Lost 30 lbs, quit smoking and otherwise fought back

I didn’t know if or how to go about this one, because lots of people do these things, but maybe someone might relate to how it started.

Nausea and other worries about my gut, like fear of not having a washroom nearby.

Just that. Somehow back in mid 2015 it got to the point that food would make me feel just gross the entire day and the absolute worst was when I tried anti-anxiety medication that “may cause nausea”, so therefore for me, laid me out so bad that I didn’t want to move. I didn’t want to anything.

That’s really where I just got angry. No other way to describe it. Thank God by that point I was self employed so I didn’t have to specifically worry about rushing off to work (somehow). This isn’t an ad but I started using that calm app for meditation, which got me to focus on my breathing and this method actually helped me through gigs because of course I was still doing professional shows with the band (one show in October 2015 was probably the closest I came to walking off stage as I felt too gross).

Anyways, other than the smoking which I was worried I needed to combat sleep and constipation, I started on diet and exercise. First thing I did was I just walked straight out despite my body wanting me to not do that. I was over 220 lbs somewhere and was supposed to be creative and here I was finally doing things and being shut down by my own body. I wasn’t having that so I did the longest walk I could think of which was around the waterfront in Victoria.

I started with walking everyday, meditation and, from researching things, tried to eat more alkaline food. I’m not rich so going full Mediterranean Diet is nice but impossible. One thing I did add was my oatmeal thing which was steel cut oats, a healthy “breakfast topping” of cacao and other things in a mix, lightly over that and blueberries. Drank lots of water, drank Ginger Tea with fennel and listened to (I know he’s upopular now-I was annoyed too) all the Tony Robbins stuff I could find. There was a thing on “Body You Deserve” that mentioned a walking – running – walking 30 min pattern, which I got a heart rate monitor for, because on a doctor’s advice I was going to try and bring my weight down. I was never big, until my thirties where my metabolism cut out so much that in a band photo it looked like I was standing closest to the camera.

So everyday I was running after 10 minutes of walking, trying to stay in my target range. I was scared to let one day go. Eventually I got my first gym membership and started a Good Life Fit Fix program, which is essentially working on each machine to failure after a short treadmill warmup.

When I went back to work my walking went way up (work as a cleaner again) so I do the gym and running three times a week.

Things improved and my weight came down but it still wasn’t as good as I wanted and only one thing was left.

I quit smoking in November of 2017. I used the gum as I was scared I wouldn’t sleep and once I got past day three or so, I wouldn’t say it got easy, because that took a while, but it got more important to keep going…like I had never made it that far.

I’m still fighting my problems and everything but at last count I’m below 190 lbs and haven’t had a show as bad as back then. These days I’ve been doing running where it’s part cardio as well and over 35 minutes and I’m enjoying challenging myself with ones like running the entire inner harbour from Fisherman’s Wharf to the Esquimalt Westsong Trail entrance, which less than two years ago I couldn’t even walk.

Today’s music was Anastasis by Dead Can Dance, which I discovered while writing and, being a baritone, I like trying to sing to, lol! Not now of course, it’s early. 😂

Dead Can Dance

Cheers,

Tom

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My morning pages aren’t neat

Ok here we go. Well, yeah…it’s supposed to be stream of consciousness writing and this is a little different as it’s like stream of consciousness texting which might be a bit unfair as I have predictive text happening for me too. I don’t know. I’m listening to Harold Budd as it was available and I was trying to get going immediately since that’s the idea behind these in the first place. You’re not supposed to do anything else first…ok I looked for the image too..but that’s why the title happened. Every morning page looks like the person has their writing set up so neatly that they have a desk devoted just to morning pages. I’m sorry but not only is that bs but also shouldn’t it be more like you wake up and go…while in bed still. You’re supposed to be half asleep or something…like the magic of the whole thing blah blah…I had a sip of old Ice drink. Should be ok it’s still carbonated. I worry about everything going badly with food. Maybe that’s why I went grey early and balding. I’ve stressed about food safe since a poptart did it. Anyways let’s not go there. It’s just…no. eyes are still blurry…hard part about smartphone morning pages is you have to sort of do it by time…nothing is telling me right now how much into 3 pages I am. Oh, and you’re supposed to have them private. Oops. I’m not too worried. Anyways I’m just writing and not really about what I write that much. What’s hilarious is that this is a longer day and I woke up an hour and a half earlier. Yay. Had the pretzles line from Seinfeld which I was going to use as the first title…I don’t know what…maybe because I was going to get a drink. I like the morning page versus meditation question. I keep meaning to do meditation these days but never get the time or whatever to do that. Ok what now. I don’t know. Dylan Moran style there. I’m supposed to just to keep typing like it’s a run on sentence or a talktive person. I think beer. Where is that from. Then TwaDogs. They are a distillery that we the band are connected to. I like some of there craft beer but never been a whisky person. My mouth just cringes if a mouth can before I drink that stuff. Ok. I think I’m going to stop now.

Kind of short on reflection.

Want to find more stuff by the poet Red Lane. Just discovered him recently, as well as Mary Oliver.

I mentioned Harold Budd whose music is perfect for any writing and also he worked with the Cocteau Twins.

Harold Budd – The Pearl

Cheers,

Tom

🙂

Rock’n Rule #3. Show Disasters

Imagine starting a show that made everyone leave the room, or playing along to a classic song that you never actually learned, or starting a show with a guy holding (no kidding) a pumpkin (wasn’t near October) and saying to you that he’s sure you can’t play.

You guessed it. These are but a handful of mine. Now I’m not gonna say that I sell out stadiums like Sting and the boys up there, but I can almost bet you they had those early disasters too. Sting, Andy and Stewy were in sooo many bands before they ever met so you can bet there was the occasional weird amp problem.

On continuing yesterday’s Rock’n Rules on how to make great music, or be a success, I found another little clue. I will drop more if I find more, but it came from the fact that I am on a bit of an ABBA kick right now, and on doing some reading their first time(s) playing as a four piece actually totally flopped. Like nobody liked it. At all.

ABBA had every reason to go and quit and say “It didn’t work, why bother.”. But they just kept at it anyways. Music is what the four did so it was back to the drawing board (or the cabin).

Same goes for the boys from Depeche Mode…

Don’t be nervous 😊

The first two shows by these fresh young faces, which they spend time setting up were a complete disaster. Two shows in a row! On one of them all the keyboard stuff when crazy and one guy just kicked something and all the electrics went out on the whole stage.

They kept going. They even make weird mistakes to this day. You can look that up, but it’s only rock and roll.

The trick is to keep going. You get used to it. On the musical side you learn to “recover” if you played it wrong and 9 times out of 10 you notice it more than anyone else around. Nobody is going “hey, what’s with that Bm7 chord!”. It’s about connection to the people in front of you. In fact disasters can be funny and get them on your side if you stay chill and just go “wow, that was neat!” or something and just try again.

Screw up.

Screw up huge.

You’re in world-class company.

😉

(And yeah, this works off stage as well 😎)

Today’s music I blogged to was a classic instrumental CD called Black Sands by Bonobo

Black Sands – Bonobo

Cheers,

Tom

🙂

How to be a rock star or anything else you’d like.

ABBA had to start somewhere. You can too!

There are so many versions I have read over the years of the same story. I don’t care if it’s pre or post internet, the story still works.

If you’re a Swedish quartet, a guy by himself in Iceland(Low Roar), some beach guy trying to learn the bass in Florida (Jaco) or a bunch of guys hanging out in an abandoned church (Pink Floyd) it’s the same thing.

Works for writers too.

“The Office? You sure that name works?”

…Painters as well… People who struggled with everything. People who were wealthy upperclass. Older people. Kids their dad lugged around to entertain people. Yeah, that last one’s blatantly Mozart.

It all comes down to two primary things. People are right behind me up until the moment when I reveal that part. Hence why it doesn’t happen. Knowing the truth means nothing unless it’s applied.

This came to me after watching a special on ABBA, which is why I kicked off with it. Since back in the day I’ve wanted to find what made that switch from a local gang of music guys to global superstars. I’ve held to the belief that Success leaves clues and that even though, things may not seemed planned there is things that are repeated.

Mentioned before, but worth rementioning…

The Talent Code and some of Coyle’s work also got me wondering why it works in the Mozart cases specifically, and more importantly scientifically. Sure a person might have physical advantages like the shovel-like hands of Glenn Gould, but every guy with huge hands isn’t a huge pianist.

Aaanyways..

So what is it? Is it some sophisticated thing or something really exotic like when you 1st got into Tumeric Ginger Tea?

No, like I say. This is the bit that makes people understandably walk, or dial it down when it must be dialed up.

Rule 1

You have to treat it like your work that takes hours per day, each day of the week.

Rule 2

You or your team need to work in isolation in a crucible away from the distractions of the world

Now, I am just learning and fine tuning this process myself, before you ask the obvious, but I have been applying this as much as possible for the last few months, especially because to me you should be investing in yourself, or your project just as much or more that you invest in anything. As one person said you are only as good a performer as your material you can play for someone right now, no excuses. You might use effects and so on but you should develop the root of your art so that what you do has the strongest center possible so that everything else is icing on the cake.

That’s what Benny and Bjorn did all those years ago in that little cabin, day in day out in a Scandinavian archipelago. As they said of inspiration…

It’s like gaurding a cave because a dragon may come out. You go home and nap and it might fly away.

Each day you show to the page.

Each day.

Start here.

Show up.

(Today’s music had to be an ABBA tune, so here’s one to bookend it that was near the end of their journey.

The Day Before You Came

Cheers,

Tom

Read the World

What is really happening around you? The truth is that there are numerous things that we don’t know about and couldn’t know, because we all have our own personal stories.

Consider how many stories that is, around the world, every single day.

Now I am not a voracious reader, no way as much as I’d like to be, so I tend towards piling on the audiobooks. These days, one of the benefits to smartphones is the ability to get audiobooks and books on demand. Between Hoopla (free library) and Audible (Not free but expanded) you can easy learn about every corner of the world.

Here is a direct screenshot from my device, no b.s. of the book that got me fascinated about the subject of North Korea back in December of 2016…

Later on I actually took out the following hardcover book from the Greater Victoria Public Library which may be available in your area as well.

On the same subject this book is amazing, written by an author still residing in North Korea who goes under the pen name “Bandi” which means firefly in Korean. Suffice to say he had the book smuggled out miraculously and cannot dare reveal his name.

When it came to my study of the broad subject of First Nations, well the first thing I learned straight away that can’t be one subject as it’s a bit like “ok, learn everything there is to know about the history of Europe”, so I narrowed my focus to then Coast Salish (and even that is far too vast, so I tried to focus on this area).

Of the many I read, this one stood out with it’s honest accounts of local history.

There is also an amazing dissertation by Allis Pakki Chipps-Sawyer called “Standing on the Edge of Yesterday” which you can pull down from Google as a PDF that explains so much about what is misunderstood about Coast Salish culture.

My mom got me reading a book ages ago from a middle eastern writer, who’s name sadly escapes me (gotta ask her on Monday) but here’s one that is totally worth getting however you can..

Set around the period of the Iraq war the protagonist is an American Iraqi woman who is trying to help her family and community, falling into questions of loyalty when things are seen from their perspective.

Now it is no coincidence that I picked three groups of people who have been seen as “other”. From my own experience with studying Native culture (and more) for writing, and just learning in life, when you are brought into a conversation things suddenly become clear.

The idea for this was me and a friend on Facebook talking about violence, both agreeing that noone should hit anyone. From my love of true to life things like the BBC’s The Office or NBC’s Parks and Recreation the idea of violence is uncool, pathetic and even just embarrassing.

As a human species is was not our ability to physically fight that kept us alive, it was our ability to plan and create cooperation.

A lot of violence, and the worst tends to come from faith reasons, which is how it becomes so deep set. As someone raised Catholic but a woman who would have been a nun if it wasn’t for his Dad (no kidding, mom was head of the British Columbia Secular Franciscans for years) I utterly disagree with the idea that God or any deity needs our help in enforcement.

100000000 Arnold Schwarzeneggers would be nothing compared to your supreme beings ability to snap his/her feelings and instantly fell your foe, so why does he need your help for that?

He does need your help to spread his love.

Ooh and in researching this I can a blog by a lady who has read way more than me (not hard to find)

Here’s the cover for it with the link below…

World Tale-Away challenge

Oh yeah and the music for reading, blogging and totally chilling comes from this favorite. Now I have listened to Tycho – Dive before but here’s their album from two years later called awake. Sort of reminds me of Groove Armada and Air so if you want great working ambient sound you’re good to go.

Tycho – Awake

Cheers,

Tom

🍻

P.S. checked with Mom and it was called Bread of Angels by Stephanie Saldana

Happy June / Keep Listening Always

Trying a different set up so that the music idea works. Happy Friday as well!

Now I will admit my concentration isn’t flawless as I’m trying to find some new music, which is what brings me to today’s idea.

One of the best things for creativity, and I swear just feeling vital in life in and outside of the arts is to keep introducing music that’s new to you. It can be the latest thing which is always fun because there is this community excitement about a new thing that just happened, like being on a good movie’s opening night and going “Wonder if it’s going to win such and such. This is going to make waves!”

But it can also be old, back to extremely old, like if you just discovered the music of John Dowland from the 1500s…but then it can also be Invasion of Privacy by Cardi B.

They’d totally gel…

Presently the music of today’s blog is Craft Spell’s album Idle Labour which not only looks like a New Order album but has a definite 80s vibe with almost Smith’s like vocals. So yeah, ironically, not a huge departure for me but it’s still really nice.

I was listening last night to some music and an interview with the guys from Thou and they were saying how they would listen to new music to cleanse the palette and I totally got that.

Especially as you get older it is really easy to start getting set in your ways as to what good music is, and sticking to a specific collection for what you will hear. I have a music home base as well, primarily set in the UK in the 80s, and for writing it was always loads of Cocteau Twins, but new music always feels like your mind is getting an exercise, like getting out on the highway and blowing the dust out. It puts you in a new land and is amazing for seeing everything fresh.

Try this as a challenge… (no commitments, no salesperson will visit…cancel anytime!)…once per day listen to a minimum of one piece of music, or one track, that you have never heard. If you can venture into a style that is not yours that’s ideal but not critical (I’m obviously not doing it presently *blush* 🤣)

Anyways, if you want you can start with this album of 2011…

Craft Spells – Idle Labour

Cheers,

Tom

Retrospect

Since I’ve gone past my first one hundred posts and one hundred follows it does make sense to look back.

This really kicked off between a Uvic school thing and the Ollie and Emma project. I actually just flipped back and I yeah it’s been a heck of a journey to this point, with many posts I’ve forgotten about but I definitely have a sort of theme which is creativity, specifically talking about it. I don’t think it hurts that me and my mom are the weird creative types that talk my dad’s ears off whenever we are in the car, not just about this subject but generally.

Back when I was first self employed as a writer/pitch writer/musician I had all this extra morning time before I’d head to the shared office so I began just researching creativity since to me that was my product, plowing through almost every book in the library. There’s a potential blog for later… favorite books on creativity. Got three in mind all ready, but I’ll leave it for when I can really compile it. Considering this subject can get sometimes…well…”artsy” I want to make sure I’m actually giving you guys something I’d value. There’s so much fluff out there that I want to contribute a little more than that, or at least make it entertaining. Even voyeuristic into what I’m doing. Hey, totally cool. To me that’s like we went for coffee and you asked me questions. I’m a ADHD goofball like I mentioned before so I’d probably give you a moment by moment play by play of my morning if you let me.

Best not do that.

I also (here I go…lol) like the idea of this thing called tompogson.com (which makes me seem like a weird golf caddy clothing line) being about an overarching experience of being a creative spirit. From where I write this I can see most of my music gear, writing, books and even the visual art stuff I mentioned yesterday. There’s no rule stating what you are or are meant to be. One of my favorite little quirks of the band Depeche Mode was that for ages you never saw them on albums and not only did the liner notes not say who played what, but they’d flip the order of names around so for months I thought the singer was Alan Wilder. (nope.) All creativity is your playground and you can just experiment.

Though in a music situation you do feel safe behind your main instrument. Safe isn’t a bad four letter word or something. You can jump from safe to the deep end and back. Safe can get you to the edge.

Now jump.

Ok, I’m going way too global metaphorical axiom wacky now.

Have a great day guys and thank you all for reading this and going on this journey with me!

Ooh! One idea I had was I could put it what I was listening to this morning, since I usually work to music. Now it’s usually Low Roar or Harold Budd so I’ll start with L.R. but I can make it kind of a fun thing to add something different each day (it will be stuff you can work to so less on the metal side for me. If that works for you then that’s cool 😎

Because We Have To – Low Roar

Cheers,

Tom

Me, I’m not talented!

Something happens when we get older, and when I say older I mean over the age of perhaps 12.

You may have heard unfortunately some people decide your artistic ability (which I’ll say two things too 1. I’m sorry that happened and 2.They are incorrect) and just generally we start absorbing what we are the rules of the creative world and genuinely believing these are set in stone.

It’s all intimidating and I can definitely relate from actual experience. The first time I actually held a bass guitar was hilarious for this. I wandered into a music store over to where the basses were and looked up at the fancy Fenders hanging above me.

“Hey, can I help you?” Came from my right where a twenty-something salesperson stood.

“Umm…yeah,” I said picking a first instrument “Can I try…that one?”

“Yeah, sure man!”

Now, I was about twenty myself so this guy probably thought I had played lots and lots. Well, I played tambourine in a church, but that wasn’t gonna help me as this thing I had “air bassed” a dozen times was suddenly before me. The salesman looked down at me fascinated as I looked at the bewildering bass neck of lines and dots and wires.

I played three confused buzzy notes, probably like the ukeleles we had to play in grade 7.

“Phht!” Came from the salesman as he walked away amused.

No seriously. That happened.

I love it because to me it was like “welcome aboard!”. Also it almost gave me a sense of the importance of wanting to take this seriously. I didn’t buy from that particular salesperson, my first bass and amp coming from a music store in Sidney that’s no longer there.

But my point is, I know only too well how intimidating it is to get you from where you may be to actually doing it. I worked on some visual arts not that long ago and it is crazy how expensive some gear is, which is fair enough but still unfortunate to me as it could be one of those things that makes a novice go “ok, it was a fun idea…”. Don’t let it happen. I started with a cheap bass and a tiny amp back then. Andy Summers, the guitarist from the police, said it perfectly.

“A guitarist is expected to be able to just pick up an instrument for the first time and play like the universe is crying, laughing and singing all at the same time, and it’s just not true. We all start with those same scales and build day after day, working slowly and methodically from the possible to the impossible.

A drummer I knew back then gave me my first music book and my first thing was the c major scale, played really, really slow for days.

Speaking of the band The Police, one of the early reviews of the band was…

If they could get a better singer they would be a band to be reckoned with

They were talking about Sting by the way. So considering that, if you’re not blowing people away (including yourself) then you are in good company.

When Ricky Gervais created his character David Brent that started his acting career, he admits that he was constantly just messing around and trying things out. This is the essential of creativity. You quite literally “play” and try stuff. Get your pen/pencil/paintbrush/pick/fingers/drumsticks/(???) moving and see what happens. After that you can pick what you liked from what you did and expand on this.

Scott Adams said this too. Creativity is the nonsense that comes out. What you keep is the art.

So ignore that voice that says it’s for other people. Be like Cartman here…

“Whatevah, I do what I want!”

😉

Cheers,

Tom

The Room of Oog part 2

So it’s been a while so I’ll do a quick recap…My name’s Cece, I’m Tom’s girlfriend and on the first floor of the building is something really crazy. It’s a room that actually says “Oog” on it’s door. Seriously. Look.

I saw it for ages and then one day, while doing laundry (right next door) I found a key behind a machine that said “Oog”, put two and two together and ended up on the other side of the door. It went from boring as it was a storage thing to very interesting as it lead to another unlocked door, a hallway and this suite that’s actually under the building. The suite looks like somewhere Austin Powers would have lived with a slight purple tinge, lava lamps and autographed photos on every wall.

Seriously, it’s like a thrift floor exploded in here. Where I left last time, I was sitting on a white leather sofa and Bengal tiger rug, near the old TV and a floating white crystal ball.

The TV looks like it was from 1963 but on the table, no kidding was a big and even a little heavy remote control. I aimed it at the TV and hit power. On it’s antique TV stand I watched it spring to life on what looked like a program guide.

Some were in English but lots weren’t with a little flag next to the number, and there were just hundreds of them. I flipped through them, down and down and down until I just gave up and hit one, admittedly that wasn’t English but I didn’t recognize any shows anyways. I just wanted to see if it worked I guess. I still felt like the owner was gonna interrupt me, but seriously, besides the power being on and the weird crystal ball in the coffee table spinning slowly and undulating white steam, it looked empty for years. Oh yeah and the place was spotless for what it was. Only clued into that recently.

What I saw looked like a sitcom. It was three mid twenties girls and three mid twenties boys who were getting ready for an evening. The language from the tv was strange, but then from the crystal ball I heard it.

“Come on Petro, you should pick one too,” said a tall fellow to his two friends as they walked around what looked like a video store and corner store rolled into one.

“I don’t watch videos. Who rents videos? Do we even have a DVD player?”

“I can use my laptop and a cable-thing. Seriously, this is like the most popular vintage store in Odessa and Nadiya wanted to do this.”

“Oh…so this is about Nadiya,” chimed in the third curly haired guy.

There was a ripple of laughter on a laugh track.

“Vanda…what?”

“You know. Nadiya… Videos,. I’m with you Anton ” Vanda smiled.

“That’s great Vanda. Guys it’s my first dateish thing. And I need a video that is cool, but doesn’t lead to no conversation. So…ok, here…Eat Pray Love.”

“No, too obvious, how about…the shades of grey thing” said Petro.

“Obvious and possibly awkward,” Vanda.

“That’s his style,” Petro quipped.

“Hey!”

Then it was over to girls, where they were getting food and back at the apartment…

“Wonder how the boys are doing?” Said who I learned was Liliya.

“I told them maybe 7 pm here. So it should be a while yet,” said Nadiya.

This went on for sometime, like a show does and it got pretty good until finally we got to a scene where Nadiya and Anton were on the balcony and it was just driving me crazy. Anton was sure that Nadiya actually like someone totally different, not even at the party and Nadiya thought he was trying to let her down easy but neither was sure because they knew that the other was a nice person and it’s so easy to mistake that for thinking the other was cute.

And after years of Ross and Rachel I just couldn’t take it…

“Oh, you like each other! Just kiss you weirdos!”

I hadn’t even noticed that when I began with the “Oh” the white smoke from the ball had filled the room. I was no longer sitting on a white leather couch with a Bengal tiger rug. No I was on a porch in Odessa, Ukraine. Not even a sound stage like I was in their filming the show. Nope, this chick was in the logic of the show “Forth Floor”, standing in front of Anton and Nadiya, who both looked at me stunned.

“Hello? Are you a friend of Alina’s?” asked Nadiya.

“No, you must be Vanda’s girlfriend. He said you were from…well…where are you from?”

“I’m Native, but…not to here…anyways…it doesn’t matter..” I gave up on asking them how I got there. I was pretty sure they wouldn’t know either “You guys do like each other. And you should totally kiss. I just realized I’m probably speaking Ukrainian right now. That’s so crazy. I’m gonna leave you both to it. But definitely kiss, definitely…”. I walked off the porch, past four other stunned people who I just smiled and waved to and then out the door.

I went down the hall and turned the corner and that’s when things went Misty.

I was staring at the vintage TV again, white smoke dissapating into the coffee table around the crystal ball. I looked up to see that Anton and Nadiya had just kissed.

I sat there with my mouth open.

Well that was interesting.

To be continued.