It’s actually amazing how you can rise to new heights the minute you lower your expectations…

Today has been special. I didn’t expect any of this…

Following the news of last night’s fatal bus crash involving the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Humboldt Broncos, it’s been a quiet day of reflection. As a former junior hockey player, the news came to me as a living nightmare. I don’t know how I could deal with that kind of trauma. I wish nothing but the best for the survivors, the families and the entire hockey community. This is a huge shock to the world and I’m not sure if the pain will ever go away for those families. It was an absolute tragedy.

Despite the sombre news, I made an earlier commitment to get up and move my legs after a couple hours of screen time – I’m working on writing a few big features for Canadian Musician Magazine and I wanted to get some fresh air and get Darwin out for a walk anyway. So I bundled up (Yes, Calgary is still -19 with a windchill because it’s January 75th apparently…) and headed down the hill into Bridgeland, a sleepy community in the heart of Calgary to grab a coffee and some bread for the week. They serve the best sourdough in town at Bridgeland Market. It’s made at a local bakery, called Citizen Bakery.

I leave Dar leashed off on his little bench beside the store as I go in. All the passersby know and love the goof so I wasn’t surprised to come back out to see a young family excited to pet the puppy. I noticed an elderly woman with a walking stick crossing 10th street as the family carried on their day and I went down to unleash Dar and head back home. As I did, I noticed the elderly woman remove her sunglasses and pause on the sidewalk, just within reach of Darwin’s curious nose and full on “body wag”. She spoke in a broken German accent, I couldn’t quite tell, but it sounded like a northern dialect (my mother was born in West Berlin and I at a time had conversational German). We got to talking about how her and her husband are the dog whisperers of the local off-leash park, and how she knows the type of person the keeper or handler is by the behaviour of the dog at the end of the leash…the dog is a beautiful creature that is just the extension of the owners soul. She spoke as an angel. Like you wouldn’t doubt a word she said. It was captivating.

Meanwhile, it clicked. I’m sitting there going, “Oh man, she’s judging me…” but she clearly meant it as a compliment as she praised Darwin’s amazing behaviour.

“He’s such a beautiful, happy, and strong pup,” she said, “he’s wise beyond his years and his energy for life will take him all the places he wants to go… you just have to let him be and trust him.”

I was blown away.

I then asked he where she was from. She quickly responded “Germany”, and then realized I knew that and was seeking what particular region. I told her of my family origin, of which I’m incredibly proud and she told me east of Hamburg, as part of the former Prussian empire. The conversation will never be replicated with the magic that existed in that moment, but after I learned that her family was a bunch of academics, and had to flee from the war-torn Germany or face Hitler’s wrath, she asked me about what I do.

I told her about my health and wellness career and she light up.

She started to tell me about human magnetism. Previous to her talking about this I had never heard of such things. She explained it in half German, half English and told me to look it up on my computer. Here’s what I’ve found so far. I plan on researching it more but I have a few more hours on this magazine article to get to first – http://www.spiritualgarden.net/info/human+magnetism.html

She was so excited to connect and tell stories and engage in a real conversation. I asked her what her name was. “Rosemary”. I said that wasn’t as German as I had expected. Then she put it into her German tongue. Absolutely beautiful.

She said it was especially important to have met because of her hip. She was injured when she was younger but it was okay because she exercised all her life – she loved swimming… ate very good food – herring from the Baltic Sea, vegetables, rabbit, you name it… she kept a healthy mind, read many books, and really the walking stick was just a “security thing”.  I learned so much from that moment with Rosemary…

She asked me my name.

“Michael” I replied.

“Michael, thank you for this. It has been wonderful to speak with you. I want you to research that human magnetism because it is in your field. You will enjoy it. It is fascinating. He [Darwin] would like to go walk now. I can wash my gloves, don’t worry (Darwin sheds a lot) and we will see you again.”

I’m not sure if I believed in angels before, but this was one heck of a sign that I am on the right path. Don’t let anyone – blood, stranger, best friend – doesn’t matter. No one can throw you off of your path. Follow your dreams, be persistent. Be humble. Be you. Affirmations like these will be there, you might not see them at first. But they’re there.

Rosemary, thank you for being a part of my life. Whether I see you again some time soon or not, that moment will forever be etched in my memory.

I always seem to comprehend experience through my art and when I came home the following few phrases just flowed out of me. So here you are. This may explain things clearer to some. And I hope they don’t fall deaf on others ears. I am working at it. Harder than you’ll ever know. And just because it’s not a path you chose, with all due respect and as Rosemary suggested, you have to let go. Let Darwin lead.

Thanks for reading.

M

xo

———————————————

Rosemary

Father was sent to flee

Packed the family and hit the road

Before the Germans came around

Bundled up on wisdom and a pocketful of hope

 

Her steel blue eyes, simply capsized

By oceans of night and day

Captured as fairytales from what I know

And what my mother had to say

 

The keeper’s hand down the leash

Can turn him beast or friend

It’s the soul inside and the heart that gives

Life or death in the end

 

Every word from every lip

Has some certain sense of grace

It’s all up to how you arrange

The letters in every place

 

Since ’72, her heritage true

An old German, like half of me

She lit right up, eyes wide shut

When I told her I help to free

 

Others from themselves inside

Sounds silly but she agreed

No amount of human magnetism 

Could polarize the seas

 

The good, the bad, the sick and loved

Ich liebe dich, meine freund

Du bist ein Engel, der zu mir geschickt wird

To mend this sobering wound

Photo by Alina Sofia on Unsplash

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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 we’re coming up to the close down of 2017.

All things come back full-circle.

Past predicts the future.

It’s all just information.

 

Remember these points.

 

I’ve had some incredible opportunities this past year. Started the year with a huge accomplishment. I wrote my first book. It’s called “The Musician’s Guide To Surviving The Rock Star Lifestyle”. Start reading it for free: http://a.co/a8zSHGB

I did that in prep to a huge opportunity I received to be a part of the Mentor’s Cafe at Canadian Music Week.

And that went incredibly well.

Around the same time as I was locking that down, I landed a position with a company that provided an amazing perspective on a multitude of levels of my career and development and essentially my calling in life. It confirmed I was in my own lane, and this was the outside lane. The fast lane.

Not to sound conceded, however, not too many people can keep up with my pace. That isn’t always an advantage, as I’m often met with disappointment because of high, high hopes falling flat.

Fast forward to June – round two of some serious depression.

And everything I just wrote relates back to those three points.

  1. All things come back full-circle.
  2. Past predicts the future.
  3. It’s all just information.

 

I could have smelled the mental instability coming from a mile away. However, I buried it like I’ve done in the past. See? It came back full-circle. (However – I had another bout recently and figured out how to nip it in the bud… so I’m learning.)

MusicFit has launched. Almost officially.

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We have a wicked fun launch party January 13, 2018. Aptly timed. As it marks one year exactly that I was confirmed for the delegates pass at Canadian Music Week.

Check out the official press release…

Press Release MFLP

Get your tickets here –

https://www.eventbrite.ca/edit?eid=41293466871

Oh, I wrote an album of music. It’s in most of my promo music in my instagram videos or the early episodes of my podcast. Oh yeah… and I started a rad podcast. Check it out here if you haven’t already. ——> Podcast

And I started doing drum covers. I love music. Check it. 

Also. I think this is Sweet.

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The original group is back for the balance of 2017. wearethesweets.com

I really believe this group will make it. I want to make it with them. It’s just a different place I go when we’re playing. A buddy of mine said this the first time he ever saw me play drums for The Sweets, “You look like you’re having so much fun.”

And I am.

Amazing how so much can happen in just one year.

Full-circle. Put it out there. It will happen. Don’t take things personally. Don’t take them as wins or losses. Take them as just simple information on how to improve 1% the next time you’re faced with a similar situation.

Oh, also – Darwin is doing great. He says hello.

Here’s what the whole point of the Coles notes of my life in 2017 is.

I’m going to put forward a challenge for anyone that feels up for changing their lives for the better. You really can draw the things you want closer to you and make them more accessible. I won’t say that you can just think positive thoughts and they happen, you still gotta do the pushups… but envision what you want and it’ll happen. The universe is funny like that.

So here’s my 2018 goals. Publicly announced for you all to check in next year.

  • Start writing my 4th book, topic: a Mother Mother biography focusing on their rise, challenges with abuse, relationships and emotions. Working title “Climbing the Monkey Tree”.
  • CMW Panel Presentation and book signing
  • Yoga certification in June in India
  • Record with Garth
  • Learn to art
  • write another album
  • publish book 3 – the diary compilation of the depressed creative
  • Long-McQuade Store Tour
  • BreakOut West
  • Get office space/partnership with NMC
  • Have the band house
  • Australian Music Week presentation and panel

That should do, right?

So whoever is up for the challenge, post your goals. There can be one, three or ten. Whatever is good for you. Whatever is going to push you. I’m by no means perfect. I have slipped up. I also know that if I don’t write down what I want, I haven’t even given myself the chance to reach for it.

So – reach.

Manifest that shit.

Thanks for reading.

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I know, right?

What a thing to say in a world that is so focused around getting to the next level, pushing and climbing your way to the top. And for what? Do you feel happy? Is that success?

I dunno, I must be getting soft in my old age, but now more than ever I’m more inclined to put myself in only the situations that bring my joy. When I’m happy, I thrive. I like feeling restored, energized, positively happy, and I really like to help others feel that way too. It’s super cool to help someone make that flip. That’s what we talked about in therapy this week; how to make that switch with as limited emotional duress as possible. A part of that is reflecting on my days and recognizing what I’m grateful for. Do you do something similar?

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The shadows show more than the eye can see as I ride back home up the monster hill. It’d been far too long. 

Today was a really nice day. I rode my bike for the first time seriously for commuting

purposes. I want to get back to that again. I just feel so much better. It’s freeing. And that’s what I want to write about, how once you find something that’s freeing, you should do it. And do it for as long as it brings you peace. One of those things for me is cycling.

 

 

 

 

This whole weekend was great actually. I’m very happy to be back enjoying movement again. Saturday I was invited by my friend, Jess Smith to accompany her for a Yoga class that’d feature us in the beautiful Yoga Passage, a gorgeous studio fulll of beautiful humans, here in downtown Calgary, Alberta.

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However, prior to the super mindful, health conscious Mike – the rock star lifestyle Mike happened…

unfortunately for my wellbeing, but par for the course (as an industry it’s not uncommon to be out all night) I had to “take one for the team”. I  ended staying out waaaaaay past my bed time after the Canada’s Music Incubator, AE West program wrapped up. Well, of course I’d like to go to the afterparty….

……

There’s a lot of stories. So I’ll give you a bit of Matt Blais… good friend of mine and our shenanigans with some food (that turned out to not even be ours!)

Let’s just focus on how great the music was. Canada, you have a lot of amazing talent coming up out of the West. I’m happy to help foster and develop all of these amazing talents.

This is Atlaas – she’s from Winnipeg and you should check out her EP. She’s an amazing soul. And that voice…

 

but yeah… and I got in around 4:30 am. Good thing I didn’t have any plans until Jess and I had yoga to cleanse the soul and stretch the mind and body…

Sunday I got up, headed over to a train an in-home couples training session and then ripped to the stairs to hit up Sunday Funday.

After the workout, I ripped home let Dar out and got down to toss a Teddy Bear on the ice at the Hitmen game. Here’s what that looks like. Must have been somewhere near 22,000 Teddy Bears out there.. it’s an annual thing. Super fun. I go every year.

I did have this weird revelation that I’ve had in passing before. I nearly bought an art set with canvas, an easel and something like 110 pieces. I have no idea how to art though. Are any of you artists? What would you recommend for someone who is looking to get into it? I feel pretty strongly about abstract art. I like rad stuff. I have a lot of energy and creativity and for some reason art seems like a really cool outlet when I don’t music.

Any recommendations for what to go for, what to look out for and the like would be awesome.

And in the meantime… find stuff that fuels your creativity, fuels your happiness and I really think. you’ll see that success thing everyone is always talking about. Don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t done this and feel silly for not figuring it out. Sometimes it takes getting out of your lane in order to find what you’re lane truly is.

Thanks for reading. Until next time, stay sweet.

M

So I did my first drum cover.

 

Believe it or not, this was the first take. I hadn’t played it since the days of Aberdeen. About 4 years ago.
“Stranger to Change” is a special track for me. I was heavily influenced by Mother Mother and their Eureka album in the writing process of this tune in particular. That whole EP was written in what now feels like an entirely different body from who I am now. However, music shapes itself around the environment you’re in and the song now signifies a renewed vision, a renewed passion for music and my undying “dreamer” attitude towards everything I do. You may hear some direct rips from my loves, MM, and that fill into the second versing structure borrows a piece and an idea I thought of 5 minutes before tracking and wrote in studio from Minus the Bear‘s “Summer Angel“. See if you can hear it.
Anyway, this track was a lot of fun to write with hip hop infused back beats and a ton of fun to play live, with extended intro and bridge pieces… I’m just glad I was able to capture it on the new Taye ProX and Soultone Cymbals. On that note, I get into it for the drum gear heads, so stick around for the chat after the track too. I’ve got some cool stuff going on for configuration.

We recorded this track with the always amazing Josh Rob Gwilliam way back in 2013, went through a lot of growth with the project and am happy to say I have become the player I am now by going through those sometimes rough growing pains. 

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To all the musicians just getting into it; if you take any piece away from this all, just keep playing. Bands will come and go and come again – it’s important for you to always keep playing.

This track is special. It’s still getting airplay.

Not bad for a terrible band from Calgary, right boys? Please enjoy responsibly.

Please Share.

Til next time, stay sweet.

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It was signed, Denny Morrison.

Canadian legend of an Olympic Athlete. In a sport I was a former competitor in, no where near the level of expertise as Morrison, but still… I did that. So his words were impactful.

I’ve actually always be called a “dreamer”, and as I quickly approach my 30’s this Thursday, I embrace those words now. I used to be resentful and abrasive citing “whatever, I am not…” Like a child…

Well, one of those things remain the same. I am a child. Children love the playground. I’ve since learned through all the hardships my 20’s threw at me from moving around for school, getting injured and having to come home from university due to lack of funds, to finishing school after a rough breakup with the girl I thought I was going to marry, to a really quick rebound-relationship and even quicker engagement and eventually marriage that only lasted 3 years, having that huge surprise and pending friends circle completely collapse…  three career switches, lots of new, lots of crazy… three dogs, three universities, half a dozen bands, a book, two startups, over dozen homes and I feel like there’s not too much I haven’t seen. And that was only one decade. We greatly underestimate what we can do in ten years…

So here’s my thing. Dream big. Always dream. Don’t listen to the “realists”. They’re generally just folks that are comfortable in what they know. Security. That’s fine, but if you’re inspired by change and inspired to move others beyond their greatest fears, and to really give back and at the same time give in to what you really want… you need to get out of your own way and really invest in dreaming big. You can and you will find a way!

Go get it.

Here’s my talk on just that.

Enjoy and please share with someone you know that is stuck on the edge and just needs that little kick to jump.

I had the pleasure of sitting down with an old friend of mine who has been making waves in the local art scene here in Calgary, AB. I wanted to discuss with her the secret to her success, not just in her artistic and professional life, but in all aspects. Take a listen to what Renee Wehring has to say about the journey that mindfulness, exercise and nutrition has played in all aspects of her life.