, and wanted to get in all some of these self-implemented benefits. So, Dale and I came up with a little idea. Because Vicky was gone almost all of the time - partially for work, mostly for personal reasons - Dale and I hatched a plan that would allow each of us to take turns taking off a chunk of certain afternoon, in which the other would cover for him. Work was slow most of the day, so this getting swamped while alone just wasn't an issue. 

Anyways, our little plan was going beautifully. We would always get our own work done, but would now have some extra time to catch up on personal errands, take an extended lunch break, or just go home early and relax. 

Then, one day, Dale decided to rat me out to his boss (we have separate supervisors out east). It wasn't just the fact that the dickhead told on me that irked me, but also that he was doing the exact same thing I was! In fact, he was worse than I was! 

I admit that what we were doing - despite not effecting our actual work or quality of work - was wrong, but life's too short to sit on your butt all day at work staring at Facebook on your work computer because there's nothing else to do. 

I was pissed! At first, I gave him the old silent treatment, which he didn't understand, because he was not aware that I knew that he had gone behind my back. He soon confronted me about why I was acting different around him, and so I told him. He denied it and even though I had proof, but I could see he was bullshitting his way through it.     

I didn't get in trouble with any of our supervisors, by the way, although I could have. I could have lost my job, but I denied the extent of his accusations and confessed that we were both guilty. 

Although work was awkward for the next few weeks, I didn't care, because I was pretty pissed. But, I wanted to move on. I wanted to stop being angry and to have things back to normal. I wanted to forgive him. It's not like he literally stabbed me in the back, just figuratively. And so, after about a month or so, I did just that. I forgave Dale and decided to wipe the slate clean. And guess what? I'm so glad I did.

Work is less stressful, I am less stressed, and I no longer waste any mental time thinking about what Dale did to me. I have so many other things better to think about. Like what I'm going to do with my extended lunch breaks.