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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Have you ever wanted just to numb the pain away?

But a car is spinning tires just outside Blush Lane

They ask for help, you – “of course!”, there is no other way

Their smiles make it hard, at least not today

Have you ever just wanted to grow up and blow away?

Up in the clouds where you’re dreaming almost every single day…

With blinders on you’ll never see or taste or hear them say,

Thanks for stopping to lend a hand so I can get up on my way

I just want to feel loved

Iwant to feel comfortable inside my skin

I want to feel loved (ahwoo!)

Gotta feel it from within

So now it all seems trivial, the things that I could say

Nostalgia of my childhood dreams, for them – just ripped away

Maybe when the time is right, we’ll drop the puck and play,

And kiss and hug and sing and dance as if we’re gone today

I just want to feel loved

I want to feel comfortable inside my skin

I want to feel loved (ahwoo!)

Gotta feel it from within

The relationship we have with our lifestyle is a learned skill. That means it can be changed. In order to foster and develop a healthy environment, one of the first things we must do is provide accessible education. By empowering individuals to make lifestyle choices for themselves, we will create a culture people will gravitate towards. That’s super rad.

Xo

M

A little context

The following is a piece of poetry I just wrote. Last night I was at the Our Lady Peace concert and before OLP closed the night off, they made sure to dedicate a song to Matt Good. To paraphrase Raine Maida, he’s been an amazingly strong voice and brave ambassador in the fight against the stigma of mental illness. “It doesn’t matter if you’re f*cked up here (points to his head) or if you break your arm, it’s all the same. And we need to support each other instead of running away and give each other a safe space while we get better.”

Talking about mental health is slowly becoming a more common occurrence and it’s platforms like this with influencers like OLP and Matt Good that can make a difference.

If you know someone suffering, please reach out and get them help. There are local distress centres in just about every major Canadian city, and if you’re an artist like me, there are specific organizations to help you continue to craft. You can call Unison Benevolent Fund to speak with a counsellor. Call emergency of course if it’s an emergency, but head to unisonfund.ca and register your free account so when you feel you need some help, support or emergency relief, they’re there for you. Completely confidential, completely on your side.

Like I said, this is a piece of poetry I just wrote. I’m working on a solo singer/songwriter project, learning to write and perform pieces like this on an acoustic as nice, safe outlet for my own self care and enjoyment. It also provides me with a platform to get my message out to the world. I hope you dig.

Soundtrack Of My Life LP

No matter if it’s all in your head

A broken arm,

or what pills you’ve been fed

We’ll be right there with you, baby

We can’t escape from a living hell

The chaotic neutral,

Disempowering spell

So we’ll be right there with you, baby.

Time ticks on

Can’t see

We’re blind

Can’t hear

The cries

Out for someone “help me please

I’ve fallen again, actually”

You see

It goes

You heard

The notes

Songs that bring hope to me

The soundtrack of my life LP

I just had a brief “aha” as I was perusing through my social media feeds…

Authenticity.

Is it today’s overused catchphrase. A trend? Or can we still milk some sort of value amidst the shadows of hashtags, followers, filters, overproduced content and the need for the dopamine hits that result from that pesky like button.

Do you agree with me? Listen in here. “Authenticity”

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.

Okay, I’m certain you’ve heard it all before.

“I can’t sleep.”

“I hit a wall after lunch.”

“I can’t get motivated to exercise.”

“I’m just not happy… I’m not sure what I want… I’m just not feeling it…”

Hell, maybe you’ve even caught yourself saying something like that…

These are common things I hear when I ask people “what brought you in today?” when they first meet with me to undergo a lifestyle overhaul.

I’ve noticed happiness and living stress-free go hand in hand, so I thought “who doesn’t wanna feel awesome?!”

Here are my three and a half pro tips for reducing stress and feeling happy, for most of your awake time in life.

1. Get moving. Get outside. Get moving outside.

IMG_3733

 

It’s science. Exercise improves mood. Sunlight also improves mood. Put them together for a smorgasbord of awesome. If you wanna be happy, forget about the deadline of that project for ten minutes and just tune out, go be with nature and take a stroll. It’ll be great. Come back at it harder with a fresh take. It also helps if you have a rad dog in your life. They make everything better.

2. Speak in positive, “architecture” language.

 

Instead of saying things like “can’t”, “don’t”, “won’t”… try affirming what you “can” do, “do” want and “will” get.

It’s amazing how much more energy you reserve at the end of the day when you only focus on the positives. That starts with language. (For more on this, check with my buddy, Mark England of Procabulary.org)

3. Breathe and Meditate

Breathing is easy. We all just suck at it. Try this when you’re feeling anxious. It’ll surely calm you down. Inhale for 7 seconds, exhale for 7 seconds. Repeat 7 times. Namasteyin’ chill?

For meditation, it’s not some voodoo crazy shit. It’s just focusing your intent. There’s a sweet app I use called Headspace IMG_3735if you’re looking for a gentle introduction to meditation. Dig it.

Try it out. If that’s not your jam, pick up a book, a pen and paper and write, draw, build something, create… sometimes that’s the best way to get those thoughts out into the universe.

Or try active meditation. Get your gym bag and hit some weights or get on the bike. I have my greatest ideas on long bike rides.

3.5 Alright, this one is tough. Live with intent.

 

For everything from waking up, eating, playing on your phone. If you find yourself distracted with many things, your focus will stray…take control of your life! Put the phone down. Be with yourself and just chill. Everyone will hit the like button for your witty post tomorrow. Be intentional.

That’s is from me. As always, thanks for reading. ‘Til next time, namaste sweet!

M