Home

How You Become A TOUGH MUDDER … Oo-Rah!!

Leave a comment

10561668_10153407515727790_5098401398378876756_n

.

Oo-Rah!!

The mud-saturated young lady in front of me backed up, and with a trembling voice said, “No way!

She maneuvered past me on the narrow wooden platform and left me to inch myself forward. Forward on a plank raised 25 ft above and overlooking a dirty-brown manmade pond way down below me.

Despite the modest height, it feels like I’m jettisoning myself from the top of a skyscraper without a parachute.

My heart is thumping in my throat and I feel a heavy heavy lump in my gut … I know I can’t think or I’ll seize up … so I leap …

……………

I like to do ridiculous things.

Like write blogs!

When I think of dressing up like Lady Gaga … or surfing down a Nicaraguan volcano … or eating a Peruvian roast guinea pig … or starting a Tough Mudder event … I feel my pulse start to race and I get excited about life.

Last weekend my daughter and her partner talked me into joining their team to run and confront a bunch of military-type obstacles at Tough Mudder in Whistler, British Columbia. Obstacles with names like:

  • Warrior Carry
  • The Liberator
  • Berlin Walls
  • Cry Baby
  • Mud Mile 2.0
  • Birth Canal
  • Pitfall
  • Balls to the Wall
  • Kiss of Mud 2.0
  • Shawshanked
  • Walk the Plank
  • Devil’s Beard
  • Hold Your Wood 2.0
  • Everest 2.0
  • Arctic Enema 2.0
  • Cliffhanger
  • Funky Monkey 2.0
  • Dead Ringer
  • ElectroShock Therapy

……………

1977402_10153407499937790_4022526942968870224_n

Oo-Rah!!

The exuberant deep-voiced guy at the start of the Tough Mudder challenge with the red and yellow lanyard around his neck that declares “MARINES” gets us pumped and cheering …

Just 70 kilometres from here is the finish line!” … he grins naughtily with a teasing beam of white teeth knowing the course length is really 17.6 kilometres. “Give me an Oo-Rah!

Oo-Rah!!

“Today many of you are doing something for your first time… let your life be filled with firsts.”

Oo-Rah!!

About 200 of us in this every-15-minutes-released wave of craziness sing the Canadian national anthem and then enthusiastically burst under the START banner.

Four hours later, mud-caked, freezing cold from chilly downpours, scratched and scraped from slithering through mud bogs and beneath barbed wire and climbing over 12 foot high wood walls, we cross the finish line in the early evening sunshine where we receive the coveted bright orange TOUGH MUDDER headband, a T-shirt and a can of cool beer.

anigif_enhanced-buzz

Ahead of time I was psyched out anticipating that the final challenge … ELECTROSHOCK THERAPY … 10,000 volts (can the human body survive 10,000 volts? Apparently YES!) of electricity running through dangling wires that you dash through … would be hair-raising. The event organisers make this challenge sound the most dangerous and scary of all the obstacles.

But after all of the other challenges we encountered and conquered that afternoon, it just seemed so anti-climactic in the end. A few sharp zaps and it was done. EASY!

Either that or I was so glad to make it to the end of the numbness and hypothermia that I didn’t care about anything anymore. Yup, that must be it!

During and for the first few hours after finishing, the mantra running through my head was:

Been there, done that, good enough.  NO need to do it again!“…

But just as I’ve discovered over and over before – perhaps similar to the pains and strains of childbirth (like how would I know?) – the positive emotions and memories edge out the discomfort with a little time.

The discomfort of the cold mud … the icy sensation of pouring rain … the sting of menthol gas in my eyes and throat as I crawled on my belly through the murky CRY BABY obstacle … and that optimistically hopeful word “MAYBE” begins to seep back into my pores.

MAYBE means we have a growing confidence in ourselves.

MAYBE is a stepping stone through a raging river to a positive future of YES.

TOUGH MUDDER was a challenge.

But everyday life is filled with challenges too.

Work challenges, family and relationship challenges, health challenges, physical challenges, friendship challenges.

Challenges that make our bowels loose, our spirits soar, our blood pressure rise, our faces smile, our eyes shed tears, our dreams climb into the clouds.

And so long as we’re breathing when our head hits the pillow at the end of the day, we know we’ve found our way through them. It’s a good feeling when we meet and surmount challenges.

It’s just so … so … human.

MAYBE … Each of us, in our own way, day-to-day, are all TOUGH MUDDER‘s of life.

IMG_IMG_0007_1

My “TEAM GREEN+” c0-survivors post-MUDDER …

Advertisements

Wheelchair Nooky – Should We Provide It?

Leave a comment

WHEELCHAIR-SEX

Strange ideas pop into my head sometimes.

Like … should I jump off this cliff and break my legs?

Wait.

I’m not crazy.

There’s a reason I might consider leaping.

It’s all about the Sex Surrogates.

A long while back, a co-worker stunned me when she said that some countries’ governments pay for regular sexual services for the handicapped.

How could I not jump into this fruitful fornication fray and not find a few thoughts bubbling to the surface?

Paid Sex Surrogates enter households like Home Care workers and housecleaners, but the pipes they’ve come to clean are … well … not the ones we usually consider when it comes to household sponging and scrubbing.

Yup … these workers fall under the category of:

  • Disabled Boinking…
  • Incapacitated Copulation…
  • Invalid Intercourse.

You can call it what you will, but I’m curious to know if government-sponsored lovemaking has precipitated a rash of self-inflicted auto crashes and bungee-less jumping?

My first internal response is to be a typical hormonally-driven male looking for the fun and humour when envisioning these scenarios.

Also, my immediate view is that the storyline would always involve a gorgeous able-bodied woman servicing a less-ably-bodied man.

Such an assumption!

Do women who live in a world of incapacities not also feel a desire for sexual touching? Shamefully, I wouldn’t have considered the notion, but that’s just my in-bred societal thinking rearing its ugly head.

…………….

The Sessions is a 2012 American independent drama film written and directed by Ben Lewin. Based on the article “On Seeing a Sex Surrogate” by Mark O’Brien, a poet paralyzed from the neck down due to polio who hires a sex surrogate to lose his virginity. John Hawkes and Helen Hunt star as O’Brien and sex surrogate Cheryl Cohen-Greene, respectively.

The film debuted at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award (U.S. Dramatic) and a U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Ensemble Acting. The Sessions received highly positive reviews from critics, in particular lauding the performances of Hawkes and Hunt. Hunt was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role at the 85th Academy Awards.

the sessions

.

I haven’t seen the movie yet but I should because I need to gain a better understanding of the sexual needs, desires and frustrations of the handicapped.

One of the greatest wisdoms we can acquire, according to this Man on the Fringe, is that discarding ignorance is always useful in making the world a better and more peaceful place.

It shouldn’t surprise us that many people who are disabled continue to have a healthy sex drive. But I can’t imagine how exasperating it must be to be unable to explore and enjoy that side of life.

Sadly, many are unable to find a partner due to their disability, which leads to very high levels of frustration; in some cases, to such a degree that people have chosen to take their own lives instead of living such a life of torment.

Now, some countries such as Switzerland, have set up programmes to train people to be sexual surrogates.

This shouldn’t be confused with the business of prostitution because it is designed to provide those with special needs access to someone professionally trained to provide a supportive activity that most of us take for granted (or not!).

It’s different too because many people with disabilities have no choice, it’s either a sexual surrogate or nothing.

Some can’t even masturbate because they’re not able to carry it out. Some disabilities prevent people from engaging in sex of any type. For these people, a sexual assistant can offer little more than massage and talk therapy.

Grenoble, France. On the balcony of her flat on a hot afternoon. Laetitia Rebord suffers from a genetic spinal muscular atrophy and can move only her left thumb and her mouth. She lives in Grenoble, June 18th, 2013. France Keyser for the New York times.                              NYTCREDIT: France keyser for The New York Times

It’s a fascinating occupation, don’t you think? I’m kind of curious. Just who might decide to become a Sex Surrogate?

It’s a bit dated, but a 1983 study of 54 American Sex Surrogates came up with the following data on those who choose to become Sex Surrogates:

The demographics were as follows:

  • 43 female, 11 males.
  • Average age: 39 (ranging from 25 to 61)
  • Religion: 8 Catholic; 6 Jewish; 16 Protestant; 17 other; 7 blank.
  • Religiosity: 14 are currently practicing their religion; 25 are currently not practicing it; 15 didn’t answer.
  • Race: 53 White; 1 Oriental.
  • Marital status: 11 single; 13 married; 2 separated; 14 divorced; 1 widowed; 9 non-married couple living together; 4 other.
  • Average number of children: 1.4 (ranging from 0 to 4; mode = 0 ).
  • Years practicing as a surrogate: average: 4.26 years.
  • Approximate number of clients seen per year: average: 27.2.
  • Sexual orientation: 17 exclusively heterosexual; 23 primarily heterosexual; 8 bisexual; 3 primarily homosexual; 2 exclusively homosexual; 1 blank.
  • Contraceptive normally used: 8 condom; 4 pills; 2 i.u.d.; 10 diaphragm; 3 foams or suppositories; 31 self-sterilized: 2 partner sterilized; 2 rhythm or natural family planning 

As far as on the job happenings go… the following percentages were estimated to be the amount of time spent on each activity:

  • 16% talking with client, giving sexual information 
  • 17% talking with client, giving reassurance and support 
  • 1% observing client in social situations, such as potential singles meeting places 
  • 32% touching activities, teaching sensuality and body awareness techniques, e.g. massage 
  • 16% experiential activities, non-sensual, non-sexual, such as body image exercises, sexological exam, and relaxation exercises and techniques 
  • 12% sexual activities, intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio, teaching sexual techniques.
  • 4% social activities, such as going out to dinner with client as part of therapy

Not very much “sex” actually.

Sex Surrogates pose a tough ethical question that should be considered since the need for sex is so basic.

  • Should governments allow for “prostitution” under certain circumstances, such as disability?
  • Should a severely autistic person have the right and ability to seek out and pay for sex without fear of breaking the law?
  • Some disabled persons would be unable to have any sexual pleasure at all unless they pay for it. Is it a crime to pay for sex when that is the only way the person can experience sexual pleasure?
  • Should governments support training programmes for Sex Surrogacy?

So, I’m left in this quagmire of snicker-snicker … sigh, weep.

But finally … in the end … after I stop my foolish boy-snickering … shouldn’t everyone, everyone … have a right to feel the completeness of a whole human being … to experience the fullness of sexual encounters … the joys and release … the touch of another’s skin against their’s.

For me, it just makes a lot more sense than 50 Shades of Grey.

sad_happy_foot

BAM!! Head On Back To School …

4 Comments

mixeddrinks

Would you prefer a MAI-TAI or a ROCKY MOUNTAIN BEAR FUCKER?

I can make you one.

I could make you a BURT REYNOLDS shooter or a JAGERBOMB or a MANHATTAN. I could make you any one of a hundred or more mixed alcohol-based drinks.

Of course you’re asking WHY?

Well, as of yesterday I’m a certified graduate of Bartending School.

Yup, I spent this past week in a mock-up barroom with 3 other students and an instructor learning how to mix drinks from vodka, rum, tequila, gin, whisky (sorry, whiskey if you’re American!), scotch and a dozen or more liqueurs of a crazy kaleidoscope of colours and flavours.

In reality the spirit bottles were filled with coloured water or the course would have cost me 10 times more.

When you make 100 GIMLETS or SINGAPORE SLINGS or 50 BROKEN DOWN GOLF CARTS for practice you can’t afford the ingredients without Trump or Gates as your last name.

cocktail tom cruise

Learning should never stop. Many people die at 25 but are not put in the cold hard ground or the flaming hot crematorium oven until 75.

The learning stopped for them early.

……………….

I used to love eating at buffets … mmm … smorgasbords!

So many choices, a little of this, a little of that. Before I knew it my plate was filled to overflowing and I would sit down and consume it like a gluttonous boar who’d never seen a morsel of food before.

I kinda loved it then, but I hate it now. I’m older and my cuisinary buffet table has to morph into something with a different set of nutrients.

Whaddya mean, the buffet table has to change?

Life has become my buffet table. I want to sample liberally from it for the rest of my days. When I learn or try something different and outside my usual life experience, I feel alive.

A little volcano surfing, a little chicken raising, a little step dancing, a little cooking Moroccan tajine or Nicaraguan Indio Viejo, a little bartending. I’m looking to expand my list of samplers many times over because it makes my life a richer place to inhabit.

And if I want to make it an Emeril moment and yell out “BAM!!“, then what I really like is to visit a foreign locale and study something … anything.

This takes the whole concept of learning and life experiences up a huge logarithmic notch.

I learn about something I’m fascinated by AND I live surrounded by a different culture, different foods, different sights, different smells, different people.

It becomes an orgasmic life smorgasbord without equal… kind of like a shooter drink I assembled this week called a SCREAMING ORGASM!! (Recipe?? equal parts Amaretto, Kahlua, and Irish Cream with a smidge of vodka layered on the top.)

Meg Ryan orgasm

Nope… that’s a different breed of screaming orgasm …

It’s been years since I was in real school. When I think about formal types of education I sometimes think about how difficult the classes will be and then I second guess myself.

I can’t, I shouldn’t, I’m afraid, I’m shy.

The array of courses available means that I can study everything and anything I want to. I love the TV show Law & Order because of all the legal wrangling and technicality nuances involved, so I could take a class in criminal justice and learn firsthand how professionals do it!

Now imagine if I did the same at a college in New York City… “BAM!”

Maybe you dream about writing your family memoir. You could take a genealogy program and then a creative writing course. Do it at a school in India or Ireland where your grandmother was born and you have “BAM!”

Want to give a funny but emotion-laden speech at your daughter’s wedding? Sign on to a public speaking course… in Ottawa where silly people stand and give silly speeches every day. “BAM!”

There are a million reasons to learn something new and a million resources to make it happen.

And best of all?

Not only do you learn a new skill, or acquire new knowledge, but you surround yourself with other active minds… people young, and sometimes older, who have an enthusiasm for learning and reaching and being more.

Amauta

We studied Spanish at a school near Machu Picchu in Cusco, Peru five years ago. Each week we found ourselves in a group of mostly young 20- and 30-somethings from a host of different countries.

We learned a language we can use in a whack of mostly winter-warm countries and absorbed an amazing cultural buffet of Incan history and architecture and Guinea Pig cuisine.

Summertime is here and it’s time to mix up some icy-cold fluffy drinks to sip by the edge of Lake Okanagan.

Drop in and ask me for whatever zany colourful fluffy drink appeals to you.

It’ll be good practice for my new-found bartending skills.

Maybe we can sign up for a wake boarding class while you’re here.

“BAM!!”

Okanagan Wake Boarding

Goodbye Norma Jean …

Leave a comment

Candle in the Wind.

Candle

One song … of two mysterious but tragically unfortunate women, struck down at the age of 36, in the beautiful prime of their lives.

Long after Marilyn’s lifeless, drugged body was found in her bed on August 5, 1962 …

Long before any of us knew who shy young Diana Spencer was …

Long before Princes William and Harry were born …

… Elton John (music) and Bernie Taupin (lyrics) penned a song called Candle in the Wind… an ode originally written to the memory and significance and tragedy that was Norma Jeane Mortenson. You probably know her more familiarly as Marilyn Monroe.

…………………

And it seems to me you lived your life, like a candle in the wind 

Never knowing who to cling to, when the rain set in.

…………………

The song was on Elton’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album that came out in 1973 when I was a young lad at Glendale High School in Hamilton, Ontario.

It was the most influential set of songs I had heard to that point in my life with pop classics like Bennie and the Jets, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting, Funeral For A Friend, and of course … Candle in the Wind.

“Candle” was probably my favourite song (along with Danny Bailey and Sweet Painted Lady) on the entire 2 record album.

I’ve always loved ballads, and Candle in the Wind with its simple chords and melody and poignant lyrics, captured the struggles of untold fame on the lives of simple people.

Songs we love are so important to us because we find meaningful significance in them that the writer may have never intended.

We internalize a message that is unique to our own experience.

For me, Candle in the Wind was an ode to my Mother’s untimely death – I’m certain thousands of others felt the same deep emotional connection within their own lives, whether relating to the death of a significant other or perhaps the loss of a relationship that had once been strong and filled with love, hope, and longing.

When I was a teenager, I would sit in the apartment I shared with my sister, playing my guitar, dreaming of becoming a music writer and rock star like Elton John …

elton john

I wanted the weird, multi-coloured eyeglasses.

I wanted the fame.

I wanted the adulation.

I wanted the ceaseless waterfalls of cash flowing into my bank accounts.

What I didn’t want was to serve up the work ethic and sacrifice that would make it possible.

Like my studies in high school where I did OK, but rarely ever pushed myself, I was a lazy musician and songwriter.

I hadn’t mastered the arithmetic of putting 2 + 2 together yet and wouldn’t for a couple of decades to come. I closed my eyes to the blatantly obvious that the really good things happen when you put in the hours and focus to make it happen.

The hard work happens before the rewards flow. It harkens back to that old 10,000 hours rule of “practice makes mastery” that Paul and John knew, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs knew, JK Rowling and Sheryl Sandberg knew.

Good luck shines on those who pour themselves wholeheartedly into their dreams. Wishing just doesn’t make it so.

I’ve changed now. Both in understanding what it takes to excel … and what I’m willing to bring to that lionized table.

I’ve changed, but not enough to become a rock star, or an esteemed author, or a renowned gardener, or even a celebrated Porta-Potty cleaner.

I’ll never be a famous or acclaimed singer/songwriter because, even though I’m willing to put more effort and time into the things that are important to me, I’m still not willing to make the all-out sacrifice of time, focus and energy that it takes.

I won’t pour myself into making music or anything else for 8 or 10 or 12 hours a day every day. That’s not who I am. Even my vacant macho dreams of becoming a male prostitute to Desperate Housewives peters out as I realize my Peter’s not up to the hard and salacious demands of Urban Princesses.

I’ll always be a Hobbiest, never a Master.

I’ve made my choices and I’ll never be Elton John.

Some candles burn brighter than others, but really, we all cast a flicker of light that provides warmth and illumination to those around us.

Marilyn and Diana were those dazzling, brilliant candles that lived their lives on the treacherous edge of hurricane alley where the storms were always a threat to their light.

Often, those that burn brightest sadly seem to be the ones at the greatest risk of being snuffed out when the winds begin to swirl and howl.

And I would have liked to have known you
But I was just a kid
Your candle burned out long before
Your legend ever did …

Marilyn and diana