We are a nation bound by the game. With nearly 7 Million dollars raised for the community of Humboldt at the time of me writing this, not even a week after the tragic events that took the life of 15 members of the Humboldt Broncos from their loved ones, we are given a light that brightens that awful darkness.

Support. Care. Understanding. Love.

We all feel something special because of a emotional connection. It’s hard to explain…

I can’t speak for everyone, but it’s the haunting reality of the events that as a hockey player growing up in small town southern Alberta, happens to draw me into this mix. My youth was sprinkled with close calls on icey highways, narrow backroads and the ability to name towns like Gleichen, Stettler, Wetaskawin, Leduc, Indus… etc. I can only imagine the living nightmare that must be going on inside the minds of those affected directly by the loss of one of their own.

“Big League” is an anthem to cherish memories of the lives that were lost and give hope to those that are in recovery. This will take years if not a lifetime to heal, but the outreach of support from complete strangers just like you’d expect from family is truly amazing. It embodies the sense of the hockey community. Of being Canadian. Of being human.

For me, “Pricklies” is an anthem that already meant the world to me. (If you ask my mom and dad they’ll tell you that I sang the chorus to Tom Cochrane & Red Riders hit “Big League” mistaking the words for “play in the pricklies”. I was 8. I didn’t know any better. I just loved the song.) I just loved waking up Saturday morning to drive to places like Indus, Gleichen, Hussar, Beiseker you name it… there’s not a barn I haven’t seen in Alberta… but more than the game, I loved to have time with my dad on the road. Listening to his (generally) sound advice on my positional play and overall thoughts on the game as we cruised from places like High River and Hanna left me with memories ever etched in my mind and associated with Tom Cochrane and the freedom you had as a kid growing up playing hockey for your hometown.

What I have learned from this horrific event, is that no matter where you’re at in life… the ones you love will come around. They may be mad. They may not even speak to you. But you’re still “gonna play in the Big League”. Life is way too short and whatever they’re doing, whether you get it or not is to help you and support you. Even though I didn’t know any of the players or family personally, I feel like experiences through hockey are shared universally. Humboldt represents a community inseparable by the bond of love for the game. I want to lend my hands and my heart to support the community of Humboldt in any way I can.

I don’t have much money to give, but I would be honoured to give my time and capture the stories of each Bronco involved in the crash to let the rest of the world know what the number on the back meant to the Bronco on the front. In due time I will see if this is something the community would like from an anonymous voice. It’s about Humboldt.

We are all in this one together. The hockey community, what it means to be Canadian and it goes to show how important life really is. Hug you kids, hug your parents, hug your brothers and sisters. Keep your stick on the ice and drive to hard to the net – you never know what will happen when you just put the puck on net. Make things happen.

Thank you for listening. Keep a stick out for Humboldt.

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Stress. It’s a real thing. The last couple of months have shown us how important wellness really is. Unfortunately the repercussions of not being well, physically and/or mentally, have taken the lives of many of our beloved industry colleagues. The darkness of anxiety, depression and addiction is slowly coming to light. And for good reason. Nowadays it’s very rare to come across someone that says “no” when asked if they’re feeling stressed. It’s become engrained to the hustle-bustle, 60 hour work week we all know and love to hate. But does it have to be like this? Not a chance. Here are my top 3 picks to help alleviate stress and get you back to being the best version of yourself.

The number one thing you should do when you’re struggling with something is talk to a professional for help. Yes, your friends can lend an ear, but unless they’re trained professionals you’re not getting the full meal deal. Speaking to a professional counsellor, therapist and/or a psychiatrist will help you identify the root of the stress and they’ll then be able to provide you with the right resources to get you back in action, stat. I still go to therapy and I would recommend it to anyone who’s seeking direction, closure from a relationship, financial advice, how to conquer their fears or anything that’s got them feeling down, stressed, helpless or worse yet – suicidal. It’s serious. Below I’ve included a few links to some services ’round these parts and a brief description of what they do.

Elephant Artist Relief
  • Great local resource with everything from funding options, financial aid to counselling etc… connectors to all aspects of better well-being

Distress Centre 

  • 24/7 crisis support for Calgary and southern Alberta. These fine folks do not define crisis and are there for anyone at any time. This is their 24-Hour Crisis Line: 403.266.HELP (4357) and you can find them on the web at http://www.distresscentre.com/contact-us/

Unison Benevolent Fund

  • Non-Profit registered charity that provides counselling and emergency relief services to the Canadian music community. They help professional music makers in times of hardship, illness or economic difficulties. Here’s their assistance number 1-855-986-4766 and website – http://unisonfund.ca
  • We actually have a “Mental Health and Wellbeing” Download session happening Wednesday, March 21 at 6:30pm in Calgary session for Alberta Music members. Amanda Power from Unison Benevolent Fund will be joining me on the panel, so be sure to head here to save your seat in Calgary (if you’re not a member, get on it! You get free access to the awesome programming – albertamusic.org/membership)
  • I actually had the treat of interviewing the Executive Director of Unison, Shiela Hamilton back last fall. Hear our conversation about Unison Benevolent Fund and how us artists can utilize their services here Shiela Hamilton – Unison Benevolent Fund 

2. Journal and Meditate 

Oftentimes, just putting the proverbial pen to paper (talk about alliteration!) can remedy a lot of stress in our lives. A new brain imaging study by UCLA psychologists reveals why verbalizing our feelings makes our sadness, anger and pain less intense. [Read the full article here]

As far as meditation goes, this is a favourite quote of mine:

“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes everyday – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”

I personally like to use an app called “Headspace” for my mediation and another app called “Daylio” for tracking my mood and a daily journal entry.

However, I don’t like being on my phone. I find it’s actually quite contradictory to disconnecting and being mindful, as we spend so much time glued to the Snapface and Instabook already. So, if you’re like me, I’d recommend going out and grabbing a journal from a local bookstore for $25. Or better yet, I wrote a 21-Day Self-Love Journal. It’s easy to follow along and start placing gratitude, self-worth and consideration at the top of your charts… Super helpful if you’re struggling to get there on your own. Day by day you just implement the tools I prescribe and voila, you’re on your way to becoming the best version of yourself in just 21 days. Start reading it here for free – Start With U: 21 Day Self-Love Challenge

3. Exercise!

That’s right, in general, findings from research indicate that exercise is associated with improvements in mental health including mood state and self-esteem, although a causal link has not been established. Research on acute exercise indicates that 20 to 40 minutes of aerobic activity results in improvements in state anxiety and mood that persist for several hours. These transitory changes in mood occur in both individuals with normal or elevated levels of anxiety, but appear to be limited to aerobic forms of exercise. [Read the full article here]

So what’s the difference between aerobic exercise and all that other stuff? Well, aerobic exercise is exercise where your body’s cardiovascular system (the lungs and heart and circulatory system) work to provide the main source of energy to the body. Things like long walks, jogging, resistance circuit training (sorta), swimming, hiking, cycling, flow yoga and trail running are all examples of aerobic exercise.

We also have Anna Beaumont a voice teacher sitting in on the “Mental Health and Wellbeing” download session in March with myself and Amanda, so be sure to register if you’re interested in learning more about how mindset, meditation and movement can help your playing, reduce your stress and essentially help you to become the best version of yourself.

Here are a few other ways to get active, try something new and have fun:

Edmonton

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City Fit Shop – Whip around obstacles and play like a kid again in Edmonton’s premiere

obstacle course gym.

logoss.pngThe Surf Studio – Hang ten, dude. Get your surf on at this one-of-a-kind fitness experience. You’ll understand why those surfer dudes and babes are ripped! Holy core, Batman!

topVertically Inclined Rock Gym – If you’re not afraid of heights or awesome things this might be the ticket to getting a new activity down. Kids programs, adult programs and birthday party specials, this place has it all for veteran climbers and rookies.

Calgary

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Bodhi Tree Yoga – Looking for the best Yoga studio experiences in town? Look no further than Bodhi Tree. Plus Alberta Music’s own, Amy Thiessen teaches here. Incredible instructors and space so this spot is great for the seasoned yogi and first timers alike.

Click here to learn more about the MusicFit Collective Affiliate discount to save some coin on your yoga passes.

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Bike and BrewCalgary’s first cycle shop and cafe, these guys offer it all. Have a cup of the best brew in town, snack on some baking from Corbeaux Bakehouse or try a sandwich from locals vendors Peppino while you get your bike serviced. They also offer group rides, information sessions and product knowledge workshops so once the snow clears you’re all set to ride.

Click here to learn more about the MusicFit Collective Affiliate discount to save some coin on your caffeination and select merchandise. 

There are some musician specialty clinics happening in March and April as well:

Sunday, April 8 “How To Effective Load Gear”

Load Gear Without Fear

This is a musician wellness workshop that will focus on practical theory and knowledge combined with practical movement patterns to ensure you’re keeping your body in good form and avoiding injury. Limited space, AB Members only (get your membership at www[dot]albertamusic[dot]org/membership") Price includes taxes and service fees.

C$59.00

Sunday March 25 “Down-regulatory exercise: Working-In”

How To Use Exercise To Inspire Creativity and Performance March 25 (AB Music Members Early Bird)

This specialty clinic will touch on effective down-regulatory exercise and stretching techniques to help alleviate pain, reduce stress and help you increase creativity and performance. You’ll be at 11. Why don’t you just make 10 louder? Because this one goes to eleven. AB Music members discount (get your membership at www[dot]albertamusic[dot]org/membership) Limited space. Price includes taxes and service fees

C$59.00

Well folks, I hope you can take something valuable away from this. If you’re interested in a consult to determine how to organize parts of your lifestyle you’d like to improve, please reach out. For all Alberta Music Members I offer 50% off, all hour long consultations  and I can meet in person and via Facebook video every Friday. Contact me to book a spot.

Quick recap and I’ll get out of your hair:

  1. Talk to a professional if you’re having challenges in life.
  2. Journal your thoughts and take time to be with yourself.
  3. Exercise! There’s plenty of ways to move your body and they don’t all revolve around the gym…

As always, thanks for reading,

Namaste sweet!

Peace.

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Ps. Rad photo eh? Check my brother out on Facebook Sean Schwartz Photography

So I guess I have a bit of a series going on here about booze and its (possibly negative) effects on lifestyle. This week I have heard one recurring statement from numerous people close to me in my life. “I’m just going to relax with [insert name and quantity of choice alcohol] and stay in tonight/watch TV/forget about the day. But how much of that statement is truth? I am going to put forth a question to all of you readers out there tonight. What is the deal with our societal acceptance that alcohol will help us to relax?

Fact: Alcohol has both stimulant and sedative properties. However, it can be argued that the aggression, increased heart rate, motor slowing and cognitive impairment are all tied to the stimulant side of things¹. So if the science shows us that the alcohol is stimulating, why do we still “relax with a bottle of wine?” A million people can’t all be wrong, right?There must be some truth to this and I’m going to argue that the sedative effects of alcohol are a more of a subjective finding, in that – we have “feelings” and “emotions” tied to our use of booze. Before all you haters jump me in the alley for saying you’re crazy for thinking that booze is making you relax, I am certainly not taking away from the legitimacy of subjective perspectives. Hell, as some of you may recall, I’m in the middle of conducting a research project that is actually studying the subjective worth of exercise. (Check that out here!)

I do see the value in how our thoughts shape our actions in the simple fact that what we think can become our reality.. however, we also need to recognize that the science doesn’t lie. That stuff isn’t subjective. It’s a cold hard fact that alcohols stimulant properties will actually increase your heart rate and causes vasoconstriction, the narrowing of blood vessels. So no, you’re not relaxing because you are physically putting your body under stress. Stress is something that will keep you up and not let you sleep. or relax. End of story.

But alas, society will continue to unwind with booze. Maybe the mind is more powerful than we let ourselves believe..? Until the next episode… have a cup of herbal tea to relax. That shit is science. Make it hibiscus and grape so you get the wine feel… you know, cause it’s the grapes that are good for your heart anyways. 😉

 

¹http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21560041