Reframing Frustration.

One valuable lesson I learned in therapy was reframing. It’s the ability to take a situation and look at it from a different perspective.  I’ve always been skilled at that, as my brain defaults to looking at situations from multiple angles. I just didn’t have a name for it.  It fits in well with my main storyline, which is that we all get to write our own story.

This morning I had car trouble. Nothing too significant, but enough to make me late… or actually, force me to cancel.

I hate being late, and even more, I hate cancellations when I’m the one making them.  I don’t mind a bit when others do it to me, but that’s a different story about introverts.

This cancellation was even more emotional than normal because the appointment was a reschedule from a previous one I totally spaced on and missed… the worst of all my fears. I hate letting people down, and not showing up for an appointment is probably the worst of my sins. It means the person waiting was left uncertain… and that is a horrible feeling.

I’ve always hated waiting for people and being an obsessive time sensitive guy that happens to be the one amongst my friends that drives and owns a car, it was something I did a lot. I am constantly the one waiting for people who need a ride. I’m on time… they’re not. Today’s story is about how I made somebody else wait.

I posted this one facebook:


When all else fails, make sure you get to tell a great story.
— Jeff Goebel

I think in my head that a smile makes it worth it, in a strange way. I didn’t make my customer wait long before I notified her, although I suppose she cleared her schedule for me, and now has to re-plan her morning, but it was a minimal inconvenience, and so far already, I’ve seen a few likes, and smiles and even a real genuine #rLOL.

My car is broken, I cance4lled a rescheduled appointment, but this isn’t affecting my day or my mood.

Happy Friday, thanks to reframing the bad as good.

The Artist Thirds

I go to a lot of places where artists show their work. Not so much official art galleries, but smaller marketplaces and shows. Festivals and public displays where artists rent small booths and try to sell their paintings or jewelry or other hand made work. I enjoy these events and like the idea that I often get to talk directly to the artist creators in person. I almost never have the money to spare to buy this kind of artwork, and in many cases, even if I did, I probably would not. I don’t wear jewelry, and I don’t use pottery or trinkets much, but I still enjoy the conversation, and respect the artist skills.

One of the things I like to say to an artists, is that I believe they have 50% talent and 50% patience, and I don’t have enough of either to be like them. I offer respect to not only their skill, but the incredible time and dedication it takes to do what they do. I like to let them know I understand the time they put into their art is appreciated. I tell them when their work made me smile, and I understand it’s not all about the cash. I can’t give them money for whatever reason, but I can give them the gift of knowing their work made someone happy, and they are appreciated for the effort spent.

2014-12-14 14.12.01This past weekend, I was at event called; “The bizarre of the bizarre” and it showcased a more unusual or odd side of art. Lots of skulls, and twisted designs with weird styles. Stuffed plush Zombies and other sculptures and paintings that fit the description bizarre. Even if I didn’t like the content, I still wanted the artists to know I respected the work. I tried to compliment everyone on their skill, even if I didn’t especially like the blood and gore of the piece.  For the works that had obvious time consuming obsession, I used my line; “I always say an artist has 50% patience and 50% skill”. I certainly couldn’t sit still long enough to do this sort of thing.”  It often opens them up to talk a bit about how long it did take them.  More often than not, the effort is shocking, and you begin to realize artists need to do it. It is their expression and their passion and their release.  60 hours of work may only sell for $30.

I try to respect the craft, even when a small part of me sees artwork I consider easier. Things the back of my mind says; “I could do that” or even has the nerve to think; “I could do that better”. I know myself well enough to know the truth. Even if I could do the skill, I couldn’t do the patience. I’m, not great at discipline, and although I may be able to start such a project, my attention would wander and it would lay unfinished.

Sometimes art makes me sad in this way. Since I was a child playing mind games, I would often ask myself; if I could have one talent I don’t have, would it be to play music, or to be able to draw. I usually choose drawing. My life would be so different if I could draw. In truth of course, my life would be different either way. The life – and brain of an artist is different than mine. I should not be sad that isn’t me. An artist is a different kind of person, and al to often in the past, I have criticized or belittle it.

Today, this blog was inspired because I clicked a link, and was watching another one of those time lapse – or perhaps they call them hyper-lapse movies about the city I live in. A video set to music that showcases Toronto. There are a lot of them out there, and the first one you see is amazing. You watch it all. After the 5th one, they seem similar, but no less special. Just less watchable for me. I not only lack the patience to be such an artist., I sometimes lack the patience to be a spectator too.

In any case, this time I watched the video with a sadness. In my head, I was thinking that photography is one of the easier art forms. A specialty of seeing, and using technology to capture a mood. I was a photographer. I had training, and an excellent eye. I had equipment. I was good – years ago. As I watched this video, I didn’t see anything spectacular. I just say photos, and video clips set to music. The package was pleasing but (in my head) nothing I could not do. It made me sad I could not be an artist, even when I had the pure skills.  I was missing something.  Not just patience, but the ego. The confidence.

I herby amend my standard artiest breakdown statement.  An artist is more than 50% patience and 50% skill.  I will now split them into thirds, and add the third that is perhaps most key;  1/3 confidence.  A true artist not only has the skill and the ability, but the ego to say their finished product is art. Many people can play the guitar, but only some have the inner confidence to call it art.  Many people can build a sand castle, or turn a pottery wheel, or take a photograph, but some of us – rare special people, call it art – and stick a price tag on it. In some cases, the ego is so powerful, it borders on arrogance, but even bad artists have fans. If you tell me your drawing of a dog is art, I believe you.

No matter how bizarre it may be.

Art is patience, talent and an attitude.  Artists have a mindset.

So now there are three reasons I don’t think of myself as an artist, and that’s ok. I know I’m good at things they may not be. Maybe they can’t remove a virus off their artist computer, or design their own web site. Maybe they even think to themselves late at night; “Gee… I wish I understood Windows 8 like that guy does.” In their eyes, they may even think I have such patience, talent and confidence when they watch me zip my mouse around the screen.

Everyone is different, even when we’re the same.






Guardians of the Galaxy – Memories of Mom

I didn’t get to see Guardians of the Galaxy when it came out in the theatres

As is often the case these days, I just missed out.  I didn’t invite anybody, or join any others events.  I was out of sync with the crowd. I’m too old to stay up for the late shows and to grumpy, or to wait in line for hours anymore.

I do enjoy movies, and there are some I’ll still pay to see opening night. Star Wars and Star Trek for sure.

Guardians probably was one worth seeing on the movie screen.

During its release, my mother’s health was on the decline,  and she died.  I was given some advance notice,  which oddly,  I chose to ignore. Almost as if in my mind I was denying it,  and imagining this was just another example of my sister crying wolf. My mother had been close to death a few times over the past few years.  I assumed this was another time like that.

I actually didn’t know what paliative care was when my sister told me about it. I didn’t realize my sister was telling me the end was near, for real.  She was giving me the opportunity to be there,  or at least to Facetime or Skype, and see her again.

000_0005Like every family, mine has its own story.  I loved my mother to be sure, but I’ve had trouble comparing what we had, to what I considered the norm. As with everything, I over obsessed over the kinds of things others might call emotions.  Oddly, I’d describe us as a close family that really didn’t know anything about each other. We spent time together, but didn’t really discuss anything personal. I knew little about my parents history.

As they began to lose their memories, they moved away to BC when they needed more attention and supervision than I was able to provide with weekend visits.  I made it out to see them a few times, and was happy to visit them both of them just before my father’s passing. This was when they still knew who I was.  I came back home,  and never saw either of them again.  We talked on the phone at Christmas and birthdays until it was clear they didn’t know they had a son at all.

As they deteriorated, both my sisters cared for them for a turn, but towards the end , became a major part of my older sister life. She was the caretaker of my parents till the end. I will always be grateful to her for that task. It was a chore I could not manage.

mom christmas 2013Two or do weeks after my mother’s passing,  I started to occasionally wrestle with guilt, not so much concerning my mother, but more about how I might be judged for the way I handled her end of life time.  When I was the one in Ontario, and visiting them as their son once a week, I thought about it as a chore.  As their memories started to fade, they needed me even more, and I was unhappy to do it. It was hard. I watched new anger in my father as he transitioned from the cool,  smart minded solver of any problem, to angry at his new status as useless Dad.  I never liked seeing my father angry.  Anger in people upsets me so deeply,  I feel the need to run away from it.

As they got worse, I bailed,  and shipped them off to the other side of the country. My sisters would have the reasonability.

I continued to live my life, free of my parents judgmental eyes.  I will admit;  life without parents was easier for me.  It provided one less stress to deal with inside my depressed,  obsessive,  low self esteem brain.

When given the opportunity to do more for them, I declined. When given the opportunity to visit, I stalled. When given the opportunity to say goodbye,  I was dismissive. I gave it no priority, and we’re it not for my sister, would not have tried.  

My sister called me a few times, and finally reached me as she held the phone up to my mother’s ear. I was able to say hello.  She didn’t talk back, and probably had to be told she had a son,  and that his voice was on the phone.  She was obviously older and more unhealthy than the last time we spoke, perhaps last Christmas, but I did not full comprehend this was goodbye. 

To be honest,  I had said goodbye when she knew me,  and I’d moved on. I didn’t think much about it.  As far as any relationship was concerned, for me my parents had died long before. I had successfully dealt with my father’s death with minimal emotion or guilt. 

I retained pretty happy memories of my mother,  who was happy till the end,  at least as far as I knew.  She wore her big hats and costume jewelry every day,  and when she didn’t know her own memories,  she freely created her own stories of fiction, delivered with enthusiasm and charm.  I remember she had lunch with the prime minister one week. My father didn’t do as well.  He was much more angry or sad, and often talked about death and suicide. Although he was capable of showing some moments of happiness in the moment, it was clear he wasn’t happy.

My mother’s finality effected me more. I didn’t set aside time to cry,  but I did get weepy spontaneously a few times.  Having to tell people the story over and over keeps it fresh, and it triggers memories each time.  In my everyday life, I have missed both of them often. I have sadness we won’t get to make new memories,  and so I cherish the ones I’ve retained. Whenever I complete something I feel some pride in, I’m sad they didn’t get to see or share that. I think my mother would have loved to follow me on Facebook. 

Death of your parents however does transition your thinking.  Like Thanksgiving weekend is the time when a lot of people start thinking about Christmas,  death of a loved one is the trigger to start thinking about your mortality.  It is weird to think that I am older than the memories I have of my parents being. Everything we did together, we did when they were younger than I am now.  That’s a weird realization. My parents died having lived longer than my grandparents. All my memories or Grandpa and Gramdma seem so long ago, but they always seemed so very old. I never got to spend time with my old parents.

My mother was an old grandmother to her only granddaughter, but to her,  my mom was the old loose skinned lady that didn’t always know who she was. She never had the stories of great vacations or stay-overs with her Grandmother.

I’m happy my memories of my parents are of the good times. Despite some troubles, I have mostly good memories from my childhood, and my parents did a fine job raising me to be a son worthy of their pride, even when they didn’t remember me.

 I journalize some thoughts about my mom tonight,  tearing slightly but smiling mostly.

All of this happened because I sat down to watch Guardians of the Galaxy at home,  and the opening scene is all about a son being bedside his ill and deathbed mother.  I turned it off,  and wrote all this. I am glad I didn’t see this in the theatre. It would have been worse to feel like this in a theatre with friends.

The universe provides.

P.S. Mom… I promise, even after death, I won’t tell anybody what the G stands for. Your secret will die with me.

Punch Line Warfare

The other day on Facebook, I was reading a thread on the news feed of one of my American friends from youth. We’ve known each other since our teens, but I’ve never been super close. He posts a fair number of political messages, and I am never whether he is posting in full seriousness, or in jest. I don’t know many people in my life who are far on the other side of the spectrum from me. Some of his posts seem absurdly conservative, almost like Stephen Colbert mockery. I try my best to continue to have respect for him, but his Facebook posts paste him as a conservative straight line believer. He loves his guns and less government, and hates Obama… or I’m just not getting the joke, and he’s toying with us.

I have always had a hard time taking conservatives seriously. I somehow feel they’re all mocking themselves. I feel better if I believe nobody can really believe the shit they come up with. It must be a joke. Maybe they feel the same way about me.

This particular post is just like so many of his messages. It quickly gathers a lot of comments from both sites of the story, re-hashing the exact same arguments they did in the last 6 posts. One side says blah blah blah, and the other side says LA LA LA I can’t hear you. They’re just talking at each other, unwilling to listen – or believe. Neither can believe the other side can actually believe what they’re saying. It seems absurd.

The media seems to be the same. It shows us that the United States has two sides. Red vs Blue or right vs left. We are lead to believe it’s almost binary. The country is either one or the other. Crazy on one side and crazy on the other. The extremes are what they show us. My friend seems to be one of them, at least in Facebook world.

I’ll admit it. I like to play. I don’t mock so much, as throw in some humour. I am punch line guy.

I enter my reply: I don’t trust any white people.

A non sequitur punch line I throw into the mix without setup or follow up. A blanket statement added between a reply about how we’re all evil gun stealing regulation happy, and they’re all hicks with pickups or nutcases who have become addicted to the feeling of guns.

Oddly, I wasn’t expecting it, but the punch line ended the debate. People stopped. It was a thread killer. Nobody replied after that. They didn’t even rebut my remark with more ramble. It just stopped. Perhaps everyone realized they were being silly, and calmed down, retreating to their oposite corners awaiting the next fishing lure post by the same guy next time.

Sometimes a punch line can stop a war.

You are not your farts

As is often the case, I read something, and it inspirers a thought stream in another direction.

This morning, I was linked on Facebook to the following article, in reference to a discussion they’d been having online about sharing your life experiences with depression or medication online.

It started me thinking about my process and how I like to share. It started me thinking that online cross posting, and sharing is the new way to tell stories.  Stories that are not ours. It’s a lazy form of communication, but it’s become vital to our happiness.

We love to share. We need to share. In fact, we feel now bad when we can’t share something cool. I find myself missing the LIKE and SHARE buttons on real life. I see an accident or a cool stunt being performed, and I am actually sad that none of my friends saw it. It was a one shot deal, and unless I tell somebody, it will be lost forever.

Stories are how we used to share. Now we just click.

When I look back in time, even three years, my Facebook feed was filed with posts about people and their lives.  In fact, the original Facebook status updates FORCED you to use the word IS.  Jeff Goebel IS… Dave IS… We had to answer with an action. A statement telling everyone what we were at that moment.

Now, in 2014 I look at my Facebook feed and almost nobody is leaving text. Instead of Jeff Goebel IS… I see mostly JEFF GOEBEL SHARED THIS POST or JEFF GOEBEL LIKES… We have transitioned from storytellers to delivery people and our world has become a world of personal referrals.  If Jeff Goebel likes it, it’s got to be good.

Here – look what made me smile. Maybe it’ll make you smile.

Can you imagine, as a child sitting around a camp fire, if we’d just said; “Here to tell Tonight’s ghost story, is acclaimed actor; Morgan Freeman.”  Sure, it would have been awesome, but we’d leave the camp without having gotten to know who we were. Other people’s stories reveal so little, compared to our own.

I’ve very choosy with my shares and likes. I understand that this is how many people will get to know me online; not from my personality so much as my tweets. Wheat I choose to share BECOMES my story, and it had better give the right impression… because I’m not going to be there when you read it. I’m no longer sharing our NOW together. The time between post and read can be lengthy. I have no control.

I’m sharing content; other people’s stories, much easier to pander to a specific demographic audience.

Just now, as I read the article about farting, I wanted to share it with two people. First, my instinct to share it with a female friend with whom I’ve had previous conversations about how funny farting can be, and second; my social worker councilor.

The impulse share was merely keyword based, and not genuine. The content of the article was less relevant and more driven by – I enjoyed it, and it has the word fart in it, so she’ll enjoy it, and I’ll get the smile credit. I have several keyword based share friends, flowing in both directions. If I see the word Subaru in something that made me smile, I share it with those circles. If I see an iPhone gag that made me laugh, I share it with those circles.

The second share instinct was the one that made me sit up and start writing. I wanted to share something cool with my therapist. The concept of therapy is new to me, having only had two visits, but it’s enough for me to have bonded and developed a profile of what kind of shares I think she may enjoy. In my head, this share would help her. A story she may use to help others. A re-share is a valuable reward. When they “like” or re-share it’s the silent approval. It’s not as rewarding as seeing and creating a smile to me, but I can imagine it in my head and gain almost the same satisfaction.

Without the possible rejection, an imagined smile is pretty much guaranteed.  I pass off my share, and assume the smile. It doesn’t even matter how they really react, in their NOW, far removed in the future.

That’s why it feels so good.

I shared, and in my mind, have helped create scores of smiles for generations to come. All because I read something, and was the one who recommended it to someone else.

It has been this way for ages. The joy of a new thought or discovery is always exciting to share, and the story tellers have the power.

Religion spreads so fast because we get to enlighten the ignorant and educates them with a story so wonderful it explains everything perfectly, as long as you don’t question it. Somebody else’s stories never have to stand up to question, because you are not responsible for anything beyond the re-telling. The fun part.

If I discover something you don’t know… I get to give the gift of the story, and receive the payoff of the excitement of new ideas, without any consequence.

That’s why I always like personal stories. People. I’d rather see your art, then the trinkets you’ve bought to resell. I’d rather hear your stories, than a friend of a friend. I get to ask questions, and you get the joy of reward, yourself. I’d rather tell my stories.

Sadly, most people are not yet great storytellers. I’m working on that

Jeff Goebel

April 7, 2014



My Cult Prospect


In the old days, there was one Church, and all was good.

And when I say one, I mean, only one any single person knew about.

The fat started getting hit when we started to travel, and found a people who somehow had grown up with a different answer to the eternal questions of life, the universe, creation and God.

They must be wrong. That’s the only explanation. Our God was the answer.

The problem of course, was that they felt the same way, with all the same justifications. There obviously couldn’t be two creators of the universe, so everybody else is wrong.

Minorities or majorities didn’t matter. Suddenly, armies did.

And by armies, I just mean people told to kill anybody they couldn’t convince.

Suddenly, a lot more people were convinced. The best threats often won.

I don’t have an explanation why they started making a bunch of odd rules to separate themselves more from society, and to make believing so hard. I suspect it had to do with faith and loyalty. If there were no odd rules, how would you know if you were faking. It had to be hard to believe.

I guess.

The problem as I see it, was that they’d spent so much time demanding their answers were the right ones, even themselves were forced to stick with their story, and never admit error. Rules and lifestyles and beliefs that were relevant 2000 years ago were hard to change, without looking foolish.

In most aspects of life, smart people are free and willing to debate topics and collaborate for the best outcome. In religion, the rules were set by God, who is not allowed to make mistakes, so we’re stuck with them.

Seemingly forever.

It gets harder to believe every year.

The wars and killing have stopped for some, at least in my country, but we send people to other countries to help kill those they can’t convert even today.

This system is just wrong, but I can understand a little of how it happened. Power has always, and will always be an addictive draw, even beyond money for some. People need to know answers, or at least we’ve been bred to be curious and wonder. An answer of the creator is a comfort and often a crutch to those people who would prefer any answer, in absence of the answer.

And call it the answer.

We’re not feady for the real answer. In fact, we show that every day as those who believe they know the only true story, kill those who preach their version. If one was true, there would be no way of knowing it anyway.

We need to just accept that we don’t know. We may in fact never be ready to know, however I believe that we can start teaching our youth a different way, and move towards a better universe. Not today, and not maybe for your grandkids even. Most good changes need a lot of stubborn people to die, or at least shut up.

The Americas still make a lot of choices for the world, and they’re apparently 50% conservative. Canada is only conservative for a year or two every generation.

My issue is that I can’t start a new religion. I can’t start a church.


They won’t let me. Just like Microsoft won’t let Mac or Linux catch up. It’s not in their best interest. Churches will crush me.

First step.

Any new religion is a cult. Scary. Stay Away or we’ll mick you in our comedy shows and stand up routines. We’ll black-ball you secretly, even if only in our minds.

Scientology is a startup religion. An idea written by a smart man. A story to pick, and go with it. You don’t need to believe. You just need to say you believe, and follow their silly rules.

It may be a good idea. A church. A community.

All good. Who cares what the story part is. Jesus was a carpenter from a poor family. Space aliens is isn’t any more hard to believe. It’s a different kind of faith. We are allowed to believe what we do not know, or understand, or what logic may tell us to not believe.

The best God stories are a little wacky.

Wait till you hear my Church idea. Not tonight. It’s too good for a blog nobody reads.