The Power of Touch

Have you ever held on to something and felt like you were out of control? Like it was just out of reach… Ever so slowly, slipping out of your hands?

I thought I would feel that for the first time last week as I held on to my Omi’s hand as she lay motionless, helpless in her hospital bed in Cold Lake, Alberta. I did my best to pull out the golden-boy grandson routine of sheer comedic relief, but truth be told it was all a defence mechanism for me. I’ve never really experienced an up-close and personal encounter with the imminent signs of death and a loved one before. I mean, kind of back in 2010 when my dad ended up in the hospital over night from an aortic aneurysm. But hell, my now ex and I just showed up that Sunday morning by his bedside as he came to from the anaesthesia of post-surgery. It wasn’t as real as holding on to a hand that you’ve known all your life to give you all the support and love you could handle as a child. To hold on to that and to fear the moment when that grip finally slipped away… that was real. That, ironically is life.

However, I didn’t experience it.

My apparent good-willed humour and the presence of other loved ones such as my mother must have given Omi a renewed lease on life. A reminder as to why she was still kickin’. At 86 years old, she’s had one helluva time through the thick and the thin alongside my Opa, who is quite possibly the greatest man on this planet. Sure, they squabble, as any married couple will, but their undying love for one another was grossly magnified during the last week. A week I hadn’t prepared for and certainly didn’t expect to come out much wiser, stronger and empowered from.

I learned that the healing power of touch is awesomely underestimated. We went up to Cold Lake on Monday expecting to say farewell to my mother’s mother. Instead, our thoughtfulness, our compassion and our love incited a passion in Omi to hold on and stick around until next time we get to visit (which for my folks looks like about a month). And that’s okay. At this time, mini goals are all it takes. One step at a time. Day by day. One hospital meal of crushed ice and orange antibiotics at a time…

Make a plan. It’s there for you to use as a guide if nothing else. Clearly my Omi’s plan changed when we got there this past week. Eff, was she ever surprised. When you make a plan at least you can go off the grid a bit when you want to. Shake things up and understand the power of your presence around everyone, loved or not in your day to day interactions. The impact you have with the silliest things such as touch goes a really long way.

Thanks for hearing me out. And thanks for sharing

 

It’s just a ripple…

It can destroy a man or a woman alike. From the inside out.

 

 

With just a ripple, the entire landscape changes. The trees up above seem displaced, the birds soaring overhead are off…

Even the way things seem under the surface is unsettling when that ripple takes over. It might be the wind. It might be the fish or a slap of a tail from the beaver. Whatever it was today, it doesn’t matter. It’s off. Use caution when you approach the shoreline, or the docks, or the stones across the creek…but simply close your eyes…

 

For when you come back tomorrow, you’ll see the trees, the birds, the beautiful mural of nature on the surface. And to match- and more importantly – you’ll hear the powerful symphony beneath the surface if you listen carefully. It’s just a ripple.

gabe-rodriguez-3891

Photo by Gabe Rodriguez on Unsplash

On Community: CrossFit Above All

So today marked the first real CrossFit workout I’ve had since I went in Maui about 4 years ago. One word: Community.

Curtis Laughren, an old friend of mine has established his box as so much more than a place to lift heavy things and put them back down again. He’s grown a family of individuals that come together, support and rally each other through the toughest physical demands they can put their bodies through every time they step on the floor. What’s more is that today was a holiday! The floor was packed. Every one to the athletes came up and introduced themselves to me. It was quite a humbling experience to see so many encouraging, forward thinking and mindful athletes together in one space. I was back in my element today. Part of the team. A feeling I haven’t had for nearly two years since speed skating came to an abrupt end in the fall of 2015.

I walked in and immediately felt like I was home. The sweat-culture of sport, intensity and collaborative competition hit me like a hurricane the minute I stepped inside. Greeted by Curtis, peering through the Concept2 rowers (AKA death machines…) standing on end in “park”, to see who the new guy was. Huge smile and big handshake waiting for me, it was at that point I knew that this was the next step in my athletic career.

We spent the first 15 minutes in RAMP (for those wondering, that’s smart trainer talk for warm up [Range Of Motion, Activation, Movement Prep…]) and then we got to some warm up movements on the bar. The workout today was modelling the CrossFit Games workouts that just took place this past weekend, so today “Amanda” and a strength Powerlifting style 5-3-1+ sets of deadlifts was on the docket.

What’s Amanda?

It’s a drop set 9-7-5 series focused around two big, sexy movements. The Olympic Snatch and the Muscle Up. Rawr…

I’m pretty good with the bar, so the snatch wasn’t a problem (insert endless jokes here….), but my shoulders have never been right since I separated the left one making saves in football (soccer) nearly 10 years ago. Actually, side note – that’s one of the biggest motivations for me trying this box out. My overall goal is to be able to complete 10 Muscle Ups before 2018. For today, Curtis and I scaled them down to strict pull-ups so my Amanda was really like a “Mandy”…. The beta version 1.8 and still pretty cool.

I had a nice and light 75lbs on the bar just to go through the snatch patterning and pounded out my modified Amanda in a quick 4:18. In hindsight I should have thrown 115lbs on the bar, but I feel good about my first day. It can still be intimidating to walk into a gym where you’re the new guy…even for an experienced, multiple-certified trainer like myself, guys… so I was pumped to just experience today.

Then came the deads…

I crushed a 265lb deadlift today, which I just calculated to be about 113% of my previous best. So I set a PR on my deads today. Which is cool. But don’t tell my cardiologist yet. She’ll get worried again. I didn’t hold my breathe, Doc. Don’t worry. No Valsalva over here.

The point to my story is that the biggest determining factor of anything you do is your social support system. If you’re around a bunch of people that are in support of your actions, you’ll be much more likely to achieve. If you’re not, you won’t. Plain and simple. They say we are a product of the five people we hang out around the most. As a kid playing hockey I always wanted to play on the top line, I always wanted to be better. I wanted to be around the guys that were better than me. Nothing much has changed.

August 7, 2017 marks the actualization of bettering myself in the areas of my wellbeing that I’ve neglected for whatever reason… injury, laziness, lack of knowledge or special care. I’ve removed those excuses from the equation, and CrossFit Above All is the support system, the community, the family I have been lacking to drive me to progression in my personal and athletic growth. I am beyond stoked to see what happens. Thank you Curtis et al.

Do something awesome today. Until next time, stay sweet.

Peace.

-M

PS. If you’re in the Calgary area, check out www.crossfitaboveall.com

Curtis hosts multiple free classes each week for you to try out and see what it’s like to be a part of a common goal of personal growth and strength, both in the gym and out.

 

“Trigger-pull.”: Das Challenge #1

Take action. I don’t care if the path you’re going down leads to another fork in the road. Worry about that when you get there. If you’re thinking about whether or not you’ll need bug spray, you’ll never take that first step.

So this week I’ve been getting up at the crack of dawn, going out for a walk with Darwin, or a nice bike ride first thing just to get some movement in. It’s the “me” time I like before I get set on the tasks of work and settle into productivity. I find this stimulates my mind and my body and allows me to really lean in on all of my activities and interactions through out the rest of the day. Well, Tuesday morning rolls around… it was a walk day with Dar and I was up out of bed, to quickly down a glass of lemon water and start out on a quest to the big off-leash park, a playground for my super excited Golden Sheptriever pup… all before 6:15. (yes, that’s a hybrid super dog mix – Golden Retriever – German Sheppard)

We start out down the back alley and turn east towards the beautiful Calgary sunrise, seeing all those commuters stuck on the early rush hour mess that is Deerfoot, day in day out. Not too long after I let Dar run wild with his homies, leashless – I feel a sharp little stab in my ankle. Shit! I think. I forgot the bug spray. Long grass. Bit of rain last night. Perfect breeding ground for a bunch of those nasty prairies “skeeters’ to feast on the unsuspecting morning walk-n-podcast types such as myself. Meanwhile, Dar is off chasing a bunny that’s the size of a small kangaroo…

Needless to say, it was a less-than-awesome and abbreviated walk, however on the plus side, I got my heart rate up a lot higher as my pace was reminiscent of those power walking women you tend to see at most community centre running tracks… so go me! Dar didn’t care. He met some doggo-friends and had a good time sniffing butts and breaking girls hearts and stuff. Typical boy…

The next day. Do you think I remembered the bug spray? Heck no. But I stuck to the plan and got eaten alive again at 6:30am on Wednesday and have been consistent all week. If I had concerned myself with the bug spray…

As a sidenote, anyone who thinks they’re powerless because they are just one person… one small tiny voice in the world… try going for a walk in the off-leash park behind my place and experiencing the relentless mosquitos of a Calgary post-summer sunrise…

Trigger-pull

So many of us get paralyzed when we over-analyze. I’m telling you, anything I’ve ever achieved that’s worthwhile in life, I have had to make some big, nasty adjustments to what I knew as safe and just trust in the process and leap. With. No. Fear.

I’m going all out. I’m leaning in, so to speak. Here is what I am doing.

Das Challenge

Ask yourself this question: How am I living in action?

If you can’t answer that, or need some help towards starting the process, I have a challenge for you. I call it “Start With U”. It’s a completely FREE resource I’m building for you that’s an accumulation of the work I put in to build healthy lifestyle habits in mind, body and soul. Basically, the difference maker between being good and being great each day. With this week’s challenge I will show you the first three steps towards consistent habit shaping, the foundation of self-care and my “Start With U”, project.

Are you in?

I’m only looking to help those that are highly motivated, ready for change and able to take constructive feedback. No prima donnas, no fence-sitters. You’ve got to want it.

If that’s you, here are the rules.

  1. Head to Instagram and follow my account @coach_schwartzy
  2. Comment “I’m in!” on this post on my Instagram account (it’s the little pad and pen picture if you have trouble with the link) https://www.instagram.com/p/BXGc_SqBP6f/?taken-by=coach_schwartzy
  3. Follow the challenge rules on the post. To recap they are:
    1. Make sure you commented on the post
    2. Click the link in my bio to ensure you’re on my radar and get some free stuff from me
    3. Affirm, move and create/learn each day until Friday. Be sure to write it down each day and take a picture once you’ve done it (to make it real and to PROVE it to both me AND yourself…we’ll discuss accountability later)

Pretty easy, eh? Share this post with anyone you feel could use a little more consistency and self-care in their lives. I look forward to seeing all of your comments littering up my IG feed.

 

 

Consistency!

I have had a reflective week. I am on a really good path to abundance and have found that a few key things have led to my success. I want to give back to the community that has given me so much in support so I am crafting up the “Start With U” journal to help others live with passion, intent and be better humans regardless of if they’re with themselves or with others. I am not charging anything for this awesome tool, but just ask that you pay for your shipping. I plan on having it out in the fall, so if you’re interested please click here. http://eepurl.com/cxDWIv

Heck, I’ll even send you a free kitchen rescue kit. Click it.

Here is my insight for the day – weigh in below. Each day, wake up and:

  1. Positively affirm yourself. Language shapes behaviours which lead to actions. So intention is everything. Self-talk up how grateful you are for the day and what you will accomplish.
  2. Move! When you start the day with a little movement (walk around the block, jump rope, do some yoga) you will help get your mind connected to your body and since we can all use a like “sweat once each day” therapy, this is just plain good for everyone and…
  3. Pick up a book, a guitar a pen and paper and get to work. Always be learning and pushing the mental boundaries of what you know to be possible. Learn. Create and grow!

Start With U

Numb – RIP Chester

With the passing of yet another legend of popular culture, and another childhood hero of mine in Chester Bennington I have just one question: when are we going to wake up and start realizing there’s a problem and we need to do something to solve it?

I’m not suggesting rock stars get special treatment, but the level of fame, high stakes pressure and status is obviously taking its toll on the individuals we the public see as untouchable, perfect and with it all. These are the leaders that shape our youth and the stigma associated with mental health. If more celebrities, high profile artists and bands felt comfortable sharing their battles with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues then maybe the rest of us would feel better talking about it in an open forum much as we do about the flu, a rolled ankle or stubborn cough. It’s all sickness. Not optimized health. Mental vs. physical is irrelevant. It just needs to be discussed.

Clearly we are skipping steps. The industry needs to set up and advocate for a program of proactive health to which all areas of strength and confidence in both mental and physical wellbeing are treated. Here’s the thing:

I have the platform.

I wrote the book on it. Get it on Amazon – The Musician’s Guide To Surviving The Rock Star Lifestyle

I host the podcast to which we talk about it. Subscribe on iTunes – How To Survive The Rock Star Lifestyle Podcast

I train people to be fit, mentally, physically and emotionally. Check us out here – INLIV.com

All I need is the support.

Together we can help raise mental health awareness and break the stigma associated with depression, anxiety and addiction. Let’s talk, because I am sick of reading headlines like this every month or so about the rock idols that I grew up worshipping….

https://consequenceofsound.net/2017/07/r-i-p-chester-bennington-linkin-park-singer-has-died-at-age-of-41/

It’s getting really frustrating because it’s something we can fix by just opening up avenues of conversation.

Contact me here if you wish to speak on my podcast. You don’t have to be a rock star, musician or even musically inclined. However, if this story has made an impression, if you have been affected by mental health in any capacity, I want to offer you a platform to speak to it and inform others.

I am going to host a special edition podcast once we have some input in order to bring to light the darkness that is mental health awareness. It’s a safe, respectful, environment for those of you that wish to say anything about your experience with mental health. It can be a story, a specific experience you have had, how mental health has affected you or a friend/family member or how the loss of these amazing talents to something so silly has impacted your life…. anything at all. Even just a quick few sentences. I want your stories to help others realize there’s outlets for assistance. There are places to seek help and a community that supports you in your darkest of places. Together we can break the stigma. I’ve been down that road a couple times myself, but fortunately never to the point that some get to because I’ve had resources to help me through. Let’s showcase these resources for others that may not be aware. Let’s make it cool to talk about mental health.

I’m here to share your story. Please help me break the stigma!

FOONYAP

I had the pleasure of sitting down and talking game with Calgary’s own, FOONYAP. Between a new remix album and an incredibly successful full length debut album, she has her hands full and explains to me how she manages to survive the rock star lifestyle mid national tour. Don’t miss this episode. Catch a sneak peek below and subscribe to iTunes here for all the pro tips on how to survive the rock star lifestyle. Subscribe to the “How To Survive The Rock Star Lifestyle Podcast”

Behind The Scenes!