January- Without darkness there can be no light

Yes, its that time of year, that is not always easy for me. Although I continue to try to see the best side of winter , I’m not always doing a great job of seeing the positives. I find it harder to motivate myself to get outdoors, although everytime I do, I feel great and thank myself (and often times ,Barb and our 4 dogs) for it.
Theres been a pattern in my life where January- February are always months where I can feel depressed. Lack of daylight and sunshine , coupled with many other factors don’t help. So, I’m now constantly trying to be aware of what is going on in my head so I can keep myself from falling into that black hole I so deplore.
The last week has been tough, dealing with 3 painful injuries that are keeping me from being as active as I’d like to,starting my annual spinning classes, and beginning my 18 week marathon program for the Bluenose. A groin muscle pull that just wont seem to go away, a neck strain , and a fractured rib in my upper chest, (from that snowboarding venture on Dec. 30 where I landed face first, well I now realize it was chest and then face LOL). My physiotherapist is helping me with the two former injuries, but the third will have time as its healer and patience as my teacher.
I’m discovering that I have to accept that I am not a young man anymore and I can’t do things I used to do with such ease. But I struggle with balancing that reality and still maintaining an active lifestyle and doing all the things I’ve dreamed of. I guess I can still do what I want , but need to understand there will be repurcussions,,, somewhat painful ones perhaps. I’m hoping that my exploration of proper movement and proprioception will help . The timing seems to be perfect.
So I shall try to make the best of these darker days,,,, learn some lessons by acknowledging the reality of life, that sometimes things just suck and that’s OK. Thats’ life, but I need not get stuck there. I can see things for what they are and move on into brighter thoughts. And I must remember the prayer that has saved my ass on countless occasions—– God grant me the serenity , To accept the things I cannot change , the courage to change thethings I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Amen.

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Leader or Follower?

“The one who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The one who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been before.” ― Albert Einstein
Wow, this quote smacked me right in the head this morning. I can’t seem to stop thinking about it. It speaks to me about independent thought and having the courage to think differently even though it may not be popular or seem to make sense. It may just “feel right”.
I would much rather lead a crowd than follow it, IF I truly believe that what I’m leading is the truth. And for those who know me, I’m talking about the Occupy Movement again, and the crimes that are happening right in front of our eyes everyday.Just look at my Facebook Wall pictures and you’ll know what I support and stand up for. http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.278568382161752.74506.278550055496918&type=3

For the most part, being alone has never been an issue for me. But feeling alone is very different than being alone. Up until 2 years ago, I used to abuse myself with substances because I didn’t like feeling alone, not being comfortable with the loneliness . I felt lonely when I was not comfortable with myself and I didn’t want to be with me, so I used and abused to take me away from that. The substance became the “friend” . It has been 2 years ago today that I decided to put away all the substances and crutches and seek a new way of life. On Jan 1 2010, I just said “something has to change”. And for those who know me, I don’t usually do anything in half measures. So I decided to quit smoking, drinking and lose 30 pounds. I had a lot of pent up anger that day, so without thinking I just put on my runners and started to run on slushy slippery roads. I couldn’t do more than 1 minute at a time , but I ran anyway. And I did the same thing the next day and continued until I could run 2 minutes, then 3, etc. etc. Then I set a goal of running 5 k at the RCA conference in Houston in March. Then I set another goal of running a 10 k to raise money for Feed Nova Scotia in May. Then a colleague talked me into training for the Toronto Waterfront marathon in September . She gave me the 18 week plan and away I went. I have not looked back to that old lifestyle since. Life is not perfect, I still struggle with things, but today I am happy to be alone with myself. I’m comfortable and I have a little of that inner peace I have sought all my life. You see I think for me running fills my body with goodness, natural endorphins, and natural seratonin to the brain, (good thing for those prone to ).
I needed something to replace those bad habits with. Some may think that I’m now addicted to running or fitness . I don’t give it too much thought because today it just feels right, and more so than anything, it OPENS DOORS of awareness for me that were clouded heavily with self doubt, remorse and low self esteem.
So why do I write a blog, well because it allows me to articulate thoughts like this and to put it out there. If it helps anyone or inspires them, thats great. But I do this for me. For some that may sound selfish, but I see it this way—- I am all that I have , if I don’t take care of me, then what is my purpose for being here. I bestow honor to God and my parents by taking care of me today. And maybe through this blog you’ll get to know me better.
Life is not perfect today,(it never will be) but it is very very good.

First ignore, then explore

Sitting here thinking about a title for this blog, I thought about what I’ve been doing since my last post. The word “explore” comes to mind. I tried a few new things. On Tuesday I went to a MELT movement class. It was highly recommended by my Massage Therapist, whose opinion I value greatly. She suggested it as a great way to reduce injuries by retraining the body to move differently. But its much more than that. Heather Dennis, is the instructor and she has a little seaside studio in Rose Bay over looking the water. There was myself and 2 women. We spent an hour and half doing very subtle but effective movements with soft rollers, balls ranging in size from ping pongs to softballs , and with different thicknesses. The movements work you from head to toe and one exercise emulated a babies natural movement of moving from its stomach to its back by using the weight of your leg. Very neat stuff and I must say I felt very “CONNECTED” afterwards. The next day I had one of the best tempo runs of my life on an indoor track, which I usually detest. Whether that run had anything to do with the MELT class , I’m not sure but I’ll take it. I’ve been practicing the movements at home now every second day, so I’ll post the results and progress as time passes. Dec.28 is always special to me because because it was my mothers birthday and I remember it fondly, but it was extra special because 2 of our favorite people, Roger and Nancy visited. We had a great evening together. It was short but sweet and we certainly appreciated their visit.
For my 47th birthday, my wife surprised me with a snowboarding lesson. Its something I’ve always wanted to try and she is sweet and thoughtful enough to remember it. Since I’m prone to anxiety attacks, I found myself feeling quite apprehensive about it the night before, but I shut the thoughts down that were in my head and decided nothing would talk me out of it. She also bought me the Essential Leonard Cohen double CD to enjoy on the hour long drive to the hill, so it was awesome. In fact I was enjoying the music so much that I drove right by the hill and ended up being 30 minutes late.
So I could only get 30 minutes of my 90 minute lesson in. Emily , the instructor was a real sweet young girl with an old soul. She was encouraging and we covered a lot in 30 minutes. After many falls and 30 minutes on my own I dumped the bunny hill and went for the gusto. I did 5 runs on the large hill, loving it all but decided I best quit if I wanted to walk out of that place on 2 feet. Wipe outs were very hard due to the man made snow being really icy . Wiping out was like landing on pavement. Ouch!!!! I’m paying for it today. I see growth in myself in that I didn’t talk myself out of going, I didn’t let the embarrassment of slipping and falling and crashing everywhere stop me from enjoying myself. It does not matter what people think!!! I repeat…. It does not matter what people think!!! So I chose to ignore the old records in my head telling me I was a fool to try different things, and by doing so, I allowed myself to explore new activities and discover more things about myself in the process. I have a credit for another lesson so I’ll be back… very soon. Just gonna wait for some soft fluffy snow so I can preserve my bones. LOL !!!!
So if theres something you’ve always wanted to do, but you’re holding back, stop thinking about it and just go for it. And ask yourself: “when have I ever regretted trying something new?” I know what my answer is……
If ya never go, you’ll never know…… And I don’t want to live my life wondering……

Snow brings clarity


I woke up yesterday morning a beautiful blanket of fresh snow and a nice light snowfall . It really is magical to see such beauty as it covers the trees ever so gently as if daring the wind to blow it off. After seeing how much fun the dogs had when i let them out, I thought nothing of suiting up quickly and heading out for a run. We took the short 2 k trail pictured here first to warm up. Snow was about 7-8 cm deep, just enough to make it challenging but still manageable. Luckily for me my 4 furry friends plowed ahead first to make a bit of a trail. Its so inspring to watch them run and roll in the snow, loving nothing more than the simplicity of energy and nature. Several trees hung over the trail , weighed down by the snow so I had to run right through them , creating my own fun along the way, as every so often Boo got a scent of a rabbit and darted off on her own into the forest. After the 2 k we ended up back at the house and poor JILLY had about her body weight in little snow balls stuck to her chest and haunches. Only way to get them off is with a warm bath, so off we went. I left Boo, Jilly and Starr to rest in the house while Zoey and i went off for another 7k. We hit the longer trail which was just as pretty , with my loyal Zoey leading the way . The great thing about deep snow running is that on the way back you can check your foot landing and, in my case my feet are still splaying outward too much, so I can focus on that more. Another benefit with snow running is that you are really forced to lean forward and land forefoot with your feet underneath you, the key to “chi” running. Love it!!! Home to cool down by plowing the driveway by hand, finished off with a nice cappucino!! I think I’m gonna enjoy winter again this year!!!
UP at 630 am today to begin cooking dinner for our Shelter Family. Its become a yearly tradition here in our home and I love it. The whole house smells of savory and sweet aromas for 3 days straight. Gravy simmers as I write this, its rich waft driving me crazy and making me salivate. The secret to my moist tender turkey is in my brine!!!
As I cooked today I thought of Christmas , its meaning and how Jesus died on the cross for us. Jesus really was the epitomy of what humanity is capable of when we focus on love and ignore our self will, thinking more of what our God would have us do that what we would do for ourselves. To this day , when I think of my God, it is the face of Jesus that I see for it is his character that I aspire to be, like the biggest influences in my life- my mother, father and wife, and the greatest figures in history – St. Teresa, Gandhi and Martin Luther King. . As a human I’m flawed, but when I act in my God’s likeness I am perfect. I must learn this over and over again, but today I am aware. I have spent many years absorbed in self will , conceit and deception, so today it feels so nice to possess some inner peace an natural sincere happiness and joy. But this only exists as long as I continue to give it away, and remember that every human being has a story.

Awakening

Well, still a lot of discussion going on about the Occcup Movement, and I’m feeling more strongly than ever about it. If anything, in my world, its promoting discussion. I’ve spoken to people who don’t understand it, and I can see why. It has no leader/ spokesperson, it doesn’t have an office, a headquarters, or a clear mission statement.
Well, lets face it , we’ve all been conditioned to look for those things to identify with , and they’re not always working . Does your bank really live up to its mission statement?
How about your government, is it living up to its promise? Is having a leader in your country satifsying you? Does pointing the finger at Stephen Harper getting us anywhere when things go awry?
Occupy is growing , whether you believe it or not, just follow it for a while. For those who dont know what its about, heres my take.
Its about acknowledging the inequity amongst us. Its about asking why there are poor people in countries when others have more than they need or can ever use. Its about demanding answers we all deserve to hear .Its about making people accountable .
It truly isn’t an Awakening for me. It feels more like what I’ve always felt and thought is now being acknowledged on a larger scale. Its about all the injustices I’ve seen get swept under the rug for years and have made me very depressed. Its about the reason why I chose not to have children, because I felt there would be nothing worthwhile left for them.
And if youre tired of me putting all this stuff on FaceBook , trust me that its not going away. What depresses and discourages me most is that the people I’m close to and respect wont’ stand up and support this Movement. And I have to believe its because they are truly scared to see the truth of whats happening around us. I find it hard to practice acceptance here. But I have to fight the depression and believe that my voice can make a difference. I can’t tell you how often I’ve thought of packing it all in and becoming an agent for change in a more effective way. For today, I will do what I can.

Live and let live

So nice to be home after a week away. One of the things I constantly struggle with is the “Live and Let Live” principle.
I feel strongly about certain things in life, but I need to keep myself in check because as a human I am flawed , and I must keep my mind open enough to be willing to accept others views and opinions and be empathetic when I feel apathy because my opinions are so strong. Sometimes saying absolutely nothing is the very best thing to do. Next time you’re in a group and people are discussing something passionately, gossiping, or whatever, try saying absolutely nothing and see what kind of response you get. I think you may be surprised.
I’m mainly talking about the people who criticize the Occupy Movement. I just can’t seem to get my head around why people wouldn’t support such a positive thing, bringing light to the injustices that affect us all and need to change for the future of mankind. At the end of the day, if I’m going to be an example for the movement, I need to represent it positively and continue to “occupy”,and keep putting it out there. I strongly believe in the ideology behind it. Justice and equality. I sympathize with young people trying to make their way in this world today.

I’ve talk a lot recently about marketing and how its ruined Christmas, about my dislike for Walmart and huge box stores because of what it’s done to local and global economies. Well yesterday I was in New Hampshire on business and had a few hours to kill before driving to Boston for a flight. I find myself in a Dicks Sporting Goods store, a large US chain. I end up buying $99. worth of running gear, justifying the purchase because it was tax free and cheap. Not quite walking the walk here , am I? So I’m not pleased with myself but at least I’m aware and I will try not to do it again, but its very easy to be mislead and I can be a victim of subliminal marketing if I’m not on my guard. The annoying thing is that I feel I have to be on guard. In time I hope it comes naturally.

Night owl ? Me?

Here I am sitting a Quality Assurance lab in New Hampshire at 12:35 am, that would be 1:35 am at home. Very strange for me , as I’m usually in bed by 10 pm every night, even Saturdays. Who would have ever believed that, looking at this guy 3 or 4 years ago when I’d sit up smoking and drinking late into the night. I have to say I like my life and myself a lot better today.I need to live a clean life to be happy , free of addictions, guilt and remorse.
I’ve had a couple of very long days this week, but its really good to shake things up ,and not get used to a routine too much. The neat thing about travelling is seeing how others live, the good and “less good parts” about living in big cities, the 5 lane traffic, and tolls, etc. But I have to tell you, I’ll take my simple country life in Lunenburg any day!!! But its a real privilege to be able to get to larger centers and enjoy the benefits they offer like great restaurants, sports, etc. I trashed the Leafs openly all night during a game and didn’t even get harrassed about it from the every loyal Leafs Fans! As gullible as they are, they are good sports!
A Simple thing like visiting a beautiful Bernese Mountain Dog , being walked by his owner in front of the CN Tower last night bring a lot of joy to me. Under the guise of substances, I would not notice , nor care about such a simple little things. both dog and owner were very nice to us, (dogs always are!!), but it was clear to see they were true companions and in this world we all need someone.

We had a very tasty high quality meal last night in a very well known popular restaurant in Toronto. The food was delicious, served Tapas style, thus allowing us to try a dozen different dishes ranging from Artisanal Mozzarella di buffalo to Crispy Calamari in sweet peanut sauce , to Crispy Duck tortillas. But what really surprises me today is how the calm ambience of dining has really been lost in these metropolitan hot spots. Loud talking and shouting , obnoxious electronic house music and snotty servers don’t really do it for me . Part of a good dining experience for me is to enjoy the “chi” or “energy” that exists in a room, and flows through the people and the food. I’ve not had that in a restaurant experience for some time. Maybe we’ll find it this weekend at the Press Gang in Halifax. The website presents as it being more of a traditonal dining room with comfort and style. I know the company will be good for sure. Well, I have to pull the plug, this night owl’s had it for the night, Now to try and find my way back to my hotel in this dark sea side city.