You show a guy Hamilton ONE TIME

Many people have tried to push me towards leadership. It’s one of those common threads. Y’know, like when you’re watching a movie and there’s this little wink they do? And you’re like THAT’S coming back in the third act? Those threads. I’ve spent my life running away from it. Teachers would always put me in those roles, try to redirect something I probably let out in less productive ways. It never made sense to me. Why were they asking me? There were smarter people out there. Why not get someone who’s always right? I imagine the possibility of failure meant I never wanted to try. I was a chubby nerd. I was uncool enough without risking my reputation on my ability to not fuck up. The world was hard enough as a teen, why would I take on that mantle? Every now and again I’d pitch in, and it’d be fine. I still didn’t want that pressure. Leaders knew what was going on. They were confident, calm, and took charge. I was not decisive, and too afraid of being taken seriously.

And now I just don’t really care. I’m not cool, and that’s fine. I see leadership as something different now. I’m finally realising that leadership is a service position. You’re not trying to prove how good you are, you’re understanding the potential of everyone around you. You don’t need to have all the answers, you find the people with them and empower them to create change. You’re looking for the best outcome you’re able to facilitate. Being a leader doesn’t mean you always lead. It’s knowing when to step back and let others shine. Maybe there are specific areas in which you’re able to lead, and not others. It’s all part of it.

As is walking the walk. A leader who is not willing to lead by example is not a leader, they’re a narcissist. Be accountable. It doesn’t matter how you look, it’s how you act. Don’t place unfair expectations on others. Help them be their best. Treat people kindly as a first resort. Everyone has invisible baggage and potential. Normalise understanding when you’re wrong, admitting it, and looking for a better solution. Work towards progress, not profit.

I’m not committing to anything here. I might look out for times I can help, and see how that goes. I mostly don’t want to admit I’m in my third act.

Would a kinky music group be a rubber band?

Things I’ve learned about stretching:

First rule of any fitness: If it hurts, stop.

There’s a difference between tension and pain. Tension is something you can work through. Pain is a sign to step back.

Dynamic and Static stretching are different, and to understand it’s helpful to think of a rubber band. If you take a rubber band our of a freezer and pull on it, chances are it will snap. If you warm the rubber band up first, it will slowly expand the range it can stretch. It’s the same thing with Dynamic and Static stretching. Dynamic stretching (pulsing into a stretch rather than just holding it) is great when you’re starting a workout, and Static is great for cooling down. BUT IT’S NOT JUST THAT CLEAR CUT.

Once you get used to the difference, you can use Dynamic and Static stretching interchangeably to get the most out of a movement. Say you’re bending to the ground with straight legs and you’re not getting as far as you’d like, stop. Gently bend your knees. Then cycle back and forth, straightening alternate legs. You’ll probably find that in those small increments, you can stretch further than you could in a Static stretch. Once your legs feel sufficiently warmed up, try going back to Static stretching, straightening both legs. It’s likely that you’ll be able to stretch deeper than previously. You can do this again and again until you have the stretch you’re looking for.

Once again, if it hurts, stop.

You can step back and recalibrate at any point. If something doesn’t feel right, ask yourself why that is. Can you gently change the angle? Rotate somehow? Move other parts of your body to stimulate different muscles? Here’s an example. Spread your fingers out as wide as they go. Now bend your index finger. Bend your hand forwards and back. Feel what the movement does. Now try this with your middle finger bent instead. Move through all your fingers one by one. Do you feel how it engages different parts of your hand? These are all technically mildly different stretches with different applications. If you do this with rotating your wrist instead of bending your hand, do you feel a difference? It’s the same with most stretches. If you’re bending to the ground with straight legs, what happens if you rotate your torso? Trying new things out is a great way of exploring how your body is connected, and may lead to releasing tension in areas you didn’t realise you were holding them.

I must repeat, if at any point it hurts, stop.

Just because you know that a particular muscle is sore, it doesn’t mean you can take care of it right away. Sometimes particular muscles are near inaccessible until you’ve relaxed the surrounding muscle. Say you have a sore knee, and stretching isn’t helping. Could you try stretching your ankle? Your quads? Your abductors (outer leg) and adductors (inner leg)? Your IT band (a long thread that runs from your knee to the outside of your hip. You probably have IT band issues, we all do)? They’re all connected in ways we don’t realise. The good news is that once you stretch all the surrounding musculature, the particular muscle is likely a) already feeling some relief and b) far easier to work into.

BE PATIENT. Never rush. If you’ve just done a deep stretch, please do not pull out of it quickly. Slowly release that tension. Remember what I was saying about the cold rubber band earlier? Same thing. Work back into it. If you’ve been stretching your knee, maybe start by gently wiggling your toes. Then rock your foot from side to side. Rotate your ankle. THEN start to straighten your leg. I know it sounds silly to spend upwards of 30 seconds to a minute coming down from a stretch, but if the goal of stretching is either healing or preventative action, take care of yourself and spend the time.

Learn to tighten your core. If you can tighten your core, it helps you isolate particular muscles without putting unneccessary strain on supporting muscles. Stretching with isolation is an entirely different level of stretching.

It’s very helpful to examine your framing around stretching. Is it something you do to get you ready for a workout? Or are you looking for long term change? They have different applications.

The bad news is that stretching for long term change is not as quick a process as most of us would like. Some things take a long time, and the bigger issue it is, the longer it takes. There’s pain management, and there’s fixing body trauma. The more you learn about stretching, the more there is to learn. You may even realise just how much tension you’ve been holding, and be amazed by how long you’ve been holding it.

The good news: The way you think about your body might be wrong. Things that you assume are the way your body works might be patterns you’ve created around ingrained and normalised tension. These are things you can change, and potentially fix.

Story time: Last week I was thinking about that thing where you put an arm behind your back and reach over with the other arm to grab it. Ever since I was a child, I’ve only been able to do it with my left arm behind my back. So I tried to consciously think about what would need to happen to do it with both arms. I pulled my right arm behind my back, and gradually inched it up. I got a thick rubberised band and grabbed one end with my right hand. I pulled my right hand behind my back, and used my left hand to pull on the other end of the band from above. Then I noticed there was tension at the front of my right shoulder. I did a chest stretch with my right arm taught, and felt around the front of my right shoulder for where the pain was centred. I pressed down on that spot with a finger on my left hand. While flexed, I massaged this spot and gently worked out the tension. I tried the arm behind my back thing again. I did it. For the first time in my entire life, I could reach my right hand behind my back and grab it with my left.

This whole process took five minutes. Five minutes, with the right knowledge, meant I could correct something I didn’t know wasn’t working right. Take whatever metaphor you want from this.

That’s also not the extent of it. In the past ten or so days I fixed wrist issues I’ve been dealing with since I fractured my ulnar styloid two years ago. I released a whole block of tension in my back I thought was just how my back worked. My entire back eased up. I did not know that your whole lower back was not supposed to tighten when you tighten your core. Things had been that way for so long, I thought that was standard. My body physically is different now. My shoulders are not constantly taut. My back was literally swollen with tension, and that has all receded.

Around ten years ago I tore my PCL. Knee pain has been a constant in my adult life. Last week I spent over an hour working on my knee. Testing each point of articulation, breathing deep and gradually working my way through it. My knee no longer hurts. Seriously. Over a decade of daily pain, and it’s gone. Whoosh. I could not believe it. I’m not saying it’s fixed forever, but it’s at such a low level that it’s incredibly easy to maintain, and I know how to ease it back to normalcy going on. If you told me two weeks ago I’d be without knee pain now I would have loudly and rudely laughed in your face. And enjoyed it. Turns out, things we think we know aren’t always true.

The worst and best part is, I still have so, so much to learn.

Galaxy Brain Hot Take Time #002

We talk about the mantra of The Straw that Breaks the Camel’s Back, but we rarely mention the inverse, and I think it’s important.

I know it’s very easy for us all to look at our massive stack of problems and get overwhelmed. We worry about when we’ll get a job we like, how we want our body to look, our five to ten year plan, etc. But also we have everyday stuff: Dealing with that pile of laundry, dental hygiene, getting enough sleep. Society fills us with a myriad of stresses, and tells us to wear them with a badge of honour. If you’re working too hard, you’re doing it right. Burnout culture. But burnout culture doesn’t really give us much time to sort out all the stuff that’s holding us down. We hear that Straw that Breaks the Camel’s Back concept, and we’re like “yeah, I’m doing a careful balancing act, and I’m so close to crashing, but if can just hold on I might pull through.”

But maybe if a straw is going to break a camel’s back, you’d do well to take better care of your camel. How is stuff stacked on your camel? By the sounds of your packing style it’s a little haphazard. Why not slowly work into finding a better method? If you’re running on such tight margins that a straw is a gamebreaker, that’s a problem with a solution: Take less, do more trips. Is there anything smaller that you can take care of, so you have a camel that’s fighting fit for multiple journeys? Start with the tiny things on top. You can even put things aside and save them for later trips. It’s a longer journey overall, but an easier journey each time. I suck at metaphors, but that’s a bigger problem. I’m setting that aside for a later trip.

Maybe it’s worth taking inventory of what stuff is worth holding onto, and what you can let go of. Are you stressing about something that’s not as big a deal as you think it is? Question what you’d have to do in order to solve that thing. If it’s too much, you can put it aside. If you think you can take care of it, try taking care of it. If you try and you’re not quite there, that’s fine, come back to it another day. There are a ton of problems we don’t realise are quite as easy to take care of as they are.

I love two minute problems. If I think I can do something in two minutes, I usually do it then and there. Then it’s no longer a problem I need to solve. Also the more I do the simple stuff, the easier things get in general. If I’ve cleared up all the two minute problems I can think of, it gives me room to breathe. It gives me more perspective on what there is left to do. If I stack the dishes, they’re easier to do. If I do the dishes, I can wipe down the sink. If the sink is wiped down, it’s way easier to maintain. Eventually you’ve got a decently clean kitchen on the regular, and you don’t have to unnecessarily shit on yourself for being bad at taking care of your kitchen. Sometimes I learn things doing two minute problems that come in handy down the road for bigger problems. If my brain isn’t occupied with all the tiny things, I can start to think about the bigger stuff without getting distracted all the time.

No, it’s not an easy or quick process, but I sure as hell don’t want to break a camel’s back. Why be shitty to a camel?

Galaxy Brain Hot Take Time #001

I don’t think anyone can teach anyone else anything.

I think you can facilitate someone else’s learning, but nobody will truly understand something until they realise it for themselves. You can provide facts, opinion, and justification, but until the other person sees how that all aligns for themselves, they haven’t learned it.

Like in therapy, you may have knowledge that will help someone, but until they’re ready to process, shape and create their own understanding of that knowledge, they won’t have learned it. It’s why therapists don’t just tell you what’s wrong with you, even if a lot of the time they already kind of know. Instead, they prompt you to tackle surrounding thoughts and create a path towards that true understanding.

If you really want someone to learn, can you shape their understanding of the surrounding issues first? Help them build up those blocks to lead them to see what you see?

Sometimes we’re not ready to learn, and that’s okay. Maybe we haven’t reached a point where we can draw our learned experiences together to confirm the validity of information, or see how the pieces fit. There will always be more time.

I think we could all save ourselves a lot of energy if we took this into account. Sometimes it’s worth recognising that someone isn’t ready to really hear something, and maybe it’s not their time yet. Put it aside and come back to it when you think they might be. Once someone understands, it’s no longer important how long it took them. They know now, and that’s what matters.

My presence is a present kiss my ass (once lockdown is over, if you’re into it)

The other day I got high and rammed my body with an inadvisable amount of caffeine. Then I found presence.

So during this pandemic, on my days off, I’ve been getting high for midday workouts on my balcony. I’ve stopped doing anything weight based, just low impact joint friendly stuff. I do my own guided stretching that can take anywhere from twenty to ninety minutes, then I’ll do a 30 minute Youtube workout video (quick plug for The Body Project, by the way. Fun and easy to follow for a whole range of fitness levels). It’s also a good time for me to let my thoughts wander ad infinitum. I’ve never been great at concentrating. My thoughts seem to be always in many places at once. I’m sure the weed wasn’t helping there.

After turning my blood to coffee, I wasn’t bucking this trend. I walked out onto the balcony and couldn’t stop my thoughts from racing. Not doom and gloom stuff, just what would a dog look like in a turtleneck?/when do I get to play Magic again?/what am I gonna eat for dinner tonight?/how much of Gremlins 2 do I remember? Altogether it wasn’t conducive to my goal of stretching and working out.

So I gave myself a Time Out. I sat down on the chilly bin and stopped. I closed my eyes, made myself take deep breaths and asked myself a few questions. Is any of this important enough to focus on over what I’m doing? If not, will I need to address it in the short term? If not, is it more of a long term thing? If so, why not put it aside until it’s necessary? Why waste my time and energy on these things that don’t matter right now? Why shortchange something I enjoy for no reason? Why not put my effort towards getting more out of my stretch, enjoying the music, and just being where I was?

And things stopped. I calmed down. I started stretching, really taking into account what I was stretching. I found where to push, what was helping and what wasn’t. Whenever an intrusive thought came up, I asked myself it was important at that time, or if I could think about it later. If it was important, I addressed the thought, then got back to what I was doing. If it wasn’t, I shelved it for later. I had a fantastic workout, and whenever a new thought came up, I continued with this process. Very quickly, I found it quite straightforward to just be where I was.

I came in and talked excitedly to my girlfriend about giving myself a time out. She looked back excitedly and said “babe, that’s mindfulness meditation”. And I stopped. And I thought. And I realised she was right.

In the past few days, it’s made EVERYTHING better. I assess every thought/task and ask myself if it’s urgent. If it’s not, I’ll put it away for later. I focus on what I’m doing. I put full effort and intention into one thing, then I move onto the next. I’m still doing things at the same pace (or more efficiently sometimes), I’m just doing them better. If I’m spending time with my girlfriend, I’m there with her. Kissing is better. Touch is better. I’m listening more. If I’m playing Magic, I’m consciously thinking of the best play, taking into account all the information at hand. If I’m watching TV, I’m paying attention rather than thinking about other things I could be doing. I know that this sounds complicated or exhausting, but it isn’t. It’s the opposite. I trust and love myself to know that I have my best intentions at heart, so I can gauge what’s best for me. If at any point that changes, I’ll figure out how to adapt and move forward. If I’m wrong, I accept it and look for a better option.

Forgive the stoner philosophy, but I’ve realised that life is an infinite series of moments. At any single one of those moments, we can decide to change. We’re not stuck with thoughts or opinions because we had them. We can change with new information. Sunken cost fallacy is bullshit, and being wrong isn’t a curse. Ego is. There are lessons in error. If we realise we’re wrong or misguided, we can stop, take stock, and figure out the best course of action from then on. With ANYTHING. There’s absolutely no purpose to holding onto resentment, regret, or self-doubt. If it’s not helping us, it’s worth taking apart and asking what it’s doing for us. Is there a reason I’m fixated on this? What is it really trying to say? Is there a more constructive way to look at it? Is there an alternative line of thinking? Is there a way to turn this around? If it’s not a quick fix, are there steps I could take? Will that take moments? Days? Months? Years?

Cool. No better time to start than now.

On, Tario!

I think that this is an important article for Ontarians to read. Our public health communications have been an abject failure, and have directly caused preventable deaths.

So many of the issues that we’re facing now: Conflicting information, Communications that are difficult to parse or misleading, and the lack of a timely response backed by science, not spokespersons, are a direct result of cuts to public organisations for the sake of “fiscal responsibility”.

This is exactly what Ford said he was going to do, and sometimes it’s worth believing what people are saying rather than listening to their rhetoric.

I don’t know what contact any of you have with Ford’s base, but it is vitally important for all of us to put in the work to educate people on how the actions of his government have directly harmed the vulnerable. I’m not talking about “cancelling” relatives, or shitting on them. I’m talking about frustrating, methodical conversations where you listen to their concerns and lead them towards real information. It fucking sucks, but continuing to let partisan bullshit prevent actionable change for the better is actively harming us. We need to be better, and that starts with us.

A genuine “Whys” guy

Back when I taught kids’ gymnastics I quickly found that people learn when you give them the Why, not just the What. If you know what the purpose of a behaviour is, the benefit is much clearer.

I have read a bunch of Ontario’s COVID Stage 2 announcement and it is not that.

The document is long, with a bunch of sub pages. To find the information you want requires a lot of clicking. Most of the information on the different pages is very similar, just tweaked for the current topic.
And then it mainly tells you What to do.

By not telling the public why we adopt certain behaviours around COVID, we’re putting the onus on them to find it themselves. This is easier for some than others, and those who find it difficult will likely get discouraged. EVERYONE deserves this info and the right to be healthy.

It also sows the seeds of misinformation. If people are finding it too hard to parse how COVID works, they’ll go for the explanation that they understand, because then they get to feel better about themselves and their place in the world. They understand it now. Fin.

But it’s not. If people are ignoring information in favour of what they want to believe, they will continue to do so if it’s easier and continues to make them feel good about their competence. This leads to partisan rifts over facts, which is always worse for the public.

You don’t have to Make It Sexy, but public information should be clear and easy to understand so the public is informed. If you’re not telling people Why to follow your instructions, you’re not doing your job. People need to know Why these COVID measures are in place.

If the public understands how COVID spreads, then they’ll be able to take ownership over their behaviour, and understand how dramatically it affects the spread. The more people who understand how it works, the quicker we can mitigate the spread and get back to safe reopening.

There is no reason a children’s gymnastics class should be unable to understand this information. That’s how clear it needs to be.

Return back time

Hi y’all. I think I’m ready to write again.

I’m not going to write daily. It’s not my jam anymore, and I think I learned what I needed to. Instead I’m gonna write here whenever I feel like it. Maybe it’s stuff that doesn’t really fit on other social media. Maybe it’s stuff I’ve written on my own social media, and want to share with any strangers who are interested. Maybe some days I’ll feel creative and post a bunch. Maybe it’ll be weeks or months between posts. Hopefully though it’ll be better writing, because I’ll want to write it.

Here’s a little song I wrote…

So it’s come to this, has it?

I don’t know why I phrased that so ominously. I’m elated. Look, I may be a sincere person, but I’m rarely if ever sentimental. Today is my last day of daily writing. So it goes. This writing project was been a necessary part of my life for many years. Having a creative outlet during the tough times helped immeasurably. I’m not gonna begin to pretend I always wanted to write. Maybe I actually wanted to write five times per year. The other 360 times were under my own duress. Then multiply that by seven. I decided that I would write every single day irrespective of what I had going on. If I was tired, it was 3am, and my organs were seeping out of my skin from fatigue? Too bad. Writing still needed to happen. This also meant that most days, I really didn’t feel like it, but forced myself. I might not be sentimental, but I can be quite disciplined if I tell myself I have no other option. I’m not kind when it comes to diligence, I just decide that I don’t have a choice and suffer through it.

The best part, is that I essentially did my summation entry yesterday, so today I can be back on my usual brand o’ bullshit. I dunno. My brain is a little loopy at the moment, which feels fitting. We’re moving house. I’m surrounded by detritus, which is an unkind way to refer to our belongings. To be fair, on a long enough timeline we’re all detritus. I’ve been throwing things away all day, which is one of my favourite things to do. There’s little I love more than shedding the past and moving on. I don’t really like owning stuff. I hate that I gradually accumulate more things. Fortunately, my trash can be another man’s trash. Or woman. Or anyone along the gender spectrum. Gender is a construct, and wholly irrelevant when we’re talking about things I may have cared about at some stage. Then again, at some stage gender was a thing I cared about. Plus ça change, eh?

Mostly, it’ll be weird for my parents. Seeing an entry posted every day is the only way they know I’m still living. I think my girlfriend reads too? I never really accrued much of an audience, but that also wasn’t the point. The point was to have somewhere to jot down thoughts, work on improving as a writer, and finally figure out some kind of stance on the Oxford Comma. Obviously, I’m pro. I didn’t even write the sentence that way on purpose, it just happened.

I’m also thrilled that the summation of this project lined up with me getting my shit together. I’m in a great place. My girlfriend and I are about to move into an all new apartment together. I’m leaving the only Toronto home I’ve ever had. I have an expansive circle of friends I adore. I’m stoked to be working in Described Video. It’s challenging, creative, and ever evolving. I’ve done a lot of work on my mental and physical health over the years, and they’re both paying dividends. Moreover, I’ve learned how better to process, accept, and move forwards. I’ll struggle again, and again, and life will be riding those waves. It’s what we do, no?

I remember going out for dinner with my mum once. We used to do that kind of thing. Go out to the movies, get dinner. We were homies. We went for a fancy dégustation, because we both share a love of food. It was a fantastic meal, and a lovely evening. At one point I levelled with her. “Mum, you need to understand that I’m never going to be truly happy. I know that there’ll always be something holding me back, and that’s okay. I’ve made my peace with it, and I think it would be healthy for you to stop having that expectation.” It was a horrible thing to say. I don’t think she took it well, but I meant every word of it.

Sorry mum. I lied.

Penultimate Showdown of Penultimate Destiny

PENULTIMATE.

Do you know how rarely I get to use that word? You can bet your sweet cheeks I’ll shoehorn it in at any possible juncture. Other words I’ll rabidly attempt to “make happen” include:

  • Zenith/nadir
  • Fortnight
  • Penumbra (partial shadow)
  • Incidence
  • Myriad

But why Penultimate? Because I’ve only got one more daily entry after this, baybee! Seven years of [questionably -Ed] hard work, and discipline. Spending at least 30 minutes every single day putting finger to keyboard. I’ve written on trains, planes, and in automobiles (which, given my low level motion sickness, was undoubtedly a terrible idea). I’ve written in restaurants, cafes, watering holes. I’ve written in the city, the country, and in tents. I’ve written through sunshine, sleet, snow, hail and the Toronto wild winter storm of 2013. I’ve written across cities, countries and continents. I feel like this is a Dr. Seuss book in the making. Have you written in a car? Have you written in a bar? I’ve written sober, drunk (rarely) and high (still rarely, but surprisingly somewhat less). Did you know that this entry was written after my friend and I made weed caramel chocolate slices for her birthday and took them to the zoo? It should be far more obvious in retrospect.

Between the time I started, way back in March 2013, and now, I’ve grown up [debatable -Ed]. What started out as a way of hopefully loosening up my creative juices so I could write stand-up, became a weird, sometimes starkly honest, catalogue of my life. I moved across the world from New Zealand to Canada. I left family and friends behind in the hopes of finding myself [yeah yeah, lay it on thick Elizabeth Gilbert -Ed]. I started in the wake of a long term relationship coming to an end, and discovered a whole new world of dating, sex, and longer term commitment. I started polyamory, and while it’s come in waves (and basically doesn’t exist in the midst of a pandemic), it’s something that I’ve slowly come to appreciate within my life. My attitudes and approaches to different aspects of life have morphed over the years. I’d like to think I’ve generally become more tolerant, accepting and empathetic as time has passed.

I’ve struggled, but who hasn’t? I moved away from a cushy job into vast periods of uncertainty. Finding work that fulfils me took almost the entire seven years. I took on menial part time jobs when I first arrived in Canada, got helplessly stuck in a comfortable but draining position for the better (or worse?) part of five years. I went to therapy. I’ve (mostly) overcome the body image issues that borderline controlled my entire life. I came to terms with my depression, rather than assuming/ignoring it as I had for the past few decades. I take anti-depressants now, and they’ve totally changed my outlook. My income has fluctuated, and it’s caused me to hold a greater appreciation for how fleeting money is. I’m not saying it doesn’t matter, but I care a lot less about money’s worth than I used to. “Value” is a nebulous term that’s entirely individual. For me it’s having love in my life, a base level of stability to have my needs met, and being surrounded by people I care about deeply.

Also I co-hosted a dumb podcast about the Air Bud Cinematic Universe. If you’re looking for extra-curricular content, there you go.

I know it’s not perfect, but I’m hoping this penultimate (YUS, ONE MORE TIME!) entry serves as a nice little ribbon on this project. If there’s one thing I know about myself, it’s that when shit hits the fan I shit the bed, and tomorrow’s entry will probably be a shitshow.

P E N U L T I M A T E