A personal slice – Be it philosophizing, reviewing music, crafting songs or drum patterns or, heck – maybe I’m just thinking aloud… this is where my thoughts hit the keyboard and infiltrate the borders the giant world wide web.

I’m taking a break from a pros/cons list I’ve started. I haven’t ever really, truly done one, but it’s working. And leaving my head a mess. It’s a list between my current situation, (only a week in mind you) and a new opportunity I was hoping for when I left Toronto in May… now it’s come through and causing quite the mess in my head.

It’s definitely a lot to think about. On the one hand, I am left to think this is just the pisces in me, jumping ship before the anchor is even out of the water. It’s a tendency I have… but could this one really be an opportunity? Perhaps I’ve just met things with super “untimely” timing? I do know that this current situation was never going to be a forever anyway… it’s all got me thinking in any case.

The name of the game was to reinvent the story I have lived for the past 3 years. Paycheque to paycheque, more and more debt and  I talk a lot of game about being healthy. That means much more than going to the gym though. It’s not just physical fitness not just the mental side, but for me especially – being financially fit. I need to work with a professional on that and make some serious investment to my financial health in order to stay off the streets. So a large chunk of the process I’m weighing goes towards what is going to set me up for at least the next two years of what I can do to earn capital and reduce expenses in an effort to turn this ship around for good and start rewriting that story.

Do I go to a market that has a higher guarantee of income and more flexibility and balance between the things that are important to me? Or do I go against comfortable, stick it out in a corporate setting in hopes of high earning potential in a role I’m not thrilled with and work to instil order to the otherwise carefree life I tend to lead? Do I alter the path slightly? Do I tough it out because that’s what I should do to break this whimsical cycle?

Part of me says “Strombo this one.” We don’t ever need to pick a lane. I like doing a lot of things and it keeps me from going crazy. Maybe this is a sign to let the music take priority for a while and we can build the empire on the side with more structure and stability…? It would allow for me to quietly build my brand up in the music industry as a teacher that also incorporates wellness into lessons.

The biggest thing I’m afraid of is what others think of my actions.

How funny is that?

Hey me: Put on your coaching hat and tell yourself what to do.

Thanks for listening.

xo

M

 

 

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Intro

With today marking the 151st birthday of this great nation I am proud to call home, I wanted to write a little bit and pay homage to my homeland. As many of you know, I’m on the road with Midnight Shine, playing drums and living my dream (or one of them!) as a professional musician. I get back home to Calgary in the wee hours of the morning tomorrow, spend a couple days getting my life organized and then fuel up, pack the Tiguan and rip across the country to make a new home in Toronto. It seems fitting that I tip my hat to the beautiful nation I’ll soon be driving across (again) in a few short days. I’ve had a few flights these last few days that have taken me to places I’d never get to see otherwise, so I’m just paying my respect back to the lands.

In The Pocket

It’s surreal. These whole last few months have been. I’m ecstatic to see what’ next, but before I get too crazy, I wanted to tie in a term us drummer use for when you just lay low, let the music speak for itself and just groove. It’s called being in the pocket. A lot of drummers have a hard time staying in the back. A lot of very talented drummers especially want to showboat, impress the girls or I don’t even know what else… but they have a hard time serving the song.

I like to think of staying in the pocket as being neutral. Coasting; not forcing anything to happen. No outcome is right or wrong, just an opportunity to explore and be adventurous. Much like in say, jazz or reggae… the jam happens, much like life. The song could go anywhere… and if you have the wherewithal to just loosen up your grip on the sticks of life, you’ll get carried the right way out of the bridge. Just trust yourself.

Outro

I wanted to take the time to thank Midnight Shine and everyone that’s a part of the team for trusting me with the sacred project. No matter what happens next I have a lifetime of memories and lifelong friends. I’ve had the opportunity to share the stage with absolute legends of the music industry like Blue Rodeo and Colin James, shared drums with childhood heroes Wide Mouth Mason and I’ve met some seriously awesome humans on this stint. I am ever so grateful for the opportunities, but also recognize that I earned them.

It’s amazing what kind of song can form when you learn to stay in the pocket.

Thanks for listening,

Happy Canada Day.

xo

M

PS. Here are some of the highlights from tour. For the full story, head to my Instagram account. Click the “tour” button and watch front to back the happenings on the road with Midnight Shine.  @usetheschwartzy

 

Why is everyone so fixated on failure?

The important thing to realize is that you will likely fail when you try something new. That is okay. What is not okay is when you fail to even try.

I hit a CrossFit box here in London this morning. A few things were ugly about that whole situation.

  1. I’m not very good at CrossFit
  2. It was balls early, 6:15am start time. For anyone in their usual environment that’s nasty, but for a touring musician, living out of a suitcase it’s heinous.
  3. While I enjoy exercise a lot, my eagerness can sometimes alienate others around me

As you can see, lots of room to fail.

And I did. By technical standards. Hell, my bench game is weak. No way around it.

Learn to Forget Things Quick

Todays Workout of The Day (W.O.D) saw us hit a ton of shoulders and chest, areas of opportunity to improve in my personal fitness game, so going in I knew I was going to be up against a lot. The last time I tried to PR my bench, 135 was about it for a few rounds of 5. So today, in trying to get my 5RM, I failed at 135. I’m okay with that. It’s a hole in my armour and I will spend some time working on my chest strength. Had I not tried I’d have never known.

Looking at Failure as Information

If we change our language from “pass/fail” to “gather info” regarding these kinds of situations, we allow ourselves the forgiveness to accept our attempt and problem “solve” rather than just problem “find”.

Par for the course lately. I’ve always gotten a thrill of being the underdog. Against all odds, somehow finding a way to drive the ship through all that pressure, adversity and overwhelming stress to pull it off. I’m playing my 4th show with Midnight Shine tomorrow in Hamilton. Coming off a less than perfect set in Webequie, I need to find the wherewithal to learn from the experiences I had in order to effectively course correct. In theory, each performance… each workout I hit bench… I’ll get a little bit better. That’s the key. 1%.

“Get Back Up. Get. Back. Up.”

Get knocked down 7, 8, 9 times? That’s fine. You just have to find a way to get back up 10. The innate ability to bounce back.

That’s just a characteristic I’ve always had. Grateful my childhood taught me that. My parents taught me the value of hard work and how important it is to outwork everyone else. Authentically.

If you are struggling. Ask for help. If you assume people know you’re struggling and you wait for them to bring it up, you’re doing a disservice to everyone. Check the ego at the door, ask for help.

Literally, I had the bar come down on my chest after 3 reps in my 4th set and Coach Jamie had to pull it off me. We then talked about locking the shoulder blades back and bracing the core and poof… whaddaya know –  I pulled of 5 on my last set.

I also need to know where I stand for performances. I want feedback so I can improve in areas that are opportunity to get better. Performance reviews are popular in organizations and the music business should be no different. So I’m looking for that.

Don’t Take Things Personally

With no squats on the WOD today, I had to rise up and work on the stuff I’m not so good at. It was great. It was authentic. Because I haven’t done rope climbs, I asked for a variation in order to work my way up to it one day. I was also asked to scale my push-up variations nearing the end as my body was just plain gassed and my technical form was starting to suffer. That’s great coaching. Nothing to take personally. My body was just toast at that point.

Be You

That ties it to my final point. One thing is for sure: I’m okay if I don’t fit in because I was who I am. I’m not okay with being on a path embossed with inauthentic motives. I wanna be me and when I’m not happy, it’s not worth it. Not the workout. Not the tourbus.

Just be you, bounce back and remember it’s a long game we’re playing. Have fun with it.

Ciao from the road!

xo

M

We are oftentimes misguided into a false sense of reality by our experience. That’s right. Bold, I know! But I say this in confidence. I’m living proof.

I’m currently reading “MoneyBall”, by Michael Lewis. I’ve seen the movie featuring Brad Pitt (one of my favourites!) countless times, and I’ve been meaning to read the book for as long as I can remember. I bring this up, because it was in one of the early chapters I was reading last night where I found this declaration of classic baseball folk to select (often, poorly) talent based on what they had gone through either by means of their playing career or their experience in front office. When Billy Beane came up through the ranks and became the General Manager of the Oakland Athletics, he grew sick and tired of losing games based on the fact that his club couldn’t afford to keep the players that traditionally won championships. So instead of playing the game, he changed the way the game played. He redesigned the way the league approached scouting and fielding a ball club. Beane along with his assistant GM, founded a super interesting theory characterized by equal parts players statistics to human psychology.

The traditionalists of baseball believe less in hard facts like statistics and more in soft qualities of players; intangibles really. How tall the player was… Foot speed. Oftentimes referring to the fasters runners as those that had “wheels”, and guys with great throwing arms as a “good hose”. Comparable code you’d expect from a mechanic that was fixing up a nice classic late 50’s ‘Vette… (like my dad’s..)

Beane threw that archaic methodology out the window. Go read the book, or at least watch the movie. I won’t spoil the rest. It’s one of my favourites though.

What’s this got to do with past and future you may ask…?

Everything.

I’m currently on the road living a dream. I’m playing drums in an original roots rock crossover project called Midnight Shine. Growing up in a half German (thanks mama Schwartz, maiden name Berndt… full 100% German) half Metis (my fathers heritage); Great Grandma Laporte, a strong Ojibwa indigenous identity was introduced to me from a very young age. I remember powerful totemism in the home. The Eagle, the Thunderbird and sacred dream catchers were all over the house. Land was sacred, stories were significant and I truly embraced it all when I was younger. I loved learning about how my ancestors on both sides of my family lived.

To put it simply, my history lined up my future. It’s no coincidence that Die Mannschaft played – and won – a critical game in the FIFA World Cup on my Father’s 66th birthday, June 23, 2018 (props, pops! Happy day). The same day as my performance debut with Midnight Shine, one of Canada’s up and coming indigenous musical acts. On national TV, for the world to see, as part of Indigenous Day Live in Winnipeg, Manitoba at The Forks.

Oftentimes we blur what we think is reality. When what we think should happen doesn’t, it’s up to us on how to handle our reaction. As Wes Knight would say, it doesn’t matter if you get knocked down 9 times… as long as you get up 10.

There’s a reason all those other paths didn’t work for you. You wouldn’t be on the road you are now without them leading you there. Keep driving through the night.

Stay sweet.

 

 

I got a lot accomplished today. I mean, I had a ton of screen time, but that was a necessary evil today. Searching for rooms/roommates and rental units in Toronto, posting and showing the home here in Calgary all day… it’s getting real. I also sold my guitar, bag and stand to a good kid that plays on my former University’s Football team (Go Dinos!)… I was actually really productive! And I trained a couple sessions in the morning. And meal prepped. And fired off the email to NMC et al… and so on and so forth…

Best part? Got to be beside Darwin the whole day! This was my office today.

I mean, look at that face.A76C3FF6-DC5A-4524-B77F-831B5B8EBB2A

It’s getting real now though, like I said. I’m now on my way out of the city I’ve lived (almost) my whole life… en route to a new adventure. Heck ya, today was productive!

As a coach and even sometimes as a friend…People ask me how to stay motivated when they feel like they haven’t done anything at the end of the day, notably Sunday. They feel like the day slipped away and then they get all anxious and stuff, can’t focus… and I oftentimes find myself reeling people in. Now,dopn’t get me wrong… It’s not like I am the gate keeper of productivity and happiness. It’s not like I have a secret button you can push. It’s not know “the way”, but I certainly know a way that works for me.

Try it out. The next time you feel that you haven’t done anything, try writing all the things you did down on a piece of paper.

That’s right. It’s that simple.

Write. It. Down.

Pretty rad, eh?

Go do something awesome this week. Keep it real, folks.

 

xo

M

I’m on the brink of another mental breakdown. But this one is different. Nothing to worry about. Just actualization and reality setting in. This one I feel melancholy. Just okay with accepting that now my repetitive failures and unwillingness to make the necessary adjustments may have finally caught up to me. It wasn’t even a year ago when I went through a McDonalds drive thru to get a $1 coffee to be met with a NSF message on the terminal. Some of you probably remember reading about that. You’d think I’d course correct, right?

It stems from a problem I bury time and time again. I’ve been in this ongoing cycle since my now ex-wife, Christy walked out on me around 11:15 pm Friday November 21, 2015. I went into hysterics once the gravity of the situation hit me. And boy, did it hit me hard. Like a freight train to the chest or free falling into the ocean but still laying face up, reaching for the sunlight on the other side of the suffocating pressure of ten thousand waves of darkness crushing your heart, your soul and everything you know is right. Like the life was literally squeezed out of you.

It’s just easier to distract myself. First the speed skating. Sure it was a coping mechanism for the dark depression I wasn’t even aware I was experiencing. But after Christy left me, I deep dived that shit. At first the World Health work team was a positive atmosphere. A place where I could invest my time into what I loved, and when I wasn’t skating with my oval family I was working minimal hours of temporary escape from the pain that was in my heart. My rationale was to avoid exhaustion from training, which is what I was going to do. Hindsight shows me I was just trying to re-create a version of myself that I loved. The old version of me was still searching for answers from my runaway wife as to why her choice was to seek refuge elsewhere rather than solving the problems of our marriage that went by unannounced like an anchor, slowly pulling the relationship to a complete halt. This inevitably destructive path of low income, high investment was where I was headed. Although justified as training gear, coaching, food, recovery and the likeness of an athlete, my income didn’t even come close to sustaining this and before too long I was putting everything back on credit. Either MasterCard, my line of credit or my business VISA, it didn’t matter because I was an athlete. That’s what we did. One mentor once explained it to me that you have three priorities; your health, your relationships and your money. Along as one is still in operations you can continue to chase the podium. What shit advice that is when I look back and consider it from this perspective. But I didn’t care. Considering I was a fitness professional I sure wasn’t practicing what I was preaching. I was leading myself down a path of very poor health. Poor financial health.

Then came Europe. Again, masked as a trip to become a successful athlete to make up for the broken marriage and failure as a husband, I decided a month on another part of the planet without giving proper notice to work was a good idea. Not only that, but I was going to do it as an athlete so it was somehow more regal or something. Well, it certainly cost a lot. A lot that I didn’t have. And that was upfront. Never mind the expenses abroad. I didn’t care. It was in my head that I was going to move to Germany and skate full time.

That brings me to bad life decision number three, or four through 7 if you’re playing at home. Leave a secure job without an exit strategy. In my defence, I was coached to quit. However, I fully admit I did nothing to lessen the possibly catastrophic blow up at World Health. It was like my spirit wanted out of that space. The truly tragic part of this all was how naive I was to trust my former brother in law who was also my boss’s boss. When asked “How was that situation 100% your fault?” my answer could be “I let trust blur logic.” Of course he would side with his wife’s sister and rally an allegiance against me. Duh, his job was to protect his own name. Part of that was to remove the threat of me from potentially harming him and his family.  Why else has he gone and blocked every account, and persuaded everyone else – all my former friends to do the same? It’s hard to hear the truth if you’re always tuned into a different station. Before I knew it the rumours were flying about my moonlighting operations, my unfaithfulness to Christy and my integrity as a personal trainer. None of which were true, but it doesn’t matter. He had position.

Come to think of it. I’m not upset about the divorce at all. Christy was a hurt individual. Hurt people, hurt people. I just hope she finds peace with herself.

I’m more mystified by how Curtis turned on a dime and rallied all of my former friends to abandon me like my wife did just a year previously. I mean, impressive really – but how much anger do you have inside you and how much of a low life do you really have to be to to cause so much trauma on another human? If any of you reading this have contact with him, let him know on my behalf I hope he also finds peace. He doesn’t return any contact I’ve put out there with authentic means to find closure.

In any case, I left World Health without a plan. It didn’t matter though, I was going back to Germany to skate and make the olympics for Canada or Germany or something. Little did I know that Euro trip would be the greatest use of money spending I ever made. because when I came home I didn’t get the news I wanted from cardiology. Actually instead I was strongly encouraged to retire from competition due to medical concerns that my heart was going to blow up. Well, that was bullshit. But probably the only smart move I made because I’m at least still alive. Sad, but alive. Ensuing depression level skyrockets… now I wanted a puppy. He’ll love me. More money dumped on unneccesary things. However, Darwin is the light of my life. I honestly don’t know where I’d be with out him and his unconditional love. So I guess I was right, someone does love me. But then I decided that I didn’t wanna live with people. More money. Couple new bands I wanted to play drums for. So I got a new drum set. More money. Wheels started turning about music again. Oh how I loved music. I also loved training people though. It was crazy and so backwards that these two polar opposites excited me equally.

Meanwhile I had started running outdoor fitness bootcamps. Decided that was cool. Invested $300 into mobile training equipment like kettlebells and bands, $1200 into a Fitness Entrepreneurship Certification to try my hand at operating my own business in the summer of 2015. No more skating. New puppy, new position of importance. New lease on life. Always trying to prove something. See the cycle?

Now I want to get out of the diesel car that served me completely fine for almost exactly two years. Why? VW diesel emissions and a very good sales person. Long story short now I pay twice as much on half the vehicle. I let myself get sold. Poor life decisions surrounding money. There’s a theme. No thought process. Change for the sake of change. Then there’s that saying that I come back to “When you expect a different result from the same actions you’re certifiably insane.” Yeah. That’s my November 2015- Present.

Anyway, new car, no more skating, focus on business, ignore relationships, fall in love with every girl that spoke to you, gradually add more credit to an already growing debt without any real action plan to pay it down, hope for a big shot. This is 2016 to 2017 in a nutshell. Then I wrote a book. What? Yeah. I know.

That was the start of something good. You see, when I was in Germany in 2015 I helped the guitarist for a band called The Intergalactic Lovers with a knot in his back. I provided immediate relief from an ongoing source of pain for this guy. They wanted me to join them on the road, but I had a flight back home to Canada so I could pack up and live in Germany. And then it clicked. Musician wellness was a thing that hadn’t been tapped into. Why? It’s not like musicians like having a shitty quality of life.

And so I went on to change my brand towards musician wellness and since 2016 I have been focusing more and more on that target demographic. Having several published works, including two full self-published print books, 2 full feature articles in Canadian Musician Magazine and gained full time contributor status from 2016-2017 to Alberta Music E-News, playing a key role in Western Canada as the guy that knows health and wellness as it relates to the music industry lifestyle having lived both lives simultaneously… I’ve found myself developing into an educator, a coach and keynote speaking advocate for health and wellness in the industry. So, there’s a lot of positive stuff in here. So why am I so broke? Like borderline bankrupt?

I’ve never taken my own advice of holistic health.

My financial health is like stage 5 cancer. Code pink.

Jump ahead to now. I still have a completely maxed MasterCard, obnoxiously high debt load that I’ve ignored while it piled up. My income hasn’t been enough to even claim taxes on since 2015. So I’ve never really fully recovered from the unmarried era of my life, yet I still find ways to spend money…

Well, tonight I had an awakening. Well, really it started on Monday. When I realized a client who was originally prepared to make a payment that would offset rent didn’t. And won’t. Sending me into a mad dash to recover nearly $900. But today it’s actually coming to the surface.

I stopped in to the bank after promising my landlord the other half of rent as soon as a couple EFT payments came through. Little did I know a few auto-payments hadn’t yet come through, so I have more money going out than coming in. And I have no way to pay my credit card, internet and phone. Pretty bleak, right? Well the good news is Darwin has food, I’m still currently in a home with enough food to last awhile and my physical and mental wellbeing is intact. I’m expecting pay from Trolley 5 (a moonlighting door/host gig I picked up to earn some cash to start the revival), and two EFT payments coming in. So short term I will somehow get by, even if I’m a little late on some things. The difference is I have a long term game plan.

But it doesn’t involve Calgary.

So what’s the next step?

Well, as I alluded to when I opened this piece up, I’m melancholy. I’m okay with facing the music per se. I might miss rent. I might bounce auto payments that I should have done a better job of preparing for. And while I bounce off rock bottom one more time, I’m reminded of Florence + The Machine’s lyric “it’s always darkest before the dawn”.

I’m about to break through and do something huge. I have secured a well paying gig with a band that’s about to pop, I’m valued in Toronto as the authority of musician wellness and I have secured a training position at GoodLife Fitness in Toronto to earn a stable income while I transit to Leaf Nation.

Actually, the title of this post is a lyric from K.Flay’s “Dreamers”: one of my anthems.

Things are finally paying off. I can honestly say I’m okay with my current status because I am a rags to riches story in the making. There’s a reason I have pursued the musician wellness route so hard after all my trials and tribulations. From the skating gig not working out, to Christy walking out on me – all of these were signs that I wasn’t following the right path. This is my legacy. What I was meant to do; music and wellness. There’s a reason the band I’m now a part of is doing so well on the indigenous charts. My roots are coming into play. We knew we weren’t quite there, but now it’s coming together. I honestly just need a little kick to get me over the last little speed bump that’s in store until June 21. That’s when tour starts. Then I come home and drive Darwin and as many suitcases of drum hardware and clothes as I can fit in the overpriced Tiguan across the country to my new home base in Toronto.

It doesn’t matter to me if you feel compelled to help my cause. It’s not your cause, I’d never expect you to. Everyone has shit. Everyone’s shit is important. My story is one of many and many more people have it much worse than I do. I will keep on bouncing and keep on learning. I will learn from everything I have just put into perspective and with a detailed game plan of how to right the situation, I will make a difference in the world with a small army of support.

If you do have it in you somewhere to believe in me as a person and as a persistent, borderline stubborn son-of-a-gun that’s too stupid to quit on this dream to build a life from passion of music and helping others, I did set up a gofundme page that you can make a small donation to. It’s here gofundme.com/helpmikemovetotoronto

Some people have already expressed their distaste in my cause. Citing it coming off as too needy, not credible, and in poor taste as I’m not providing something immediately in return. I’m not one for taking handouts. My sense of humour and eternal optimism masks the dark depression I’ve battled since 2015, and is deeply rooted in what I do. Every contributor and every dollar that’s donated to me will help fund my transitional phase to course correct from the lessons I’ve learned and highlighted in this post. I’ve made a commitment to stabilize my income and earn what I am worth. The crowdfunding is not meant to downplay any other causes. This is what I’m doing with my life and while every dollar of the $1507 is greatly appreciated, the fact is $1500 is just the tip of the iceberg. That will float me into a position where I’m able to make changes and directly affect lives on a much larger scale. This cause is greater than just me and for anyone that needs a “what’s in it for me?” before supporting my quest to T.O isn’t on the same level of awareness anyway (there’s a reason no one has claimed any of my “things” to offset the money they contribute in donations yet…).

For those of you that made it this far, you get it. Or you’re just really bored and up for an invite to the deep, dark personal side of the kid that’s ordinarily excessively optimistic. The truth is I believe in what I am doing and while your support means the world and could accelerate the process significantly, one way or another I will find a way to make things happen.

Thank you for taking the deep dive into my mind with me tonight.

gofundme.com/helpmikemovetotoronto

See you in the stars,

xo

It’s been a minute… I’m back.

Sometimes you just get wrapped up, right?

I’ve played more drums, practiced more rudiments and listened to the same 10 songs over and over again more in the past week than I have ever done so before in my life. I’ve never felt such emotion. Music does that to me.

When they ask me if I’m nervous I bawk… “Excited, you mean?”

I’m ready. This is what we came here for.

Hey Velocity, I’m begging…

Slow me down.

It’s starting to get real.

But man, my double stroke rolls need some work.