Archive for ‘Goals’

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 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 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 5, 2011

30 Days Later – Part 3

Are You Mental?

If you had asked me 3 years ago how my mental health was I would have probably “top shelf”, or “fit as a fiddle.” Looking back in hindsight I can see now that this couldn’t have been farther from the truth. Why, you ask would have said such a thing then? Well that’s a tricky answer. Mental health is a taboo subject. People don’t walk around saying that they are not mentally healthy. People would look at you like you had three heads, literally.

In my experience, as soon as the topic comes up people shut down. They either want to change the subject or get the heck out of dodge as quickly as possible. I don’t blame them, in the past I have been in these situations and it’s hard to know what to do or say. The other thing that comes to mind is a genuine fear of judgement. Not just the awkward moments or weird looks but the possible impact to your work and career. Would I have been tapped to give the next big presentation or take on the next big project if I was the head case guy? Who knows.

Are You for Real?

We live in a society where being vulnerable is a sign of weakness. There seems to me more dialogue at a high level about mental health, but when you get right down to the nitty gritty, in the trenches with the people who hold your livelihood in the balance, there is not a lot of education or awareness. I have been met with sighs, eye-rolling, sneers, anger, confusion and outright disbelief. A common reaction seems to be that I have done something wrong.

What’s going on here? Isn’t this supposed to be an update on how I am doing after 30 days? Yes, but it’s important to know where I was to be able to measure how far I have come. I also want to make the point that recovery in this area is huge for me and needs to be called out. I need to be as willing to share my successes in this area of my life as well. So, with that, let’s get to the good news!

Lookin’ Good!

I wish I could say that I have gained 427 units of positivity or my confidence is at an all-time high of 624. Unfortunately there are no blood tests for these things. We need to cover things that my gut tells me, and talk about feelings. Those of you who can’t take it, please feel free to run away screaming! Hehe

  • I have always been an idea guy. When I was working, I often came up with very creative solutions to problems that would impress clients and colleagues alike. This is something that I have missed while not at work and was diminishing considerably in the later years of my recent career. Finding a pool to use through a Kijiji classified ad post has given me a taste of that satisfaction. I feel proud of the creativity that I used here, and it has definitely added to my overall happiness and confidence.
  • If you asked my colleagues and friends, many would say I am confident. This too was waning in recent years. Taking the steps I have taken in the past year to prioritize my health and more specifically the swimming portion of my recovery, has helped considerably in this area. Solving the problem of the pool, putting myself out there on the radio, and here on MEfurbish has all helped my confidence considerably.
  • Acceptance of who I am and what I have or have not accomplished in my life is another area that has seen a dramatic shift for the better. Part of this has come with my ability to be less of a people pleasure that I have been in the past. When I stop looking for you to accept me, I begin to accept myself more. Getting in the water each day, because it’s what I want to do for me, regardless of how crazy some people think this whole thing is has really helped me to accept more readily where I am, who I am and that only I can really get this done. No one else can solve this problem for me.

The reason I started on this path to MEfurbishment and that I get my butt in the pool 4 times a week in the first place is to improve my overall happiness. This is the real barometer of success and I can say without a doubt that I am happier than I have been in a long time. Things just seem more manageable. For today, I am going to embrace that happiness and keep doing what I think has helped me to get here. I know that I have a long way to go, but you know what? I have no doubt today that I can do it!

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