Why Do I Blog?

Interesting question?  And one I was forced myself to ask this past Sunday.  I woke up around 6am to get ready for work, and as usual I pick up my phone to see if there is anything important that may need my attention.  I see a message from FaceBook messenger from an old girlfriend from about 10 years ago, definitely not the normal notification I would get on my phone so I gave it a read.

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The Ying and Yang of life… Star Wars style!

Not the way that anyone would want to start the day.  While I believe the underlying reason for sending this message was concern the wording and overall tone of the message was just plain wrong.  I don’t even care to cut and paste it here as it basically was calling me out, my actions, this blog in particular were all BAD THINGS for me.  That I was in serious denial about my anger, mental health issues and depression and if I continued down this path I would be broke, homeless and unemployable.

She of course then blocked me so I couldn’t send any sort of reply.  Since I know that she is stalking me online, and will eventually read this this reply will have to do.

I am living my own life, and the choices that I make (while you may not agree with) are mine to make.  Spending this time now with my son is my driving force in life, the day to day interaction that I get with him (and my other children), I wouldn’t trade for the world.  I was a miserable nasty who hated his job, and hated the person THAT I WAS.  I walked away from all that life to save the future of my children, had I continued on that path I would have been broke, homeless and unemployable.

I have spent considerable time resolving the issues that I had been dragging around with me, I have sought out help and found it in the most incredible and unexpected places.  The friends that I have met and made are of such quality they won’t let me fail, they hold me accountable and I have such a network now that I can lean into when times get tough, to bounce thoughts and ideas off of, to lift me up when I am feeling down.  The MasterMind course that I am doing had taught me how to be a better man, father and one day again husband.  The community of support in these “FaceBook groups”, which I understand are closed for a reason.

And lastly exercise and triathlon are a bad thing?  Seriously?  I have learned more from the sport of triathlon about myself, self confidence, a healthy lifestyle and showing my children a way of life that they will learn from watching their father participate in.  A lifestyle that will allow me to stay active and keep up with them as they grow into their own lives.

So thank you again for your concern, I’ve taken away the underlying message and adjusted my course with a few things, so thank you for that.  The rest I am going to leave in the past, with you and the memories of our relationship.  I will continue to focus on the positive things that are in my life and that I can control, you , your thoughts and feelings I cannot and I will not your fears and concerns become my own.

I have three coaching calls to look forward to today, each with a slight different area of focus, a bike/run brick workout to get in, a cookie order to bake decorate and ship, some website updates to do while the boy naps, and then an afternoon of fun and games with my children when they get home from school.

The only person I need concern myself with is the man that I see in the glass.  Have a great day everyone.

PS – this is why I blog, to clear my mind, to set my focus for the day and then crush it.

https://www.northwestbakery.com
North West Bakery is based in Barrie, Ontario serving Simcoe County and the Greater Toronto Area, all of our products are homemade with love.  We can hand deliver to your business, party or special event.  Visit https://www.NorthWestBakery.com for details!

 

The Side Hustle

In the effort to stay at home with my now four year old son I have started to feel the need for some extra income. I recently applied for and got a job back in the culinary industry to bring in a few extra dollars on the weekend when I am kid free. Ideally not what I was looking for but it’s one of this foot in the door and a chance to prove yourself moving forward. A classic case of walking before you can run, and after thinking about it now for a few days it’s absolutely perfect.

However it will only slow the bleeding that has been my bank account the last few months, ideally I want to bring that down to a trickle and eventually start to fill up the federal reserves again. Man I am big on the metaphors today! In comes the Side Hustle! I originally heard this term thrown around in some of the men’s mental health groups I have joined, and more recently on commercials for Uber. #sidehustle

Some friends and I had talked about starting a baking company late last year and this January I finally decided to take the bull by the horn and go all in. It first started with the 6 quart MixMaster mixer I ordered for a screaming deal on Amazon. And then it was Wix.com to set up a website, and finally VistaPrint to get some business cards, car magnets, t-shirts and a large banner which I’ve yet to hang outside my house. Tomorrow’s project for sure.

The Facebook page is up, the Instagram account is active and I’ve even started to boost posts on Facebook which has actually helped bring some more visibility to the site. No orders yet, but as men aren’t we notorious for waiting until the last minute? I have received a few orders already and this morning I went about my normal routine of taking the kids to school, and then making an order for a friend that was willing to help me test out the ability to send these delicious cookies through the mail and see what the end result would be.

I was very happy with the results of my efforts as you can see here…

… however when I went to pack them up the icing had not quite hardened all the way and several of them were squished. I did manage to save four of them but will have to redo the other eight, several of which are sitting at the bottom of my stomach as part of afternoon snack.

There has been a learning curve involved with his business venture for sure and at this point I am just hoping to sell enough cookies to cover off my investment and then make a few dollars. If it can be turned into a profitable enough venture to allow me to stay at home full time then I will consider that a Hugh WIN, however there is a lot of work and a lot of cookies between now and then.

If you have a few moments I invite you to look at the site as advertised below. Not looking for orders but rather feedback, ease of navigation, products you would like to see kind of idea. Swim lessons are wrapping up and then it is off the the 25th run in a row. Now that’s Hustle!

https://www.northwestbakery.com North West Bakery is based in Barrie, Ontario serving Simcoe County and the Greater Toronto Area, all of our products are homemade with love.  We can hand deliver to your business, party or special event.  Visit https://www.NorthWestBakery.com for details!

48 Hours Kid Free

As a full time father of four it’s not often I can say that. It’s rare to have any time to myself let alone two full days. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to a quiet house, the sleeping in, the getting to do whatever I want to do.

By having ME time has allowed me to keep my sanity most of the time when confronted with the chaos of four kids. Or six kids back in the day, or in the seven kid chaos coming my way later this summer. I once had a 17 kid dinner in my house and I was the only parent. It was a dream of mine, as each kid asked if they could have there friends over I said yes and yes and yes and yes until I was making dinner for 17 kids. I have the video to prove it…

Although I can’t seem to find it at the moment, believe me it happened…

These weekends I use to recharge my batteries and do the things that I love. For example I am going to go for a nice long run down to the waterfront and back, it’s full of elevation changes and great scenery. I am going to stroll the flea market and do some window shopping, and I am even going to sleep in tomorrow. No five am gym session for this guy!

I consider having the best of both worlds, full time Dad by week and bachelor on the weekends. Yes I miss my children terribly but at the same time I enjoy the peace and quiet a Friday night with an empty house brings… I think I will go play a game of pool.

And if you haven’t seen the movie Dead Poets Society, go watch it and take some lessons from it. You will be glad you did, have a great night everyone!

I’m Not Dancing…

I signed up my little ones for a hip hop dance class at the YMCA on Monday nights. Tonight is week 2 of a 12 week run, I’ve watched my older daughters go through similar classes in the past but was unsure of what to expect with ages 3 and 5.

It starts with a warmup basically organized chaos and running all around the gym. Loosening up leg and arm muscles as they run back and forth working up a sweat. And now they are being shown and repeating some basic hip hop moves.

Austin for two weeks in a row, every time I mention the class says “I’m not dancing…” and makes a funny face.

While sitting here watching the class go down he is right there with his sister shuffling back and forth across the dance floor (aka gym) and seems to be having a great time as there is a big smile on his face.

I was slightly worried that he would be the kid that was distracted by everything that went by, or wasn’t listening to the instructor like this other little boy is who is currently running laps around the exterior of the gym instead of participating. Kind of funny…

I suspect that it is because his sister is in the class with him and had this been a solo mission for Austin he might be acting differently. It’s fun watching them have fun, get exercise and not be sitting there in front of the TV watching mindlessly.

I love the YMCA it has great programs for the kids that doesn’t cost any extra for the discounted membership price I was given. Perhaps I will give that Yoga class a try I’ve been itching to try out…

Just Getting It Done

Morning all, so I wrote quickly yesterday morning about feeling a bit overwhelmed about the day ahead, and I am very happy to report that I got it all done, and then some! The morning was filled with driving around, and my boy was just super well behaved in the car for a couple of hours, his favorite reward being a Kinder Egg which he attacks with such enthusiasm every time he gets one.  He is such a sweet little boy, wanted to buy his big sister Emily a heart shaped ring from the dollar store and then gave it to her later in the day, warmed my heart so much to see that.

When I got home it was cookie production time, as I mentioned that I am starting up an online baking company, North West Bakery which has been such fun to start up.  I found some awesome Valentine’s Day boxes to pack up cookies, and  made some promo cookies as well that I am going to photo and add to the website today.  My order from Vista Print arrives today as well so I can turn my Jeep into a mobile advertising platform, business cards and t-shirts to wear at the gym tonight when I work out.  Going to be fun!

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10 days straight running

While Austin was down for a nap. I decided to hit the road for a lovely 10km run through the streets my subdivision on the 10th day of my 100 day run challenge.  I was doing a Nike Run audio guided run and I humble suggest that any runners with an Iphone download the app and give it a try.  Remember to turn your phone to airplane mode to avoid any phone calls as for some reason it kicks off the audio track during the run which has only been slightly annoying.  I find the talking, the verbal coaching in your ear to be a great motivator, and I will try it again at the gym tonight.

After school was filled with icing cookies, and playing with my two young children.  It was wrestle time and we had so much fun rolling around the couch, having pillow fights, and letting them pummel me and believe you me, pummel me is the right word.  Horsey rides, tickle fights and playing Monsters (basically chasing them around the house making monsters sounds) and they loved it.  Mom came and picked up the little ones, and I settled into the couch and a good movie and had a nap…

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Millenium Falcon and Darth Vader’s Tie Fighter!

After a little despite, I engaged both of my older girls to end the day.  Megan came home from the mall and was so excited to tell me all about it, share some videos that she took, showed off the 1000 page book that she bought.  She even let me explain to her how to play the Star Wars X-Wing miniatures game that I have been dying to play, and then offered to play with me.  I should have jumped at the chance, by I was down to my last little bit of energon for the da and knew I would be napping soon.  We have rescheduled the space combat mission for this weekend, perhaps even tonight.

And then I talked with Emily about what is going on in her life.  I challenged her to make a plan of action over the next few days to help her both feel better and get her school life back on track.  She has been steadily improving the last few weeks and I want to see her take that next step.  I need to remember to focus on the GREAT things that she is doing, and try not to focus on the negative things.  I believe she will respond better with positive reinforcement when it is so easy to point out those negative things we all see and don’t like on a personal level.

I’ve gotten a bit away from writing about my daughters, as I learned a real valuable lesson about sharing too much especially when you have neighbours that think they know better than you do when it comes to raising your own kids.  An absolute humbling lesson about a hand reaching out while sliding a knife into your back.. I digress as I choice to focus on the positive and the things that I have control over, right?

Today’s agenda is fun.  Lot’s of playing with Austin today, in and around some website construction usually when he eats lunch, and naps.  Swim lessons start up again tonight so back to the YMCA and then a nice little workout afterwards (run 11) and then home for dinner and a movie(s) night, first with the little ones and then another with my teenagers.  Want to start a tradition each week watching one of the Marvel movies in order leading up to the release of Infinity War in May.  This will give us the chance to talk about life, the day and whatever else comes up…

I hope you all have a great day as well!

The Emotional Roller Coaster

It was that kind of weekend for me, filled with the highest of highs and at the same time the lowest of lows.  These kind of weekends make life very interesting, at the same time can make life difficult to handle.  Things started earlier this week when I had to ask Emily to leave my house, giving her until Friday to find a new place to live.

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I had given her a reasonable list of house expectations, and while at first she didn’t even want to look at or consider my list, to a few days later saying that what I was requesting was not unreasonable.  As she is telling me the words that I want to hear, she is at the same time going to school but skipping every single class.  Her words were definitely not matching up with her actions, and when I called her out on it she got angry, pulled back emotionally and did not come home from school on Friday afternoon.

I am trying to work with Emily and have her face her problems, her issues as opposed to running away from them as she has started to do recently.  I ran and tried to hide from my own problems for too many years, I hid from them buried under an addiction and I could now see my daughter doing the same thing.  It took me the better part of this year to finally exact life altering, and lasting change for the better.  This blog being a huge part of that change, the sharing, the not feeling alone, unburdening myself of the giant ball and chain that I have been carrying around for many years.

Sitting around on Friday night, after telling my daughter that she was no longer welcome in my house was incredibly hard for me to do.  But I did it, I packed up all her clothes, makeup and personal effects placing them into the garage and letting her know she could come and pick them up whenever she wanted to.  That night was difficult, many different emotions ran through me as I sat there and thought about the last few years, and how things had come to this.  It was a tough night.

I can proudly say that not one time did I think about returning to my addict ways, to numb my mind and hid from my problems with marijuana.

Saturday morning started the turn upwards towards those aforementioned highs.  The morning started with some fun with Jenny and Austin, picking up Megan and starting my weekly 3 hour drive to return various kids to various mom’s.  This drive was one of my absolute favorites as Megan and I talked for the entire two hours we were in the car together, not once did she pick up her phone and get distracted.  We talked about an eclectic range of topics that included: her first crush, the Christmas dinner and the dress that she wanted to get, Tom Holland aka Spider-Man, her sister Emily, basketball, volleyball and a million other things…  It was such an easy back and forth and upon dropping her off I was on the receiving end of several hugs and kisses goodbye as I headed out on my return trip to Barrie.

I stopped at the YMCA for a great 2 hour workout, after signing up for an Ironman race, I have found it has given my workouts an extra layer of focus, and taken them to the next level.  I have already started to the see the results in the mirror which is always a bonus, vain yes I know…  This time around in the Ironman triathlon the goal isn’t just to cross the finish line it is to cross that finish line strong and at the front of the field.  I have no illusions of winning the race but a time of or under five hours and top ten in my age group would have me literally jumping for joy again.  Have 7 months of great training ahead!

When I was done the gym I headed home to an empty house, as is often the case on Saturday and Sunday’s.  I full custody of my four children pretty much Monday through Saturday morning, and then get to live the single man’s lifestyle on the weekends.  You know hanging out at bars, and hitting on the ladies… throwing wild and crazy parties in my kid free house… actually none of those things at all.  I am the opposite of 99% of men, whom are kid free on the weekend, I was going to have a glass of wine, listen to some music, dance around my kitchen and do a whole lot of baking.

My friend, Tiffany was having a bit of a rough day so I invited her over to help and to help take her mind off things going on in her own life, and over the course of a seven hour conversation I learned a whole lot more about her.  She carried most of the conversation and I think just needed to share and unload some of the crazy events going on in her life.  Just sitting there listening, and I mean actually listening to another person is such an amazing thing,  She had my undivided attention, not interrupted by checking cell phones, a tv on in the background or any combination of kids running around.  We eventually did get around to baking and that was another whole adventure.

516nqRVGfGLI know that Tiffany wasn’t impressed when I pulled out a boxed cake mix to make some cupcakes, and when I saw the expression on her face I kind of got nervous.  From my point of view I do almost all of my baking for my kids and using a box cake mix is simple, quick and easy, makes a decent cupcake as well.  I think when I mentioned baking she was thinking, flour, sugar, eggs, etc.  To be honest it threw me off my game and I ended up making the worst batch of cupcakes I ever have made.  They were too big, the frosting was far too sweet, the candy canes I put into the icing you couldn’t see, and the colour scheme was all wrong.  Just not happy with the finished product…

Looking back, I was nervous, and the results showed that.  This was the first time I had ever baked with another person.  And I got into my own head a little bit, we both talked and laughed about the results and what had gone on over the last hour.  In good news, the banana bread we made was absolutely delicious.  I sent that home with Tiffany to enjoy and heard it was quickly consumed.  Before heading off to bed I thought about things and what I would do differently the next time we got together.

That turned out to be Sunday!  The sugar cookies I had made a few weeks ago, has led to another job and five dozen Christmas sugar cookies and I was going to make another batch on Sunday to both perfect the recipe and send to school today with Jennifer for her class to enjoy.  I asked Tiffany to help me out on Sunday, as on Saturday we talked a lot of baking, and icing and how much she enjoyed the whole process.

Sunday was the exact opposite from Saturday night.  There were no nerves involved whatsoever, and I was totally able to be myself.  On came the awesome 80’s tunes, one of my favorite songs, Doesn’t Really Matter by Platinum Blonde to which every single time I hear this song, no matter where I am have to air drum the drum solo midway through the song.  I found myself singing out loud, which I never have done in front of another person before, as I do not have a voice for it at all.  I played my best air drums using a few wooden spoons in my kitchen, it was epic.

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Learned how to “ice” cookies today.

Over the course of several hours we talked, we laughed and we had a great time.  Tiffany and I worked very well together in the kitchen,  instantly had an unspoken language while making these cookies.  Several times throughout the process we were helping each other without having to say a word.  It was like nothing I had ever experienced before working with another person.  A communication without speaking a very rare thing indeed.

From the low’s of Friday night, to the learning curve of Saturday to the pure fun that I had on Sunday all came to a head Sunday night as I drove Tiffany home and picked up Emily who had finally decided that she wanted to stay at my home and we had our best talk in a long time while driving down to pick up Megan from her mom’s house.  Sitting in the car with Emily, just being open and honest and not being afraid to talk to my daughter was the most powerful hour of my weekend.  I truly believe that in that hour I was able to reconnect with Emily in a way I had been searching for these last few months.

I wasn’t nervous or afraid to open up and bare my soul to her, to share with her the experiences from my past that parallel exactly what she has been going through.  I believe we came to an understanding about each other during that car ride and have taken the first few steps towards regrowing the bond that should exist between a father and his daughter.  We still have a lot of work to do, together, being able to talk to be open, to share with each other one day at a time.  One thing at a time.  Baby steps, one after another and over time we will have climbed that mountain.  Together.

I’ve learned so much about myself on this journey, this weekend in particular was one of learning, growing and most importantly being myself.  Even with small periods of nerves spattered throughout, I was able to adjust, to learn on the fly and to grow one small step at a time. It taught me that I could take what I experienced one day and could directly be applied to the next day making it a wonderful experience.

I will leave you all with this thought for the day, each day that passes for me is one step further away from my old life and one step closer towards the man I am truly am meant to be.  It’s still is amazing to me, this journey has been so wonderful.  Each day presents to me such beauty and wonder in every situation that I have the pleasure of experiencing both good and bad.  I will continue to learn, to grow, to evolve from each experience and shape my life, the life of my children and those I am lucky to call friends so much better.

Ironman Muskoka 70.3 ~ July 8, 2018

I have written a bit about of the sport of triathlon since I’ve started this blog and there certainly will be more posts about it in the future, including today!  I have just registered myself for next summer’s Ironman race in Huntsville, Ontario at the beginning of July.  It is perhaps the biggest race in Ontario next year and will attract the world’s top athletes based on the beauty and the toughness of the course.  And standing right there on the start line will be little ol’ me.

I want to use this post to explain the sport to those that may be unfamiliar with it, as future posts will include some of my training days and the races that I do next spring and summer as I dive right back into this wonderful sport.  This sport changed my life, and maybe just maybe by sharing my love and passion for the sport with you, you may want to Give It A Try and it can change your life as well!

Ironman History

Whoever finishes first, We’ll call him the Ironman

During an awards banquet for the Waikiki Swim Club, John Collins, a Naval Officer stationed in Hawai`i, and his fellow athletes began debating which athletes were the fittest: swimmers, bikers, or runners. Later, he and his wife Judy, who had both participated in new competitions known as triathlons in San Diego, decided to combine three of the toughest existing endurance races on the island. On February 18, 1978, 15 competitors, including Collins, came to the shores of Waikiki to take on the first-ever IRONMAN challenge.

Originally from: http://www.ironman.com/triathlon/history.aspx#ixzz50lbtAJTu

This sport has grown in popularity ever since that day and today Ironman races can be found in countries all around the world.  I did my first official Ironman race in Louisville, KY back in 2009 and it changed my life.  I was an active competitor in the sport from 2007 to 2010 and the very last race(s) I did was in Wasaga Beach where, believe it or not, I did three triathlons in one day, back to back to back.

I walked away from the sport after that day thinking to myself that I couldn’t end my journey that had started three and a half years ago any better way.  After all in my head I felt I had accomplished everything I could in the sport.  From experiencing the thrill of crossing the finish line for the first time, to races several full seasons of races everything single weekend, to winning my series age group, to coming in first in my age group, to outright winning a race (kind of…) to doing my first Ironman 70.3 that landed me on the cover of several magazines and print ads, to finishing a full Ironman, to finally capping it all with three races in one day and meeting Canadian Olympic Gold Medalist Simon Whitfield who personally presented me with my Series Championship calling me crazy upon hearing that I did 3 races in one day.  I also met 11 time Ironman Champion Lisa Bentley and even had the opportunity to train with her one weekend in Guelph.

Done it all, right?  It was such an epic life journey that physically and mentally changed me forever.

But as George Costanza might say, “I’m back baby!”

So here is a breakdown of what I will be facing next July.  The sport of triathlon is broken down into three disciplines.  The first is the swim leg which varies in distance based on which type of race that you are doing, here is the breakdown of each type..

Give It A Try ~ 400m swim, 10km bike, 2.5km run

Sprint ~ 750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run

Olympic ~ 1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run

Ironman 70.3 ~ 1.9km swim, 94km bike, 21.1km run

Ironman ~ 3.8km swim, 180km bike, 42.2km run

swim

I’ve already done this exact swim back in 2009 during a long course triathlon and can it envision the swim exit in my mind.  This race as mentioned will be in Huntsville, using the Canada Summit Center as the transition area and start/finish line.  This area was completely renovated back in 2010 for a G8 leaders conference and I haven’t seen it since it was completed.

My swim will be 1.9km in distance headed out away from the transition area out into the middle of Fairy Lake turning left a few times and then down river to the swim exit.  It will also be what is called a wave start where several smaller groups, all age related, start 3 minutes apart.  In a full Ironman race it is generally a mass swim start where all athletes start at the same time.  With a wave start it stretches out the field and you have a lot less elbows and feet hitting you in the face as you swim.

When you finish the swim, you would then head back to the transition area where you take off the wetsuit and get ready for the next leg of the day, the bike ride.

bike

This is a 94m bike ride around the Lake of Bays.  My family and I have rented a cottage the past few summers on this very lake, and a few years ago we just happen to be headed up to the cottage to start our vacation and stumbled across the bike leg of this very race.  These races are done on open roads that are not closed to traffic which can always make bike riding a bit more interesting.  On this drive into our cottage, I quickly explained to all the kids in the car what was going on, how Daddy had done this race several years ago and I rolled down the windows and had all of them yell encouragement to the racers as we slowly drove by.  I know first hand what the comments from spectators can do to lift an athlete’s morale, especially people who may be new to the sport and struggling out there on the course.  It can put smiles on faces, and fill racers with a renewed sense of energy.

There are so many spectators there to cheer on their loved ones, and they share that love and support with all the racers over the course of the day.  They may not realize it, but all that cheering and support goes such a long way on these long, and often very hot grueling days.  I still can vividly here a man with a thick heavy French accent yelling words of encouragement during a marathon that I did, yelling “Come On Edward you can do it!  I believe in you!”  That comment filled me with such energy and got me running again as I had stopped to walk as it was towards the end of the race and I was running out of gas.

As you finish up the bike leg you would head back into the transition area where you shed your bike gear and slide on the running shoes for this…

run

… a leisurely 21.1km loop course in and around downtown Huntsville and there will be lot’s of cheering voices and spectators being a looped run course.  This means that it is two laps before turning back towards the finish line and into the finishing chute.  This is where the most spectators are, loud music is playing, there is an awesome and inspiring race announcer yelling out everyone’s name as they cross the finish line.

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img_3281It is such an amazing rush and feeling coming down that finishing chute and crossing the finish line, it is such a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction finishing one of these races.  The first time I finished this distance of triathlon, I cried that last 2km of the run reflecting on the last year of my life and the journey that I had just finished.  I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I literally jumped for joy into the air.  That photo is one the one that would grace of the cover of magazines in the years to come.

I am pretty sure that I will have the same emotional journey again next summer reflecting on the past few years of my life and the journey that has lead me back to the sport that I love. I know this journey will continue to change my life in awesome and unexpected ways.  I plan on sharing this adventure and all that I learn with all of you, enjoy as I know I will.