Poetry Corner – The Night

gopro-night
 
The Night

I don’t want this night to end
Floating in oblivion
I want night to last forever
Why must we wake up?

It’s as if the night is there
just to tease us
Only a short reprieve
from torturous day

Dreams blind us from what awaits when we wake

I want this night to stay
and comfort me in its eternal blackness
The sun’s beams like a monster
peeking from behind the closet door

Spend day waiting
for night’s warm embrace
Bringing comfort and protection
from all that exists
Anonymity at last

But don’t let it fool you
Night is day disguised
Unveiling its true identity
come dusk

Falling asleep
into an inviting void
A dimension beyond our four
Together we go interstellar

The night doesn’t care
about your successes
or failures

Good night

Sleep tight

T0P 5: How To Meet People

T0P 5:

How To Meet People

written by Cameron Brtnik

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T0P 5: How To Meet People 

    Let’s see, what to do today… Go to work? Check. Pick up groceries on the way home? Check. Make dinner and put the kids to bed? Check. Read at least one page of that book I’ve had on the go for six months now… Sleep. Where in this whirlwind schedule of yours did you make time to meet people?

It seems the “art of meeting people” is lost on us. We’re too busy staring at our glowing, soothing screens (I know I know cliche, but also true). Too busy planning our artful escape off the elevator full of sweaty people we spent the entire ride trying not to make eye contact with. Too busy worrying about our home lives: I gotta talk to the husband, I can see Sophie’s going through some issues, when’s the last time I saw the dentist? Internal monologue that really wears us down mentally and physically. “Outside people” are seen as a threat to our own existence: “Don’t talk to me bub or you’ll screw up my mental grocery list.” But you know what’s fun? Getting outside your thoughts, and striking an “uncomfortable” conversation with your worried-looking neighbour in the elevator. Also chatting with that person behind you in the line at the grocery store as you’re paying for your Coffee Crisp. I guarantee at least one of you will leave the conversation feeling better about the world.

Without further ado, here’s my Top 5 Techniques on “How To Meet People and Break The Ice!” (or HTMPABTI)

1. Breaking The Ice – Don’t be shy; Approach people and you break the ice. Don’t open with the usual, “Hey, how you enjoying this party?” Rather offer something:a party trick, a funny anecdote, a compliment, or a corny joke. Once you become a person of value, this “just a second ago stranger” will be actually be interested in meeting you. Now go and Google “corny jokes.”
2. Keep the Conversation Interesting – Be outgoing, friendly, funny, gregarious… But don’t just talk about yourself (nobody likes a bragger…except other braggers); Bring up current news stories, talk about how you both know the host, share an embarrassing story, but most importantly ask questions about them!This person will be (happily) shocked that a stranger is so interested in getting to know more about him or her. Remember: Knowledge is power, and power is half the battle! Or something like that…
3. Ask Questions – Show you’re interested – I know I just stated this above, but it’s worth repeating. One way I engage people is not by telling them about me (although if they ask I will tell them) but rather by asking about them. Not just the usual: “What’s your name? What do you do? Have you been here before blah blah blah…” That’s interesting but not really engaging. Rather ask, “What are your interests?” See if you can bond over a common interest ie. sports, politics, your shared obsession in D&D. This is sure to keep the conversation rolling – at least until you tell them your nickname for the stuffed teddy bear you sleep with every night.
4. Name Game – Remember the person’s name! This is difficult (I do not now why it’s so difficult). My technique? I repeat the person’s name throughout the conversational least four times so I remember it. For example: What’s your name?”Daniella. “Pleasure to meet youDaniella. Daniella, do you enjoy waterskiing?” I’ve never been… “Haha that’s great, I can just picture you on a pair of skis on the lake like, ‘HeyDaniella! You have to be facing the boat!’ Well Daniella it was a pleasure chatting with you, how can we…” That was four times. It seems excessive when you read it, but it’s really not and she won’t even notice. And when you call her by her by her name at the end of the conversation, she’ll be impressed you actually remember it! Not like the last couple douchebags who didn’t and then expected to exchanges socials. Bam you win.
5. Keep In Touch – Rather than blatantly asking,What’s your phone number or Instagram?(this can feel intrusive especially if you just met) ask,”How can we continue this conversation?,”and let them offer their contact. A bit of reverse psychology for you!

Bonus: How to Remember a Name

  1. Repeat their name at least four times throughout the conversation.
  2. Think of a person you know with the same name who has a similar personality or hobby.
  3. Rhyme their name with something you’ll remember ie. Mike likes to hike, Suzy likes to drink boozy…

My Reading List:

  • The Game by Neil Strauss (Don’t knock it till you read it! Useful for men and women)
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Cameron is a freelance writer based in Toronto and a passionate advocate of meeting strangers cbrtnik.com

10P 10: GSD or How To Get Shit Done!

mock up of empty picture frame on the desk
T0P 10: GSD or How To Get Shit Done!
written by Cameron Brtnik
    OPD or Obsessive Procrastination Disorder has caused a slowing down of my life, and even a reversal at times. I feel so behind that forward is somehow backwards; it’s like I can never get ahead. I worry that I’ll never achieve anything in the future because I’m constantly living in the past, stuck in place like a snail’s race, a car in a traffic jam, an insignificant particle traveling through space and time… (okay I have no idea where I was going with that metaphor). Common sense says: “Always put the most important tasks at the the beginning of your to-do list.” I’ve also heard the opposite: “Do the easiest tasks first so you feel a sense of accomplishment.” But which is the right answer? Unfortunately like most conundrums, there is no magic bullet. Don’t fret – I’ve compiled a list of “tried and true guidelines” that will help you, too, to finally Get Shit Done!
Rules that have helped me Get Shit Done –

1 – The Two Minute Rule – Whatever can be done in two minutes, do it right away! This has helped me Get Shit Done more than any other technique on this list, so if you take anything away, it’s this. I get the thing done right away and feel good about my “mini achievement.” And most importantly, have not added to the pile of “things to do” like a perpetual game of Jenga.

2 – Hold Yourself Accountable – Find an Accountability Buddy – someone who will hold you accountable if you don’t finish the task on time. This “motivational coach” basically acts as a boss who expects the job done by an agreed upon deadline. They may even help you complete your task, which is okay – there’s no rulebook to completing something, only that you get it done!

3 – FOLD (Fear Of Letting someone Down) – Similar to having an Accountability Buddy, if you committed to completing a project for someone, especially a friend or colleague, FOLD or “the Fear Of Letting Someone Down” forces you to complete that task. But don’t take on more than you know you can handle as that can have counterproductive effects.

4 – Under Pressure: Positive Procrastination – The old “leave it to the last day” pressure tactic has worked miracles for me. Back in high school, I often left assignments till the morning of. But come the “day of reckoning,” I forced myself to get up early, crack down, and whip out some of my best work. *Note: I don’t recommend using this one too much as it can physically and mentally burn you out.

5 – Double-Down – Are you willing to put money on that? If there is a sum of money riding on the outcome, this is often a strong motivator in completing a task by the due date. Think about a game of Poker: how motivated are you when you’re not playing for money? Do you care if you win or lose? Now put five bucks on the game and see if you don’t care. Now raise a hundred.

6 – Check Please – Write the tasks on your To-do Lists next to a checkbox (I recommend using the Evernote app as it has great features and your notes save in the cloud…whatever that is). As you go through your list and check that shit off, it feels good. And at the end of the day, you can lay back and stare at all those checked boxes and bask in the glory of success.

7 – Copy & Paste – When you’re cringing at the thought of checking your email, here’s a psychological rouse I created that’s helped me: Copy and paste messages into another app like Word or Evernote, read and write your reply in the app, then copy and paste it back into your email. This seemingly pointless work-around has helped me get over what I call WAS or “Work Avoidance Syndrome.” Psychologically, like doing work at a cafe, it can make menial tasks easier to complete. Try it and see if it works for you!* (*or your money back guaranteed! Now please send me money.)

8 – Set A Schedule – Set up a recurrent schedule to force you to Get Shit Done! For example, if you want to send out an email every month, make a phone call once a week or a text once a day, setting up an “auto-schedule” gets rid of the all the stress. Think of your favourite Youtuber or podcaster. They post content monthly, weekly or even daily or risk losing their fanbase (not to mention their sponsors). I find it inspiring to listen to a comedian like Bill Burr who posts his podcast not once, but twice a week! And he’s a self-proclaimed lazy buffoon. Now do you feel lazy?

9 – Chill Out – Listen to a “chillout playlist” on your headphones or in the background while working. This will calm and relax you, and put you in the right headspace to focus on your work. I recommend throwing on some Lofi Chill or any “study playlist” on Spotify.

10 – Celebrate the Good Times – The relief you feel when you finally finish that long-lingering project will be like getting a monkey off your back. You’ll feel free from the self-imposed oppression and guilt of not getting shit done, which means it’s time to celebrate with a (insert favourite drink here), lay back and marvel at how smart you are. Now go out there and Get Shit Done!

***If you have any advice for how you “Get Shit Done” please leave a comment below or email me at cbrtnik@gmail.com and I’ll feature it my next Top Ten segment!
Cameron is a freelance writer based in Toronto, and practitioner of Getting Shit Done cbrtnik.com

Poetry Corner – Morning Commute

Morning Commute

    Tin snake, barely awake, twisted tunnels, pushed and funnelled, crammed in, tuna can, sea of frowns, furrowed brows, claustrophobic, body frozen, anxiety, stranger eyeing me, death stare, vacant glare, guy's sweaty, eyes heavy, morning breath, feel like death, faces glued to hand devices deathly afraid to look up for they may accidentally make eye contact: phone screens, Kindle screens, sudoku screens, newspaper screens, delay announcement, PA shouting, confused expressions, rising tension, gonna be late shit, won't make it, gonna be fired, brain is tired, missing my test, gonna get an F, Finch Station, arrived at my destination... A sigh of relief, now do it again five days a week

10P 10: How To Throw a GOOD Party This Summer

10P 10:

How To Throw a Good Party This Summer

written by Cameron Brtnik

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“Make it a Potluck”
    We’re finally into the summer party season, and you’ll no doubt be celebrating at your cottage up North, hitting a patio downtown, or throwing a backyard BBQ. You will surely be stocked with cold beers, coolers, freshly rolled joints and other party favours to help keep your guests inebriated. And let’s not forget the staples: juicy burgers, sausages, and some unidentifiable vegan choice. You’ll probably have a couple card games on hand like Cards Against Humanity, or Uno. And this would all seem like enough..but often, it’s not – not if you want to make your party memorable. Here are some ideas to add some originality, fun and excitement to your shindig, and ensure your parties will be the most talked about this summer!
1. Get Decor – Buy some decor at a store. I know it seems tacky, but it’s better than nothing! Eg: Streamers, balloons, and other party favours. Tip: These can all be bought at Dollarama.
2. Plan Some Games – This may seem childish, but as I’m sure you’re well aware, a drunken crowd is a childish crowd. Some ideas: Pin the Tail On the Donkey, Twister (this will turn x-rated pretty quick, unless it’s a family function), Truth or Dare, Card Drinking Games like Kings Cup
3. Have Prizes – Don’t forget to have prizes for the winners. I usually like to have cheesy prizes ie. stuff you can get from the dollar bin, as it makes it funnier, promotes good sportsmanship, and will ultimately save some $. Some favourites: Bag-o-nuts, a pair of socks, or some kind of childish toy. It’s probably good to have a real prize for the harder games like Trivia. For this you can have nicer items like a bottle of Tequila or a movie Gift Certificate. Tip: For a great prize (and to save you more $) you could make a “Dinner for two with Me and You” gift card where you invite that guest and a plus one for a dinner night. They will love it cause they’ll get to spend more time with you!
4. Host a Trivia Game – Everyone likes to play trivia at the pub, but how about in your own living room? And have guests answering questions you designed yourself? Tip: Make it theme related ie. On a trip to Chicago you could include trivia about that city, or for a birthday you can find out trivia about the birthday boy (ask his girlfriend the answers beforehand so it makes it super subjective!)
5. Play Kings Cup – I mentioned this in #2, but I felt this game needed a whole category in itself. You know it – it’s that game you played in college where, by the end, you were either throwing up in the bathroom or making out with a stranger. Kings Cup is still the king of drinking games (see what I did there?) and what I love about it is that you can tweak the rules or even make up new ones along the way. “Kings! From now on no one can use the word ‘drink’ during the game.” Good luck with that one.
6. Entertain Your Guests – Invite at least one talented friend. This could be a musician, a dancer, a clown, or even a chef. It doesn’t matter, as long as they’re prepared to be put on the spot at some point in the night to put on a show. It’s a win-win: They entertain your crowd for free and they get invited to the next party.
7. Play Match-Maker – Know a couple of stand-up individuals in your circle of friends who haven’t found the right one (yet)? Perfect! Act as matchmaker. Whether or not they hit it off by the end of the night, they’ll thank you for your well-meaning efforts. You never know – they may just name their baby after you.
8. Throw a Dance Party – Halfway into the night guests will be chilling on the patio, deck, or huddled inside if the weather’s chilly… That’s when you ask Alexa to throw on some party tunes! Watch as your normally shy friends bust out the Floss. Ah DMX never sounded so good.
9. Make It a Potluck – Make the party a Potluck Party and that will certainly take a lot of the stress off of hosting. You can designate one cook, or guests may use the grill to cook their own food (this comes with an obvious warning).
10. BYOB – Ask guests to “Bring Your Own Booze.” This seems evident but it’s worth mentioning. Imagine the PR nightmare if you ran out of booze halfway through the event – apocalyptic. If everyone brings their own booze, you can relax knowing there’ll be plenty to gulp down for the duration of the event (and even leftovers for dinner the next day!). Oh the joys of hosting. Tip: To make the party amusing put out a bowl of edibles. WARNING: Make sure your guests know they’re edibles! If they’ve never tried them advise doing just a little so your guests don’t disappear halfway through the night. I recommend gummy bears, but just the head.

Cameron is a freelance writer based in Toronto and part-time party planner cbrtnik.com

Poetry Corner – Starbucks

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Starbucks

I don’t even recognize this world around me. How am I supposed to be productive? Maneuvering on an unstable rock, an unknown planet, through an ever-evolving galaxy… Staring at the unfamiliar person across from me at a Starbucks, one of many, not special, drinking brown water, trying to find the inspiration at the bottom of the cup…

Multiple unimportant conversations fill the space around me, fleeting moments in a day that blends into the next, any other day really, not special, they’ve all been repeated before... People pretending to be busy, all the while thinking the same thoughts as me, feeling the same feelings, experiencing the same sense of dread…

Some people staring off into the distance, waiting for a reply on their phone, waiting for their partner to join them, waiting for an email, for a response, any response, waiting, always waiting… We are our gadgets and our gadgets are us. Coffee, Cappuccino, Americano, Chai Latte, Cold Brew, Iced Tea, Frappuccino, down the hatch, feeling wired, feeling tired, feeling happy, feeling sad, feeling hope, feeling hopeless...

Just another day at Starbucks.