Sunday, February 23, 2014

A New Endeavor

This is a little early in the process but I'm pretty excited so I thought why the hell not write about the beginning of this new endeavor and then perhaps do some updates along the way?  I am, after all, the king/president/CEO of this blog and since I don't have shareholders I can do whatever the hell I want right?! I'm pretty positive I can relate this to my life as a caretaker (not that I have to for above mentioned King reasons) and perhaps break some stigma about men doing what is normally seen as a woman's activity.  So, what exactly have I begun?  Yoga.

So why would I begin yoga?  Well, I'll get to that.  First off I should probably describe myself a little further.  I'm 6'0" - 6'1" depending on the day, currently 280ish pounds, tattooed, bearded.  I look like a lumberjack basically.  Some day's people would probably swear that I'm simply making my yearly visit to town from my cabin in the woods.  Not exactly the key demographic for those marketing their yoga business.  However, what I did have was a serious interest in doing something that could help my recover from some previous injuries and perhaps learn how to calm and relieve myself from stress.  And that, I believe is a key when deciding to learn this practice.

When I made the decision to do this I knew I didn't want to simply sign up for a class and try to learn with 15 or 20 other people.  Since this is such a serious departure from anything I've ever done fitness wise, I wanted some one on one instruction so I could learn properly and if I had questions, get them answered immediately so I could apply the lessons.  Originally I attempted to contact a local instructor but after weeks of attempting to arrange a time to meet without success, I decided to go in a new direction.  Funny how things work out.  My current instructor was recommended by a friend of the wife and I and it's worked out great!  She's very knowledgeable and only goes as fast as I'm ready for.  Sometimes this means we can breeze right through a lesson and other times we slow down and make it work for me.  Since we're beginning from the ground up the first classes have had a lot of focus on proper breathing with only a couple of different poses.  However, it hasn't taken long for me to learn that what seems like the most simple of movements, when done properly, can make your whole body work.  The best example of this was the other day.  She had me doing a pose that basically looked like I was standing still.  However, because of the way she had be moving each muscle in about two minutes the sweat was starting to roll off my forehead.  Pretty awesome.

Like I said, I'm only a couple of classes in so this is just the beginning.  But I'm hooked.  I already can't wait to get back to it this week.  After the classes I feel better, more relaxed.  This is not to say that I want to give up weight training in the future.  On the contrary, one of my biggest motivations in doing yoga is to rebuild my body so I can return to pushing, pulling, and moving heavy pieces of iron.  Even then though, I realize I want yoga to become a part of my life and Marilyn and I have been discussing getting her involved as well.

So where does all this come into play in my caretaking roll?  First, the better I understand and am able to do the breathing techniques, the better I'll be able to relax and the better I'll be able to respond in high stress situations.  Second, the healthier I am physically the better it is for the family as a whole.  Having much of the responsibility for doing things that require me to use my body, if I'm broke down it puts us all in a bad situation.  The better and more freely my body is able to move, the less likely I am to become injured and as a bonus because my nervous system won't be firing unnecessarily all the time in response to pain and discomfort, the more energy I'll have.  I suppose I could continue talking about all the benefits to the body and how they relate to one another but damn that would take multiple posts and more research for medical terminology than I have time for.  Basically becoming involved in yoga has the benefits you see and the ones you don't.

Sometimes it's necessary for all of us to step outside of comfort zone to learn or become involved in things that have potential benefit.  For me exercise and fitness has generally revolved around weightlifting and running and I tended to not pay attention to stretching and such.  It's come back to bite me in the ass now obviously. However, there are tools to fix this and to not take advantage because of some ridiculous belief that it will somehow make me less masculine or whatever BS, would be plain stupidity.  I challenge everyone reading this to do one thing this week that you're interested in but have been holding off on for whatever reason.  Perhaps you won't like it but perhaps, just perhaps, you'll find something that you thoroughly enjoy.  

Monday, February 10, 2014

Changing Times

Before I begin, if you don't like foul language, this weeks post may not be for you.  However, if you like curse words used within the context of describing what are person's not good at and why; stick around cause I'm ready to lay some shit down for your benefit.

Becoming a caretaker, husband, and step-father all within two years has been quite the departure from single man hood.  I went from a small two bedroom apartment in which I was surrounded by nothing but man things; i.e. pint glasses with beer manufactures printed on them, pictures of athletes on the walls, dishes enough for a couple of people, camo hanging in the closet next to my suits, to now living in a fully functional house complete with family pictures on the walls, a youth hockey schedule on the fridge next to graded papers, and whole range of glasses that have no alcohol affiliation on them.  The four wheel drive pickup truck I drove everyday has been replaced with an SUV (still have the truck, just not the money to make the necessary repairs).  And obviously the 'do what I want when I want' mentality has been replaced with, 'what's on the agenda today'.  And you know what, I wouldn't go back to those other days in a second.  I love my life.  However, what I've found is that I'm much better at some things in this new life than others...

Like most people, I have my strengths and weaknesses.  I'm not going to get into my strengths here because well, it's boring to listen to people talk about what they're good at.  What's not boring, is to listen to someone talk about and describe what they suck at!  Be honest with yourself, you know you've laughed when listening to someone going into detail about situations that were an absolute disaster.  So what are my weaknesses in my new life.  First off cleaning.  I fucking suck at it.  Most of the time the house looks like a god damn bomb went off.  There is almost always dirty laundry stacked in front of the washing machine and clean laundry in baskets in the living and bedrooms.  It's gotten to the point I've thought about doing the laundry nude just so I can know what it's like to have every piece of clothing in the house clean, folded, and put away.  Well maybe I'll wear a tie if I ever do.  I could feel a little more professional that way...But I digress.  It's the same thing with the dishes.  We have a relatively small kitchen and more than one occasion I've planned dinner around the fact there were simply too many dishes to do in order to cook a proper meal.  Yes, I just said that.  But when it's 6pm and you know it'll take you an hour to wash all the dishes because you're slower than molasses going up hill on a cold day doing them and the dishwasher works so well it takes two fucking hours to complete a cycle, other arrangements become kinda necessary.  And yes, the idea of simply having the dog clean every plate for me has, in-fact, cross my mind on more than one occasion.

We live in an old style log cabin so everything is always covered in dust and spiderwebs.  There's dog hair on the floor from the 80 lb Shepard running around, and a couple piles of shit that we don't want or need anymore in different corners of the house.  Marilyn's pottery studio has moved from just being on the porch to taking up a large area of the hallway and area next to the kitchen.  And clutter, holy fuck me running do we have clutter!  It's like a clutter bomb went off in this sum bitch and every time I clean it up and reorganize something new takes it's place quickly after.  I'm not even sure where have the shit comes from.  I don't buy anything to speak of and yet, shit appears out of the blue.  I swear sometimes ghosts are running around this place just dropping shit they find in other houses they're haunting just to mind fuck me.  But these all pale in comparison to my true nemesis...the thing that drives me more insane than anything....COOKING!

I HATE, HATE, HATE COOKING!!.  I hate cooking more than the New York Yankees.  As an avid Red Sox fan that's saying something.  The question, "what are we having for dinner" makes me want to insert ski poles into my ears and have someone take a damn hammer to each of them to insure they don't come back out.  Of all the things I ever did to my mother growing up, uttering those words are the ones I'm most regretful for because I now understand how intensely insane the question can drive a person.  How the holy hell my grandmother put up with my grandfather asking it for 50 years is beyond me.  I praise the lord (well I would if I was religious) that she didn't kill him in a fit of insanity one afternoon after he asked it.  It's not the fact that I'm a bad cook because I'm actually not, it's the act of cooking itself I don't like.  Perhaps it's a patience thing.  Just standing there waiting for things to get to the point where you remove, flip, ect.  But there's something.  Quite honestly, it's likely one of the reasons why I have trouble eating enough (apparently in order to lose weight it's recommend that you eat if you're an active person.  I understand the basic principles but if you want more detail I'll leave you to google for that), I simply don't want to cook anymore than I have to.  Now, before you get all freaked out, life is full of things that we must do that we don't enjoy, so yes I do cook and I cook mostly from scratch.  There's a few nights here and there that pre-made food; chicken fingers, fries, ect, end up on the menu but it's not very often.  I don't want that shit entering my body so I obviously don't want to feed it to my family for the most part either.

So there you have it.  A 6'+ tall, 275 lb bearded male who prefers to be outdoors participating in sports and working with his hands doesn't enjoy doing housework everyday.  Kind of shocking isn't it?  Regardless, we do the best we can around here and make sure that the home is safe and everyone is well fed.  I'm certainly no Martha Stewart or Mr. Belvedere but I suppose it could be worse.  I look forward to winter being gone and being able to sit out on the porch with some steaks on the grill and a cold beer in my hand.  That's some cooking I don't mind.  Until that time however, I'll continue to plug away at projects that never end and wonder how the hell the woman in my life have done it all these years without putting me in the hospital or in the ground.  My only guess, even if being a homemaker isn't my strong suit I must be good for something!   

Monday, February 3, 2014


We all have fear though it could be different from person to person.  I'm certainly no different.  One of my biggest fears is being trapped under the ice.  Given that I live in a cold climate and ice fishing and snowmobiling is a big part of the culture here it's not an entirely crazy fear to have either.  I don't have the money to snowmobile but I am looking to get into ice fishing by next winter so it will be necessary for me to work on that fear at some point.

But that's not the fear I'm talking about.  The fear I'm referring to in this post is something I don't talk about with my wife or anyone else.  Something that may upset her when she reads it here because while I'm pretty sure she's aware it exists, I shut down the one time she attempted to discuss it with me.  It's something I keep buried down into the deepest bowels of myself and it only comes out to play now and again, mostly so I can mentally prepare for it.  The fear I'm talking about is the fear that whatever her medical problems are, if continued to go unsolved, could someday take her from me much faster than I want or am planning.

Her seizures only play a small part.  I'm well aware that they have the potential to be catastrophic.  I had a classmate pass away from a seizure in her sleep not long after we graduated.  It's why I'm on my toes and don't sleep if the dog is alerting or I feel a change in her body chemistry indicating that a seizure may be coming along.  Why I monitor her breathing after she's had one.  Why, on nights when she's not feeling well and her breathing becomes shallow I monitor her for hours.  Why, in the past, I've done subtle things that will create a response while she's sleeping just so I can make sure she's aware enough to move on her own.

So what do I do and how do I manage this fear?  I push it down, I don't talk about it, and I only let it come out to play once in a while.  I use to prepare and train myself.  In those times I run through scenario after scenario of what ifs to be prepared in the event I have to jump into action.  I use to as much as I can to be mentally and physically prepared.

I know I should probably talk about such things more, if not with my wife than with someone else but I won't.  You're probably wondering why, which is certainly a valid question.  So here's my thoughts on this.  Fear can suck and it can wear you down and bring along a whole host of others problems.  However, fear, if harnessed, can also be a benefit.  Fear keeps you own your toes, makes you react quicker, and can make you work harder and pay more attention to your surroundings and whats taking place around you if you're prepared for it.  That's how I see this fear.  For me it's a trade off.  As I mentioned above, it's not a constant just something that comes up from time to time and in those times I try to use it to make myself better and make my family safer.  It's not fun, can be quite upsetting, and not something I'd ever want for other people but in our life I find it to be a necessity.

I'm not even sure why I chose to go with this topic this week.  I guess it was because I had one of those 'pop up' late last week and it's on the brain.  Like many thoughts, they come in the quite moments when you're all alone with nothing but your own brain to keep you company.  I don't have PTSD and honestly I think this pales in comparison but it is something I deal with on a regular basis.  I'm not sure if others in similar situations do as well but if that's the case I hope while reading they realize they're not alone and it's ok.  It's ok to have fear, it's ok to be unsure of what you're feeling and why.  It's ok to seek help and someone to talk to if you need it and it's ok to hold it close if you feel that's what's right.  Regardless of the path you choose to take, you need to do what's right for you and what you feel is most beneficial but I would recommend keeping a close eye on yourself for signs that it has become too much.  Remember, if you're unable to take care of yourself it's going to be hard to take care of your loved one.