New Year thoughts…from the ground up

I’ve taken a few days to gather my thoughts on the inevitable New Year’s post. I’ve been asked by several people when I plan on writing something about said topic. To be honest, I really didn’t want to.

Personally, my 2018 was pretty awful and rather terrible. A difficult separation, a tragic loss to a long struggle trying to desperately hold my life together, serious depression, anxiety, daily panic attacks, addiction, debt, counseling and lots of therapy…all the while trying to go to work everyday and put on a happy face! Luckily I love my job and those I work with are some of the most understanding, loving, and supportive friends I could have ever asked for… and my long time clients that are aware of my situation are absolutely amazing. Obviously I know there are positives to every situation and I do have many things to be thankful for, yet those things don’t need to change, so though I am quite aware, I will approach this New Year a little different.

so 2018 came to a close and I woke up on January 1 2019 and all my troubles were gone, it was as though when the clang of six wine glasses filled with only the best orange juice for myself and my five beautiful kids resounded through my tiny two bedroom apartment, there was some magic spell that released me from all the pain of 2018!!

…and then I woke up…

I woke up and still had to take my medication for my anxiety, I still had to battle the weight of depression, financial struggle, addiction, and everything that had taken place over the past twelve months. The burden of loss and the challenges of life were still there. I only wish I could change all of it in an instant, but that is just not possible or realistic.

I would love nothing more than to be one of those individuals who can stick with a New Year’s resolution…but I’ve been working on my organizational skills since 2013! I have found New Year’s resolutions to be as awkward and uncomfortable as showing up to a course dressed in the exact same attire as the person you would least like to talk to…You know the feeling of shock, disappointment and embarrassment, all the while knowing that there will be a conversation had that you really, really just want to avoid! That has been my experience after about two weeks into most of my New Years.

This year I wanted to take enough time to truly come up with something valuable for those that read this blog. Something that might help you through what you are struggling with knowing that life hasn’t stopped and the problems of last year are still present today, of course, at the risk of sounding too depressing and hopeless. so here it goes…

Taking some time for myself to sit and write a little of my book (goal for 2019 is to get that finished…more on that later), I was listening to a husband and wife duo JonnySwim ( and their song “Let it Matter“. Interpretation of songs is a matter of personal subjectivity, however, the concept of the song seems simple yet incredibly profound. What hurts today will be here tomorrow, and we need to let ourselves be willing to accept and let our emotions, feeling and hurts matter. Even though we are not meant to carry our wounds and baggage with us through our entire lives, they all have an effect on our lives and should be allowed space to be experienced so we can learn, grow and progress.

So as 2018 has closed, I think it is more important to reflect on the year that was, before making resolutions for the coming year. For those of us that had a difficult year, taking time to reflect on the experiences, to see where growth can happen, to learn from the year and find ways to avoid the same hurt and struggle. How can we pivot towards change if we don’t stop to examine where change needs to happen first, otherwise we run the risk of running blind into a sea of disappointment again. That will just make us even more jaded and frustrated with the year we thought we would have. Even though I have my own goals for 2019 and there are things I want to accomplish and some aspects of my life I want to change, I first need to visit what was, so I can truly leave it behind and learn for tomorrow. I need to focus on the “Why” before I can figure out the “What is Next”.

So I am going to take some time to lean into the pain of 2018 just enough to reflect and learn and grow. I’m going to plant my seed of 2019 in the dirt of 2018, water it and care for it with the hope of days to come and watch how I can grow, taking all the experience, sadness, mud, dirt, pain and darkness and let it feed my growth from now on.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the New Year and some resolutions or changes you wish for yourselves in 2019. As always, you can leave a comment on this page, on the various social pages it will be posted to, or you can text 7058682616

until next time, be safe, learn, grow and let your experiences matter


Lessons from my 11yr old…

Thought I would share another piece from my upcoming book (hopefully due out sometime in 2019)… I learn a lot from my kids, not just in regards to the increasingly complex realm of parenting, but also the life lessons that they can teach me as I try to teach them. I honestly think that there are some days where they teach me more then I could ever teach them…

Let me know your thoughts on the unedited portion on coachability, dependability and being consistent…

Bill Belichick, one of the National Football Leagues most prestigious and decorated coaches has said:

“It is not all about talent. It’s about dependability, consistency, being coachable, and understanding what you need to do to improve”.

Bill Belichick – New England Patriots Head Coach

 Like him as a coach or not, that’s not the point of his mention in this book.  This quote sticks out to me as I think about life and business, and also a recent interaction with my eleven-year-old son.

Keegan is my first-born son and the second oldest of five kids.  He has taught me so much recently about the attitude of dependability, consistency and being coachable.  Recently Keegan decided he wanted to try out for our local U-12 rep basketball team; Peterborough Power.  Unfortunately, he didn’t make the A-team, but has cracked the roster of the B-Team!  Super proud dad moment!! 

Now, please don’t misunderstand my intention when I write this, as my kids mean the world to me and Keegan holds a special place in my heart.  He is a lot like me, in a lot of ways.   He wants the best for everyone and can get a little too emotional at times which effects our overall cognitive function and decision making.  We wear our emotions like our axe body spray… a little too much and all over the place!  Another striking comparison that I’ve come to realize lately is our lack of pure God-given talent in the athletic department.  When I was a kid, my dream was to play sports.  I played everything from football, soccer, volleyball, baseball (funny enough, no lacrosse), but I wasn’t all that good.  I was never the most athletic kid on the field, a little heavier set, a little slow, a little shy and a lot passive.  Minus the physical stature, (Keegan is a thin, high metabolite young man), we share many of the other qualities listed.  Yet he doesn’t quit, and neither did I, until of course a shoulder injury took me out of athletics and into the world of music. 

His basketball coach recently sent an email expressing his delight in Keegan’s effort on the court during practice.  I will admit I cried a little (those emotions that leak from my eyes), my boy is not the most talented and coordinated kid on the floor, but his effort completely out-matches that of most of his teammates.  His consistency and dedication to the sport and team is incredibly inspiring to me. 

In recent weeks, he injured his elbow in a non-basketball related, floor-is-lava, superman stunt involving a couch and some metal springs.  Don’t worry, he’s all good, just a deep bruise that limited his range of motion for about a week.  In my experiences growing up and being involved in many teams, this would make for a great excuse to not go to practice and take some time off.  Not for Keegan, he decided to go to practice regardless of the pain in his elbow, so he would not let his team down, so he wouldn’t miss any coaching moments that could possibly improve his game.  It was this attitude and dedication that spoke volumes to me and to his coaches. “It is not all about [your] talent. It’s about dependability, consistency, being coachable, and understanding what you need to do to improve”.  My son has no clue who Bill Belichick is, but Keegan exemplifies this quote and proves that we need to be coachable and dedicated to our craft in order to move towards success.  I truly believe that this quality is what will make Keegan incredibly successful in whatever he chooses to do when he gets older.  If he remains coachable and like a sponge, he will continue to learn, grow and be unstoppable. 

Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest basketball player of all time was quoted saying,

“My best skill was that I was coachable. I was a sponge and aggressive to learn.” 

This is imperative in our journey through life and business. 

Our ability to continue to learn and to strive for more knowledge is what will make our journey a little easier.  It is in fact humbling to remain coachable.  The moment we believe we know it all, have all the talent and do not need to continue to learn, is the moment that we become selfish, self absorbed, and honestly, nobody likes that guy!

Certainly, there will be rough roads throughout, we may be injured by a series of events involving a couch, metal frames, a small trampoline, a cat and a failed attempt at a backflip, and that may or may not relate to our current path, but should that keep us from learning and still being involved in the process of being coached?  The power of a good, understanding and experienced mentor is key to our journey as they may be able to continually guide us through a path that may be difficult at times, but it is also equally important to trust and remain coachable, accepting their advice, criticism and foresight.     

As we come to the Christmas season, and I understand that this time of year may be difficult for some, and to be honest, it will be different and hard for me too. I hope you can take some time and choose to be dependable and consistent with those you will come in contact with over the holidays. We never truly know the depth of some of the pain that is present around us during this season. Being able to show a sensitivity, generosity and kindness to those who need it most speaks volumes to our lives and also proves that there are still good, caring people in the world. We can certainly learn from others and be there to build up one another through times that may be hard and may carry a weight that is hard to bear on its own.

Merry Christmas friends and I look forward to more in 2019!

Don’t miss the Signs…

My inner reflection took place this past summer after another successful championship Lakers season, giving more proof to the What is Next strategy of the team, sweeping the visitors from the Canadian West coast in four games thanks to our focus on the small details of each shift.  I took some time with my dad to stay a couple nights at a remote cottage on beautiful Faraday lake just outside of Bancroft Ontario.  For those that don’t know where this is, Bancroft is the “Mineral Capital of Canada”, a small town between Peterborough and nowhere, about an hour and a half North of my little home town.  The cottage belongs to long time family friends, Ken and Debbie Fraser.  Absolutely beautiful and inspiring people who have run The Main Ingredient, a successful bulk food store in Peterborough tha tjust celebrated their fortieth year in business.   Heated by a wood stove and over looking a serene, tranquil lake, the cabin we were staying in sat a top a small hill, so the view of the water was a simple glance out the screened in porch.  Although occluded a by a few evergreens, the view was still exactly what my soul needed.  It was a chance for me to turnoff for a change.  To recharge my empty battery, to fill my empty and dry tank. Spending time with my dad is also time I would never trade.  As we get older it becomes harder to find the time to have that father-son connection that I desperately need and only hope to have with my boys. 

Ever since I was a young, dapper eight-year-old, my dad and I would go back woods camping, progressing further and further into the brush each year.  We started in Long Lake, just outside of Apsley Ontario.  The older I got, the further we went, the more challenging the voyage would become.  Long Lake turned into Loucks Lake, with a portage to Cox Lake, portage to Triangle and the final portage to Cherry Lake[1]. Our years of woodland excursions had culminated in our preparation for one last epic journey to Cherry Lake when I was eighteen years old.  A decade of preparation, a decade of surviving in natures unpredictability, eating a substitute meat product from a can, suffering from wounds inflicted from improper hatchet handling, punching the earth on a throne made of splintering wood, aptly called a Thunder Box, sleeping under the beautiful night sky lit with millions of stars,so incredibly visible without the iridescent glow of city lights.  This, to me is the most beautiful of God’s creation.  One can spend hours having a euphoric ocular experience finding new designs and countless expressions of stunning and mesmerizing glows from these million burning suns.  It is hypnotic and seems to cause time to stop entirely.  As long as there is a small breeze in the air to push away the dreadful Canadian vampire insects that pray on any exposed flesh,then it can seem as though the world and its problems become meaningless to the grandeur and splendor of the sight million of miles away.  I become insignificant and trouble just goes away.  Obviously, I am not as oblivious and am not insinuating that all problems literally vanish from our lives when we gaze upon the stars while camping during the summer months.  If that was the case, I would never leave,and the cost of admission to these parks of personal freedom would be astronomical.  In the moment however, not much else matters.  When searching the sky for answers to life’s quandaries, there is something that seems to magically take my mind from distress to distance; from worry to wonder. 

Of all the years we challenged the wilderness, one trip in particular remains seared in my memory.  It was our last trip.  After a decade of summers, this would mark our finale.  I was eighteen, about to enter college and begin the next season of my life as an “adult”.  So I suppose it was only fitting that this summer in particular would be the most memorable, and have the most to teach me about the challenges of life.    It still amazes me that these experiences we have in our younger lives reveal their depth of meaning later when we most need it.   

We had been in the canoe for several hours at the point we reached our third and final portage of the day.  Already exhausted from the long paddle and the burning sun that only increased the heat of the late July summer,we made it to the edge of our portage which was the path to our destination only to be met with a serious obstacle.   Upon close inspection of our new-found conundrum we quickly realized the difficulty we would be facing.  For about the next two hundred yards we had to navigate and traverse several beaver dams, make our way cautiously through a shallow boggy summer stream that smelt rather putrid, like a rancid combination of decay, rot and depression.  Due to the shallow nature of the stream we had to pass through, we found ourselves becoming wedged on the bottom and unable to dislodge the canoe simply using a synchronized forward rocking motion.  I believe I drew the short straw that day, as I was in the bow of the canoe (the front for the non-nautical readers), so it was my unfortunate duty to carefully exit the craft and pull the canoe until we were at an acceptable depth that I could re-entre and continue the trek.  However, due to the murkiness and dark sewage coloured water I lost sight of my feet and with each step simply prayed that I would have a solid footing with the next step.  It was the fourth or fifth step that I quickly realized that God has a sense of humour and didn’t answer my previous prayer.  In an instant I found myself neck deep in the foulest stench and vomit inducing liquid that to this day I have thankfully not had the privilege of experiencing again.  

Somehow managing to bring myself from out of the depth of this predicament, all the while fully certain I will experience the dreaded Canadian “Beaver Fever” in a few short hours, hoping that I did not have any open wounds on my person that would succumb to infection, we struggled forward, continuing to push through the uncomfortable circumstances.  Drenched, tired and absolutely foul, we finally made it to our site on Cherry Lake. We arrived, exhausted but alive ready to finally enjoy our hard-earned travels.  What this journey will teach me later, I certainly did not know at the time. The treacherous and humorous in hindsight has served a completely different purpose than that of the moment.    

I sat with my dad the other day at the Starbucks where I’ve written most of these pages, and remembered together this experience.  The moment that makes this journey somewhat laughable, was that as our trip came to a close and our time on our retreat in the summer of 2000 came to its inevitable end, we began our paddle back and upon reaching our first portage, which would have the same treacherous obstacles we had faced several days earlier, we both began to hysterically laugh.  With tears of joy and embarrassment, we gazed upon a bright yellow sign pointing to a slightly overgrown path leading around the shores of the creek with which we had taken hours to navigate.  When we reached the shore of Triangle Lake, we turned to find the sign we missed.  A weathered, cracked and covered in foliage sign was barely visible, but was there.   We missed it.  As hard as we both thought we had looked when we first arrived, we couldn’t see it through the thick green leaves and branches that covered it. 

As a writer, I can pull many learned lessons from this one trip and could likely write another book about these four days almost twenty years ago.  We can talk about the stars, and how that beautiful canvas of white lights are the same today as they were twenty years ago. We can talk about how those we count on for direction, if they have not navigated that path, may also miss the obvious. I would rather not discuss the trauma of being near drowning in nature’s septic system, but for the purposes of my current journey and struggles through ‘What is Next’, I will focus on the sign. That even though it was there, we missed it.  We had never been this far before, and as much as the previous years had prepared us, we still missed what would have taken us around the creek of odor and sadness and would have saved us time,energy, and possible infection. 

When asked why I’m writing this book or what it is about, this is it.  Making sure that with every step in our journey we are able to see the signs, we can navigate around what will cause us the most difficulty along our path to our destination.  That when we finally reached the goal we set,we can lay on the rocks looking up at the beautiful bright, endless stars and know we made it.  There is always work to be done and struggle will find us along the way, but my hope is that these pages provide a sign for you that will save you from diving neck deep in nature’s sewage!! 


Tattoos and Redemption

I got my first tattoo when I was twenty years old.  I waited until I was newly married and along with my wife, we did what most couples in the early parts of the new millennium were doing and got matching Chinese symbol ankle tattoos.  My tattoo stands for God is Truth, it is the Chinese symbol for the word truth inside a Jesus fish.  Very minimal, small, but the beginning of my ink addiction.  Since then, I added a small cross to the inside of my right forearm, and outside of their personal meanings of faith for me, they were simple in design and again left me craving more.   Of course, as a massage therapist in a service-based industry where, let’s be honest, first impressions are significant to maintaining a clientele, especially as a male in a female dominated industry,the thought of a tattooed arm may be a slight deterrent to some.  However, being in business for fourteen years, over ten as the owner of the clinic, I felt it was acceptable to pursue further skin art.  The issue was always what imagery I wanted to adorn my overly thick and rather solid forearm with (I’m a massage therapist don’t forget, so unfortunately my forearms are about twice the size they should be, which isn’t always a good thing for circulation to my hands).  The plan was always to have a sleeve tattoo.  To be honest, part of the desire may have been my passive and sensitive nature and wanting to subconsciously feel a little more edgy and tough, for lack of a better word.    

 When my life began to fall apart and business was suffering, my marriage was beginning to slip through my hands,I soon began to rely more on my faith to simply survive each day.   Just the simple action of getting out of bed was incredibly difficult, yet there were so many people who needed me to be present.  My kids, my clients, my coworkers, my team.  Most days I survived on medication and caffeine, simply trying to get through each day only to lay awake each night dreading “What is Next”.  The idea of my tattoo came through the words of a song by MuteMath, my favorite band,presently on heavy Spotify rotation.  Their song Remain off the Vitals album, struck a huge chord the first time I heard it.  As I struggled with deep depression and anxiety,among thoughts of suicide and self harm, the words were a mantra that literally helped me off a bridge in the early parts of the summer in 2017:

Just keep trying; Just keep fighting; Just keep going; Just keep surviving

Just keep walking; Just keep breathing;Just keep holding; Just keep believing

MuteMath – Remain (Vitals 2015)

These words resonated so strong with my situation that I made sure to have them inked permanently on my arm.  Luckily and much to my amazement, thanks to the social media gods, I was actually able to have the lead singer and incredibly talented and generous Paul Meany pen the words to paper and send it to me via Instagram.  So not only do I have the lyrics on my arm, but they are actually in the penmanship of the writer.    

Taking account of my life and where I was at the present, It was the beginning of my new focus on the What is Next.   I decided on a few key elements that I wanted to display on my skin.  A dove to represent my faith, a compass to show that I don’t know where my life is going to go, a pen and a blank page to represent my unfinished story, a clock with no hands because I don’t know the timing of things to come, and a tree with the birth dates of my five children to represent the strong roots and that they are always and will always be a huge part of my life.   

The beautiful thing about a good tattoo artist is their ability to take a mixed bag of components and within a few days, have the perfect design, placement and vision for exactly what the piece will be.  Luckily the artist I had put ink to skin is a good friend of mine from public school days some twenty-five years ago.  I don’t think Ian knew just how his design would absolutely perfect.  The attention to detail, the small nuances that only a keen eye can see literally brough tears to my eyes. 

My tattoo sessions became like therapy. It is a constant and visible reminder of the journey I am on, and how important my faith and children are in this journey.  I think the discomfort of a tattoo is also a little therapeutic to be honest.  A way of numbing the internal pain with an external stimulus.  Its also great to catch up with an old friend!

So what does this have to do with the concept of What is Next and how it applies to life and business?  For me, I needed the visible reminder, I needed to have something that I can look at each day and know my story isn’t finished yet, my choices and my mistakes can be redeemed.  It is not the same for everyone, I’m not suggesting everyone go get a tattoo on your forearm, so you can have a reminder of life’s journey.  If that is what you want to do, I can suggest a great guy to go see!!  This was my therapy, my reminder, my coping,and it has worked.  Everyday I can look at my arm and know this is a permanent reminder of the hope I have and a faith I carry that life will work out, it’s not over, and in time I can begin to ask What is Next and focus with intent on the next steps to begin my own healing process and recoup the sense of self lost in the past.      

My suggestion to start the process of thinking positively What is Next, is to find a reminder; something you can see, touch, feel, read, everyday that will act as a constant reminder that choices and consequences can be redeemed.  We are not a simple product of our past and life will continue to move forward and so must we.  As beaten and broken we may become and how close to the literal edge we might find ourselves, there is always hope in the journey.  Our story isn’t finished yet.  So let’s journey together and focus on What is Next, looking at the past for guidance and encouragement.  

Problem with Productivity

Hustle is for Hipsters and Lunch

Since the dawn of mainstream internet self help (sometime in the late 90’s), the word Hustle has been on the forefront of most social media platforms and the pocket ammo of most self-proclaimed business gurus and life coaches.  It’s the concept that to achieve your goals, you need to put your head down, ignore the ‘haters’, close your eyes and plow forward like an angry rhino.  Like a hungry, wild four-ton, bus like creature with a giant dagger for a nose teased by one of those African safari trucks full of tourists trying to catch the next viral video.

Recently however, that word has become like a nagging toothache in my soul.  Its been used without caution or regard for life’s situation.  Too many times I have heard stories of pain and lose from individuals who ‘hustled’ or thought they ‘hustled’ and ended up loosing it all.  I too fell victim to the hustle mentality as it has been presented to the masses.  And let’s be honest, those self-help or motivational geniuses don’t care too much about you, your family or the life you currently have.  They want your hard-earned money and will sell you on the concept that “nothing but hard work and hustle will get you to your life’s goals and dreams”.

Although I can certainly agree that in order to achieve your goals in business or personal life, there is certainly some hard work that needs to happen.  Very rarely do incredible, life changing, thunder-punch to the solar-plexus opportunities simply fall into one’s lap.   I’m not saying that those will never happen and maybe you will be one of the lucky ones (and I will envy you and likely have a little resentfulness). Is it possible for me to be so bold as to propose a different perspective?  One that involves a constant observation of your surroundings and involves s little more discipline and effort?  That hustle alone is not healthy, but a healthy amount of hustle that involves more focused intent, grit and a sensitivity to what is around you may in fact breed a much more significant return to your time and effort.  That searching for the small daily opportunities and making daily choices that effect our progress towards our goals in small but meaningful ways.

Let’s keep the “Hustle” for the hipsters, gym t-shirts and social hashtags, for those who might not have the heavy responsibility on the day as those self-employed parents with bills to pay and mouths to feed and not much else to worry about in life but their own forward progress.  I personally have a few more responsibilities in this time of my life, so a blind “hustle” simply will not be beneficial for anyone.  Please don’t get me wrong, more power to those that don’t have significant responsibilities, who don’t have a spouse or partner, no kids, who simply go to work or school and have plenty of time for self.  There is an incredible number of books available for these individuals, but these chapters are more intended for those that want to see their dreams come to reality without risking the happiness, safety, security and contentment of their other responsibilities.  They are intended as a guide to avoiding the problematic flaws in pursuing your passions and goals when the hustle and life balance becomes out of control.

These are the hard lessons I learned when I started my business and my journey as an entrepreneur.  It has taken me years of struggle and many sleepless nights, and a massive caffeine addiction to start the process of trying to refocus my hustle and intention.     Stick with me, we will revisit this idea in a few pages…. here’s a teaser, it’s the main concept!

As some of you are aware, I have begun the process of trying to become an author, to pen words to paper (or push keys on my laptop) to form what I hope will inspire and potential help others in their business and personal ventures.  The above is a small section of my pages so far.  My goal for 2019…to finish.  I even purchased a “Finish Calendar” from my favorite author Jon Acuff.

Why?? Why would I purchase a calendar based off one of my favorite books “Finish” by Jon Acuff??

I need to be productive.  I need to feel that no time is wasted.  That when I’m not in my treatment room with a client or with my kids or busy with an adulting responsibility, I’m working on something….my book, a blog, looking for the next opportunity, advertising, marketing, ect… being still is not in my vocabulary.  Even if I happen to be fortunate enough to have some social time with friends, unfortunately my phone is on, my calendar is open or my Evernote app is filling up with thoughts or ideas.

This is a problem….it’s a crutch or a vise.  It’s what I need to keep from facing the reality of life or to feel validated or important to the world I know.  Being an entrepreneur is fantastic.  I love the ability to create my own schedule, to make the choices that will push my business further, to take the risks and to see the eventual rewards.  It hasn’t always been an easy road, in fact, its been a long, hard, discouraging, painful, joyful, frustrating, glorious, happy and difficult road.  A mixed bag of emotions…sometimes a daily mixture of assorted mental feelings that can confuse a NASA scientist.  The problem with productivity is that there is no rock bottom to being productive.  There really isn’t a place you can hit that feels like the world is crashing in.  Being productive can be tiring and burn out can happen, there can be an oversight of others or neglect of family and friends, however, it is often looked at in a positive light.   The more productive we are, the more we feel affirmed and validated.  We can be praised for being motivational or inspiring leaders in our fields and sometimes we look up to those that are over-achievers, like they have it all.   However, if this trap is not recognized, this can become a serious problem and can lead to other negative, more destructive problems.

Unfortunately for myself, I fell into another vise that was a little more damaging than being over-productive.  For a couple of years, I became addicted to online gambling.  It was a vice that I clung to as it gave me a mental jolt that I hadn’t had in years.  For those that know my story this may not be a surprise.  For those that don’t, my life wasn’t all roses and butterflies when I made the choice to venture into the vortex of online gambling, and being in a state of clinical depression and high anxiety, certainly made the addiction that much harder to break.  The already altered brain chemistry changes and the addiction takes over.  I am most certainly not proud of this part of my story, and am rather embarrassed and feel extremely guilty when writing about it.  I have five kids, a home and a business to think about, how could I be so stupid?!?  It will be a stain on the pages of my story that I can’t remove and will always be a source of shame.

This was my vice…. it became my crutch and my mistake.  Obviously it was my ultimate choice to do what I did and there really is no good excuse for that decision, however, through extensive counseling, I have come to realize the influences that may have led to that moment.  Self realization is sometimes difficult to experience.  The chance to discover some of the external influences that led to the decision to begin relying on my vise was certainly eye opening and began to effect my overall perspective.  Thinking I always had to hustle and do everything for others all the time without a break for myself led to a cascading self destruction.

So I challenge the Hustle concept.  I challenge those that feel like they are never enough and never feel productive enough.  I challenge you to stop and take note of your vises.  Do you have a crutch you rely on because you have hustled for too long?  You haven’t taken time to regroup and refocus?   I challenge you to take some “You” time.  Some time to stop being productive and look after yourself.  It is hard to do and for those of us that struggle with the constant need to be productive or feel important or validated by the work we do, I challenge you to Hustle towards time for yourself.  To breath, observe, recoup and refocus.  Please don’t fall into the same trap that I did.  Whether its gambling or alcohol or drugs… it is so easy to fall into a crutch and to lean into a vise that will ultimately lead to self destruction.   I hit rock bottom, and I’m making my way out, trying to take life as it comes, a day at a time… looking towards What’s Next (title of my book, which is meant to leave you in a little suspense about what the rest of the book is about…did it work??).

So I bought a calendar; to schedule my year in 2019, to make sure that I have time for my book, my blog and for me!  My hope is that you will take some time for you throughout your week to breath and let go of the vise of feeling like you always have to be over-productive.

Until next time, Be Well

Reflections on the Water

For the fist time in years, I took some time for me… it was one of the most difficult and mentally grueling tasks I have accomplished in a while. Being in the middle of a very stressful personal situation, trying to maintain a business and have some time for self care is an impossible task. So the latter usually takes a back seat to my busyness, my personal battles and my anxieties and panics throughout the day. As every personality test and every therapist tells me, my sense of self is non-existent and my self care techniques are comparable to a T-Rex making a bed (picture it, it’s a good laugh).

Lucky for me, I have a dad who understands the necessity for time for ones self and also sees the damage I have sustained over the past several years. It was hard taking a day off work. It was difficult trying to close my mind to the noise of my days. It was so incredibly hard to sit and do nothing! The overwhelming sense of guilt hovered over me like a dark cloud. I wasn’t being productive and it bothered me.

Ever since I was about eight years old, my dad would take me camping for a few days every summer, until I was about sixteen. This was back woods roughing it. Canoeing, portaging, eating meat from a can, hanging food in trees away from bears, building fires, pulling shards of glass from my foot, hatchet accidents, and enjoying every single moment because I got to spend it with my dad. It also taught me a new appreciation for God’s great design and His creation. Now I completely understand that there are several people that will read this that may not have the best relationship with their fathers. I consider myself extremely blessed to have had a dad as influential and positive in my life. So I don’t wish to conjure up any negative emotions related to this topic, and I apologize if this is the case for you. However, this post is not about having a relationship with your earthly father. It is simply about my recognition that there is a higher power or a God in control of life’s darkest situations, and for me, this became even more present to me during my recent time away. I should also note that I understand some of you may not share the same belief, and that is ok, these are my thoughts, my words, my views. They are meant to hopefully share some light into your dark situations or give you some hope for a brighter tomorrow… that we all struggle, even those of us that do believe.

I love the water. It brings back so many comforting memories of years spent with my dad. Sitting on the dock, in a Muskoka chair lightly kissed by the dew of the morning, coffee in hand and a good book in the other (‘You Rise Glorious‘ by Mike Foster) was, in fact, glorious. My dad spoke up and asked “what is it about being on the water that is good for the soul?” It took me a minute, but I closed my eyes, took a few deep breaths of the crisp, refreshing morning air, as a soft breeze caressed my two-day unshaven baby face scruff, then opening my chilled eyes, I gazed upon the clearest, calmest reflection of evergreens, mixed with coloured maples and pines, with the bluest of skies and white clouds. When my eyes adjusted to the scenery and the beauty before me…my answer was simple… “calm”

When the water is calm the reflection is clean and clear. I can see the beauty of God’s creation… twice. All the colours, all the details, all the beauty that is nature; His nature. Yet as we sat in silence for a little while, sipping a gorgeous cup of black, beautiful, french-pressed nectar of the god’s, the wind began to change and slowly pick up some speed, and storm clouds began to stir in the sky, rain was in the forecast and was moving in fast, the water began to change from a calm and clear reflection, to a rough, distorted view of the image that was being cast into the water. The trees and sky didn’t change, only the reflection in the now disturbed water . Okay, so being the son of a preacher man, sitting next to the preacher man himself, I couldn’t help let my words sway toward the spiritual. That we as the water, our lives are true reflections of God’s image and grace. When life seems to be still, we tend to feel Him closer, that comfort and peace of a loving God who created the beauty of nature itself.  Or for some, that peace that they feel from whatever source that brings them comfort and joy.  But when the waves and winds start, the water becomes rough, we begin to doubt, the image we once saw as clear and vivid, becomes a distorted picture, hard to fully see its beauty. It’s now messy, dark, disturbed and unclear. Much like the difficult situations that will inevitably plague our existence. Whatever it might be, these times will distort our views of God and his grace, making it hard to comprehend or make us turn and walk away from the reflection.  Anger, doubt, frustration and blame become the language of our misery.

However, even though the water was rough, the reflection distorted, the wind cold, violent and unpredictable, there was still an image in the water. God doesn’t simply disappear, no matter the turmoil we are in, He is still there, we just might find it hard to see.  It may not look like what we desire or what we have imagined or come to expect, but it is still there.

So what is my point in all of this imagery? There is still hope in our struggles, whether you have faith in a higher power or not, there is hope that eventually the waters will be calm again, and whatever makes you feel at peace, fills you with hope, love and courage to continue another day, will become visible in all its grand detail again.  Storms don’t last forever, there will eventually be peace in the water.

I hope you can find your calm again friends. I know how difficult it can be, as my water is rough right now and most days I find it near impossible to feel hope or to feel like there is a God that cares for me.  I’ve been starring at a blurred and distorted image of what I had come to believe would always be calm and serene.  Beyond frustrated, full of guilt, shame and doubt, but I do know one day the waters will calm, because the winds will settle and His reflection will be there to greet a new day.

You are not alone in your struggles, there is hope, there are those who will listen, those who care.  If you do feel alone, please know you can text 7058682616 anytime.

Be Well


Fear of the (un)known

Its no surprise to you by now that I am a little bit of a coffee addict.  I tend to relate my life story to the process of making the most glorious nectar of the gods from bean to cup and how there is a strange parallel that can be drawn from this highly complicated and creatively ingenious process.  My second office is the local Starbucks that is across the road from my clinic, which is currently where I am composing this post.

However, this isn’t really about coffee… more about conversations I’ve had over said beverage and just how important they are.  Over the past few years I’ve learned a LOT….that might actually be an understatement.  I’ve always had a small interest in the field of psychology, in particular sports psych, simply because of the clientele I see on a daily basis.  It wasn’t until my recent life implosions that truly birthed this new desire to explore more into the way we are wired as humans; why we think the way we do, why we are so different in our personalities, how we interact with others etc…

To be honest, it wasn’t until I was completely vulnerable with a good friend that I really became aware of this new train of thought.

I love watching my kids swim.  The way jumping into a pool or lake can immediately put a perma-smile on their faces.  The laughter, the fun, the opportunity to simply enjoy quality time with them or just observe the beauty of their young innocence is overwhelming!  Personally, I’m not a huge fan of swimming, but that’s my own lack of self confidence that even at thirty-six years old, the slight embarrassment of my rocking ‘Dad-Bod’ seems to still cause a hesitation to go shirtless in public…don’t judge, I’m a work in progress!

In conversation with a client, who is a swimming instructor, we were discussing the difference between teaching kids versus teaching adults how to swim.  In her experience,  instructing her adult clients was much more of a challenge then teaching kids.  The difference comes down to fear.

Fear of the consequences

Fear of the lack of confidence

Fear of the known

I’ve witnessed this with my own kids.  Having five of them, I am acutely aware of the liberties a child with no fear can have around water, when fun is the only thought that their innocent and still developing brain comprehends at the moment.  Only until they begin to experience the consequences of an inability to float or remain head above water  does the fear begin to cause hesitation.

It’s the fear of the known or the possibility that something bad can happen that causes a crippling anxiety and paralysis.

So back to coffee and conversation…

I’ve learned there are three possible reactions to the art of being vulnerable an sharing our story with others.

  1. Our struggles, hurts, anxieties, worries etc, will be too much and push others away
  2. Our vulnerability will strengthen and deepen a relationship
  3. You will learn more about yourself then you might want to!

Unfortunately I’ve been on the receiving end (a few times) of relationships gone sour thanks to being vulnerable and open with those I thought might understand or be able to help.  There are individuals in our lives that only see skin deep, who can’t get to the heart of our experiences and won’t have the ability to or the desire to jump in the deep end with us for fear that we will pull them under.  This could be because they are not good swimmers themselves and have a fear of drowning or have had their own past experience of jumping in to help save someone and being dragged to the bottom.  Although sometimes not their fault directly, in most cases (in my cases), people were only willing to step in the shallow end and try to encourage from a distance, or felt I was a lost cause or too far gone already.  Based on my experiences in the past few years, this doesn’t help… when in full panic, drowning, hopeless, hurt and unable to catch a breath.

For those reading, who may not be suffering, could I encourage you to not be afraid to get wet?!?  It might be uncomfortable and seem dangerous, however, I can tell you with absolute truth, that those you are supporting (whether it feels that way or not), do appreciate your willingness to jump in.  And if they don’t, that is their own choice and is not on you to bear that responsibility.

For those reading, who may be suffering, could I encourage you to not allow those experiences of lose and despair to discourage you from continuing to call for help?!? Will you be so bold to attempt another conversation? To continue to seek out those who can help, who although may not understand, will be empathetic and lend an ear and the friendship you so desperately need!  There is the very real possibility of finding deep meaningful friendships and relationships with others when we are vulnerable and transparent.  We are truly able to determine true friendship when they are willing to jump in the deep with us and be exactly what is necessary in our time of need.

I will be honest, I have found that the act of vulnerability has become easier with time.  In fact, I just met with a friend tonight over coffee to just be real and open.  And the more I talk to friends about my struggles, the more I write them down, the more people reach back.  We all need each other, we all experience times where life becomes overwhelming and we feel like its impossible to keep our head above the water.

So be open, be real, be vulnerable.  Trust that there are others out there that will come along when you need them.  Reach out, don’t lose hope and trust the journey.  If you feel you have no one, if you’ve lost all hope….please remember you can text 7058682616 – even if we don’t know each other, I’ll be happy to lend an ear.  Coffee and conversation are two of my favorite things.  I may not have all the answers, I may not be a psychologist or life coach, but I can be a friend.  We all struggle, don’t do it alone!

Until next time…be well