The Movember Chronicles, Vol. 3 — I Can Feel My Face


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Some men finish Movember and make their way to Decembeard, embracing the liberating feeling of growing facial hair sans judgment as they show off the fruits of their labour for the world to see. Some men can’t wait for the 1st of December, razor at the ready to reclaim their baby-soft skin, with countless throngs of significant others grinning ear to ear as the scratchy cuddle sessions make their way out of the picture. But for me, constantly transitioning between a face so clean I get ID’d when I’m buying a case of beer and a face so scruffy it sometimes inspires passersby to berate me into cleaning my act up and getting a job… finishing Movember marked my passage into the year’s last days, changing gears from saving the world via my ‘stache to doing all that I can to make Merry Christmases for people whose holiday seasons might’ve turned out otherwise.

As I said before, it’s a shame I couldn’t make as much of the month as my Team Thomas peers, but I’m glad that I could still raise $500 thanks to my buddies at Thomas & Friends that the Movember Foundation wouldn’t have had otherwise.

It feels good to do good.

SPONSORED POST: Mo’ Blogging, Mo’ Problems — Why My November Wasn’t Full of Movember!


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Being sick for most of November’s been a royal pain, keeping me from doing everything that was on my list for the month. My stack of blog drafts’ as thick as ever; house doors still squeak in dire need of some WD-40; emails sit unanswered in my Gmail inbox; and I couldn’t tackle Movember with the gusto I would were I at 100%.

It wasn’t for a lack of ‘stache — my facial hair’s grown in nicely (much to my wife’s chagrin), and I’ve taken photos along the way to prove it. But it’s fitting that one of Movember’s foci are on mental health, because I started feeling a real sense of burnout as I started closing 2015 off ?

The Week That Was… November 1st – 7th, 2015.

Maybe I’ve gotten like this every year since I started taking blogging more seriously, but as we approach the end of 2015, I’ve written up a storm.

I’ve put a lot on my plate — 32 Things I’ve Learned Now That I’m 32, which I have just over eight months to finish; stories from The 2015 100 that’ve happened but have yet to hit the blog; as well as ongoing relationships with the likes of Swiffer, Netflix and TELUS. And that’s not even taking in consideration that the last few weekends have focused on major family events, whether it’s my younger brother’s wedding; celebrating Halloween with the dozens of toddlers you’ll find in our neighbourhood; or Little Man’s second birthday party, which had to be successful, since he missed out on his first with a case of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease!

Yeah, things are really ramping up on this side of the screen, and while this week saw less of the #BloggerLife in an up close and personal way, it was still as much in the background as it’s ever been, keeping the wheels turning as I continued the daily hustle!

Let me show you a little of what happens behind the curtain….

The Week That Was… October 25th – 31st, 2015.

This post’s out easily a week later than I wanted it to be, its author on the tail end of a week relentless with its to-do list. But with Halloween and my son’s second birthday party both in the past, I can put a little more time back into writing and the tale of how I finished October with a new phone in my pocket, eyes open to an entirely new world of deliciousness, and all other sorts of random in the life and times of Casey Palmer!


Before I start, this post is indirectly brought to you by Google Photos, because without a visual history of what I’ve been up to, I’d have no clue of what went down every week.

I finished October with my family game on fleek, spending most of my time either at the 9-5 getting things done, or at home with my wife and son, the little joys that pop up in the days. How cute Little Man looks when he’s done his breakfast in the morning and wants to fake a nap with his parents. Or hitting up a Halloween party for the neighbourhood toddlers, watching at least a dozen 2-year olds run around as their parents sat watch at the edges of a plush, carpeted basement (Pro Tip: if you’re going to a potluck, be the one who brings the beer!) I used a SportChek credit to keep my underwear gear on point with the Saxx Underwear Company’s Platinum line; we made our preparations to celebrate the Little Man’s second birthday… even when I wasn’t living it up as part of the #BloggerLife, I feel blessed that life had plenty in store to keep me satisfied, always reminding me there’s more to life than the mischief I get into online.

But if you think the #BloggerLife took a week off, trust me — you don’t know CaseP; there was still plenty afoot in the week leading up to Halloween — let me tell you a bit about it!

GIVEAWAY POST: Give it Some Mo’ — How Thomas & Friends and Movember Canada Help Men Live Better Lives!

Someone approached me months back with an interesting request — to join in a unique collaboration between a childhood staple that’s been around since many of our grandparents were in diapers, and a now-global movement to bring some much-needed awareness to specific issues involving men’s health, all done in ways that stand out and start the right conversations on topics that frankly aren’t talked about enough.

This November, I’m trying my hand at Movember once more, joining Team Thomas (myself, Corey Shaw, Paul Van Huss, Mike Reynolds, Shaun Worrell, and Trevor Arsenault) in their fundraising efforts to help in the fight against ailments like prostate and testicular cancer! It’s a team made up of Dad Bloggers from across the nation, backed by Thomas & Friends, celebrating their 70th anniversary of delighting children with tales of anthropomorphic vehicles getting into all sorts of mischief!

It’s a little mind-blowing seeing my son enjoy the same show I did at his age, asking to see more “choo-choo” on the odd occasion when we let him watch some Netflix. And they’ve really upgraded the graphics, too — imagine my surprise when I saw Thomas the Tank Engine with fully animated features instead of the rolling eyes and fixed facial expressions I knew from the ’80s! Some things change, but boys and their toys don’t seem to be one of them!

Well… almost.

DO ALL THE THINGS: The 2013 100 Wrap-Up 51-60: Tradition, Tailoring and Tilling My Land

What’s struck me so far as I write these year-end wrap-ups is that I’m dealing with the list of a maniac. At 100 items, that’s 3.65 days to get each item done, or 8,760 hours.

But if I sleep 6 hours a night, that’s suddenly 6,570 hours.

And with a 40-hour work week (not including my 3 weeks of vacation), that brings us down to 4,610.

Put in a couple of hours per day to eat, shower and other essentials and you’re suddenly down to 3,880 hours, or a mere 161\frac{2}{3} days worth of time (or perhaps, a mere 8 hours per weekday, with the hope that the weekends don’t find themselves suddenly overloaded) to do 100 things. And that’s, of course, on top of going out with friends, being a good family man, and perhaps finding time to do things that were never on the list in the first place.

Unless you’ve somehow bought yourself the luxury of unlimited time, a list of 100 goals is best achieved when attainable. You can’t be everywhere at once or do everything at once — sometimes we need humility and a reminder that there’s simply only one of us!

It’s what we do with that one that makes all the difference.

So let’s chalk this up to a learning experience. Let’s figure out what really matters, what’d be nice to do, and what’d be inane to expect with a wife and kid at home, needing me to play my role as a father.

Once more unto the breach!

A November to Remember, Verse 4: Of Motive and Movember

Jim Sullivan, special guest speaker, sharing his story of surviving prostate cancer
Jim Sullivan, special guest speaker, sharing his story of surviving prostate cancer.

What’s the difference between a good person and the ones to be wary of? Or a good and an evil action? What helps us to draw the line between right and wrong in anything we do?

Reasoning. Intent. Motive.

Motive. Motive makes all the difference. It defines the things we do for personal gain versus those we do for people simply because we care about them. It’s why we look down on the common thief yet admire Robin Hood. Motive defines how we are perceived, always working in the background behind every decision we make.

So Is It WRONG To Be Selfish???

From L-R, @AmandaBlake9, myself with the GOTSTYLE prize pack, @michaelkim, @fastdrvr
We can all be a little selfish sometimes — as seen from my notoriety for winning stuff….

Yesterday we took a look at selfishness. When I brought forth the idea that selflessness is completely possible, I got some interesting counter-points, like:

“There’s no such thing as true selflessness. The act of giving or pursuit to assist others is in and of itself a means of self indulgence.”

Justin Baisden

“Being selfish is an important part of our own survival. If we don’t always consider ourselves first, the probability of our own survival declines immensely. I don’t even know that it’s a bad thing. Our social conditioning throughout the ages is that the strong survive. ”

Zach Bussey

“Yes, people derive satisfaction from doing things that benefit others. But I think in many (if not most cases) we would do something “selfless” because we genuinely want to see someone else benefit/prosper/succeed.”

Erik Kingissepp

Summarizing:

  • everyone’s a bit selfish — so what?
  • we need selfishness to survive
  • selfishness  isn’t the root of the problem; the real problem is when our self-interests don’t align with the interests of the greater population

I’d agree with Erik, though, and would argue that motive is the key difference between selfishness and self-interest.

My reasons for being at The Big Give definitely started out as selfish — my notorious luck in full swing, friends had already told me that I’d be going home with a ridiculous amount of swag on top of whatever else I happened to win. To me, attending wasn’t even an option. But there’s a blurry line between our selfishness simply adding to our lives… and that selfishness negatively affecting the lives of others. It’s fine to do something for your sake alone now and then, but too much of it will make you unpleasant company to just about anybody.

With that said, the very next day, it was time to change the tune. Amanda Blake, a friend of mine, was throwing one of her After Work Drinks Toronto (#AWDTO) events,  where she’d asked me to attend as the official photographer. And because I like Amanda and the great person that she is, I said yes. But why else?

#AWDTO Movember Edition: Selflessness Is Possible

Family. Friendship. These are the kids of bonds where the entire idea of selflessness comes from. We’re taught from a young age that if we behave; if we do what we’re told — our actions will equal to rewards. But as we grow older, we discover the inequities in life. We find out that sometimes no matter how hard we try, we’ll see no improvements to our lives — sometimes there’re simply no rewards for the blood, sweat and tears that we put in!

The simple fact: it is so easy to get screwed over in life!

So why do we help if it’s unrealistic to expect anything for what we do?

Because we can be selfless. We can do things for others simply because we like them. And because this is completely possible, events like #AWDTO: Movember Edition can exist. Above, Zach pointed out that selfishness is important to our survival. But he also commented on the nature of selflessness and where we’re going next:

“[W]hen you’re able to consider others and give back… everyone goes “Hey that’s awesome good for you!” and we give praise… because we recognize that value in doing it. Our new world of having plenty (in Canada at least), is teaching us to do more… social good, giving back, charity, caring for others etc. 

Overnight will we all become charitable/giving/caring/selfless etc… no. Takes time to reprogram ourselves… but it is definitely taking hold in the collective consciousness.”

— Zach Bussey

 Giving a Little Mo’

In the course of 24 hours, I’d gone from seeing people clearly out for their own interests, willing to nearly trample one another to go home with a bit extra — to a different kind of crowd altogether. Some where there to support friends. Some to network. Some people eyed the prize table as soon as they came in. But the glitz was gone. The glamour was absent. In the end, there was just a room full of people just looking to have a good time.

And we would. We would meet new people We’d learn about the experiences of a prostate cancer survivor and why it was important to support the cause. Some of us would win prizes, all of us would leave a little changed — and I don’t think that anyone was worse off for it.

Organizer and DJ Andrew Lo playing the music for the party
Not only did he help organize, but DJ Andrew Lo was on the 1s and 2s for the night’s party!

So if anyone tells you that we’re all inherently selfish, or say that everyone is ultimately out for themselves — I want you to remember this: a selfish world cannot work. If we all cared for ourselves alone and never for the people that we care about, society couldn’t grow. We wouldn’t collaborate. Ideas that need more than one person’s abilities wouldn’t happen as often. Humanity would stagnate.

We all need each other to keep growing in this world. So let’s all be a little less selfish and make it happen!

–case p.

Next in the series: That time when Casey and Sarah took a little break to cruise in the Caribbean and what it taught them about themselves and WHY they appreciate Toronto.

A November to Remember, Verse 3: The Song of the Selfish

As we get closer to the Christmas season and I continue to reflect on what I learned in November, I find myself asking a question:

Are all people ultimately only acting in their own interests? Is it human nature to be selfish?

This was the topic of a heated discussion the other day where fellow Torontonian CamMi Pham declared:

https://twitter.com/cammipham/status/276771716884230146

I’m not about to drag you back through the grisly affair, but while I definitely agree that there’s a ton of evidence that people can be selfish, my stance is that there are plenty of people yet who are selfless and just want to make the world around them a little better than it was when they first entered it.

The Big Give – aka – The Naughty List

I’m not much of a “party guy” — hard to believe, I know — I’m more into one-on-one interactions and small group settings where we can all enjoy each other’s company. Even at large events, I’m way more at ease when I have a solid group of friends around me.

When the music’s blaring, bodies are gyrating and the crowd looking glam, I’ll keep up with the best of ’em, but it’s not my scene.

So enter: The Big Give.

The Big Give, a charity benefit for Look Good, Feel Better (or LGFB — described by their site as “an organization that holds 1200 seminars for women and teenage girls who have just been diagnosed with cancer. The seminars teach these women how to maintain their self-confidence and elevate their self-image through their battle with cancer. The Look Good Feel Better workshop brings women with cancer together in a safe and supportive environment where they can share stories, insights, laughter, and feel ‘normal'”), was a very happening party, but I don’t ever remember feeling as lost at a party as I did in the first moments of that night. I made small talk with some of the volunteers and took advantage of the candy bar and not-so-candy (read: open) bar, but perhaps not knowing anyone there  reminded me of my transition from high school to university: going from somewhere where I knew everyone and everyone knew me, to somewhere where I was a biggish fish in a massive ocean, trying to find my way.

The candy bar at The Big Give
Some of my favourite selections from this table were sour strawberries and peaches! Was talking too often to enjoy as many as I would’ve liked to, though 🙁

Once some familiar faces started showing up, my aimless wandering came to a halt, but I still felt like I wasn’t on the pulse of the event. People dressed to kill. Anyone who came in the door quickly found their pack and a corner of the room where they could congregate. The openness and warmth I’m used to from the world of tweetups were absent in the blue hues filling the Berkley Church and washing over all the party people. It helped me realize one thing…

I’m not meant to be one of the “beautiful people”.

No, I’m the type who’s your best friend’s best friend. The funny guy in the room who makes sure that everyone’s enjoying themselves. I’m not there to look the best. I’m not trying to walk a red carpet and act like I’m better than anyone else. I just want everyone to have a great time.

All things considered, though, all was not amiss at The Big Give. Regardless of however I felt, the event still had much to offer, such as:

  • dancers to get people on the dance floor (no one ended up going on the dance floor)
  • free booze (of which people partook plenty)
  • free photos

But let’s get back to our original question — is selfishness simply in human nature?

Dancing With Wolves

In my heart of hearts, I would love to believe that people were there to support LGFB and simply have a good time — but behaviour would prove otherwise.

We all struggle with the siren song of swag.

Two of the big things that people were there for were the grab bags of legendary size that they distributed at the night’s end (which weighed 20 pounds apiece), and the ridiculously awesome raffle prizes that they had up for grabs!

But as the night wore on, our host Mike Chalut’s voice wore out and the crazier the contests got! From a raffle to a dance-off to a frenzied free-for-all, the night would end with women clawing, screaming and scraping past each other to get Mike’s attention — and for what? Jewellery? Gift cards? Gym memberships?

JessGo doing a live art presentation
This painting by JessGo would end up going for $5,000!

Perhaps it’s true. Perhaps many people in the world are selfish and act primarily out of self-interest. But it’s not everybody. That doesn’t account for the woman who bought a painting at the event for $5,000. It doesn’t really account for the people who believe in LGFB enough to give their time, products and services to make sure that the event was a success. And if you’ll bear with me for one more day to convince you, I think there’s a lot more in the world that such a narrow outlook doesn’t account for.

What about you, readers? Do you think I’m too off-base? Do I need to take a look in the mirror before I cast the first stone? Or is everyone in this world completely self-centred, and I’m simply living a life in denial?

Love to hear from you! Until tomorrow,

–case p.

Tomorrow: Karma, good deeds and how the month of Movember continued!

A November to Remember, Verse 1: A Close Shave and The Novel That Never Was


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The tree we purchased for Christmas 2012
The tree we painstakingly purchased for Christmas 2012.

Every year. Every year we go through this.

We near the end of the year, wondering where all the time went and lamenting all the things we failed to do over the months. We plan to close out the year with a bang and swear to make a better effort to hit our goals in the next year. Year after year we try, but invariably repeat ourselves time and time again. So while the year’s already seen a lot of awesome in my life, I’d told myself back in January that this would be the year I rocked Movember and NaNoWriMo, earning fame, riches and glory in the process!

It’d all started so well.

I’d thought, “Grow a moustache and raise money for charity — that’s not so hard; I grow facial hair all the time anyway. And write a 50,000-word novel? I write, like, every day. I can do this.”

I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I had the drive, determination and direction to make it happen — I was convinced that if anyone could do it, someone who was so used to juggling multiple things all the time was the perfect person to do it!

It’s funny, the things we can convince ourselves of and yet be so utterly wrong.

Movember, or “Why Did I Grow This, Again?”

The facial hair that I DID manage to grow by the end of Movember 2012
Not a double-forked goatee by ANY means, but distinguished, nonetheless 🙂

In the end, I was able to do some good, raising $175 toward preventing prostate cancer and supporting men’s mental health, and another $430 through the team I’d created for the initiative — the Central Agency Clustachios (a play on the name of the place where I work).

While a pleasant outcome, I can’t help but feel that I could’ve done more. Being honest, 70% of the money I raised came in the last two days of November, after I’d received enough pestering at work to rally some troops for one last go at getting donations. Between events, trips and a hefty workload, I lost sight of the goals I’d originally set and — as can often be the case in our lives — tried to make up for lost time.

If I learned anything from Movember, it’s two things:

  1. It’s impossible for me to be everywhere. Life is full of opportunities and responsibilities, but I also need the energy to take them all on. Prioritization and being realistic are skills that will be necessary to being successful in my life; and
  2. No man is meant to grow facial hair for 30 days straight. You just get to a point where it’s itchy as hell and you wonder why you started doing it in the first place.

Better luck next year, right? Hopefully I’ll be able to go the way of friends like Amanda Blake and help organize events for the cause!

Putting the “No” in NaNoWriMo

A view of the mess that's on our table right now as I try to sort through literally PILES of stuff.
And they ask why I didn’t pull NaNoWriMo off…

Even though I wrote a ton of words in November, none of it really looks like a novel.

NaNoWriMo is an ambitious little initiative, and these sorts of things need dedicated time to make them happen — even more so when creativity needs to come into the mix!

With being away half of the month and at events almost every other day, I thought I could still pull it off. But I forgot to account for work and the huge things they needed me to do this past month. I forgot to account for the fact that one can only work so hard before fatigue catches up with them. I forgot to account for the fact that life goes on with or without the blog posts I put out!

So, my dear NaNoWriMo, unfortunately you’re gone ’til next November, ’cause this one wasn’t your time to shine! In fact, NaNoWriMo, let’s play you out:

The Lesson

So what did I learn? I learned that November is not to be underestimated!

It may not be the flashiest month. Not nearly enough people look forward to celebrating the sacrifices that war veterans made to keep us free and keep us safe, so most people treat the month like a write-off and just buffer time before they get to Christmas. It’s not usually even wintery enough for the ski and snowboard types out there.

But, you’ve gotta learn to treat November with respect. It has more than enough to keep you busy if you’ll let it, and when you finally reach December and everything doesn’t look the way you expected, don’t say I didn’t try to warn you.

Because honestly, is there really anything else that one can learn from November?

–case p.

Next Verse: We’ve all gotta get rest sometimes, but even the best plans to get our sleep on can go awry!

COMIN’ RIGHT UP: NANOWRIMOvember

“Suddenly, a wild November appeared!”

–no one in the Pokémon game series ever

 

Before I start talking about November, let’s talk Halloween.

When Did Your Inner Children Die?

When did people forget how to have fun? When did anyone worry about whether dressing up was “cool” or not? Seriously — when did you people let your inner children die?

I wore my aforementioned Ghostbusters outfit (sans proton pack, which I haven’t fixed yet) to work, only to discover that I was the only one dressed up.

Totally uncool. The fact that everyone was so worried about keeping up appearances (or on the other end of the spectrum, didn’t care enough to bother dressing up) that they couldn’t cut loose for a day and have a little fun (or, again on the flip side, are too beaten down by life to bother) really bothers me. Policies? Guidelines? Permission???

Are you kidding me? It’s HALLOWEEN!!!

Anyway. Gives me a lot to think about — the environments I’m in, the people I hang with — but that’s not the point of this post.

NANOWRIMOvember — Where I Grow Facial Hair and Grow Tired of Writing!

What I look like on the first day of Movember

Movember Day 1 with a clean-shaven face and head to match!

So we’ve finally reached the final stretch of 2012, where we wonder where the year went, worry about what to get people for Christmas and get fat off of all the holiday parties that tend to go down!

Well, we’re not quite there yet. We still have to make it through November.

November is an anomaly of a month. Not only is it one of the few months without a statutory holiday in Ontario, unlike its cousin named June, there’s very little that we tend to like about it. No hot weather, no looking forward to the summer — just reminders that we’re getting back to layering up and grey — oh so grey — skies above.

But not all is lost in November…

I Got 50K Problems, Being Done Ain’t One

A badge from the NaNoWriMo site
Can I write a 50,000-word novel in a MONTH? Time will tell…

As if I’m not busy enough (because we Torontonians love to be busy), somehow I decided that being part of the National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO for short) would be a good idea this year.

The basic premise: write a 50,000-word novel through the month of November. To put that in perspective:

  • a good length for a blog post is around 400-500 words
  • when you’re writing an essay for school, a double-spaced page is about 500 words

So about 100 blogs and/or 20 or so essays over the course of a month on top of regular blog posts and Mansformation.

Not exactly my brightest idea, but no one can ever say I’m unambitious! But fortunately, I’m brimming full of ideas, so stay tuned, amigos!

http://www.nanowrimo.org/en/participants/doomz

Gimme Some Mo!!!

One of the many images that Movember supplies to its Mo Bros and Sistas
When all else fails, trust the Mo.

With Movember comes events, awareness and a solid excuse for guys to grow some wicked awesome beards! I’ll admit that I never got around to participating until this year, but I look forward to seeing what I can come up with after a month! (If my post-Africa pics are any indication, apparently not much.)

I’ve drawn a quick mock-up in good ol’ Photoshop to let you see what my facial hair would look like at the end of Movember in an ideal world…

A mock-up of the ideal moustache I'd want after Movember
I call it… the “Evil Overlord”!!!

…but I fear that a beard of awesome won’t be a dream soon realized.

I don’t fight alone against prostate cancer, though — friends like Amanda Blake are throwing events in support of Movember! You can find me at her After Work Drinks Toronto event (or #AWDTO for the hashtag-inclined) on November 8th snapping photos and hanging out with some great company. With a $10 price tag (going right to Movember) to have free beer samples, more fun than you usually ever do and the chance to win some great prizes, I definitely encourage you to show up!

But no Movember blog post would be complete without a little self-promotion! I believe in supporting causes to help humanity improve — I support friends who climb towersride bikes and do all sorts of activities through the year in the name of various causes, but I rarely enter the fray myself. So now that I have, I hope that friends can give generously and help contribute to the fight for a better (and prostate cancer-free) future!

You can find my donation page at http://mobro.co/CaseP

Play Me Off, Keyboard Cat

So while the news might tell you that it’s time to get yourself in Christmas mode (only 53 shopping days left, people!), November is no month to be glossed over!

So while I’m rockin’ the Mo’ and writing fo sho — what the heck will YOU be doing all month?

–case p.