Archive for ‘Creativity’

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

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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 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 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

June 30, 2011

The Ghost Inside

Broken Bells

It’s a beautiful sunny day here in Ottawa, and while I started the day a bit bummed with a sore back it didn’t take long to change my mood. After dropping my daughter off for her last day of school I turned on the car stereo and put my iPod on shuffle.  The Ghost Inside started up right away and the impetus to crank it could not be controlled.

I love this song! It got me excited about the day ahead and once again, music has managed to do what many other things can not!

You have to download and crank this track, the entire CD is one of my favourites.

Listen to the track  below, watch the live version on Conan, or head over to MEmusic to enjoy an abundance of good music.

 

 

Have a great day!

Peace,

Leslie

June 29, 2011

Me You and the World

Get Out There!

The coolest things that have come my way as a result of my effort to swim are the changes that I see in some of my current relationships as well as the gift of some new relationships. Putting myself “out there” has fostered a real sense of community in me. I have talked to absolute strangers who have seen my picture on the CBC website and are excited for me and just want to show their support.

I have now had two interviews with Hallie Cotnam and she is not just a great broadcaster and journalist but a really cool person that I have met and feel like I have a connection with. Spending time discussing my story, both the challenges and rewards, makes me feel a bit more understood, a lot more heard, and certainly more connected to the community at large.

Getting emails, blog comments, voice messages, text messages, status update feedback and messages of support and encouragement from across the nation has further connected me to the world around me in a way that is indescribable.  There is a level of honestly and sincerity present that is not typical with people I find. I have opened up, and put information about me out there that I had previously kept mostly to myself; the result is that many people have related to that, and to what I am going through. With the exception of a few jokesters out there, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

I have noticed that some of my most important relationships have shifted slightly as well. This experience has opened up lines of dialogue with friends and family that haven’t been open in a while due to my depression. Let me be clear, these are lines that I myself closed off, in many ways out of necessity, but slowly I can see them opening nonetheless.

The most important relationship I have, the one with my twelve year old daughter, is perhaps the one that I am most excited about. On the surface there haven’t been a lot of differences, but there is a level of confidence and pride on my part that has been eluding me as of late. I am proud of what I am doing. I feel like I am a good example to her in all of this. I am hopeful that she sees that she can ask for help when she needs it too. One journalist I was recently speaking with used the expression “grabbing the bull by the horns” to describe my effort to put my health first. As a proud vegan, I would never grab a bull that didn’t grab me first, but I get her point!  This is something else that I hope my daughter can glean from this situation.

As is the case with the physical changes I have witnessed, it is a miracle to me to be able to observe the depth of change that has taken place in such a short period of time. Tomorrow I will look at some of the more subtle changes that are taking place in my life, those in the area of my mental health. Until then, I will just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

PS. Today was a significant milestone in my swimming. I swam for a total of 60 minutes!  This is a good 12 minutes longer than any other time I have swam but it is also important because it is the goal I set for myself when I first got into the water, and the amount of time I will settle at moving forward. This week I have let go of counting laps, and will just focus on the 60 minutes. Moving forward, my goal will be to maximize the number of laps I can do in an hour, pushing myself to better my lap time gradually. Wish me luck!

Peace,

Leslie

June 28, 2011

30 Days Later – Part 1

How We Doin’

As a former business owner and manager it comes instinctively to me to stop frequently through any project and at various milestones to determine what’s working and what’s not working. It’s a perfect time to remove any roadblocks that might hinder continued success.

It has been one month since I first jumped into the pool to start the MElaps portion of my MEfurbishment. I thought it would be as good a time as any to have my first look back to assess how far I’ve come in the first 30 days.

The first thing I did was contemplate the different areas that have been impacted by my starting to swim. There is of course the obvious one, health but upon reflecting on the situation I can see that it goes beyond that. I have seen changes in my physical health as well as my mental health. There are positive things to look at around community, friendships and parenting as well.

Over the next few days I will look at each of these and think about where I have come from and where I am going. Today we will start with the one that most people are most interested in when I bump into them or receive emails, physical health. Here is a quick snapshot of what’s changed in the month.

Physical Health

Improvements

The most obvious change has been in my physical health. It is amazing to me what one month can do for changing your health. I have dropped 11 pounds so far but I know that I have lost more than that in fat. My clothes are fitting much differently and I am reminded each day when I buckle up my pants that there is more going on here than weight loss. I have already moved over four notch holes on the belt in just 30 days! I notice a considerable difference in the muscle mass in my arms, shoulders.

When walking, my steps have started to even out and my limp has reduced slightly. This tells me that my left leg, the one with worst knee is beginning to strengthen as well.  Something as simple as pushing off the wall of the pool at the end of each lap feels different as a result of this exercise too. There is, without a doubt, a much more evenly balanced power in my legs.  It would be great to be able to test my cardio in some way because I can feel a substantial difference in my breathing. The Wii Active 2 does have a fitness test that measures heart rate and recovery, but the test is hard on my knees. With a little more strength in my leg, I may be able to consider doing this test again to be able to measure my cardio improvement.

I know you are wondering how this has impacted things in the bedroom. Well, I haven’t had one leg cramp at night since starting to swim, a common problem before. In addition, my sleeps have been much better when I have slept. Get your mind out of the gutter!

Roadblocks

Swimsuit

Looking back there have been two things that have hindered my improvement this month. My notes from each day show the most consistent hindrance was my bathing suit. Yes, I said my bathing suit, sorry for the visual. While I don’t want to go to the extreme of using a brief style Speedo bathing suit, my current suit is now way too big and actually restricts my movement considerably in the water. Big size bathing suits aren’t cheap so I might try to hem and take in the current one if possible to allow for a little more freedom of movement and allow me to get through the next couple of months before buying a new one.

Counting

My obsession for knowing how many laps I have completed has actually slowed me down in the pool. For the first week or two, I was stopping after each lap to hit the lap timer on my cell phone, I progressed to using a waterproof watch but still found this a distraction. In weeks three and four I stopped timing each lap and just timed my entire swim and counted my laps out loud while swimming. This was definitely an improvement but I still find it to be a disruption. I find my time in the pool doing laps to be quite meditative and I really want to be able to let go of counting and timing altogether but still hold myself accountable.  I decided that this week I will move up to swimming for 60 minutes and just start a countdown timer so I can let go of time altogether. Over the next couple of weeks I hope to be able to come up with a better system for mindlessly counting my laps so I can let go of that too. I even thought of jimmying up a piece of string with close-pins or something that I can just slide at the end of each lap. My inner MacGyver is up to the challenge.

All in all I must say that I am thrilled about how things have gone. I have managed to keep myself from trying to add on 20 laps per day in an attempt to improve beyond what is reasonable and healthy. This is a big step for me, someone who is always looking for instantaneous gratification and results.

In the next post I will look at how my relationships and sense of community have changed since hitting the water. The changes here are perhaps the most rewarding of all and certainly the biggest surprise. Stop by tomorrow and have a read.

Peace,

Leslie

June 22, 2011

To Be or Not To Be

What Is The Question?

Hamlet the pig was even excited about the buzz from yesterday with my second interview on CBC Radio One; even he was cheering me on today when I swam 80 laps!

Once again, I am truly overwhelmed with the response I am receiving to my interview and story with CBC’s Hallie Cotnam. The comments on the CBC follow-up article have been overwhelmingly positive. I have received numerous emails, friend requests, and continue to even get replies to my original article.

I am keeping today’s post brief because sometimes less is more.

Thank you to all of you for your continued support.

Peace,

Leslie