The Day God Shut My Mouth

Unusual title for a post. However, it is every bit as relevant. Yes, this is another post on my ever continuing journey. I often discover that my youngest daughter always seems to read my posts and goes, “where is God in any of this?” My answer to her is “God is in all of it.” I couldn’t go through through any of this if I didn’t have the faith to go through another day in hopes that there is a job waiting for me at the end of it all, however thin my faith had felt. Regardless of what anyone believes in, faith is the root of all belief, since it is a belief in something that we do not see. Otherwise, that’s not faith. And with faith comes action. An old saying goes, “if you want to walk on water, you have to get out of the boat.“ And yes, our faith gets tested time and again. Mine has been tested for the longest while. And yet, through the storm, a light always shines.

Doubting… or Daring?

Like I said above, my faith was rather thin, and all hope looks dim when staring down the eye of the hurricane. This has by no means been easy. Is it worth it? As crazy as it sounds, YES! Is it easy? No! Even with everything that I have been getting out of this, it has still been difficult to see that guiding light in the storm. And, perhaps that difficulty is what led to my doubts, most likely fueled by the series of rejection letters. Mind you, with all of the job applications that I had sent out, it was bound to be met with a proportionate number of rejections. However, even with the logic and statistics behind it, it’s still difficult to grasp when you’re in the heat of the the moment. I guess it finally had to happen, with all of the anger and disappointment mounting, it would reach its boiling point. Sure enough, in the middle of my workout, it all started to “pour out all over the floor.” Despite the fact that I was able to handle more resistance, it was in anger more than anything else. And then the words came out, while pondering over a piece of scripture that said, “Is anything too difficult for God?” I blurted out, “Apparently a job is! I dare You to shut my mouth!” Talk about digging my grave with my tongue. Nevertheless, like a bullet fired from a pistol, the words had now left my lips and could not be unsaid.

The Response…

Reason with this however you will. But, this is how I see it: whether it was God rolling up His sleeves, and finally putting me in my place by answering my “petty challenge”, or if it was already in His plan, the delivery was nothing short of divine. To be more exact, I was at my bible study class and right in the middle of the lesson, I felt my phone ringing. Thinking that it was nothing more than a headhunter, or a robo-calling scammer, which I am sometimes finding myself having a little too much fun with, I had to let it pass. Just as we were wrapping up our exercise, I discovered that there was a visual voice mail message. I opened it up and there it was: a job offer. Everyone in the class saw the look on my face as I was frozen… I couldn’t speak for a few minutes. Dare I say, my mouth was shut!


Despite everything that I have been going through, I have to say that none of it was in vain. I entered into the situation a complete mess from years of turmoil that not only derailed me from my key programming methodologies in which I loved to solve problems, but almost destroyed my passion for programming altogether. My best friend and colleague, who stuck with me throughout pretty much everything graphed it out so eloquently. This is how he presented it to me:

51 days
500 Applications
120 Interviews
45 Technical assessments
4 New technologies learned

Rediscovering my love for Java and passion for Test Driven Development = priceless!!

I’ve Only Just Begun

Knowing everything I do now, I can’t just stop there. This job offer is only the beginning of a new walk in my software development life. If anything, I have some preparation to do before I begin my new job. Everything I went through serve as life lessons for the future. Everything that I have learned about why love to code, and my passion for test driven development are to serve as my foundation moving forward. Knowing that, I need to keep my mind sharp not only in preparation for this new job, but throughout my career.

Just as important, I need to keep myself balanced by working on some music as well. There are songs that are waiting to be done. As much as I love to code, I love music just as much, if not more. I will admit however, there’s one more piece of technology I want to re-learn, and that is Reaktor. Even before the entire mess in my life, I was programming with it to make some new synthesizers and effects, giving me new musical ideas. I think that with my re-discovered love for programming, I can take it even further than before.

Most importantly, may I never forget what brought me to this point in time. May I always remember who I really am, as not only a software developer, but as a person as well. May I always remember that mustard seed-like faith that helped bring me here. And, may I have the faith to take it even further. Otherwise, may God shut my mouth!

We’ll Keep Moving On

The title of this blog post as well as the song within this post, was inspired by the layoffs that were happening at BlackBerry. The marketing campaign slogan at the time was “Keep Moving“. So, during the dark times of layoffs, this song was born out of uncertainty, but knowing that if something were to happen, we would just keep moving on. Little did I know, I would be singing this to myself one day. However, today it goes far beyond BlackBerry and the layoff. It speaks to me about rising up from among my shattered hopes and dreams and walking away from them, carrying all my scars, towards a new dream with renewed hope.

You might be wondering what prompted this blog post. Quite simply, a couple of job opportunities, out of the over 300+ applications sent out to date, that I had hoped would produce an offer. You can guess that they did not, and it was quite the discouraging way to start the week. Admittedly, I was crushed. The ones that I felt would be exciting to work for at the time said no thanks to me. It felt as if my hopes got shattered. Sometimes, it got me to the point where I didn’t want to continue. Honestly, I would throw my hands up in the air and be asking God, “why?“ or even wondering if He’s listening because here I was believing that I had found the job opportunity that I was looking for, and it felt like the rug was pulled out from underneath. As one might guess, it was pretty difficult to go through the week.

Blessing in Disguise

I have often said this phrase: it is difficult to see clearly when you are staring down the eye of a hurricane. This was certainly no exception. While everything at the time seemed like a giant storm, at the end of it, I would see that this happened for a very good reason. If there is one thing that I’ve been doing during this season of unemployment, it has been a lot of soul searching. Just like in my recent blog post of discovering why I became a software developer, this time I discovered recently how I want to develop software and provide solutions.

It all started with another company issued me a coding challenge that was to be done in Java shortly after receiving the news. At first, when I looked at the problem, it didn’t really hit me. All I saw was a jumbled pile of data layered in a certain order. I can say that it was hard to see any coherence because I was still looking through the eye of the hurricane. However, after putting it to rest for the night, it wasn’t until I woke up the next morning when the answer hit me. I woke up going “it’s a tree”. Sure enough, when I looked at the output data format, I saw the pattern. It was the most familiar pattern that I used for almost 15 years. This was the beginning of the re-awakening that was happening inside of me. I then proceeded to answer this challenge in my most favourite manner of programming: test driven development. When I was done, I had a not only answered the challenge for the company, but also had my own answer: this is how I want to be programming. I felt that when I was doing this, the code was almost writing itself because of all of the tests that I had written for it. When I had submitted the challenge, I was told that it held out throughout all of their test cases. I don’t think it would have done so we’re not for all of the unit tests that I put in place. I would have my confirmation a couple of days later when I took another test and I failed to use the same methodologies that I did when I did the Java challenge. It didn’t take much to realize that this was my coding style. Of course, to test this, I decided to redo those failed challenges privately, and do them in the identical development manner. Again, not only did I solve the challenge, but they held up in every test situation. When I ran out of failed assessments, I turned to the Internet to find more challenges to apply my re-awakened problem solving methodology. I was now applying it to every technology I was touching, and not just Java. It was re-awakened with the language, but is now alive again as a practice and principle, and is a huge revelation to myself that I am far more happy when I code in this manner.

This has also made me far more aware of the companies that I am interviewing with. It has made me ask better questions to the technical teams regarding their development practices. I will admit that I am very leery of joining a team that does not share the same practices as I do, as I fear this will lead to frustration and discouragement. Having re-awakened this joy of coding style, I do not want to bury it again in practices I do not believe in.

In Retrospect

About a dozen challenges and a handful of assessments later, I have found not only my strengths when it comes to programming, but more of that reawakened joy of programming. I honestly don’t think that this could have happened the way it did if I would have taken that position at that time. If anything, I was still discovering myself. I won’t deny that this period has been one of the more stressful times, and Nichole often reminds me that I have been through a whole lot worse, and she is right. But I will go as far as to say that this period has not been for nothing. All it took was that one Java assessment the day after that made me realize just how much I enjoy solving problems using test-driven development.

As stressful as this time has been, it has also been a time of healing and rehabilitation. I can liken it to the physical healing and rehabilitation that I had to go through after tearing my quadricep off of my knee, after not being able to walk properly for 10 years. In a way, I can liken getting let go from my job as the “tearing away” after years of not engaging in the coding practices I so much enjoy. The coding assessments and online challenges were my rehabilitation to problem solving using test driven development. Just as I work out in order to never letting my knee go back to what it was before, I am probably going to want to do the same with my coding in order not to repeat the last couple of years.

So, while this letdown was disappointing and discouraging at the time, it was not in vain. As I learned more about myself then, I will learn more as time goes on. But as I do, the words near the end of my song start to ring true when I am finding myself knocked down:

It feels the world has fallen down
As the people turn away, ignoring all our cries.

But if you put your hand in mine,
We will get up one more time,
As we sing one final song.
Yes, we’ll sing that final song…

And we’ll keep moving on!

Where I Go From here

I have always grown up with the belief that everything happens for a reason. Getting let go from my last job is not an exception to this belief. Considering everything that I have learned about myself during this time, I might even argue that this could be one of the better things that happened to me. I believe that this is something we call “a blessing in disguise“. After being knocked off kilter for the past four years, I sort of felt this time, despite the stress, somewhat refreshing. It has been a time of discovery, dedication, and renewal. It has also been a time to determine the direction that I want to take myself, in regards to my software development career. Having been given the gift of rediscovering who I am and what made me, it is now time to get up and move forward, taking that identity with me.

What Got Me Here

I’ve discovered that in order to determine where I’m going, I needed to figure out how I got here. Not in some cosmic “meaning of life“ type of discovery, but more or less the things that I have done and the mistakes that I have made which have brought me to this point at which I am writing this. What I discovered from my last blog post, was not only that I love to code, but why I have this love of coding. I discovered what gets me really excited when it comes to coding. I have been using my down time to sharpen my skills and broaden my toolsets, such as working with Node.js and Angular, which I found gave me a deeper passion for code. I was even able to put that love of coding into creating some useful music utilities, in the form of pattern generators based on Euclidean geometric algorithms, during this down time.

So, with all that said, how did I wind up in the position that I’m in? Well, looking at all of the things that I have discovered about myself, I think the reason that I got in this position is very simple: I wasn’t really coding. Yes, I was writing code, but almost all of that code was more maintenance in one form or another. To me, that’s not really coding, in the software development sense of the word. Yes, I was finding challenges patching some major security holes, but it wasn’t really an execution of that daring to dream type of code. The consequences of it was that I felt a certain detachment from the rest of the team. So, honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if I was mentally checking out long before this happened. I had experienced it before. It was one of the main drivers that caused me to leave BlackBerry. I had stopped being a programmer, and was more of a juggler and a bug fixer. If anything, I was repeating history. The last few weeks had me being more creative than I have been in the last few years. As simple, or as complex, that the code that I had written for Logic Pro X was, I was being creative and filling a need, I was also answer my own code challenge. It was challenging me to think. More importantly, it was challenging me to visualize data in a more creative fashion. It taught me to see beyond the numbers within the algorithms, and use my Asperger strengths and recognize patterns and how to program them. Between all of the coding challenge is that I have done for prospective employers, and the coding challenges that I came up with myself it was very obvious to me that the type of coding that I wanted to be doing, I was not doing in the past few years. So yes, well this time is very stressful, I am grateful that it has given me the period of self-rediscovery and has allowed me to reignite my passion for programming. As hard as it is at the moment, in a way I have become far better for it.

My Direction

Knowing what I know, it’s now time for me to be determining where I am going with all of this information. I certainly have no desire to repeat history for a third time. That would not be a good use of everything that I have learned. This has taught me to be more diligent of the questions that I ask prospective employers during the interview process. If anything, I found myself being able to walk away from certain interviews with a sense of satisfaction, and from other interviews that made me wonder if I was going to be jumping from the frying pan into the fire. This to me is a good thing, because not only is a company interviewing me, but I am also interviewing the company. While they’re looking to see if I will be a good fit for their team, I’m also looking to see if their team is a good fit for me. I am looking for a company that will keep me engaged, feed my passions for programming and challenge me to dare to dream.

The bottom line is this, the reason that I am rather anxious to get back to work is more because I want to code. And knowing what I know now, I am certain that once I am in that place, you can probably bet that I won’t be in this place again!

Dare to Dream

Before I go any further, I just want to thank everyone I’ve had the chance to interact with since starting these posts. Since starting this, I’ve spoken to many people of various walks. I have spoken to people who are in the same position as me, who tell me they are reading my blog; I have spoken to people who are no longer in this position, but they told me that they can relate to everything that I have said, which I’m finding very cool; and, I’ve spoken to various HR personnel who have not only encourage me in many ways, but are also telling me to check out their company’s sites. To everyone who is reading this in someway or another, all I can say is thank you! I appreciate all of you more than you realize. Most of all, I appreciate the support of my children as well as my beautiful wife, Nichole. All of you are the wind beneath my wings! However, there’s one person I purposefully left out, which is the reason for my blog post.

The Question

This post has been inspired by one of the interviews that I recently had. The hiring manager asked me a question which started triggering a chain reaction inside of me making me realize why I develop software in the first place. In other words: what made me. It has reshaped the story I am now telling interviewers and I owe it all to this one question that he asked me: “What is it about this job that excites you?” Admittedly at the time I offered a pretty shallow answer. I only answered in context of what I did to become a full stack developer. However, the real answer was brewing deep inside overnight, only to burst out in the morning.

What Made Me

College was where it all started. Part of our electronics engineering technology study was CPU theory. Within this part of our studies we learned how to input machine language into a CPU and have it execute it. I thought it was the nearest thing on earth, not only was I communicating with the CPU in its own language and on its own terms, but it was executing something precisely to my design. It had me to the point where I was both excited and fascinated that I bought a computer, a modem and a macro assembler and learned its machine language. My frustration with the terminal program that came with the computer gave birth to new possibilities. I wanted to use any terminal program with this modem, so I learned how it communicated with the modem by disassembling the terminal program and I then learned how drivers are made on that computer. It wasn’t long before I developed a set of modem drivers for that modem. I say a set because Hayes Smartmodems were all the rage back then. So, I added Hayes command emulation to the driver, allowing any program to believe it was talking to a Hayes modem. So, not only was I talking to my computer. I was talking to the devices connected to my computer. Even more so, I was talking to other computers through my computer. After releasing the drivers into the world someone reached out to me, and wound up collaborating on writing a cutting edge bulletin board system. Now we were inviting other computers to talk to us. It was also my first experience with “database technology” as we had to figure out ways to efficiently store and retrieve messages.

My desire to communicate with more devices in order to extract their data grew when MIDI came out. Again the possibilities arose from a need: I didn’t want to lose my synth patches should they have gotten reset. Writing programs to talk to my synthesizers and drum units, I downloaded all of the patches and saved them to disk. In time I managed to figure out how to edit the patches in real time on the computer and audition them on the synthesizer. From there came a primitive sequencer that I could use to record the drums and synths on my reel-to-reel multi-track on a couple of tracks while I recorded my guitar on another. I was talking to all sorts of devices and getting data in all sorts of way. This was way more than fun!

Then, the Internet went public with the World Wide Web. The big question that lingered in my mind was, “what can we do with this?“ That question drove me to write an e-commerce system. All of a sudden, I was talking to computers all over the world and taking money on behalf of the clients I wrote e-commerce apps for. Many years, languages and technologies later, everything that I have written boils down to a single point: I dared to dream.

Change in Story

Realizing all of the above. I stopped telling interviewers my accomplishments in a shopping list sort of way. Now, I’m telling them how I started talking to computers and how it grew from a peripheral to the internet. I’m telling them in terms of my desire to create a dialogue with a computer and the devices they are connected to by giving it code and have it provide me with data in exchange. I tell them that envisioning the possibilities is what dared me to dream.

This has become a big deal to me because until this morning, I’ve been thinking too small. I have only been thinking in terms of what’s been on the screen in front of me. Well that’s important and someways, it’s just one small part. I have a larger obsession with data… all kinds of data. I love to get data and figure out how to make it meaningful to us humans.

The Bigger Picture

One of the jobs that I applied for employs robots. What are robots? They are specialized computers performing specialized tasks. They have an operating system. That means they have data. Before, I only thought of things in terms of getting some input and displaying it on a screen. Now, I’m looking it at as using a computer to talk to these devices in various ways and to grab all sorts of data. Not only can we display this data, but perhaps figure out what the data now means and how it can be used to make more intelligent decisions. I believe before that question was posed to me, I probably would have hard a harder time understanding why this job appeals to me so much. Now, everything is far more clear. I don’t just see devices. I see a bunch of possibilities now. It has dared me to dream once again and it’s setting fire to the rest of my life and music.

Thank You!

Now, I couldn’t be more certain that things had to happen this way. Having been afraid to dream, due to the huge rollover in my life over the past four years, I was dragging my feet and not thinking so big. It’s no surprise that everything was suffering. Now everything has changed and I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the hiring manager who sparked the question that lit the fire inside.

Getting up and moving on

Well, I made it through the first week and I’m in to the weekend. The initial pain and shock wore off quite quickly. That probably has more to do with the fact that I am experienced enough to know that something fishy was happening in the company throughout the summer, despite not being able to put my finger on it. So, this is probably good that I am willing and able to move on as quickly as I am. However, in order to move on, I had to identify items that were holding me back. Again, I am no success coach or corporate executive. I just happen to be someone stuck in the trenches, and have found a few things that are helping me. They are keeping me motivated and encouraged. This is important if I’m going to be able to land a new position. If there is anyone in the same position that is reading this, and finds anything useful that helps and encourages them, then again it is all worth it. Again, don’t expect a well written blog post. I write code.

Healing myself

The hardest thing so far, has been the ability to sleep at night. It’s not so much the worry of everything that has been keeping me awake, but the memory of the incident that just keeps looping in my head and feeding my negative emotions. Sometimes it drives me to tears and makes me angry. I’ve discovered for myself that this is unhealthy and is holding me back. So, in order to move forward, I needed some healing. Thus, in order to heal myself, I needed to take care of that endless loop. Otherwise, I will be stuck and things will only get worse. Fortunately I had a trick up my sleeve to take care of this. In June, when all of these things were starting to happen, I had decided to go through my old Anthony Robbins Personal Power courses (been using them for almost 30 years). One of the things he covered in the course was what he referred to as the “erasure technique”. This is where you take those endless loops that are negatively affecting you, and perhaps holding you back, and start playing them in all sorts of ways that scramble the video in your head to the point where it is no longer recognizable. The source for the materials that were used to scramble this video we’re provided to me courtesy of my wife, Nichole, whose twisted sense of humour is something that I am truly grateful for. Before we went to go grocery shopping she decided to take me out to make me feel better, and get a clear game plan. So, blindly, I let her drive me to wherever we were going. Once we got close, she goes, “are you afraid yet?” I wasn’t sure what to think until we got into the parking lot. Once I saw that we were turning into the parking lot where Angel’s diner is where I figured we were going for some breakfast. When we parked the truck, she goes “we’re going to the Stag Shop.” Knowing that this is so unlike her, it made me laugh really hard. Honestly, he gave me a smile all through breakfast. Yes, we went to Angel’s diner. I’ll get to that below. However, for the purposes of my endless loop this was enough of a pattern interrupt to get me started. Immediately, I started playing the loop using material from the Stag Shop injected in. I started doing anything fun from placing French maid outfits on the HR personnel as well as my former boss, to leather teddies. Then it got really fun adding in the whips and chains. Whether anyone reading this is smiling or shocked, I don’t care. This work for me. I’ll play this image in church if I have to in order to keep grinning (it’s not a sin). For now, this might be one of the first nights I get a good night’s sleep since getting laid off.

Treating myself

Yes, Nichole myself went to Angel’s diner this morning. We’ve been thrown in a tough situation, and this was a little something to help us get moving. We had lots to do, and couldn’t let something like this stop us. We are human. This was a time for us to appreciate what we do have, and that was each other. Besides, it’s not like we spent an exorbitant amount of money. Both of us had the breakfast special, and that was more than good enough for me. It helped me to feel grateful for what we do have. And, if anything, I learned a long time ago that the key to happiness in moving forward is gratitude. Going to Angel’s diner helped me feel that gratitude. It was a little thing, but those little things are the big things.

Challenging myself

A lot of the new job prospects are asking for Angular and AngularJS as a requirement. So, while Nichole stepped out for a little bit this afternoon, I decided to see what Angular was all about. So, I fired up my NodeJS server and installed Angular. An hour later, by the time Nichole got back home, I was programming in Angular. The byproduct of the was that I was also programming in Typescript. This was an extreme boost to my confidence, as once again I had proven to myself that I can grab almost any technology and use it with a sense of familiarity within a short amount of time. This is also feeding my hungry brain for some extracurricular programming for some of my music. Logic has a real geeky feature that allows you to program MIDI effects in JavaScript. If anything, this is opening up some possibilities as far as music goes. I’m also wanting to get back into programming in Native Instruments Reaktor. If I can challenge myself to play with a bunch of frameworks, then I can challenge myself with some cool DSP algorithms. For me, music and math go hand-in-hand.

Permitting myself

I have to keep telling myself, “this is the weekend.” If anything, I have been sending out resumes and answering technical challenges. Now, don’t get me wrong. I actually enjoy the challenges because they prove to myself what I can do, alongside proving to others what I can do. They are helping me to think. If there’s anything that I love to do, that is think. However, this is the weekend. I’m allowed to rest. That’s what I did when I was working. That’s what others are doing, Looking for a new job is work. If anything, I’m proud of myself for the number of resumes that I sent out last week. I am prepared to do no less for the week coming up. However, I need to teach myself that resting is not something to be guilty of doing. When I was working, I would take the weekend and play some guitar and write some songs. I need to do the same now. In fact, I’m going to do a shameless plug to show you what I’m about when I’m not working. For me, the work life balance was very important, especially for the past four years. It should not change now, and I will not punish myself because of a situation I could not control. So without further ado, feel free to have a listen:

And, if it moves you to help support independent musicians, and you find that my music reaches out and touches you in some way, I would be greatly appreciative. I have never been one to ever asked for a simple hand out. I always like to give something back of value and these songs are more than just songs. They are stories of my life. In fact, one of the songs in this album documents was inspired by not only the mass layoffs happening at BlackBerry, but was also a twist on their campaign slogan at the time. And don’t worry, I don’t plan on living like a rock star. Anything that I have ever made from music was re-invested back into music, such as DAW upgrades and new drum libraries. If anything, however, I love the programming life as well as the music life. They help me to feel balanced, and I hope to get back into it very quickly.

In conclusion

As I have said previously, these are things that are helping me to move forward. For those in the same situation as me, and I know that I am not the only one, read beyond my words define the meaning of what is going to help you move forward. Here’s to a new week, filled with new hope and new possibilities.

The day after the bomb drops

Let me start this blog post by saying that I am not any type of employment consulting coach, nor am I a hiring manager or professional recruiter trying to tell people how to live their life after they get laid off from their job. In actual fact, I am nothing more than a fellow wounded soldier in the trenches. I got the idea for this blog post by the turn of recent events in my life. I’m calling the series “Diary of a laid off employee”. Yes, I got the news yesterday, and it was like the dropping of a bomb. However, I got the inspiration to do this thinking that if anything that I am writing brings any encouragement to those in the same boat as me, then it will be worth it. I won’t profess that anything in here is correct as to what one should do, nor will it be eloquent. All things considered, I am a software developer and my writing usually consists of code and my heart goes out to those in the same situation that I am in. So, let’s begin…

Don’t Linger

As soon as I got called in, and saw the HR rep in the board room, it was totally clear as to what was happening. I am not ignorant to this. I’ve been working long enough in my life to know what it looks like. I’ve even been situated outside of the offices that these were carried out in. They’re not pretty to look at from that side either. So, as soon as I knew what was about to happen, my first decision was to make it quick. The fact is that the relationship is over between me and the company that I worked for, and it was no use trying to discuss or reason with it. The decision at that point was final. To think that they would reconsider would be nothing short of foolish. So, in order to leave with any type of composure and dignity, and get out before the shock sets in, it had to be fast. It was also important to make sure that I had left on a positive note. There should be no scene, and no show of emotion. Just get it over with and leave quietly as well as quickly.

Process, not Panic

If anything, getting called in and receiving this news is a huge deal. I won’t lie. My first thoughts when I left the building to crawl into my vehicle were shock, anger, disbelief and heading towards panic. It was then I thought not to start making my way home just yet. If anything, I took a good 15 to 20 minutes to vent. I figured making my way home too quickly might impact my judgement on the road. I needed the time to get emotional and get it out, so that I could take it all in and figure out my next moves. I want to know that all sorts of thoughts came in fast and furious. Rather than try to rationalize them, I figured it was just best to let them happen. And I’m glad that I did. This allowed me to process everything that was happening. It was necessary to take it all in, and not figure it out yet. Making myself aware of the situation and accepting it was an important first step. Did I have my moments of panic? Of course! I’m not going to deny that I had trouble sleeping last night. However, processing everything that took place helped me to figure out what was next.

Plan towards the Goal

Let’s face it. The ultimate goal is to get a new job. How are you going to do that? Well, you have to have a plan of action. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in any of the goal setting workshops that I have done, it’s that no goal is possible without a plan of action and executing that plan. That said I put forth a plan of action to put out 20 resumes daily. It could be more, but never less. So far, I am keeping up with that plan. My take on it is that the wider the net, the greater the chance. Of course, I’m keeping everything real. I’m only sending out applications those positions that I am absolutely sure that I can be productive and enjoy it. This way, I am not creating any false hopes.

Challenge Yourself

As I was starting to send out resumes yesterday, one of the prospective employers had stated that the only way they will consider you is if you have answered their challenge. So, I decided to roll up my sleeves and rise up to the challenge. It was a coding problem, and I was determined to solve it. One of the side challenges that arose was figuring out how I could run this within the IDE so that I could debug it. As I decided to answer the challenge in JavaScript, I discovered that the IDE could run the code using Node.Js. If anything I had never used Node.js before. So, what did I do? I downloaded and installed node on my laptop. I was determined to figure it out and run it. By the end, I not only had an answer to the challenge, but I also figured out how easy it is to program with Node.js. This was an extreme boost to my confidence, demonstrating that even in this situation, I could rise up to the challenge of not only creating a working solution but creating it on a new technology at the same time. It might take me a bit of time to master, but there’s no doubt whatsoever that I can use it with confidence.

Taking Comfort from Others Around You

Again, I’m not going to lie. This is a loss. I’ve been through many losses in life, some of them are far greater than this, but that doesn’t mean that this is any less of a loss. In a way it has similar qualities to a bereavement. With that, expect others to come around and try to give you comfort. However, know that there are never any right words to address the situation. My son last night came over to see me because he didn’t want me to go through it alone. He even picked up a treat for me. However, he didn’t really know what to say. I told him just the fact that he was here was enough.

Do Something

I knew that the night was going to be long. However, my son had one good point: do something that makes you happy. For me, that was picking up my guitar and just playing. It wasn’t anything meaningful. Mostly, it was just noodling, but it was putting my fingers to the fretboard in an effort to have some sort of peace. Considering that the guitar is a very emotional instrument for me, it made perfect sense to put my emotions to music.


So there you have it. This is what I did for me. I’m hoping that you can see beyond the words and find the meaning of what it all means for you. I will try to keep going as the days go by, But I hope that you will be patient with me. Like I said, this is not easy. However, I hope that you will get something out of this as much as I am putting into it.

Life’s Rules

“Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.”‭‭

–Philippians‬ ‭4:11‬ ‭NASB

‬‬ “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,”

–Colossians‬ ‭3:23‬ ‭NASB‬‬

The pastor of the church once said, “God doesn’t want us to be happy. He wants us to be holy.” I’m starting to realize what he means. At first, I took it as a face value statement, which drove me into depression, believing that God only wants us to be miserable.However, scripture is starting to reveal that this doesn’t seem to be the case. I’ve seen a few references in scripture where God has answered prayer, and yet people were still unhappy. So, my only conclusion, after seeing a few other references in scripture, is that happiness is something that is left up to us, and is not God’s responsibility. From my own experience, it seems like we put this responsibility on God because we don’t want to take it ourselves. In fact, it seems that we place this responsibility on everyone else but us. We sort of treat it as “if X then Y” where X is something external and Y is You (or me). What this means is that we won’t happen unless something else does. Quite often were quick to say “if such and such happens, then I’ll be happy” or whatever emotion, positive or negative, they care to inject into the logic

I’ve learned that relying on such “logic” was only leading me to further anger and depression. By depending on anybody or anything outside of me, including God, to make me happy, I was only leading myself to total discouragement. An example of this was when we were younger, I would say, “when things get better, we’ll have more children.” Well, I got to point where things were getting worse.. However, that was the point I turned around and said, “let’s have more children and make things better.” This gave me a new outlook on life. So, the only thing that I really wonder is what has really changed? Why would I give up the power to be happy, and place it in someone else’s control? Putting it back in my control is as simple as reversing the rule. That would mean, “if I am happy then… ” this will put the control back into my hands. In no way do I feel that this is ungodly or sinful.

The apostle Paul stated in the New Testament, “I learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am in.” This takes discipline. There are many situations that can destroy us if we let it. How did he learn? If you tell me, “it can only come from God”, this is a superficial statement because everything comes from God. If you were to tell me that putting in a self-help CD, or reading a book is ungodly, then not only would I question the basis of your argument, but I would also question your sense of taking responsibility for your life. Not everything we read, sing, speak, or learn has to explicitly have Jesus written all over it. Everything we do, however, should be in praise of Jesus and all the God has done for us. This is something that is in our hands. Why would Jesus tell us, “do not be anxious”, “be of good cheer”, and “fear not”, if it were not? Otherwise, it wouldn’t be the free will that we believe God gave us. Sorry to disappoint you, but God just won’t do things to make us happy. He knows better. He knows that no matter what He does, we’d still be unhappy. And at the same time, He knows the opposite: we can be happy of our own choosing, leaving God to do real miracles. Our happiness is a choice, not a miracle. In fact, anything that is within our capabilities is not a miracle.

Leaving my emotions up to anyone else will just not happen as I would hope. It rarely does. I do believe however, that if I get happy, things will happen. Again, as Paul said, “I learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am in.” To me, that’s proof right there that happiness is a choice and not a miracle. Thus, I am exercising the choice, whether it is reading a book, popping in a CD, or just picking up my guitar and writing a silly song. Perhaps, none of those things may mention Jesus in anyway, but that in no way means that I am not doing this for His glory, and nothing I do will come before Him.

An introspective look into my songwriting dilemma 

I started working on this blog entry almost four year ago, when I came up with the song, “The Road That Leads To Jesus”. During that time, I was facing some giant struggles, one of them knowing that Joelle was starting her fight against cancer and it was just a matter of time until she would lose that battle. But, in that time, I discovered that some of my best works, or at least what I consider to be my best works, come forth from my deepest feelings. Rather than come up with a whole new entry, I decided to take what I started writing then and build on it. The journey of songwriting was a hard one to restart, mainly due to trying to get my motivation going, but one of the things that did help me to move forward in my journey was knowing that Joelle did get to hear the chorus of my song idea and I wanted to complete it in her honor. My discoveries in this journey were no different today as they were back then. So, here goes:

I had a rude awakening. I realized that when it comes to songwriting: I am not dry at all. Worst part of it was that for a long time, I had myself convinced that the songwriting well was dry and that I felt that I was being punished, when the truth is that I can be judgmental with a slight touch of laziness. I am loaded with a number of song ideas and yet I find that I don’t follow through with them. Even worse than not following through is that I often don’t start by putting the idea down in the first place. I throw the idea out before I even have a chance to make something out of it.

So how did I get to this conclusion? I just happened to finally notice that one night while I had my guitar plugged in, I came up with a patch that made me rather excited to play. My ears were practically dancing to the sound, and I was playing some riffs to the sound. I could have played all night long. It’s not the first time that I have been playing all night, or at least lost track of time. The problem lies in that I didn’t bother to capture them. I have all sorts of ways to capture my guitar sound. I can open up my DAW, or I can even capture the idea on my phone and listen to it. It doesn’t take a whole lot to hit the record button. However, I just seem to be dismissing these ideas, probably thinking that I am going to come back to them later. The reality is that I have forgotten more song ideas than songs that I have written.

Even worse is thinking that an idea is not good enough. This is crazy. All ideas should be considered good and should be recorded.

So, what am I going to do with this newly discovered information? How can I make sure that I am not brooding over the one that got away?

To start, I’ve learned that the secret to writing is quantity. The more you write, the more you will write. I’m at the point of putting every idea down. Whether it’s on my phone or on my computer, I am making sure that I put down something. Whether it turns into a song or not, it goes down. Even the apps on my phone enable me to get something down quickly.

I’m also making sure that I have access to everything I write. I’ve learned that I can have a brilliant addition to that song, whether it is music or lyrics, and nothing is worse than not having it available. I also like to review them once in a while for some inspiration.

The last thing I have learned is not to criticize my ideas. I’ve learned that nothing shuts me down faster than shooting down my ideas before they get a chance to flourish. In fact, I’ve learned a lesson from Steve Vai: write the crappiest song you can because if you know it is crappy, you can do anything you want. Pat Pattison once said, “Write crap because crap is fertilizer. Good ideas grow from crap.”

Through these simple steps, I have discovered that I have been writing more. I have discovered that the well is not dry. I’ve only been putting a cap on it at times. All I have to do is keep writing.

Life 2.0 – Like I Never Imagined

“… The old has gone, the new is here!”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:17‬b ‭NIV‬‬

It has been a long while since I last wrote. A very long while. All I can say is that a lot has happened since I last wrote. I knew that life had to change, and that I would move forward. However, I don’t think I would have imagined life as it is now. What can I say? I actually have a lot that I can talk about in this post, and as always I am grateful for the grace that many of you give me and the fact that I lay down my thoughts in a very disjointed manner. Mind you, this time I am doing things a little different. Instead of feverishly typing away at a mobile keyboard, or even a computer keyboard, I am actually dictating it into my devices. You might say that for the past three months I have been practising talking into my devices, so that everything can come out as clear as it is right now. However, I’ll have to keep in mind that with this newfound ability, I will have to control my babbling and get straight to the point. So, let’s begin:

Let me start by filling in some gaps between some of my posts that I will admit is my fault for not mentioning. Back in August 2017, just after I had thought that I had come to a resignation that my life was over in Ontario, that seem to change when I got back. As it was pointed out in one of my other blog posts, I was presented with the opportunity to play on the churches worship team. What I didn’t mention, was that shortly after I met a woman in our church. We found ourselves texting for hours on end and I finally worked up the courage to ask her out for dinner. Actually, to say that I had just met her would not be totally true. She was actually the girl that made my good Friday, mentioned in my blog post Lost Joy Found. Her smile pierced my heart, that at that point I found myself sitting behind her at church, just so I could find out her name. I learned that her name was Nichole, only because I heard our pastor talk to her. I so much wanted to tell her how she brightened up that good Friday for me, but I was so afraid. It wasn’t until she found me on Facebook and told me how much she enjoyed my guitar playing on worship team, that we started talking. We must’ve talked for hours that night. Finally, late that night, I got the courage to ask her out for dinner. One date lead to two, and the more time we spent together, the more I realized how much I loved her. These days, I cannot imagine spending the rest of my life without her.

Other parts of my life have taken a turn as well. My career a BlackBerry took a sharp left turn, and I decided that it was time to leave. Working in a new place, I am not only having a great time doing what I love, but, despite the fair space, it is far less stressful and far more enjoyable, looking forward to the drive into work.

Speaking of the drive, I actually never thought I would enjoy driving as much as I do now. My daughter kept telling me that I should get a pick up truck. Mind you, her reasoning was that I was getting older and I needed something a little more firm for winter driving. However, I’ve been finding this thing fun to drive all year round. I also enjoy the practicality.

Mind you, I don’t really know what she’s talking about being old. If anything, I’ve been feeling younger these days than I have been in the last 10 years. A lot of that probably has to do with keeping my health promises that I made. I will admit that I’ve come a long way. However, I still have a long way to go. What I do know is that success is in the journey, not the destination.

Jumping back to Nichole, I know that I must have left a lot of details of it, but the main point is that since I know that I do not want to spend the rest my life without her, I asked her to marry me and she said yes. I am looking forward to this new journey with Nichole by my side as husband and wife.

Hopefully, I will be able to be a little more regular with these posts. However, this is always subject to inspiration.

A Glimpse Into Heaven

Now it came about in the thirtieth year, on the fifth day of the fourth month, while I was by the river Chebar among the exiles, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.
Ezekiel 1:1 NASB

It’s hard to believe that has been almost 10 months since losing Joelle to cancer. That barrier of time just keeps widening and everything is more and more becoming what was, forcing me to move ahead in life without her beside me. No doubt that I carry her in my heart, but life is definitely not the same.

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all of the people in my life who have been there for me, both online and in person. It makes me feel that the world is not such a big place after all. The biggest appreciation are for the members of the worship team that I have been privileged to be a part of. Knowing that music is a huge part of my life and a major part of how I love to give my praises to God, they have been totally encouraging to the point where I am almost apologetic for being so enthusiastic because I am almost afraid of being seen as a showman, which I not when it comes to worship. My excitement playing guitar and singing shows through in such a way that I have gotten totally lost in worship and everything about me is in autopilot. Truth be told, I have worked on my technique for many hours to the point where I can find my way around my guitar with my eyes closed. I’m not bragging or anything. I’m simply stating that I don’t need to think about where to find the chords on a music sheet, or where various notes are located in order to do any serious leads. However, that’s not really the point.

Sometimes, when I find that I am lost in worship, something truly amazing happens. Some can argue otherwise,and others can dismiss me as a stark raving lunatic. Even our pastor, who I respect highly because of all of his insight and knowledge would argue that there is no window from Heaven where our loved ones can look down on us, or no railing or anything like that. However, I’m the one caught in the middle of the experience and if you are like me and believe Scripture to be the Word of Truth, then I would find it hard to believe that there are times when those in Heaven can see us, just as we can see into Heaven for just a glimpse. After all, there are many undeserving people in the Bible who have seen into Heaven. So why not me?

And I believe I did, and perhaps on more than one occasion when in my moment of being lost in worship. I believe that for a brief moment in time, God gave me a peek inside Heaven. It’s not something one sees with their eyes. Rather, this glimpse into Heaven is seen with your heart. In this glimpse, I can almost hear those in Heaven singing along with me. How do I know this? Well, if you have been in a room with not that many people and all of a sudden everything sounds much bigger than everyone in the room. At that moment, it’s quite evident that those voices are outside of those physically present. And the funniest part is how everyone that is there agrees that everything sounded just bigger and can’t explain it. That has to be that glimpse into Heaven.

Here’s the hope of this whole post. It’s not too difficult for me to believe that in that moment of being lost in worship that I am getting that glimpse into Heaven. What I am hoping is that in this glimpse, Joelle is right there among everyone else singing along. I’m hoping that for that brief moment, amongst all of the voices that I singing along to whatever song that I happen to be praising God, Joelle’s voice is among them.