August 8, 2011

Pucker Up

Here We Are Again

The expression goes “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” but what if you don’t like lemonade?    I am still riding high from the fact that I have a much needed personal trainer and today I received word that he could no longer make himself available for personal reasons. I get it, I have been there. People have to take care of themselves and their families first and he is no different. I applaud him for putting his own health first.

While I am happy for Ian, the bottom line is that I am back to square one. A big giant crate of the best lemons money can buy, and I don’t want more lemonade! In the past, this is exactly the type of thing that would have started me on a pity party. Why does stuff like this always happen to me? Why can’t things just work out? Well because shit happens that’s why. If I back down every time that life presents a challenge, I will never really grow as a person. I see how lucky I am to have the opportunities that I do have and I see examples daily of people who have so much more to overcome than I do.

If They Can, I Certainly Can

I could go on and on with examples of people, even close friends and family even that have much greater health challenges to deal with than I.  In each of their cases it is perseverance and acceptance that allows them to maintain some sort or normalcy in their lives.  It would be almost disrespectful of me to throw my hands in the air and say; “well I guess this was just not meant to be;” and resign myself to the fact that I am overweight and unhealthy.

I have the ability to do something about a good portion of the health issues that I have. No, I cannot re-grow cartilage in my knee, and there is not a lot I can do to reverse the arthritis that is starting to settle into my joints from overuse and carrying a huge load around for many years. I can however, take a considerable about of weight off my body, reduce my pain considerably in the process and be less of a burden on the health system in the long run.

So what am I going to do about it? Make lemonade of course! I have many options available to me at this point. I learned some new stuff in the process of working with my trainer for the last couple of weeks, and I remain very motivated. I can continue to work out on my own and hope to gain the results I am looking for that way. I can connect with some of the other offers that I received previously, and determine if they are still willing to work with me or, I can reach out to some new trainers and see what’s still out there for me.

Half Full It Is

As a recovering optimist, I truly believe that everything happens for a reason and that there is a lesson I need to learn in this situation. What might it be? Will I ever know? That’s not something that I can answer right now. Hindsight has a funny way of showing us what we can draw from any given situation when we are ready to see it. It might be as simple as proving to me that I am a changed man and that I am not going to back down. That I can fall into some adversity, deal with it in a mature way, and try again until I get the desired result.

So to that end, I have contacted a few new trainers, I met with one already tonight who was fantastic, and I will meet with another tomorrow. I just need to have a little faith. To overuse another cliché, one door has closed but if I am paying attention, I am sure to see another open.

Peace,

Leslie

August 4, 2011

3 Bucks For Retirement

It’s one latte or 0.000005% of my retirement savings.

Today, doing some casual work I was able to earn $30 cold hard Canadian cash. I know that’s probably what you spent on lunch today but such is my life, for today, and I accept that. Yesterday I made a commitment to you all that I would begin to “pay myself first” by taking ten percent off the top off all of my earnings for savings. In my example, I used $50 with my savings being $5.  The universe decided to see how serious I was with my commitment today by starting me off with an even smaller example. Ah universe, always a card.

It’s Party Time

I am here to say that my whopping $3 has been transferred to the ashtray in my car (Do new cars even have ashtrays?) to ensure that it is not spent inadvertently. I was kind of hoping for balloons and confetti and party hats in my head when I started my savings plan, but I guess that’s always been part of the problem. I shouldn’t need a pat on the back and a great job to take care of myself like a mature adult.

So, the $3 is gone. Out of site out of mind. So as to avoid looks of confusion and perhaps endless giggling, I will wait until I have saved up at least $100 before I open some sort of savings or investment account.

One baby step, one less latte, one day at a time. I can do this.

Peace,

Leslie

August 3, 2011

Piggy-er Bank

I recently posted about how I am going to start taking aggressive action to address financial MEbucket of my life. I thought it was important to take some immediate action, even though I am not working yet, and cash flow is virtually non-existent. There is something to be said for having the framework in place before you start and it is in this spirit that I take step one.

Many years back, likely around the time of its first printing around 1989, I read the book The Wealthy Barber and like most that read it, was immediately inspired. I connected in this book in a very real way, but like many other things in life my approach was that I would start taking the books recommended actions “tomorrow.” Well this is tomorrow.

The biggest thing that sticks out in my head from when I read David Chilton’s The Wealthy Barber is “pay yourself first.” This is something that immediately resonated with me, especially because I had seen it in action in my own life. For a time, I was paying into an RRSP that I paid to before I paid any other items; before bills, before entertainment, and before life’s other necessities. Like “Roy” says in the book, you adjust your life to this not being a part of your cash flow and for all intents and purposes it disappears. The great part of course is that it doesn’t disappear, in reality you are saving, making money off interest and growing your financial independence.

Starting today, I am paying myself first. Ten percent right off the top. This is pretty hard to do when you are taking in virtually no income, but I can do it. For now, if I make $50 bucks, $5 is going into my virtual piggy bank for now. Once it’s in my “MEbank” it’s no longer available for ongoing expenses and can only be used for my retirement. Once I have a few bucks there, I will open an RRSP and keep the savings going that way.

As a guy with black and white thinking, this is something that I would definitely struggle with in the past. What’s the point?? If I can’t save something substantial, why bother. Why not wait until my income improves? That logic has brought me where I am today and it’s time for a little more colourful thinking. For now, I will do what I can, when I can do more, I will do more.

Novel concept.

Peace,

Leslie

August 1, 2011

Show Me Your ASS(ets)

Caution, Roadwork Ahead

Lately there has been real focus on my Health bucket, with good reason. The saying “if you don’t have your health you don’t have anything” is a pretty accurate one. If I don’t have my health I am no good to anyone. For the first time in my life I feel like I am truly heading down the right path in this area, physically, mentally and spiritually. I know I have a long way to go, but I am ok with that. I am enjoying the journey.

Looking at the MEbucket’s today, there was a flashing beacon around one bucket in particular – finances.  Action in this bucket has been sparse, for good reason. It’s hard to work on finances when you don’t have any. Being off of work has produced a very black and white approach to money for the short term. Money comes in, money goes out – period. That said, I have taken some steps to shore up my foundation. My spending habits and my expectations on what I need to be able to live happily have both contributed to growth here.

Does This Foundation Make Me Look Dumb?

I will use the analogy of a house. If my life is a house, and I have been refurbishing from the inside out, my financial foundation has been decrepit for years. Initially, when I started to refurbish, cash flow was non-existent so instead of bringing in an expert to professionally repair my foundation, I just patched it up as best as I could myself.

Now is the time to bring in the experts. Like many other areas of my life, circumstance and poor execution have inhibited my success. I believe that I have a very solid understanding of how finances work and what I need to do improve my results in this bucket. I have done this with great success professionally, but not personally. Like other areas then, I need to ask for help and be willing to try new things, as well as add a level of accountability that I have not had in the past.

Here Ye Here Ye!

To that end, I am a man on a mission. I am on a mission to find new best practices and to find out what works for others.  If you know me, expect an awkward phone call when I probe into your financial practices. If you don’t know me I will be the one who stops you on the sidewalk to ask if you are ready for your retirement.

I would love you to email me your thoughts. You can also comment right here on MEfurbish. What’s your favourite book? Who is your most trusted financial adviser? What golden nugget are you willing to share? Expect to see more on this topic in the weeks ahead on MEfurbish.

Peace,

Leslie

July 29, 2011

I Think Fink

Perfect in the Darkness

We all have favourites when it comes to music. While my tastes and listening patterns are constantly morphing, I also have a few staples or favourites that I just keep coming back to over and over again. Fink is one of these for me.

Whenever I say I like Fink, I usually get one of two reactions. You know when you say something and the other person didn’t hear you but they are too embarrassed to say so and they just laugh and smile? That’s one of the reactions. The other is “who the heck is Fink?

I have always known Fink to the stage name of Fin Greenall, a singer songwriter extraordinaire from the UK, but it seems it is now being used for the entirety of his band. Needless to say on earlier this week, Fink’s new much anticipated CD Perfect Darkness hit the market, and it’s not only the darkness that’s perfect. This offering doesn’t disappoint one bit.

who the heck is Fink?

This is not your typical Friday night party music; this music has substance, depth and soul. I am more likely to put this on while I am reading by a fire or doing some writing. I love love love this CD! I could say that about all of Fink’s CD’s actually but this one in particular seems to have a more improved production quality to it.

You can download the title track free by clicking here. Check it out first by clicking on the play button below. When you’re done loving that, watch the video for a little snapshot of an intimate live show, and I mean intimate! I am pretty sure I know what brand of sunglasses he is wearing. Make sure you choose the highest quality setting on the tube player!

Peace, Leslie

July 28, 2011

Four Cheeseburgers and a Diet Coke?

Not Tall Enough for 400lbs

Today on Newstalk Radio 1010 in Toronto, I spoke with Jerry Agar about swimming at the Campbell-Wynn’s, working out with Ian Dunn of Ian’s Inferno, and my lifelong struggle with food and weight. Listen by clicking below!

Peace,

Leslie

July 27, 2011

Ian’s The Man!

Ian Dunn of Ian's Inferno

All Fired Up

Thank you Ian Dunn! In the ongoing story that is my recent journey I have started training with a personal trainer.  I recently sent letters to many fitness centres and personal trainers in the area looking to find someone to work with me in exchange for some publicity work. I did receive several very generous offers but Mr. Dunn of Ian’s Inferno seemed like the perfect fit for many reasons. The first thing that caught my attention was Ian’s passion and drive. He immediately sold me on his ability to motivate and inspire. The tone of our initial communications went a long way to grabbing my attention. Once I started to look into Ian’s background and credentials the choice became clear.

Looking through Ian’s website I noticed that he and I had some commonalities. With 17 years as a physics teacher Ian and his own overweight body began a journey get in shape and make a drastic career change. His coming out on the winning end of both of these objectives told me that Ian Dunn is a man that reaches his goals. So when he tells me “We will meet your goals, and we will both benefit from the experience,” I believe him.

Ian was once a 275lb man himself and shaped his body and his life in a way that I would like to emulate. We have started our journey together in earnest and I am already feeling different. In reality, I am sure there is not a lot physically that has happened with two workouts under my belt, but mentally I have not been this fired up about something in some time and I have already learned a lot.

I now have a great compliment of fitness options at my disposal. My hope is to work with Ian 3-4 days a week and continue swimming 3-4 days a week for a truly balanced fitness program. Gratitude is a word I feel like I have been overusing as of late but it is truly the best word to describe how I feel. I am so grateful for the Campbell-Wynn’s coming into my life, and it is with great gratitude that I begin to work with Ian Dunn as well.

As always, I will keep you posted. Here is a little snapshot of where we have started off.

Peace,

Leslie

July 19, 2011

Gifts, They Are Plenty

BBC World Service Radio Interview

Another interesting stop along the winding road of life; lately there have been many. A recent interview that I did with Sian Griffiths at BBC World Service Radio was broadcast yesterday and brings with it a new level of accountability and motivation. You can hear the interview by clicking on the icon to the right.

Two things really stick out for me as the day comes and goes, and perhaps ironically, neither of them really has to do with swimming, or pools but both of them have a lot to do with my MEfurbishment.   During the interview Ms. Griffiths talks to the entire Campbell-Wynn family and something that 15 year old Keven said could not be more spot-on.

“You can go about living your life, living how many years you can live or you can go and measure it by how many people you reach out to, how many people you touch and how many people you get to help.”

Every MEbucket is impacted positively by having this type of outlook on life. When you start to live your life in this way, it fills you up in ways that material things just cannot manage, and it is contagious. The universe has a way of reminding us what’s important, why we are all here, but we need to slow down long enough to notice. This is really what MEfurbish is all about.  Thanks for the reminder Keven!

The other thing I took out of the day yesterday was a reminder of my level of gratitude for everything I have in my life. From my family and friends, to the country I live in. Monica C Chongo reminded me of this on the Outlook, BBC World Service Facebook page where she comments:

“I wish I could do this in Zambia. As it is, some neighbourhoods do not even have clean drinking water, let alone water to swim in. Good for you Leslie”

Here, here MS. Chongo. I try not to take things in my life for granted. Our society really conditions us in a lot of ways to have expectations. Things should be easy, more is better, and me first! When we take time to think about what is really important, things like the basic human rights and requirements of food, shelter, safety, and clean drinking water, it helps bring into perspective how fortunate we are in Canada.

The many gifts I receive from my original simple request to swim continue to astound me.  As I have shared over and over again, no bucket goes untouched in this process. Thanks to each and every one of you for sharing in my journey.

July 18, 2011

Just Get There

Monday Morning Blah’s

Monday mornings have never been great for me. I have never let them hold me back but I certainly need to give myself an extra kick in the butt to get going. This morning was worse than I have seen in some time in that respect. I just did not want to drag my sorry behind out of bed this morning. Fortunately there were two things that helped get me up and make it happen.

The first was a commitment I had made to take my daughter out to the house I swim at to go horseback riding. The remarkable family there has been making an effort to get my daughter on the horses to learn how to ride and take care of them.  Their 15 year old daughter had offered to give her a lesson this AM and there was no way that I or she was going to let me miss that opportunity. So that would have at least got me to the house.

2-4-6-8 Who Do we Appreciate!

Knowing that it was possible that I would get to there and choose not to swim, I had to take some specific action to ensure I got my much needed exercise. I reached out to get some support, something that I have been poor at in the past. With an attitude of “I can do it myself” or “I don’t need anyone’s help”, I have often seen my good intentions and will power fade, along with my exercise regimen.  As I am convinced that this time will be different, I needed to take some different action.

I texted a friend and was honest with her about my lack of motivation to do my laps.  Wisely she suggested that I not worry about the laps and just commit to getting to the pool and into the water, that’s it.  She also gave me a little bit of cheerleading! In the end, this was the little nudge I needed to get myself out there and into the pool. A little bit of accountability goes a long way too as I knew she was going to ask me how it went.

I got there, and I got myself into the water to warm up, still not certain that I would begin my laps. I told myself just to do two warm-up laps and see how I felt. As soon as the cool water started to move around me and I started to breathe deeply, I was hooked. It really is such an enjoyable experience to be in the water. By the time 60 minutes came around on my timer, I had to make myself stop I was enjoying it so much.

Short Memory

As I sit here five hours later, I am totally free from pain and completely energized. Why is it so hard to remember that the next day when it’s time to get myself back there? If I could take a picture of how I feel right now, I would never need help getting my butt to the pool, sadly I can’t so I will have to continue to take all the help I can get!

July 6, 2011

Circuital

On Tour Now! Playing in at the Ottawa Bluesfest on July 13th

I go through waves with music and right now I am at the crest of a wave, I just can’t get enough. It’s always playing, I sleep with it, I write with it, and I turn it up past what most people find comfortable for conversation. I have been playing the latest CD by My Morning Jacket called Circuital and it has been on over and over for the past few days.

I found it very hard to pick a song or even two for you to sample because I absolutely love every song. It ranges from fun to pensive ballad and back again. So I will just grab a couple for you to check out and run with it.  On the little widget below you can hear “You Wanna Freak Out” and below that is a live video of “Holdin On To Black Metal”As always you can check it out on the MEmusic tab above!

I highly recommend you pick up the CD itself and enjoy it from first to last.

Enjoy!

Peace,

Leslie

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