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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I’m not here to poke the bear, but fact is… 70% of the people I meet with aren’t truly fit for coaching. Not 100% anyway. There’s also a stat (that I might be butchering because I’m going off of a conversation I just had with another health professional) that it takes 9 years on average for a person that’s been dealing with anxiety/depression to actually have it affect them enough to be willing to make a change in their life to address it. 9 years! That’s a crazy amount of time to be contemplating something!

That’s what wellness professionals are there for. I’ll speak from experience; the folks I work with learn to become ready through a long, progress-based method of behavioural change. I’m not the only one out there that can facilitate that, but you’ve got to imagine if we’re dealing with years and years of pain, discomfort, addiction, darkness and negative lifestyle habits, the ability to turn that all around in a few sessions is unrealistic.

The point is, most people aren’t truly ready on their own for coaching. Ironic though, because those are the people that need it the most. Hence, the “Thousand Reasons” are mostly made up stories of that person in the pre-contemplative state. The state of mind that will really search for all the reasons not to break habit. Stay comfy. Stay away from progress.

I’m compiling a list of resources to help musicians get well, and stay well, mentally, physically and otherwise. This list includes practitioners specialized in working with musicians and industry, health and counselling, life coaching, exercise therapists, nutrition gurus, everything.  If you would like to add a name or a resource, outlet or organization that you believe could help others in their health and wellness journey, please add a comment down below or reach out to me on your own.

mike@mikeschwartz.ca

Thanks for listening. And if you know someone that’s experiencing some tougher times, just say hey, offer your ear and point them in the direction of some professional help.

‘Til next time, stay sweet.