Songs of past relationships

I think this is a common thing, there are a few songs that we associate with someone. It’s strange how now, even decades later (shit guy, I can use decades as a time period) whenever one of those songs comes up, it’s almost immediately a reminder. Here’s a few of mine. What are some of yours?

(Spoiler…. I did break her heart)
Not going to lie, this doesn’t come on the radio often…
Live versions


It’s a cliché to say that we live in a world of distractions, of instant gratification. I just right now got distracted from writing this to pick at my nails….

And while it’s easy to blame our phones, technology, technology companies, advertisement as the go to way to monetize something, etc. Just like my previous example shows. While the external doesn’t help, we can always find something to distract ourselves with.

I’ve wanted to start reading indistractable for a while now. Slightly ironic I know. One thing I’m trying differently is to do the exercises that accompny the book and to try to actually adopt it as part of my day to day life.

I find that too often I read a book, an article, whatever, on some way to better myself. I agree with the article / book, or in many cases I’m like, oh ya I already “know” this. And by know I mean I have the information on this topic. I already have all the information I need on how to be in better shape. How to lose weight. How to be happier. How to be better at task X.

And yet…. They don’t usually stick.

I did a speech at toastmasters recently and I might write a version out here later, but the point of the speech was that the initial action was useless. There are no big swooping actions that change the world. It’s not a single speech from Ghandi that ended the occupation, a single decisive action I took (paying for personal training) that helped me get in shape or a single challenging instance that makes you smarter at something. It’s the constant iterative small progress.

I’m just at chapter 2. But I’m hoping it will help me be more mindful of how I spend my time. I guess we’ll see.

Your past self was an idiot, Your future self will be amazing

I’ve always had this struggle where there seems to be clear evidence that if you think you’re awesome, or you think you’re going to win or whatever positive thinking thing, it will have an impact on the outcome. That’s just bananas right? It makes no sense, and yet it makes it that those BS books like “the secret” and etc are pretty scientifically proven to have an impact. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s actually the thinking itself. It’s probably how the thinking changes your behaviour or something like that. But regardless it’s pretty incredible.

The thing is, that being aware of what you’re not good at leads to better outcomes in many cases. Makes you more humble, makes you ponder things more and take a second before you jump to conclusions.

Mark Manson talked about this in his newsletter and had a good line

Here’s my conclusion: overestimate your future, underestimate your past. Acknowledging you know nothing and that you’ve accomplished nothing will give you the benefits of humility. But the positive expectation will give the benefits of higher performance.
Another version: “I still understand little, but I’m capable of accomplishing a lot.”

I like it, but I feel it’s needs to be a bit more punchy. I had your past self was an idiot, your future self will be a genius. But I want to try to make it not just about thoughts but about things like exercise and etc. I’m not yet sold on it, I think it still needs polish. Feel free to send me suggestions.

Happier Songs

Most of my “happy” songs can be described by a few artists: Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake.

I know… I know… Bring on the shade 😉

Here’s a few of the classics:

Love this music video
If you’re an animal then tear up the floor
If you’re a criminal, kill it on the floor
I woke up like this!
Not G rated. Wait at least until the 3 minute mark
Tous les enfants de mon quartier et même d’ailleurs
Et tout ce que le béton a fait de meilleur
Des qui voulaient pas payer l’entrée trente balles (trop cher)
Love the dancing and choreography here
I do that dance… Not well…
It’s Britney Bitch
I always have a thing for live versions
Yes, I like a song that is an ad…
I think it’s having Adam Scott in the background that really does it for me
Y’all… he brought sexy back
Sa ma prit way trop longtemp a figuré que c’est basé sur “The Four Seasons – December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)”
Fun fact, this is better service than Air Canada
I love that whatever sounds it is that just keeps repeating. It’s kinda like those ducks
uh oh uh oh uh oh oh no no no
uh oh uh oh uh oh oh no no no

Dormir Dehors

Une chansons que j’aimais vraiment quand j’étais jeune c’était Dormir Dehors par Daran et les chaises. C’était un des genre 12 CD que on avais a la radio étudiante a l’école et presque chaque fois que j’étais le “DJ” je la jouait.

Je suis pas sur a 100% ce qui m’attirais à la chanson a se temps la. Mais j’ai toujours aimer la chanson. je l’ai retrouver cla une coupe d’année et je pense que je l’apprécie encore plus. Et maintenant je comprends ce que y veut dire quand y mentionne “cuisine équipées”. C’est pu juste une random ligne qui fait pas de sense.

How Am I Not Myself?

My second favourite movie is I heart Huckabees (First is Memento). It bills itself as an existential comedy, which you know, fits my genre. It explores some of the absurdities with life, meaning and nihilism. One great line in it is when Lily Thomas’s character asks

“What do you think would happen if you didn’t tell the stories? Are you being yourself?”

I heart Huckabees

And the answer Judd Law’s character gives helped me with a big struggle I had with my mental health.

For many years I worried greatly about how my behaviour changed when taking my meds. I wasn’t as pessimistic, I didn’t ruminate as much, I didn’t spend as much time thinking about how the world is fucked. I struggled with it because there’s an easy trope to fall into and it’s of the tortured genius. It’s easy to point to great thinkers in the past who were tormented.

There’s also a bunch of folks online who think taking meds and “fighting” their mental health struggles makes them sheep. It’s easy to think this. Just think of Brave New World, 1984, and most dystopian books. The thinking is that if you move your focus away from everything that’s broken, if you don’t stay focused on the wrongs on the world, on the flaws of humanity, you can’t solve the problem.

It’s a very appealing theory. It means that all that suffering you’re doing, is not in vain. You’re not wrong to feel this way. It justifies the pain, both the past pain and the present pain. It means all that time I suffered wasn’t my fault for not changing myself, it’s everyone else who is too weak to sit with the darkness.

I’m not even sure who, but I think it was an aunt who, when I was 17-18, gave me a quote from George Bernard Shaw.

“Life isn’t about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself”.

George Bernard Shaw

When Judd law is asked “What do you think would happen if you didn’t tell the stories? Are you being yourself?” he answers

“How am I not myself?”

I Heart Huckabees

Both existential detectives then keep repeating and pondering “How am I not myself?”

And once it sinks in, once you realize the absurdity of saying or even asking if you’re not yourself you in a sense free yourself from all expectations.
You cannot be anything but yourself. That doesn’t mean you’ll always be pleased with yourself. That you can’t improve yourself. Just that there is no need to worry if you’re yourself. Because you can’t be anyone but yourself.

(And yes, this means that, even given the good intentions, I’m not a huge fan of the “not myself” mental health campaign which implies that you can or should be someone different.)

On Memory

Memory is a tricky thing. What we “remember” is often shaped and malleable. And most people recognize or understand this in the abstract. They’ve seen a TED talk about it or something.

But in the moment, in each specific moment, people I talk to are almost always certain that this current memory is accurate, beyond the shadow of a doubt.

Maybe it’s an adaptation. I mean, questioning everything you think and believe all the time is a quick path to stress and mental health issues. I should know since that’s a bit how my generalized anxiety manifests itself. But should we not try to be less certain? Should we not always keep the possibility of being wrong (in terms of memory and in general)?

What I need to improve at (Please give me feedback)

I did an AMA and it was interesting because since I’m remote and we don’t use zoom, it was hard to see people’s facial reactions. I’m “candid” and at times contrarian and I’m not sure how things are received. It’s interesting because I have this balance where I really want to be open, candid and vulnerable and know that’s what helps organizations thrive. Even if it involves disagreements. Maybe it’s the anxiety (although I think this is probably a “normal” amount of anxiety given the circumstances), but I always really wonder what people really think.

Anyway, during the AMA there was a question asking what I would improve on. I mentioned a few things but I think I missed an opportunity to ask what I can improve on. So I’m asking you, what can I improve on?

For the record I think I mentioned:
1) Improve how I give feedback and how I share my thoughts. It sometimes comes across as rude or like I’m putting others down.
2) Better at time management (I’m terrible at forgetting I have a meeting, getting lost in time)
3) Better at focusing on the next actionable thing. Sometimes I get paralyzed by all the work in front of me and have a hard time starting somewhere.

But I feel like it’s really hard to know what you need to improve on. At Automattic there was a really strong culture of feedback and folks would regularly give each-other feedback (anonymous and direct). That’s something I feel like the Canadian Digital Service doesn’t have (yet!).

So, if you’re reading this, no matter if you’re a friend, acquaintance, former colleague, random person following me on twitter, please help me improve by filling out this form:

Rhianna is helping me re-pot plants

I have a bunch of hanging baskets that I brought in from outside. They, like me, don’t get enough sun in the winter so I’m trimming them, adding a few other plants that need less sun, and installing some grow lights on a timer.

I’m making a mess of the house and somehow I don’t have enough potting soil. But regardless, Rhianna is helping so it’s all good.