Monday, November 29, 2010


I hate being sick.

I think I started being sick a week ago, it's not often that I have a 1.5 hour nap on a Monday afternoon.  I should have known I would really become sick on Thursday though, I sat down to do hours of homework and realized that I really did not have that much to do.  It was all stuff that was mostly ready but just had to go get done.  And so the amount of stress related to school dropped off and by Friday night I had a scratchy throat.  Boo.

So what does that mean.  I've seen a lot of people simply shut down when they get sick.  "Oh my throat is sore I can't do anything."

I played hockey that night, not too badly actually (1G, 1A in a 6-1 win) and felt like crap when I got home.  I went to the gym Sunday and felt great for most of the day!  Today, not so much, but I am still at school.

I think it's all a matter of will.  I want to do the things I want to do and at this point I'm not about to let a little scratchiness in my throat stop me.

So here I am at school, with only that little bit of thought in my head.  I'm here even though I would rather be home.  Willpower.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Who are you doing this for?

I had some interesting discussions over the weekend about the purpose of a lot of different things with a few different people.  And what seemed to connect them all was the idea of the reasoning behind the decisions and who the actions taken really benefit.

Some things you clearly do for someone else, like holding a door or letting someone pull ahead of you while driving and letting someone onto a particularly busy road.  Some things you clearly do for yourself like buying a comic or clothes or whatever.  The interesting part is when the lines blur.

At the beginning of my karate career I was going there for myself, no doubt, I enjoyed it, I liked seeing how I could do things.  As time went on I was asked to help teach here and there and then I was not only going to karate for myself, but for the other people that attend, how can I help them out on the day. I achieved a personal goal so that I can help others achieve theirs.  I think that is a big part of that whole knowledge transaction whether it's at karate or even at at school, I'm aiming to attain a personal goal so that I can then share that experience with others.

When I started going to the gym last march I was doing it for someone else.  In the beginning it was to simply satisfy what was required of me.  Now I go for myself, I enjoy it, it makes me feel good.  Things I am doing for myself personally I don't feel I need approval for from others, I might share with others those personal things, but ultimately they are for me and I'll make that choice.

Now that I have reached the point I am at, it has been pointed out to me that now is when real character is defined.  Will I continue to have the dedication when there is no personal prize to attain? I think this is an important thing to consider.  I have reached two goals almost at the same time, each of which took a lot of dedication.  Can I continue on this path?  Well that all depends on who I'm doing it for doesn't it?  And how I can take rewards from it.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It Builds Character

Whether I realized it or not as I was growing up I know now that I was often put into situations or tasks at home that if asked now I would say 'that builds character'.  This is a phrase that I'm not sure I ever actually heard my dad say.  I know it was in a whole bunch of Calvin and Hobbes comic strips though whenever Calvin would be 'forced' to do something he didn't want to do.

For instance.  I was my job to shovel at least 1/2 the driveway (and we had a long driveway).  I didn't even drive at the time!  But I wanted to be driven places (since NOTHING was within walking distance of the middle of nowhere living outside Buckhorn).  If I wanted to have a few extra dollars to buy a movie or something I had to split wood, which at the time I was not that fond of, but it had to be done and it was one of those lessons that if you want something you have to work for it - because it builds character.

When you become an adult you end up having a bit more of a choice whether to take part in tasks that build character, because usually those things are difficult in some way and you can choose to avoid them.  I can see now the wisdom of putting me up while still a white belt to stretch out the class for the first time, and lead warm ups so early on, because it has helped me reach the position I have entered into.  I can see now why it was important that I worked for the things I desired to have as a teenager. I can see why I had to make some huge changes in lifestyle to get many of the things i have gotten in the last little while.

I see many people at school and karate (because those are the two places I am at the most) choose to avoid adversity, to take easier paths, and a relatively small number choose to take the chance to build character and utilize it.  The next time you think 'oh man, this is going to be hard!'  Take the challenge head on, apply yourself, don't submit to thinking that you can't do something even before you try - it builds character.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I am 31.

Most people would lament being *this old*. It's not that bad really.  Especially with all that has happened for me in the past year.  It's hard to imagine a year where I have accomplished so many great things.  At this time last year the furthest I had been from home was the Jersey Shore, now I have been all over the Caribbean (and even more photos here) and pet animals that do not even exist on this continent, eaten exotic food and stood on the top of a Mayan pyramid. During that same trip I got engaged.

I attended school again and met so many amazing people, some of which I am sure will become life long friends.  We've spent so much time working together and just enjoying each other's company it really has made my second college experience fantastic.

I lost some weight. This is perhaps the most visible thing I have done in the past year for myself.  With a great big hint back in march I decided that it was just about time I did something and started going to the gym.  I was there so much that some people probably figured that I worked there.  I lost 50 pounds or so and then I got a trainer( the most amazing trainer in the gym to be sure - Jodi V!), and lost 30 more.  Now together we've built me into an athlete.  It's incredible how much this whole experience has taught me about myself and how much it has done for me both physically and mentally.

I've played hockey, and though I have done that in previous years, this year finally I am in the good condition to really say, 'I am a hockey player' (even if it is only once a week and I don't get paid).  I don't have to suck in oxygen like I'm about to die when I get to the bench, my back does not hurt when I am playing or the day after.

I got married.  I'm ecstatic about it!  It was a fantastic day with so many of my awesome friends attending.  Some I have had for ages, some only for a year, but they were all there (minus a few that could not make it) and it made the day that much greater.  It turns out that on the day of my birthday Amber even got herself her first teaching job, supplying for a half day.  Could my wife be more amazing? No.

And then finally two days before my birthday a great friend and I completed one journey, and embarked on another. The original journey through karate lasted just shy of 7.5 years, the next one is a lifetime.  I am thrilled to have spent so much time with so many great people during my time at karate, not only this past year, but over the whole course of the time I was going from one belt to another.  What started as a way for my step-daughter at the time and I  to spend time together ended up being a life changing experience the likes of which I'm likely to never experience again.

So all in all year 30 for me has been great.  Full of smiles and laughs, new friends, incredible experiences and adventures that most people can only wish they had the opportunity to go on.  Thanks everyone for making this past year so great!

Sunday, November 14, 2010


My dad taught me something about being on a team in the spring of 1993. June 9th to be exact.  I know the date because it was the evening the Canadiens could clinch a Stanley Cup victory.  It was also a evening where I was supposed to play 3-pitch in Buckhorn.  Clearly I could not do both, and I was insistent that I wanted to stay home.  However, I had joined a team, and as my dad explained I could not let my team down by just not showing up!  I rode my bike to the community center and was ready to play.  My dad knew how much I wanted to watch the game, but it was also one of those moments that I would now explain to someone else, that '"builds character".  Thankfully, it stared to rain, and I ended up getting home before the puck dropped!  I got the best of both things!

It was mentioned more than once that Pete and I were joining a team of black belts, I thought this was an important thing to take home with me.

We may be joining the team of black belts at the club, but we wouldn't be doing so without the team of students that we were able to train and practice with all along.  No one can get to such an important day like what we experience yesterday without the help and support of a host of people over time.

I assembled a collection of photos from my journey through the coloured belts at karate this morning and posted them on my facebook (seen here) and couldn't help but notice the common faces through the years.  Some people have since left the club, some are still there on their own journey, I'd run out of breath if I tried to thank each of the people that played important roles in my own journey in person.  So here I'd like to do that.  Thank you! I wouldn't be in the position I am without all of your help and support, your friendship, lessons and insights.  I can only hope to play the same supportive role in someone else achieving their black belt.

Truly a study in martial arts is a singular and a team event at once.  At the very least you need one other person to practice with, but to learn much you need to accept the knowledge and input of many people. But without individual drive and commitment the advice and support of others would go to waste.

I'm sure there were instances where those looking forward to my progress wondered if I'd ever get the message and achieve.  I hope I have done my team proud and hope I can continue to do so for others.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


"We ain't talkin' about a game, we talkin' about practice."

Wednesday was an interesting evening at karate for me, and how appropriate that the fortune cookie I opened that day before class read "There is no instructor better than practice."

With everyone lined up on the four sides of the club I knew once we had all been asked to sit down that there would at least be a portion of whatever was about to occur that featured Pete and I doing something, I also figured that I would get to enjoy the efforts of some of my other classmates.  That was not to be and Pete and I were the headlining act in a display of katas that we have to know for Saturday's test.

It was not so monumental in the moment but what I realized after, expecially after form four (Triumph) when I asked Logan if I had done the whole thing.  During it, my mind was blank and I'm fairly certain that was in my eyes.  I wasn't in the room, thinking about each move and what came next and so on. I did the form without having to think about it.  As it should be at this stage I suppose, I just let my body do what it knew it had to do.

How did my body know what to do?  Practice.  It's not that I have practiced being able to just let that happen directly, but that I have practiced enough hours enough times without distraction, with distraction, while teaching, on my own, in a group and whatever else you can think of that when it was called upon I just did it.

If I have learned anything from the time I have been doing karate (and I have learned a great many things about a whole pile of topics!) it really is that nothing can substitue for real, focused practice.  Of course this applys to so many other venues, learning an instrument, learning to skate, learning how to beat Super Mario Bros on the NES without getting hit at all..  Practice is the key.

Monday, November 8, 2010


I was told when I was younger to be sure I chose the right friends.  It is something I believe very strongly in really.  Choosing good friends makes so much difference in the type and quality of life you end up leading.

I have had the great advantage of always having fantastic friends that had similar values to those of my own (whether I was actually able to recognize those values at my current age or not).

As a younger child I had friends that enjoyed the same shows and toys as me, then it was computers and making tapes of weird radio shows and playing video games.  In high school my friends and I would play hockey, football, soccer and cards.  We didn't feel the need to prove ourselves in anyway to anyone.  And now as an adult I have friends that I can share ideas with and get wisdom from.  All good people that have had positive influences on my life all along.

As I see the struggles that a few kids I know are going through it reinforces this idea that choosing the right friends early on can make all the difference in ones life.  It doesn't matter how good a parent some kids may have, what type of influence they try to be, if someone hangs around the wrong people and wants acceptance from them things can go poorly to say the least.

A friend is someone that keeps you out of trouble, not gets you into it.  A friend is someone that shares many of the same values as you do and enjoys your success as you enjoy theirs.

I wish that everyone could be blessed with the kind of amazing friends that I have and have had over the years.  Thanks everyone for being such great friends! You know who you are!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Fortune Cookies

What could be better than a little yummy cookie that has some little tag in it that tells you some delightful thing?

Well lots of things I suppose...  But fortune cookies are yummy, and I'm always excited to see what I get on my fortune.  More often than not I find whatever is written applies to me.  I'm not sure that this is just because the 'fortunes' are so generic that they apply to everyone, or if it's because I lead a life that usually directs me toward good events and people and such.

Amber bought loads of fortune cookies to put in our little gift boxes at the wedding and we still have some around the house.  I have taken to eating them after lunch when I am home to do so or as part of a quick snack before heading off to karate in the evenings.

This afternoon at lunch I cracked one open, and read the tag and it says (I have it here with me) "Nothing will get in the way of your desire to succeed.  Keep at it!"  As I ate the cookie -  which by the way is the correct way to do it..  crack it, read the thing, then eat - I thought about how well that little memo went with things in my life as of late.  My desire to go to school and do well, my desire to loose weight and get in shape.  Things where I have ultimate control of the outcome I have done just fine at.

This sort of general 'fortune' could of course apply to so many people and so many different situations, I think it's just a matter of perspective.  But I think it's very interesting that a scrap of paper can make you think about so many things even with only 2 sentences on it. 

I'm hoping to convince Amber that a bag of fortune cookies is something that we should just have in the house.  I like that I can get some sort of mini lesson out of each one.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

My Friend Gym

I have mentioned going to the gym in several places over the last few months to a great number of people.  Even the guy at EB Games wondered where half of me went when I dropped in to trade some games to get NHL 11 a couple months ago.

I enjoy the gym, I've spent a lot of time there obviously and what it's done is allow me to do so many things I enjoy at a much higher level.  I was telling Jodi - my amazing trainer - this morning that what has been accomplished at the gym is showing it self all over my life lately especially since hockey has started up for me.  For the first time in the 5 years I have been playing hockey on the weekends I played 2 games back to back on the same night on Oct 30th (meaning I played 6 games total during reading week).  I had no back pain, no muscle pain, I was able to skate as hard in the final minute of the second game as I did in the first minute of of the first game.  Not having to worry about where my next breath is going to come from I can make smarter and better plays everything has improved so much all from time spent at the gym.

Of course this time spent at the gym has helped me out in other areas, like karate, like over all well-being like getting me on the right track to eating good healthy food (no point in working out if your going to eat a bag of chips after right?)  It's helped me learn a lot about myself and introduced me to a bunch of great people like Jodi and the people who work at the desk.  Basically the gym has done what any good friend does and improved my life in a number of areas.

Thanks Gym, see ya tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Well, that was educational

Tonight I learned a few things.  Most of them about myself, most of them not entirely new but just things that have been clarified in my head about where I need to go from here.

It's an interesting experience having someone directly watching you do something that you usually do a few times a month and having it throw you right off balance.  That was of course the whole point though I am sure, some added pressure here some pointed direction here and some vague direction there just to make it that much more interesting.

I have decided in my career life that teaching is what I want to do, not just in an ECE capacity but in a college instructor capacity.  And this is of course where I can apply today's lesson outside of the club.

The other thing I learned is that some folks, no matter how directly indirect you try to be, will not put in even the minimum effort requested. Progression takes effort.  You want to progress, put in the effort.  Maybe I'll just have to point it out in front of everyone, I don't know how nice that would actually be though, or how appropriate.

Maybe that's the next lesson.

Monday, November 1, 2010


I thought about being less frequent, but something piqued my interest today.


Everyone can give effort, it doesn't cost anything. At school I'm never surprised that the people who put in effort get good marks, the people that don't put in the effort complain that school is hard and we have too much work.  At karate it is ALWAYS clear who is putting in the effort, and who is not.  If you aren't going to put in the effort, I am tired of listening to your excuses of why things aren't going your way.  If you are putting in the effort, things are going your way, that's just how it is.