Thursday, 14 July 2016

Updated blog to my server

Hi All,  Please update your links to my new blog URL and location.  All of my new post from here on in, will be at this location.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Why I left, What I learned, Why am I coming back?

I have been back in Canada just over 3 weeks and I finally can start to relax.  I didn't think coming back would be this awkward or difficult, but it was.  Anyways, before I get into that, I want to answer the 3 questions everyone keeps asking.

1. Why did I leave.
2. What did I learn, did I accomplish what I set out to do?
3. Why did I come back so early?

Why did I leave!  I left for one major reason.  I was unhappy and becoming angry with life.  I knew there was more to living, and wanted to find it.

A few years back I was working as a team lead, and got promoted to take over for the director of development, but with the title Technical Operations Manager.  This new role did not cancel out my old responsibilities, they just added the new ones.  In other words, I was basically working two jobs.  My work day went from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm, to 7 am to 6:30 pm and weekend work became more frequent.  Oh, and don't forget I only got 10 days off a year.  So, after doing this for over 3 years, and never taking a week off, I took a week off and went to Dominican Republic for a well needed vacation and guess what.  The company tried calling me, but with no luck.  My stress level never lowered.

Not getting time off was only half the story at this job.  Everyone hated working there, and all I ever heard was negative things about the company and to add to it, the owner LOVED to yell and degrade people.  What an amazing position I was in.

Shortly after my vacation, I realized the last 15 years I have been over worked, and I hated life.  I knew I had to change something, and that change started by giving my 4 weeks notice to leave this company.  This did not go over well, and the company found out who my next employer was.  They actually called my new employer trying to negotiate with them my start date behind my back.  They wanted 6 months notice.

Even quieting, my stress seemed to never end.

Anyways, after 6 weeks of shit, I was finally at the new job.   I was very clear when taking this new position that I was through with bad attitudes and working 55 or more hours a week.

Guess what, within 2 weeks at the new company I realized they were the exact same, and in some cases even worse.  I tolerated this for 5 months and then we came to an agreement with them.

I was leaving again, but this time I was going to take my sweet time looking for a new job and no longer cared about making 6 figures a year.  Money was no longer a concern, only happiness was.

It took 5 weeks, and I found an amazing position in Kingston.  My boss and the people I worked with turned out to be truly amazing.  Sweet and honest in all areas.  A big bonus was 7.5 hours a day, 5 days a week and 15 days off a year.  This could be my new life!

The only downside was I took a 70% pay cut.  The salary I was now making is way more than good enough, but my current expenses were based on what I had been making the last 5 years.

I didn't want to leave this job, as it was awesome, but I knew I had to change my assets to match my new income.  So I decided to list and sell my house, including all of my other major assets.

My house and assets sold within week.  This was great, but I kept thinking I needed more and decided to browse the internet to see where at my young age, I could possibly work. This was a dream, but why not look.

Well, I couldn't believe it, I have always wanted to go to New Zealand, and for Canadians I could get a 2 year work-travel Visa for up to 2 years.  I wasn't planning on leaving, but right at that exact moment, something happened.  I just payed for the visa and wrote my resignation letter.

Maybe this was the change I needed, to get away from all of the negativity, and excessive work hours, and start completely over.  Maybe I would end up living in New Zealand, or maybe I will just visit there and then continue traveling.  This was the last major step in pushing me to leave.

So the reason I left was partially a fluke, part me being over stressed, but more so, I wanted to find myself, too learn how to be a better person and find out how others stay happy.  I wanted to meet every walk of life and be a bit selfish and learn from them.  Obviously working like a mad man, making tones of money, doesn't do it.  What does?

What did I learn the last 5 months!  Well, I already knew that people can be happy in the worst conditions, but I got to see it close up again and for longer periods of time.  I met people who had more wealth than I could ever imagine, and I met people who had nothing, and worked 12 hours a day with only 2 days a month off, who were happier than I have been in the past.  This really sunk in that happiness is what you make it.  It isn't given to you, you make it happen!!!

I learned that how you look, truly means nothing.  I used to be extremely shy with how I look.  I hated taking off my shirt at the beach, because I thought I was too fat.  And if you know me, I was very critical of others on how they looked.  A person who was over weight I would always made ignorant comments about them and I don't know why.  I hate people who make fun of others.

How did traveling help me in this area.  Well, I can tell you one story about a pretty hot Aussie girl I hung out with, said to me one day.  "Who the FUCK cares what others think about how I look!  This is what I was given, this is what I am going show. Like it, or don't look.".

During the time I hung out with her, I was also living with 3 other young girls ranging between 18 and 28.  Myself being 36, not once did they question my age, make me feel old, or comment on my looks.  They all treated me like a human being, and for the most part, I forgot I was much older than them.

I started to notice this was true everywhere.  I met tons of younger and older people in 7 different countries, and never once was I made to feel bad about how I look.  This really hit me, and being around positive people, I noticed I lost those negative thoughts myself.

So, one thing I learned was, who cares about how you look , or how someone else look, the only thing that matters is that you are a good person inside.

What else did I learn.  Well not caring about how others look, removes stress, and this is one step closer to being a better, happier person.

The next thing I learned was that Canadians, seem to think money is the world.  Well, it is NOT.  Living is!  I will never take another job because of the salary I am going to earn, and I am definitely not going to start working 55 - 70 hours a week again.  Who the hell wants to be 70 years old regret not doing something because you had to work.  No one has ever regretted enjoying life, but many have regretted working to much.

So the next thing I learned is life comes before work, plain and simple!

The last big question, why did I come back!   This isn't a straight forward answer, and has many parts, but I am going to try and make it short and simple.

One of the reasons, is my backpacks are way to heavy and I am not packed right.  I want to fix this.

Another small reason, is my laptop is messed up and I can't work on my Knob Apps company while traveling.  This is something I enjoy and wanted to be able to do.  Another small one is I left to quickly and have some small things to take care of here, such as dental, address changes, etc.  These are easier to fix from Canada.

Those are some small things, and here are the larger reasons.

I had all four grandparents alive, but one of them is very close to his end.  I felt guilty for not being here.  This is unlike me, as I have never felt sad, or cared when someone I know has passed on.  I have always said, its life.  Move on!  But this time was not  the same, I felt guilty and I don't know why, but I knew I had to come back.

Well, with good luck, I made it home 1 week before my grandfather passed away.  He was 90 years old and one hell of an amazing guy.  I will miss his smile and sense of humor.

I only have one picture of him and I, from about 15 years ago and the other picture is from when he was 17.  Damn good looking guy!  He will be missed.

There are some other reasons, but they are too small and not worth mentioning.

This is my last post until I head out again, which I hope will be in a few months.  Take care all!

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Toronto - And Beyond - Final Destination

8 am and Peter and I are off to the airport, where I catch my first flight to Dublin, and then onto Toronto, and then home.

When I arrive at the airport, I check in and give one last goodbye to Peter.  I thank him for spoiling me during the last week.  I will miss him and cannot wait to see Peter again in September.

My flight to Dublin was short and nice.  I think it was just over an hour.

The Dublin airport is really nice and has lots of cool things to look at.  I bought some Dublin Whiskey Chocolate, and had a pint of Guinness while I wait for my next flight.  I know that I will come back to Dublin for some great beers and to see Stonehenge.  Oh yes, and to laugh at their accents.  The few I talked to in the airport made me smile.

Anyways, my next flight is the big one, 7 hours to Toronto, but I am now a pro at these long flights.

6 hours later, we are flying over Ottawa, and it hits me, I am flying home!  I get anxiety and start to wonder why am I coming home so early, are my excuses valid as to why I am coming home?  I don't have the answers, all I know is I have anxiety and don't like the feeling.

All in all the flight home wasn't bad.  I didn't sleep but I did watch a few movies and made notes on my phone about my trip.  Surprisingly it went by fast and I was now in Toronto going through customs.

Customs was the same old customs, "How long will you be here?", "Until I leave again, I live here!".

"Why do you have a beard now?", "Because I am lazy?".

"You look a lot different from your passport picture!", "Yes, it is 4 years old and I get older everyday, unfortunately I have age!"

And that was about it, he didn't ask me if I have weapons, drugs, or booze.  Meh, I am in Canada now.

I head out of the airport and catch the Union Express train to Union station in Toronto, where I then catch the Go Train to Whitby.  I booked a hotel here because it was much cheaper than anywhere else, and it is also on the way out of Toronto.  A great place to start my hitching hiking home.

The next morning I check out of the hotel at 7:30 am and walk over to the West bound on ramp of the 401 to see if I can catch a ride.

20 minutes goes by and a truck pulls up.

Alan and his dog are on their way to a job site in Bowmanville.  This is just outside of Toronto, and I think it is a good place to catch my second ride.  So I jump in.

Alan and I have a great conversation about Brockville.  He loves it here and has been there several times.

Not long later he drops me off at the on ramp in Bowmanville.  I say thank you and goodbye to another new friend.

Well, 2.5 hours passes and not a single car even gives a look at me.  I know this isn't going to happen, and I don't see much around.  My cell phone doesn't have a SIM card, because Toronto Airport doesn't have cell phone providers.  BTW, this is the ONLY airport I have been in that doesn't sell travel sims for tourist.  WTF, CANADA!, get with the times!

So I can't look on google maps to see what is around.  I just start walking north to the town.  About a kilometer away, there is a Tim Horton's.  This is great, they have Wifi.

I use the Wifi and see there is no buses and trains.  My next option is to walk 5 kilometers to a car rental place or go back to trying to hitchhike, but I think I have given up on that one.

An hour later of carrying two backpacks, I arrive in the area I though the car rental place was, but there is nothing.  It is a business park.  Remember, I don't have internet, so I can't google it.

I take another guess and walk down a side street, looking for people.  I find two ladies standing outside and ask them if there is a car rental place.  They point towards another street and I walk that way.  A few minutes later I see Enterprise and 2 cars.

With luck, the one car is available.  I rent it and am off to Kingston to find a car to buy.

On my drive to Kingston it hits me again.  I get anxiety and realize I am worried that I will find a job and not leave, and that I will fall back into my old self.  Unhappy, angry, and mean.  I don't want to loose everything I have gained while traveling.  This is why I am getting anxiety, it isn't because I don't want to be home.

Well, I make it to Kingston and look at a few cars.  None of them are any good.

I head over to the gas station where my sister works to say hi.  She tells me she is done at 5 pm and she can come take a look at the next car together.

5 pm is here, I pick her up and head over to the car.  It is a vintage 1996 Honda Odyssey, and is in decent shape for $750 CAD.  I take another quick look at it decide to take it.

I now have a car and just need to get it safetied, which should be easy as it just passed a check 60 days ago.  The e-test is already done, so I don't need that.

I drop off my sister and head over to Dave's.  I am mooching off of him tonight :) but they think I am awesome so it is all good.

Seeing Dave and his family is great.  Not much has changed, and we just hangout for the night and catch up.

Well, I am back, I just now have to say hi to everyone and figure out what I am doing.  At the moment my first step is to get my car on the road legally and to see my grandfather, as he is probably not going to be in this world much longer.

Hi All!  My next post will be the last one!

Monday, 11 April 2016

Alphen - Last full day in the Netherland's

On the last day, I wanted to pay Peter back for all his hospitality, by taking him out for lunch.  I know this doesn't really equal all the things he has done for me, but at least it is a start.

Peter suggest we go to a lake not far away, where they do water sports.  I guess they have cable tows, that pull water skiers across the water.  Sounds pretty cool.

On the way to the lake, Peter says, "We should rent a boat for an hour or so and go through the canals."  This is a great idea.  A few minutes later we are at the boat rental place.

The canal boat is electric with a steering arm at the back.  Pretty simple.

Peter calls me "Captain!" and I know this means.  You are driving!  The first 3 minutes goes smooth and I hit nothing.  Already a Pro at Canal Boats. LOL.

The Canal ride takes a little longer than expected because of the down wind and lack of power in the electric boat, however, it is an amazing day.  One of the cool things is some of the bridges are just not high enough, so we have to jump off the boat and wench up and down the bridge, by hand.

I can't thank Peter enough for this adventure, as it is one of the best parts of my week stay here. I really loved it.

We are now starving and head over to the lake for lunch.  Unfortunately, it is still too cool for water skiers, but the view is amazing.  Food was pretty damn good as well.

Later that evening Karin, and Marielle stop by for a last goodbye.  It was really nice seeing them again, and I can't wait to see them again.

Well tomorrow I am off to Toronto, then onto home.  Goodbye Family and Holland!  I can't wait to come back again.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Netherlands - Visiting Family

In the Netherlands I have family from my Dad's side scattered all over and today I get to visit my distant cousin Honey and her husband Lex,  They are going to take me around the city they live in and then after her son August and his family will stop by for dinner.

I have not seen Honey since I was 12 years old and I am not sure if I will recognize her at all, but I was wrong.  When she opened the door I could definitely see a familiar face.  Maybe a little older, but I still remember her.  She tells me, she sees the same in me.  Wow. This is truly amazing, that someone you have not seen in 24 years you can still remember them.

This is my first time meeting Lex and my first impression is he is a really nice guy.  Speaks very good English as well, which makes for getting to know each other a lot easier.

Before we head out on the town, we have a quick bite to eat.  A traditional dutch lunch of fresh cheese and bread.  I am really starting to love this type of food.

The city they live in has a lot of old buildings from 1500's, and I love this.  In Canada, we have very few structures older than 1930's.

One of the places we visiting is a church that was first built sometime during the 1400's and took a few hundread years to build.  I can't even image how they would build something like this without cranes and heavy equipment like we use now.

There are also canal rides which go through the town and under the buildings.  This would have been pretty cool to do, but there is a 2 month waiting list.  Next time!

The tour through the city was pretty cool but I am starving, so we head back to meet with August.

August, his wife, and 3 kids arrive shortly after we do.  August and I have have not seen each other in 24 years, but I have seen him on Facebook.  So it is to no surprise I recognize him.

We have lots of time before dinner, which gives me the chance to get to know August and his wife better.  Very shortly into our conversation, I realize I wish I kept better contact with August.  He is a really great guy.

It's dinner time and Honey has cooked a traditional Indonesian dish, which I love.  Rice, with Peanut sauce and veggies.  Life can't get better than this!

Not long after dinner Peter arrives to pick me up and I say goodbye to some old and now again new friends / family.

What a great day!

Friday, 8 April 2016

Amsterdam - Canal boats, great food and even better company!

Peter and I got up early so we can beat the long line at the Anne Frank house.

Well, it opens at 9 am and we arrived at 9 am.  The lineup was around the corner and down the block and around another corner.  My estimate is well over 2 hours, maybe even 3 and since I am only in Amsterdam this one last day, I decided this was not that important.  I can come back and do it again someday.

Next time we will arrive at 8 am!

Peter and I know have to kill time until 1 pm when the girls arrive.  By girls, I mean Peter's two girls and their mom.

Marije you met in my last post, and her older sister Marielle who you have not yet met.  Marielle is pretty cool girl just like her younger sister.  She is taller than me, and loves shoes.  I don't mean a little love, I mean, her room is filled with them. lol.  But who is counting (30+) shoes, right?
I don't know why, but this is the only picture I have of her.  She is beside me.

Karin their mom is a lot like the older sister Marielle.  She dresses very nice and always looks her best.  Unlike me, who gets up and says, yeah, this will do!  Oh wait, pants.  Now we are good.
Karin and I relaxing on a Canal ride.

Anyways, while Peter and I are wasting time, he introduced me to Amsterdam's best Apple pie, and yes, it was just that good.

Then we walked for a while to burn off the 1,000,000,000 calories we just consumed.  We checked out some cool cheese shops, and one of the daily markets, where you could get some yummy dutch food and items.

It's now 1 pm and the girls arrive. We have a quick drink and head to the canal for our Canal Boat Ride.  This I am excited for,

I can't even explain all of the cool things we saw on the ride, but below are some pictures I took.  The guide explained why the houses are slanted, and where people live and all kinds of cool facts.

After the boat ride, we spent a little more time walking about Amsterdam and then off for an amazing dinner at De Burgemeester.  Again Peter treated us all.  Someday I need to pay this guy back for spoiling me so much.

This was the end of another special day in Amsterdam with the best company I could ever ask for.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Rotterdam - Oh Marije you are a true artist :)

Last night was a pretty crazy night, so today Peter and I took it a little bit easier and spent the day driving around seeing some amazing sites.  Peter is truly a great tour guide, even though he says he is not.

One of the places we drove to, was the Kettle 1 Vodka brewery, but we only got to drive by, as the tours are booked well over a month in advance.

After a few hours of driving around, we headed off to Rotterdam to pick up his youngest daughter Marije.  She lives in Rotterdam during the week while in her Art school, and on weekends back home with dad.

When we arrived to pick her up, there is a small music festival going on, and her art class is doing some weird art thing.  I don't know what to call it, so I will just explain.  They all made these cool costumes/puppets out of cardboard, and then danced around the music festival in them.  After 30 minutes of dancing, they all smashed them together into a big pile of broken cardboard.  I guess it symbolizes something?

If you look closely in the first picture, under the left eye, you can see her blue hair and face.  She is also in the last picture with the blue hair.

Yeah, I don't know what it means, but it is something you do in college. :)  It was cool and rather funny, and you could tell she was having a great time.  So who am I to say, she is funny and different.

When we arrived back home, Peter ordered us pizza and we all sat around talking and catching up.  I have not seen Marije since she was 12 years old and she is now 21, a young women.  She still has a little kid left in her, which adds to her great personality.

This was yet again, another great day visiting my distant family!

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Amsterdam - With Mr Peter and Hello Space Cakes

Peter and I decided to take the bus into Amsterdam so we can have some beers and not worry about driving.  The buses were easy to navigate and well planned out, but expensive.  It cost us 11.50 pounds ($17.85 CAD) each, one way to Amsterdam.  In a car it would be a 30 minute drive.

In Amsterdam, our first stop was the Heineken Experience.  This is where Heineken was first brewed many years ago as in, well over 100 years ago.

The tour took us little over an hour and was great!  It went from showing you how they brew their beer, to the history, and then onto tasting it.  I don't know what part I enjoyed the most, but tasting it is a favorite thing to do.

Now that we have had a few yummy beers, we head off to the streets for some people watching and food.
Peter first treated me to some Dutch Mini Pancakes.  Mmm damn good!

Some pictures on our walk.

Next is to head over to the Windmill Brewery for some beer tasting.

A nice little tasting tray of beers! I loved the Belgium Triple.

The beers went down nicely, and now Peter and I are off to see more of the city.  I forgot to take pictures of the Red Light district, but it was nothing special.  Just a bunch of girls standing in windows.  None of the girls looked Dutch, they all looked Russian or Ukraine, but I could be wrong.

After walking down several streets, I tell Peter I want to try space cakes.  He wasn't sure what they were, so I explained to him what I knew.  My understanding is, they are cakes, or brownies baked with weed, or hash, for people who hate smoking.

He says, OK,  Lets get one.

We head into one of the more famous Coffee Shops, where all you can smell is weed and a lot of it.  I order a space cake and Peter gets a coffee.  We find a place to sit down and we split the cake.

Just sitting in these coffee shops, you could get seriously high.  The amount of smoke in the air is unbelievable.

Well, it tastes like a normal Chocolate Cupcake.  Hmmm, I don't know, is this a good thing or bad?

We leave the coffee shop and walk around town for an hour.  We both notice nothing different and no high feeling.

Peter says, maybe we buy another one.  I agree, and we find another coffee shop.  This time the guy says it will work for sure, and we get a brownie with weed/hash in it.

Hash Brownie and a little treat for you all.

Well, 45 minutes later, no real feeling, and it is late.  So we jump on the train to head back to Peters.

On the train, I feel this crazy urge to relax and sleep.  No high feeling, but major sleep feeling.

I had a very hard time staying awake during the train ride home, and when we arrived home, I feel asleep right away.

Well Shaun, and if you are reading this, you know who you are.  I didn't go and see the paintings, but I did eat space cake!

Just another amazing day with Peter!