Chatters & Grumps

27th post for #bloganuary (a WordPress event)

The Prompt: Where do you go when you need solitude?

Another weird question. Um. I go where no one else is. Either physically. Or mentally. Am I missing some complexity here?

Moving on… did I ever mention that I published a collection of illustrated shorts? Here is one of the more lighthearted pieces to wet your whistle (click image for more of these golden nuggets).

“Chatters & Grumps” – originally published in Monty’s Very Short Shorts

Be well,


A Call for Humanity

16th post for #bloganuary (a WordPress event)

The Prompt: What is a cause that you are passionate about and why?

Humanity: Compassion, Empathy and Kindness.

“Anew” (originally published in Monty’s Very Short Shorts)

Perhaps this answer doesn’t address the prompt as it was originally intended, but I’d like to use this opportunity to make a call for humanity. There are many causes in this world that I’m aligned to. At the center of every worthy cause, there is a core value of humanity. We may chose to direct our efforts towards various causes from saving the earth to fighting for greater justice or racial equality. Either way we are tapping into the fundamental values of humanity: Compassion, Empathy, and Kindness. If we guide our actions and behaviors with these values, we will be living up to our species name.

“Motherland” (originally published in Monty’s Very Short Shorts)

Be well,


The 6am Job Interview

14th post for #bloganuary (a WordPress event)

The Prompt: Write about a challenge you faced and overcame.

Facing challenges, overcoming some, learning from all, has been a central theme in my writing. Earlier this month, I wrote about my journey of recovery from chronic pain and living with depression (Discovering Hope). I won’t repeat myself. So, I’ll share with a you a simple story about the challenge I faced this morning and how I approached it. Life is not always about the big challenges and events, sometimes its just about meeting the little challenges of the day.

At 6am this morning I had a job interview. I’ve got a good job already, and this company had reached out to me, so it wasn’t a high pressure situation. However, this was my second interview with them and the during the first interview I kinda started to get my hopes up about the potential opportunity. I really liked the line manager and, if there is one thing I’ve learned after a quarter century of working in industry, a line manager can make or break a job experience. There is nothing worse than having to go to work everyday and face someone that doesn’t trust you (or you them). Anyway, I started to get excited about working for this new company/line manager and it got my mind speeding up, building up expectations, and stress.

Last night I tried to calm my mind by jotting down a few key points that I wanted to make during the interview, but I still slept restlessly and awoke at 5am tired. What to do?

I did the same thing I’ve done every day for the past 30 days and off-and-on for the past few years. First, I rolled out the mat and did a simple 20-minute yoga session to wake my body up. Starting the day with a self-care activity is the best way for me to remind myself about my priorities. Starting off today, like any other day, helped remind myself to keep the day ahead in perspective.

Following the yoga session, I sat for a 10-minute guided meditation to get my mind in synch with my body (doing the yoga first is key for me as otherwise I’ll tend to fall back asleep when I try to meditate first thing in the morning). This morning, my mind was on fast-forward and I really struggled with staying present. I was so fidgety that I laughed out loud at myself at one point. But I sat and did my practice. It’s more important for me to do the work, than how well it goes on any given day. In fact, I would say that the practices that are more rough tend to be the most valuable for building my emotional resilience.

At this point, it was about 5:40am and I only had a bit of time before my interview. Not enough time to take my coffee, but too much time to just wait. I decided to try something to release my nerves. There was an exercise offered on my meditation app (Calm) called “Daily Move” and today’s movement was focused on dealing with strong emotions such as anger and fear. While I wasn’t feeling these emotions, I thought it could still release some of my nervous energy. The guide had me in horse position punching the air. I really got into it. Maybe I was feeling a bit of anger after all? Haha. Not sure, but it felt great.

With 10 minutes left, I needed to get set up and take a quick look at my notes. I logged onto the video conference at 5:59am. I felt energized. I felt calm. I felt confident. While it will be some time before I know the results of the interview, it doesn’t really matter for today. Today, I took care of myself. Today, I’m feeling good. I’m ready to face the next challenge of the day.

“Namaste” by Monty Vern

Be well,


Living Courageously

11th post for #bloganuary (a WordPress event)

The Prompt: What does it mean to live boldly?

First let’s get grounded…


(1) in a confident and courageous way; showing a willingness to take risk.

(2) in a way that is characterized by having a strong, vivid, or clear appearance.

– Oxford Dictionary

Ok, so based on this literal foundation, I’m going to reframe the question for today as “What does it mean to live courageously?

Living Courageously

Living courageously is being open, honest, and vulnerable.

Living courageously is admitting to my mistakes and making amends.

Living courageously is loving myself with all my faults.

Living courageously is loving another unconditionally.

Living courageously is changing the things I can.

Living courageously is accepting the things I cannot change.

Living courageously is choosing life even when I don’t want to.

Living courageously is finding joy amidst the pain.

Living courageously is simply,


What does living courageously mean to you?

Be well,


Winter Bloom

It’s six degrees Celsius outside, but there is no winter hibernation for this rose blossom. What a beauty.

7am Sunday, July 9 2022 (Shanghai)
Winter Bloom (Monty Vern)
Red, Blue, Yellow Blooms (Monty Vern)
Winter Bloom Too (Monty Vern)

Good morning to us all!

Be well,


Saving Private Gill (a Captain Jack Adventure)

Originally posted on 3 January 2022 on Monty’s Scribbles

Yesterday, my friend Captain Jack and I saved a life. True story. Here’s how it went down.

Captain Jack, or more informally Jack, is my rescue puppy. He arrived outside of our home about four months ago. He needed a home. We didn’t know it at the time, but we needed a captain. So we took him in. He was about two months old according to the vet, so that would make him about six months old now. Still a pup.

Jack usually hangs out with me so when he went missing for a little while in the house I got curious. He came prancing around the corner when I called and looked at me. But then he pranced away again. Strange. I decided to investigate.

I found him in the back corner of our sun veranda. The corner where the laundry sits. He was nudging something on the floor with his nose. I leaned over and was very confused to see a fish on the floor. It didn’t seem to be moving, but it looked wet (i.e. not a dried fish snack or something). Then it moved!

Suspending my disbelief about finding a live fish randomly in the house, I jumped into gear and got it into a big bowl of water as fast as I could. It didn’t swim but it moved it’s gills a bit. The fish was about 5 inches long. Darkish grey/green. With a wide mouth. Kinda like the fish that often comes in a bowl of soup, but a baby. While it was located near the kitchen it didn’t make sense that we would have a baby fish for soup. And how the heck did it get into the laundry area?

For a moment I thought Jack might have “borrowed” the fish from our outside fish pond. While it was a logical thought, I feel guilty for ever thinking Jack was a potential murderer. And this fish didn’t look like any of the fish in our pond so even the logic didn’t quite add up. The truth is Jack might have saved the life of this fish! Shame on me for thinking otherwise. But then again, the fish didn’t look like it was doing so well. Perhaps we failed it?

Giving the fish a little time to gather it’s powers back (or float) I went in search for answers. I woke up my wife and explained the situation. She was confused as well at first, but then she asked me more details. Exactly where did Jack find this fish? What does it look like? She was a real detective grilling me for all the facts. That’s when it all clicked into place.

Turns out my brother-in-law started raising this fish at our place when he was house (and dog) sitting during our US trip. It had been outside, but he brought it into the house due to the cold weather.  Into our laundry room area. Right where Jack found him! Except on the floor. Apparently it made a jump for it. Poor guy/gal.

I went back to check on the fish. It was still slightly moving but it didn’t look promising. I found the bowl that had been his home (for some reason I’d never noticed it before) and poured him back in. Perhaps he would survive, but I didn’t have much hope.

A bit later I checked on him. He was gone! I searched the floor and thought he had jumped again but nothing. Then “swish!”. It had been hiding below the greenery in his bowl. He was alive!

That’s the (true) fish story and any fish that makes it into a story deserves a name. Meet Private Gill.

Be well Private Gill and keep being a hero Captain Jack.