Archive for ‘MEfurbish’

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

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 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 20, 2011

Weightless

City and Color – Little Hell

I am totally addicted to this song. That’s no surprise I know, I am always addicted to some song or another. The new City and Color CD, Little Hell is awesome all around but this song sticks out for me. I love the guitar riffs and the power in this some gives Dallas Green, the singer, songwriter and musician an opportunity to really open up in the  vocal department. With many of his songs on the quieter side, this is a real treat.

On my way home from the pool today I noticed the name of the song has a real tie in to my swimming experience. When in the pool I feel weightless. One of the things I love most about swimming is that feeling of weighing almost nothing in compared to my walking around weight.

The song title for weightless works well, the lyrics themselves, not so much!

Have a look at this awesome live version of weightless. If you have the bandwidth, please do yourself a favour and change the quality to HD.

You can also hear the original studio version on the MEmusic tab.

Check it out!

Peace,

Leslie

June 16, 2011

MEkitchen Molten Muschetta

You Say Bruschetta I Say…

Its day 3 of the MEkitchen Puree Fantasia series and today’s is a personal favourite,  Bruschetta Soup or as I like to call it MEkitchen Molten Muschetta. Another super simple recipe that is very versatile. It’s delicious as an appetizer or a main course, serves well cool or warm, and can be pureed or left as is.  A great make ahead and freeze item, but when something is so easy, there is really no need. Whip up a batch the day before your next dinner party or BBQ and your will have a winner with all.

As is the case with all MEfurbish recipes you can go over to the MEkitchen tab and find all recipes available in a printable format.

Peace,

Leslie

June 4, 2011

The Ride of Your Life

Article first published as The Ride of Your Life on Technorati.

This Too Shall Pass

We’ve all been there. One minute things are chugging along like a well-oiled machine and the next, it seems like we’re spinning our wheels in mud. This is part of life and it always will be, just part of the natural order of things. Many of us are cursed with a short memory when it comes to self-awareness. When we are in a high, we forget that a low is just around the corner and the same is true in reverse. We can just as easily be stuck in the mud and forget that we will eventually find our way out. We may have to try again and again, we may need to ask for help, but “this too shall pass” as the saying goes.

Our good friend Forrest Gump said “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you gonna get.” While I would never dare to counter Mr. Gump, I would add that there are times occasionally that you have a pretty good idea what’s coming next. When things are a struggle, there will inevitably be a shift, even if only in perception or acceptance and then for a time, things will be better. The opposite is true as well. You can be sure that if you are kicking butt and taking names, there is mostly certainly a challenge of some sort just around the corner.
Roller Coaster Climb
Let’s use the much used analogy of a roller coaster. When we are working our way up the incline at the beginning, taking steady steps in our daily lives we can see progress. We are working towards our goals and dreams and have a clear destination in mind. Once we reach the top, the view is absolutely amazing; it feels like we are floating for a time, gratification and joy are in abundance as the car slides through a few little exciting dips and turns. What you can’t see at that point is that there is a dramatic drop ahead. One in which you will lose all sense of yourself, and around you there will be noise, emotion and confusion. During this fall, things seem unbearable for an instant that seems like an eternity -a seemingly endless plunge. Finally, eventually you reach the bottom and are thrust back upwards in relief. It’s quite a ride isn’t it?

Hold On Tight

The thing is, once we have been on this ride a few times we do start to become familiar with it. You’ve seen the caution signs though; you need to stay seated even during the uncomfortable parts. It’s not advisable to try and get off the ride. In fact it could mean disaster! We can prepare ourselves though for some of the turbulence that we are not looking forward to. Just taking a pause to be aware and in the moment can mean all of the difference. Not being caught off guard seems to help keep things more manageable. When we’re in the midst of our fear and the wheels seem to be falling off our carts, we can take a moment to remember that this feeling always happens and invariably it is followed up by some reprieve.

Chill Out!

We need to chill out and enjoy the ride for what it is. We can’t control it. The ride will go where the ride will go. We convince ourselves that we have it under control with our Day-Timer’s and iPad’s and Blackberry’s but what we are really doing is making a best guess. We can only control our own attitudes. We can do our best to anticipate then have fun with the unexpected, or we can convince ourselves of a fantasy and be disappointed at every turn.These are the only choices we have.
 
What will you choose?
 
Peace,
Leslie