I Get to Run a Half Marathon, and I’m A Lucky Guy


It’s easy to get complacent and lose sight of the luster, the shine.

I’m joining the (13) Mile-High Club again next week.

I’ll be running the Vancouver Half-Marathon (21 k) in 7 days and I’m worrying about:

  • my fitness levels – have I put in enough sweaty training miles to pass under the finishers’ banner in less than 2 hours (probably not)?
  • a nagging knee injury that has prevented me from doing the training I would like to do.
  • I’m waking up at night sometimes envisioning a nasty, sticky plaque in my arteries waiting to dislodge and take me down mid-race (there are far worse places to perish than in the middle of Vancouver’s Stanley Park on a sunny day).
After the 2013 Vancouver Half-Marathon (me in Red)

After the 2013 Vancouver Half-Marathon (me in red… my youngest, Emma in blue)

I don’t want to think about any of these bastard stray thoughts, but I can only control the voices so much. At least the voices aren’t telling me to kill anyone, or streak naked through my local McDonalds.

I’ve planned my life to be about as stress-free in this western world of 2014 as you can possibly get:

  • I work a 3 day work week at a lab job I enjoy with people I enjoy being around.
  • I’ve saved and invested and can afford a couple of nice vacations each year that stimulate my mind and quell my ADHD.
  • I live in an amazingly beautiful area of Canada that has mild (by Canadian standards), almost snow-free winters and warm, dry summers.
  • I have a great family life.

And I sometimes forget that it’s not like that for everyone.

Forgetting that is not good.

I also forget that it hasn’t been this way everyday for me.

Forgetting that is not good either.

I also forget that it won’t be this way every day into the future.

That is the way it should be …

… dwelling on possible future negatives is no way to live each day.

I have friends and relatives with:

  • cancer
  • joint replacements
  • pneumonia
  • heart disease
  • diabetes
  • elderly relatives with serious concerns
  • children with major illnesses
  • jobs they hate but feel they can’t leave

They all SUCK. Oops, let me clarify that … the concerns suck, not my friends and relatives (mostly!)

vulnerable cancer patient

I’ve rubbed shoulders with most, but not all of these worries at one point or another in my lifetime.

You might say I was paradoxically lucky because my parents died at relatively young ages. My Dad pulled through a heart attack at my age (he didn’t survive heart troubles 15 years later) and my Mom died of a heart attack just 3 years beyond my current age. This means that, like what so many of you are experiencing right now or will someday, I didn’t have to deal with care homes and dementia and all those nasty elder issues. That’s life-luck lived on a double-edged sword.

On the other hand, I wasn’t serendipitous enough to escape those same ravages with my in-laws. I spent many days, weeks, and years in a milieu of their chronic pain and dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

After I spent 10 years lifting my tiny little kids out of car seats, I spent the next 10 years lifting and pulling my not-so-tiny mother- and father-in law out of car seats because their poor bodies had seized up like the Grim Reaper’s rigor mortis had forgotten to wait until they consumed their last breath.

It was challenging for me, but it was a rat’s-hole hell for them.

My oldest sister died from a rapid and aggressive lung cancer a couple of years ago. At our summer family reunion in the mountains of Jasper, Alberta she was fine. In November, just 3 months later, we held handsful of damp Kleenex, dressed in black attire at her vigil.

I’ve said goodbye to a number of work colleagues who suffered death by cancer. For a few years my one arm was stretched longer than the other from pallbearer duties and carrying caskets too frequently. Yes, I’ve been a pallbearer more often than I’ve been a wedding usher or best man. Apparently, people trust me more after they’re gone than while they’re here.

The other day on my way to work, I met an old acquaintance, Lydia, coming in for blood tests at my lab. She has hemochromatosis (iron overload that saturates the liver and if left untended will kill). She looked pale and tired but was upbeat despite her chronic weakness.

My son had a life-threatening infectious illness at the age of 9 that struck me deeper than anything I had ever experienced. Most of my bodily energy went into producing tears through the fears. He spent the entire summer in a hospital bed on IV antibiotics before getting out just the day before school returned in September.

And then I remind myself of Leo at the gym, 90 years old this November. He looks like he could be 70, trim and fit enough that he should be running in the half marathon with me next Sunday while his wife of 65 years sits confused in a care home.

Woman in care home

If you have any of these worries hanging over you, I hope they pass soon and life doesn’t ooze melancholy into your head. It could.

Joining this party here on earth means that there will be hangovers to be suffered.

Every delicious, intoxicating drink of life that lifts our inner spirit will be met at some time by a visit to the washroom where we’ll retch and puke our guts out and wonder why we ever came to this festivity.

It strikes every one of us to varying degrees and the only difference in the long run is how we absorb, cope, and move on.

I smile inside to myself as I plan and prepare for the long morning run next Sunday alongside 10,000 others.

Surrounded by healthy, fit people, I’ll glance out across the Vancouver harbour towards the majestic white-shrouded North Shore mountains and the stunning, crystal blue sky. I’ll deeply inhale the cool, fresh, cedar-scented air rushing by while my feet swoosh-swoosh-swoosh over the long stretch of asphalt.

I’ll run. I’ll think. I’ll remember.

  • I could have cancer or diabetes or another chronic illness.
  • I could have family members needing intensive daily care and attention.
  • I could have a son in jail for rape and a daughter in detention for prostitution.
  • I could have been born a Jew in Germany in 1935.
  • I could earn my livelihood pumping out putrid smelling offal from the backdoor of a slaughterhouse.

I’ll run. I’ll think. I’ll remember.

My runner’s high can be supplemented by gratitude and knowledge of the good things that run like rushing rivers through our lives. The laughter, the smiles, the vistas, the sweet tastes and succulent smells.

In those times we need to stay awake and hydrate ourselves in the gush of refreshing water.

I’ll run. I’ll think. I’ll remember. 

I get to run a half marathon, and I’m a lucky guy.

Now there's a RUNNER's HIGH ...

Now there is a RUNNER’s HIGH …


Are YOUR Goals YOUR Passion for 2014 – Part 2


Have you noticed that sunny days smell so much better than cloudy ones?


Food tastes better … snow sparkles whiter … girls look sweeter and smell more ravishing … beer is more refreshing – when it’s sunny.

Having goals to aim towards is like having balmy sun rays warming the skin on your shoulders every day – or John Denver singing Rocky Mountain High in your ears.

Your senses are fired up and you feel the glowing burn of internal enthusiasm rising knowing that you’re choosing a positive road.

Life is just sunnier and tastier.


I can talk a good story.

I can post all of my incredible achievements with full glossy, colour photos on Facebook. Everyone is smiling and living the best life ever on Facebook. It’s true.


I can make myself sound like perfection while writing this blog, even though I’m not.

When we’re born, we contain all of the promise and disappointment, the fate of our lives buried inside. But it’s not really fate. We can choose the direction of all that promise or devastation.

I have fears. I’ve laid in my bed staring at the ceiling so many times through the years, worrying and fretting about a host of concerns, real and mostly imagined.

I’ve worried that I’m dying, or my wife has cancer, or what will become of my kids.

When I was a teenager, I cried myself to sleep worrying about my Mom dying. That wasn’t an imagined dread, it was real. She stepped out of the car one spring evening and collapsed on our driveway and died when I was 15.

But worries can’t stop us from making the most of the days we do have. I’m not Christian, or Jewish, or Islamic, or Hari Krishna, or a follower of any religious icon.

I’m just one of 7 billion living people on this planet and however many billion people that have lived before me searching for a meaningful – significant and worthwhile in a way that means something to me – life.

7 billion swimmers

The whole world must be swimming here …

Some days, some weeks, some years are long, but an entire life is SOOOO short.

One day soon, like my great-grandparents, I’ll just be a few yellowed pages of smiling, but essentially personality-less pictures in a weathered photo album or on a computer hard drive. That, and a bit of dust or ashes feeding the next season’s growth of flowers and grass.


What’s that you say? Larry, you sound like Donny Downer.

Some of what I’ve said to this point does makes me sound like I’m wallowing in a depression, but don’t believe it. I’m an idealistic optimist.

I’m just pointing out that life isn’t 24/7 happiness and joy. And I’m glad for that. Life is a process, a road we travel.

I’m travelling hopefully, and I wish you the same.

Goals are a hugely important part of my hopeful travels. 

How can I tap dance on the sidewalk with glorious abandon if I have no direction?

This year I’m setting up my 2014 goals by category because a number of areas of my life contain more than one item in their little compartments.

I want to share these with you to make me accountable. I like the subtle pressure of you knowing where I’m headed because of the inner need I have to achieve and please.

I’m a terrible dancer, but if I could tap dance like Fred Astaire, here’s the fuel that would feed that ability:


2014 GOALS

BHAG’s (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) and LFEG’s (Little Fuzzy Everyday Goals)


a) 100 burpees including pushups. I’m going at this lung-busting challenge with a few of my co-workers, so we can all DIE together. Most people I know, including me, hate the BURPEE. It’s hard once you get past 3 or 4 of these up/down/pushup/jump contortions, which is exactly why I’m doing it. I’ll enjoy the pain … afterwards!

Now THOSE are burpees!

Now THOSE are burpees!

b) 2 more New-To-Me Sports (eg. Paintball, Kickboxing …). It’s important to keep refreshed with new things to keep our enthusiasm levels high. If you have any great suggestions for innovative new sports I can try… add your comment at the end, OK? Pole dancing is NOT an acceptable suggestion for this dude.

c) Run 2 Half Marathons – both in sub-2 Hour time and as a stretch goal, finishing one in sub-1 hr and 55 minutes. Half marathon running is the perfect distance for feeling a sense of accomplishment without having to give over your life to training.

d) Lose Enough Weight to See the Subtle Signs of a 6 pack Abs.- I work hard in training. A lot of that work includes the core (ie. Abdominal muscles). Isn’t it fair that I should see even a tiny ripple or two of ripped muscle that says that yes, it’s finally paying off?

Muscle definition is one part health-related stuff to one part ego matter, and my ego needs a teensy little meal to feed on here. I don’t have an actual weight loss goal, just enough to see the small sandbar ripples in the mirror.


a) 10% Charitable boost – I’m so lucky to have won the life lottery that gives me an unbelievable lifestyle. Supporting charities  (Plan International /UNICEF) that assist in enabling others to proudly develop their own systems and economies to live the way I can is a tiny tiny price to pay.

b) Buy a coffee for the next person in the lineup at Tim Hortons once per month – Coffee is mentioned in the Ten Commandments given Moses:

Thou shalt be provided and drink coffee in healthful abundance“.

Huh, it’s not a commandment? Really? Well it should be.

Coffee Commandment


a) 50 Additional Blog Posts + 40 views/day on blog 

I’m not the most stylishly eloquent guy when it comes to verbal communication. In some ways, I suck at the whole talk thing.

That leaves writing as my favoured way of expressing what I have to say. A weekly blog allows me to think about and ponder the things that are meaningful to me, and then allows me to share my thoughts with you.

b) Take on Writing Another Novel – this past November I participated in the month long National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), an internet-based 50,000 word novel-writing challenge.

It’s free, it’s motivating, and they give you lots of feedback and encouragement. I wrote about 2/3 of a novel that is really bad, but I loved doing it.

I’m psyched to take it on again and make my own sexy 50 Shades of Green.


a) Purchase 12-string guitar – The guitar has been one of my best friends in life. It’s been there all through the peaks and valleys. But sometimes, a song just needs a little more depth than 6 strings radiate and a 12-string guitar can add that richness, like a teaspoon of full-fat cream in coffee.

b) Purchase a Baby Grand Piano – This is probably not a goal that will be attained this year, but it’s too important in my mind to not at least put it on the list for the next year or two.

Piano is a great late-night instrument that satisfies my spirituality needs. Singing a love ballad on a richly-toned grand in the semi-darkness at 11 pm. …well, it just soothes my savage soul.


c) Learn more mandolin – I got a lovely mandolin gift last year. Like a 12-string guitar, the double sets of strings on a mandolin add musical dimensions that lift us dreamily towards the heavens. It’s time to give a bit of quality time and develop at least a minimal skill set.

d) Write 6 more Songs and perform original songs publically. Writing songs is hard, but rewarding. For variety I’d like to write 2 country, 2 folk-ballad, 1  jazzy, and 1 rock’ish-style. This should stretch my imagination and creativity skills to the breaking point.

Performing publically is nervously challenging but fun. But now, finding the steely nerves to take my own songs to a stage and perform them publically is, for me, a huge leap. 2014 is the year for me to brace myself and do this. Besides, why should only my family suffer through hearing my dulcet vocal tones!


a) Visit at least 5 more American States – one of my long term goals is to visit each of the 50 American States – I’ve visited all of the Canadian provinces and territories in previous years. Last year I wandered and added 9 states (Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, and DC) to my list that includes 9 others. This year I hope to knock off a bunch of western U.S. States and make it near to the halfway point.

b) Touch Ground on One More Continent – One more of my long-term goals is to step on each of the continents. Africa, Australia, and Antarctica are out there calling my name like sweet sirens in the mist. See next item…

c) Buy a Fez Hat in Fez, Morocco + get my hair cut by a “Barber in Seville” – A touchdown in Morocco this year would take me to the African continent, and allow me the opportunity to do a couple of things that are iconic of the area: Visit Casablanca and talk like Humphrey Bogart, buy the Fez hat that Steely Dan sang about in the 1970’s , and while in Spain, be sheared like Rossini’s famed Barber of Seville.

A Fez of the Heart...

A Fez of the Heart…


a) Listen to at least 1 TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) Talk per month – I’d be hard-pressed to find a finer source of creative and thought-provoking material than is found in the inspiring TED talks. This is a Lego-block piece of the grey-matter material that makes the internet so great.

b) Read at least one new book each month – whether it’s for escape or education or relaxation, books (PAPER or ELECTRONIC) are one of life’s wonders more crucial and dear to most of us than the physical 7 Wonders of the World.


a) 15% return – Each year, my goal is to bring home an additional 15% on my investments.

And each year I start out feeling nervous as hell because no matter how well I did the previous year, January 1 is right back to the starting blocks. It’s like the movie Groundhog Day and each year I have to prove my investing chops all over again as if last year never happened.

My 5-year average annual return is looking pretty fair at 22.7%  but then when you cook in the 2008 stock market plunge, my 10-year annual average is only 12.4%.

b) Retire, Debt-Free –  The year 2014 is my “Freedom 57” year.

I hate the word retirement, it’s kinda like saying “I’m done with life“. We live in a golden age with countless choices of paths to wander.

As Yogi Berra said: “If you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Retirement is just another fork in the road, and I’m choosing to take it.


a) Eat at least one box of Kraft Dinner per month – mmmmm. Kraft Dinner. God’s flavourful gift to men. Like the humour of Monty Python, Kraft dinner seems to be favoured by the male set. With or without ketchup, it’s a simple box of orange-hued macaroni ambrosia.

Gourmet KD

If I had a million dollars …Gourmet KD…

b) Drink Coffee with Only One Sugar – to counteract the ill effects of all that delicious Kraft Dinner, I’ll resolve this year to scale back my sugar (and/or Splenda) use. A couple of years back I shed my Canadian-ness by cutting back the double cream to a single dose in my coffee. This year will be the year of my sugar assault.


The chapter of each of our books that is 2014 has been opened and the juicy story of what will be, is waiting to be discovered.

Like a good Canadian lad, I grew up playing hockey with fervour and enthusiasm. When I jumped onto the ice at Parkdale Arena in Hamilton, the first thing on my mind was:

I wanna score a goal!”

Deep down, I’m still that little guy with the rosy-red cheeks, skating on this rink of life. I might not score on every shift, but I’m rushing up and down the wings, enthusiastically sucking in the air that sustains me.

And when I score a goal, inside I feel just like Bobby Orr soaring through the air, caught up in that moment of elation.

My boyhood hockey hero reaches his goal...

My boyhood hockey hero reaches his goal…

Are Your GOALS your PASSION for 2014? Part I …

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 I’ve leapt off the 2013 cliff and landed clumsily but safely on the slippery shelf that I’ll cling to for 2014.

2013 to 2014

Brace yourself and take this jump with me, OK?

My goals are really important to me, perhaps because as my friend Jennifer tells me:

My delusional optimism is greater than my depressive disorder.”


There are some who hate to set goals (resolutions, call it what you will) because of fears they’ll just be disappointed by what they haven’t been able to do.



I don’t think I can, so I won’t even try!”

Nonsense, says I !

Having goals means I’m in control.

It’s a good feeling to take the wheel and drive – even if danger exists – because it always feels better to be the one holding the controls, doesn’t it?

When I’m motoring the nail-bitingly steep switchback roads plummeting downwards into British Columbia’s coastal town of Bella Coola, I feel less terror – even though I’m sweating bullets – when I’m behind the wheel than I do while in the passenger seat. I could still deftly tumble to a ferocious, fiery death, but it’s within my sway and command.


No Goals … I’m passive. I’m the passenger, terrified by the plunging depths laid out hundreds of metres below. I’m at the whimsy of the world, controlled by outside forces.

With Goals  I’m active. I’m the driver… I’m the one in charge of the potential fireball that is my life.

The changes you make in life are the preferable, fun ones. The ones pressed onto you are part of the squeeze, part of your prison sentence.

Get paroled. Make your own choices.

I love the glorious feeling of achievement … consummation … completion. I’m pretty sure there’s a wonderfully juicy sexual metaphor to be found in that statement … oops, a small extra shot of testosterone must have snuck its way into my system.

But reaching our goals means living a disciplined life. Discipline is a tough commodity to hold onto in the 21st century with so many distractions.

How many distractions can there possibly be in our lives?

Every year … nay, every week, more online distractions  (yeah, even this blog) jump into our path with eye candy and Angry Birds, countless diversions that pull us, like the serpent in Eden, away from living the life we really want.

Just thinking about this and I can feel my eye twitching. There’s too much activity – I feel a rising urgency and sense of panic.

To battle these distractions, you have to be sure YOUR goals are:





What truly matters is … what are you seeking to attain this coming year?

So, without further ado, I’ll jump into a review of my 2013 goals, laid out here in this blog one short year ago. I’ll even foolishly include a grade score (HIT, HALF HIT, or MISS) at the end of each line.

Next week, I’ll dive into my 2014 list of Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG‘s:  from author Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great).

Be sure to check my year-end score at the bottom. It’s barely a passing grade, but you’ll see that I don’t mind not hitting every goal. It’s a process, right friends?:

GOALS for 2013

My 2013 goals…………………………………..

  • Pay off investment loans in anticipation of debt-free retirement in 2014- HALF HIT

This was really a two-parter right from the start.

In 2013 I did pay off half of my investment loans by selling a portion of my Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT’s). I’ll kill off the rest in 2014 in order to retire this summer totally debt-free.

Borrowing the $$ to buy REIT’s 10 years ago worked well as a way to accumulate a good investment while letting the investment itself pay off the cost of the loans. CAUTIONARY NOTE: This use of financial leverage can be a double-edged sword. Fortunately, it worked well in this situation, but I’d be very careful about doing it again.


  • Bring blog posting total to 100 and views to 7500…HIT

As the year 2013 awoke, I wrote and posted blog entry #40, entering the year with a total of 2,383 viewings to Dec 31, 2012.

Well, I didn’t quite score top marks with my goal of 100 total blog posts by year end 2013, but I’m happy at a 1 post-per-week rate that brought me to a total of 91 entries.

Writing a weekly blog post is a wonderful bit of self-discipline that holds my lazy feet to the fire.

More important though is that searching my mind for words and thoughts each week makes me more keenly aware of what is going on around me. I have to observe the sights, the smells, the sneers and smiles of family and friends if I’m going to pass comment – or describe the beautiful vision of a scruffy, tan-coloured coyote nervously trotting across my front yard.

In 2012 I had an average of 12 views per day of one or another of my blog posts. In 2013, this number rose to 26 views per day.

I was aiming for a year-end total of 7,500 views but crushed that number, finishing the year at 11,920.

It might sound impressive – or it may not, if you consider that REALLY popular blog writers accumulate that many views per DAY!

A good deal of what attracts viewers to a blog (other than content) are keywords that are picked up by search engines like GOOGLE and BING. I stumbled into writing a blog post mid-year that contained the keywords Women dominate men and castration. Well, who knew it, but apparently the world is swelling with people whose minds gravitate in that particular direction when doing their GOOGLE search.

One other interesting factoid? Viewers came to the blog from 122 different countries.

The real writer of this blog...

The real writer of this blog…


  • Write 12 songs…one per month. HALF HIT

The year 2013 was the year I finally found a way to pull a song out of my magic rabbit’s hat.

I’ve struggled and been frustrated with songwriting attempts for many many years, but just haven’t found the muse or the wizardry to really make it happen.

Not this year! I took a free online course on Songwriting. Instructor Pat Patterson at Berkley School of Music in Boston mined into my musical head and extracted what was needed to get me on track.

I receive just a half hit for this goal because I wrote only 6 songs.

No matter. I’m excited and jacked to know I can do this. Quantity isn’t the important thing here. The quantum leap has been achieved and I know now that I can move forward.

Stay tuned this year for a tune or two, penned by Yours Truly, attached to this blog. Advance warning : maybe buy some ear plugs now.


  • 20 Pullups Non-Stop – MISS

Complete failure here. Nope, didn’t even make an attempt at this. I was too intimidated by last year’s successful attempt at hitting 10 that I couldn’t summon the mental energy to make the physical assault on this goal. No excuses … let’s move on.


They can't do it ... neither can I ...

They can’t do it … neither could I …

  • Take cooking classes in Spanish-speaking country (Argentina?/Costa Rica?) – MISS

Perhaps I was too ambitious trying to squeeze this one in to 2013. Your invitation for spicy, steaming empañadas must wait another year I’m afraid.

Trips to icy Saskatoon and then to autumny Ontario and Nashville put a delay in the “cooking” trip. I see this as just a postponement and not truly a MISS, but I can’t give myself a passing grade for something that didn’t happen, can I?.

This will be accomplished…. MAÑANA!

.Cooking class in Argentina

  • Try 2 more “new-to-me”sports (eg. kettlebells, curling, paddleboarding) – HIT


I started the year with a Kettlebell session with my friend Charlie, who taught me the proper techniques for swinging these big chunks of metal without destroying my back, or flinging them through the plate glass windows at the front of the gym. For someone like me with probable ADHD, it’s just one more way to stay fit and stave off the boredom of the same-old same-old.

Twice this summer I found myself standing on a paddleboard aside Angus or Catherine Anne, precariously paddling and gliding over Okanagan Lake, sun glittering its diamonds across the water’s surface. Balancing on one of these suckers requires non-stop concentration, but I’ll admit it is much easier than trying to stay upright with a windsurfer.

Unexpected benefit? The lengthy paddle is perfect for smacking over the head of noisy Seadoo‘ers too!


  • 100 pushups Non-stop – HALF HIT

I’m happy but slightly disappointed.

My friend Pamela and I hit the gym on New Year’s Eve – at lunch break, still lots of time for excessive drinking later. With colourful cheerleader pompoms and backward somersaults we rooted each other on to hit the 100 … and …

Pam started the session and knocked off 50 before she decided that surely I must be standing on her back. A short 15 second rest, then she smiled out of her fire-engine red face and continued on. It took 4 more sets before she made it to 100, but she gutted it out and arrived in good finishing form.

Nervously, I started and was pumping them out strongly at 35, then 40, 45, 50, yes, I was pleased and feelin’ fine … but by 55, the pain was really beginning to settle in and I reluctantly halted at 60 for a half-minute break.

“OK, Not a big deal“, I said to myself. Pam smiled a beam of supportive encouragement at me, and, I, like a woman in labour glaring at the man who brought her to this painful moment, don’t think I ever hated anyone as much as I did her when I saw her cheery grin.

I got back into position and carried on. 65, 70, 75, 80, 85, 90. My body shrieked and cried, my arms jiggled and quivered. Just 10 more. Mental talk and imagery…”I can do this“.

Each extra pushup was a painfully slow and drawn-out event. Finally, when I hit 96, my bum was inching skyward to help the physics along, and my earthquaking arms let go, sending me crashing mightily face-first to the hard floor. NOOOO, just 4 short.

I laughed when what I really wanted to do was cry.

Feeling slightly defeated, I knocked off the remaining 4 pushups a half minute later.

I’m pleased to have reached the 100 mark, but that gnarly non-stop component is gonna go down before I go down –  six feet under!

. 100 pushups

  • Purchase 12-string guitar – MISS

Nope, didn’t happen. I might need an inspired push from my friends Jim F. or John C. to get a move on. Not much to say here, but I will talk about this one much more in next week’s 2014 GOAL BLOG! Oh, the suspense……


  • Overall Net Worth Return of >15%  – HIT

Final tally for the year shows a 21.4% increase, well above my aim of >15%.

Of course, it’s all relative. The Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX)  rose 10% and New York  (S&P500) blew ahead by 30%. It was a GREAT year for the North American markets.

Happily, I’ve managed to sit astride each of these ships and benefit from the rising tide.

Markets ascend, markets fall. Today I’m smiling – it’s a wonderful feeling to sit back and watch your money multiply.

But I’m not going to celebrate all Leonardo-Dicaprio-Wolf-On-Wall-Street-style.

A strong ship needs a level-headed captain watching for icebergs. I’m sipping my champagne on the bridge with my hands on the wheel!

Growing money


  • Increase Charitable Contributions by 10% – HIT

As I’ve said before, this is an easy but important goal.

Each January, Maureen and I make a phone call to Plan International and UNICEF, our chosen charities.

“Hello, please add 10% to the monthly withdrawal from our bank account.”

Simple. Accomplished!


  • Grow larger vegetable garden and process more for winter use. – MISS

Every year I seem to need to find a new and better excuse about why this one doesn’t quite happen.

We plant more seed, we add more compost to our garden beds, we water religiously. We weed regularly. When no one’s watching, I sing James Taylor songs to the lettuce and tomatoes.

But the yield just never seems to increase. You can’t freeze or can or dry more produce when the produce isn’t producing!

So, my excuse for the year 2013? It’s the damned walnut tree’s fault.

Walnut trees elaborate toxins in their roots and in their leaves that suppress and sometimes kill other plants. We have a walnut tree that is reaching mature size in the southwest corner of our yard that is, I’m convinced, systematically destroying our efforts. It thinks it’s the Godfather running its turf.

And for this, the walnut MUST die.

I’ve begun cutting it down limb by limb, and with each limb lopped, I laugh a crazed, demented belly laugh. Doesn’t the Old Testament tell us something about an EYE for an EYE? Well, starting right now, I’m an Old Testament kind of guy.

That walnut wood is going to look so good burning in my woodstove next winter. Bring on the giant, juicy vegetables!


  • Run 2 Half Marathon races (sub 2 hrs) – HALF HIT

Yep, I ran two half marathon races last year, one in Vancouver alongside my daughter Emma (well, for the first 13 or 14 Km anyway before I kindly let her pull ahead).

The second one was a couple of weeks later in Penticton.

All good.

But it’s the second part about running in under 2 hours where I came up short. We all know that close doesn’t count, so this means I only get a Half Hit for this goal.


OK, so let’s add this up …

Final Score for 2013 – 12 out of 24 (50%)

HIT =2 points, Half Hit = 1 point and a MISS, well a MISS is of course, ZERO (0)

That’s it, 2013 goals in a nutshell. A 50% grade and yet I’m happy.

Now I’m pumped and ready to tackle a whole new set of goals for 2014 … the list of which, as I said earlier, will follow next week.

I’ve enjoyed going through my list, but it’s just that. It’s MY list.

What about your list?

Reading along, did you say to yourself, “Yeah, I did that” or “I did something like that”. Or maybe, “I’d like to do something like that”.  Or maybe you even said, “what a stupid thing to do!“.

I don’t know what’s running through your mind this first week of 2014, but I’d love to hear what goals or dreams you reached in 2013 that made your heart beat more enthusiastically, your breath quicken with anticipation, your eyes open wider, telling you you were alive.

What goals lit your fire and stoked your internal sense of passion?

There's passion...

There’s passion…

It’s a Mad Mad Mad Lululemon and CrossFit World…

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There are people out there trying to kill you.

Years ago (full disclosure: 25 years ago) I went to something called aerobics classes. I’d go to the school gym in Comox on Vancouver Island where I jumped and stretched and ogled the girls in stretchy crotch camel-toe-creating leotards and leg warmers while moving to the music of Flashdance. It was hard sweaty work but lots of fun, the music was motivating, and we all knew it was good and healthy for us.

At the time, I believed I was giving everything I had, and pushing my physical limits to the extreme.


Little-by-little over time I watched the ladies change out of their leotards – figuratively speaking – and into shorts and T-shirts, then fancier Nike technical wear with sweat-wicking properties, and most recently, of course, into the wonderful world of butt-enhancing LULULEMON. This transformation was accompanied by newer forms of exercise:

  • Pilates
  • Zumba
  • TRX
  • Boot Camp
  • Yoga in 50 flavours
  • kickboxing
  • aquacize
  • circuit training
  • BOSU ball class
  • Spin Class

The number of fitness-type classes and styles has exploded.

But back to the ones who want to kill you.

Women Crossfitters

They call themselves CrossFitters. Their bodies look nice (actually they look great!), but they have designs on hurting you badly. At the same time that they break you down in order to build you up, they are wanting to empty your bank accounts, and then have you thank them for it.

There are CrossFit joints springing up all over the place. Their monthly fees are as high as the pain they inflict. CrossFit has risen to the pinnacle of exercise in the church of all that is deemed beautiful with voluntary bodily torture. It’s extreme, it’s tough, and it’s cultish.

And like Moore’s Law of doubling computer chip capacity and capability each 18-24 months, I wonder if we’re not in the era of Moore’s Law for fitness trends.

Crossfit Games

QUESTION: With little time but ample financial resources available to many of us in the 21st Century, and the swollen numbers of Superhero-style movies, are we moving into an era where Joe (Joelyne) Average desires the physique of a superhero?

It’s just not enough to be fit and healthy. The push is on for us to bulge and swell – not like Rob Ford –  so that our clothes require additional wiggle room to accommodate the ripples of musculature we’ve pressed the huge weights to acquire. CrossFit is out there to make superhero bodies.

Of course, who am I to throw stones? Extreme comes in lots of flavours. I participated in two Ironman races in my younger years because I wanted the very same prod administered by CrossFit gyms that I couldn’t manage all on my own. Before I began the training needed to Swim, Bike, and Run for more than 12 consecutive hours, I looked on the sport as total lunacy.

And then I did it.

I just wonder where the limit exists as we press harder and harder. At first, marathons were huge (they still are, believe me), then triathlons, then Ironman-length triathlons, then Ultraman Triathlons. Crossfit latches on to the human goal of striving above and beyond what we believe is possible, especially for the average person on the street who has never dreamed of Olympian effort for themselves.

I want to hate and ridicule CrossFit, but I have to admit I feel a grudging admiration for a group that drives their minions hard and asks for more Herculean effort than we believe we are capable of. It’s as extreme as it is impressive.

And so as I sit here typing away on this amazing computer, wondering what technological miracles will sit at my fingertips in 5 or 10 years, I’m also supremely curious about where we will carry ourselves physically.

But really, and more important to know is that wherever our physical boundaries lie, Lululemon will ensure we look fabulous getting there.


State of the Nation “My Half-Year” Address … The Tortures I Inflict on Myself!


You'll make a great Dad someday!

GOOD JOB…You’ll make a great Dad someday!

When a woman is pregnant, all her friends touch her swelling belly and say, “Congrats”.

But … none of them come and touch the man’s penis and say, “Good job”.

Moral of the story?

“Hard work is never appreciated.”


I’d like to thank you for coming here today to share in my semi-annual State of the Half-Year Address.

I appreciate that it’s summertime; it’s hard to focus on serious matters during the hazy, crazy, lazy days of summer. I’ll try to keep my speechifying short and let you get back to your Sangria on the poolside deck ASAP, está bien?

I’m swimming laps in the Sea of Inspiration.

Cousin-in-law John is writing music with Nashville songwriters, 71 year-old brother-in-law Jim swims 100 laps in the pool each day, my friend Angus is writing novels,  my co-worker Dave is in the top ranks of senior golfers in B.C. with a 1 handicap, my friend Denise is a big-whig in the laboratory Blood Banking world.

Sometimes I hate these people and many others for what they achieve, knowing that I’ll likely never be able to accomplish what they have. But mostly – when I’m my better self – they’re beacons of motivation and inspiration who fire me up to push forward in the things that make my pulse pick up.

We all have our areas of passion and strength. Your’s might be in Sailing, or Snowboarding, or Sudoku, or Horse Dressage, or Dragon Boating, or learning Japanese. I don’t know. We’re all remarkable individuals with unique fires burning.

Setting and achieving goals can be hard and torturous, but so often rewarding – just like getting pregnant in the example I mention in my opening.

At the beginning of this year 2013, I scrawled a post outlining my goals for the coming 12 months. And here we are now past the halfway mark, so I thought this would be a good time to review where things stand so far. You might do the same for yourself.

So, following is the list I created at the end of 2012, with an update on each. Here’s where I’m at:


  • Pay off investment loans in anticipation of debt-free retirement in 2014

Right on track. I paid 20% down on the smallest of my 3 investment loans this week and will do the same for another in October. I’ve sold some REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) units to make this happen. In a year or so these investment loans should be totally retired (as should I!) and the cash flow bubbling over will then be going directly into my pockets and not the bank’s!

I’m still hoping that REIT’s rebound in the markets as they’ve taken quite a negative hit this year because of worries over central bank interest rate increases that have hit the REIT sector generally. They’re good investments, just down in value for the moment. PATIENCE!!

  • Bring blog posting total to 100 and views to 7,500.

Well, I began the year at post #39 and this is blog post #71 so I’m slipping back from my goal of 100 posts by year end just a bit. With one post per week for the remainder of the year I will only make it to 90 posts or so.

I’d like to pick up the pace and make my goal but the game has been altered a touch and I don’t think it will come to be. I’m not upset or distressed by this as I feel I’m showing sufficient discipline to keep writing the one post weekly. My writing road has split into different paths – I’m now working 2 pathways. Blog posts AND songwriting (see: next goal).

Viewings of this blog will surge well past the 7,500 mark mainly due to the surprising popularity of one post “Your Castration Awaits – 8 Reasons Women Will Dominate Men in the 21st-Century”. This blog post gets almost half of all viewings on a day-in day-out basis. Who knew that women lording over men was such a popular item?

  • Write 12 songs

This is a really exciting addition to my personal treasury.

Adding in songwriting has been a pleasant, long-overdue alternative to straight prose writing.  I really believe my prose benefits by the addition of the poetry produced in songwriting.

I’ve struggled mightily for years with the ideas needed to make a go of songwriting. After taking a free online course from Berklee School of Music in Boston, I’m moving forward and loving the different variety of approaches needed for musical and poetic movement. It’s hard work but getting easier each day as I do and practice more.

I want to tell stories in my music and this is very challenging in song format.

But 12 Songs? I’m at 5 right now, so 12 could be a stretch. I MAY have 12 songs in progress by the end of the year, but I find that I need to ruminate and reflect and edit a lot, so I doubt I’ll have 12 completed songs.

Writing songs, for me, is more a marathon, not a sprint.

  • 20 Pullups Non-Stop.

KILLER!! This is going to be a tough one to conquer. I injured my shoulder last December while struggling to reach my goal of 10 pullups for 2012 (which I barely eked out!). It’s been a slow recovery and I’m just now finding that my shoulder is pain-free. I’ve got my work cut out for me.

The REAL truth here is if I set a goal to lose 20 pounds, this pullup goal would be SOOO much easier.

I hate it when they take photos of me without my shirt on...

I hate it when they take photos of me without my shirt on…

  • Take cooking classes in Spanish-speaking country (Argentina?/Costa Rica?)

OK, I may miss this objective but only by a hair. I have plans simmering for us to head to southern Spain and then Morocco in January 2014. The cooking classes part will more likely happen in Morocco … couscous and tagine anyone? But spending time in southern Spain will allow lots of opportunity to practice Spanish while just touring around. AND, hitting Morocco will mean stepping foot on the African continent for the first time, satisfying part of my life-list goal of visiting each continent.

  • Try 2 more “new-to-me”sports (eg. kettlebells, curling, paddleboarding)

I’m now a truly masterful paddleboarder…NOT! But I have stood on a paddleboard for a full hour and only tumbled into Okanagan Lake once … so far! It’s not a sport I would do regularly as a passion, but I can see that it will be a fun way to get out on the lake from time to time and peer down at the fish as they peer back up at me.

Charlie, a friend of mine, is a kettlebell instructor and so I took a 1 hour session with him on swinging these weighty suckers properly.

Adding kettlebells into my strengthening and fitness routine is a nice bit of variety and gives a pretty good overall workout in a short period of time. But to only do this for long periods would be severely boring!

Are you sure this how you do it?

Are you sure this is how you do it?

  • 100 pushups Non-stop

OUCH! Like anything challenging, this is a work-in-progress. Each week, I’m adding a couple of additional reps to my pushup pain threshold. Right now I can pull off 100 pushups if I divide the work effort into 4 sets of 25.

Now I just need to sweat a  river big enough to put it all together as one effort by the end of the year. Wish me luck!

  • Purchase 12-string guitar

I may have to defer this to next year’s list. It takes time to investigate and try out a lot of guitar models.

Buying a musical instrument is like finding nice clothes that fit you as an individual. You spend a lot of time in the changeroom robing, disrobing, and then discarding over and over. What suits one person just isn’t right for another.

My nephew Mike builds guitars called Riversong using a neat new technology. I’ll have to check out his stock before making the final decision.

It is kind of a fun exercise to test drive a bunch of fine instruments.

  • Overall Net Worth Return of >15%

Right on track here. This has been a good year with a return to this point of 8.3% on my starting net worth from January 1. I’ve put most of my investment dollars into lower- risk technology companies that are underappreciated by Mr. Market and have a ton of cash on their balance sheets eg. Intel, Microsoft, Apple.

Plus the exchange rate with the US dollar has provided some tailwinds.

I haven’t made any major blunders so far this year, although paying $500 per share for Apple may have been a bit optimistic on my part (although it’s worth $500 and more in reality).

I have to remind myself that I’m not completed or destroyed by the financial return on investments.

  • Increase Charitable Contributions by 10%

This one was easy and was taken care of in January by just phoning up the charities we contribute to each month and adding a 10% top up to each. We have a monthly contribution that comes out automatically from our chequing account and goes directly to PLAN International and UNICEF.

After I finish up work next year, I’ll have to become more active on the charity front and add some sweat equity into this area. I’m still feeling some burnout after-effects from years I spent on a charity board, but it’s time to step up to the plate once again.

  • Grow larger vegetable garden and process more for winter use.

I hate to use the word failure, but I have so much more enthusiasm for planting vegetables and fruit than I do for harvesting and processing them. Each season, I plant a variety of lettuce, tomatoes, beans, potatoes and carrots, etc. I baby them to maturity and then just when they’re ready… I lose my zeal for the harvest and canning, drying, or whatever preparation is needed to carry them into the colder months.

I think this relates to my utter weakness at finishing projects of any sort – it’s all a part of my ADHD. A few years of counselling and drug therapy and I can probably see past this debility!

On the plus side, I did do some succession planting, sowing seeds of beets, lettuce and carrots in July. This gives me another chance to work on my follow through.

  • Run 2 Half Marathon races (sub 2 hrs)

Done … sort of. I have competed in 2 half marathons. One in Vancouver in early May and another in Penticton in late May. In Vancouver, it was a beautiful day and I finished in 1:57 ie sub 2 hours. Penticton was going well until I strained my calf muscle at about the halfway point of the race. My running pace slowed as the pain increased. I did complete the run but my finish time was 2:04 – I was disappointed.

I’m going to declare this goal complete, although I may make one more half marathon attempt in the fall.

Vancouver Half Marathon May 2013

Vancouver Half Marathon May 2013 – I’m the red runner…

So, this concludes my State of the Half-Year Address. I won’t be accepting any questions today (although your comments are just fine!) as the helicopter is waiting on the back lawn to whisk me off to my summer estate.

Thank you for your patience and enjoy the progress on goals you’ve set for yourself – appreciating those things you’ve improved or achieved, and gently accepting those areas where you’ve stumbled or faltered.

The Sea of Inspiration is warm and inviting. Why not jump in and we can swim through the swells and breakers of this challenging, frustrating, fulfilling, exhilarating, pain-inducing, endorphin-filled expanse together?

Half A Man In Gym Class?

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My legs were screaming at me to stop. But the finish line was tantalizingly close, so I ignored them – as best I could manage when it feels like there’s a newly-graduated surgeon extracting a bullet from your quadriceps – and pretended I was a swift Kenyan runner.


“My” group of Half Marathoners…me in red, my daughter Emma in blue…

I enjoyed a run through the park with 25,000 others a week or so back … Stanley Park in Vancouver, as a matter of fact.

The mass of multi-colour clad, multi-aged runners combined in a tidal blur of sun, sweat, and spectacular vistas of the snow-capped mountains on the north shores of Burrard Inlet. With the bright sunshine warmly carpeting our pathway, a prettier running location would be hard to find in this world.

It was a half marathon run, part of the Vancouver International Marathon held each May.

Distance running like this is not something I was naturally born to. I’m no Wayne Gretzky, who, I’m pretty sure sliced and diced his Mom’s hoo-ha figure-eight style on the way out at birth with his sharpened ice skates. HE was a natural.

I’ve been a slowly smoldering work-in-progress, one New Balance running shoe step in front of the other to where I stand today as a middle-aged middlin’ runner.

Pet Peeve time: Calling the race a “half marathon” inflames the ire in me because it makes me feel like I could only bother to run half the REAL race. The medal hung over my neck at the end declares, “RAN HALF“.

It’s like they’re snickering and cruelly announcing to me and the world … “real athletes run a full marathon, but YOU could only run HALF a marathon. Lazy Slob!”

Don’t worry… I’ll get over it.

All of this is really just an introduction to telling you that I didn’t like gym class in high school.

It was populated by jock types and smart-ass morons and squat, juiced-up gym teachers with bulky brawn, shrunken testicles, and even further diminished brains. The gym corner office was full of male and female Sue Sylvester wannabes. It didn’t make me feel “GLEE”-ful.

Gym teacher

To be fair, some things were OK, but most of the time my gym experience was being squeezed like a stress ball wearing regulation blue gym shorts. The atmosphere was suffused with wrestling room acidic-scented body odour and unattainable rope climbs and gymnastics pretzels. My life flashed before my eyes a dozen times while attempting to do the mandatory spread-legged vault over the pommel horse.

In my gym classes, participation wasn’t the desired outcome. It was either total mastery of death-defying contests or utter, adolescent, esteem-crushing failure. The good-looking popular girls in their cute boy-melting mini-skirts knew within minutes if you failed to jimmy up the rope to the gym ceiling. Who needed Facebook or Twitter?

Somehow, I scraped through with only semi-crippling psychological damage.

And now, fast forward to today’s gym world.


The modern-day commercial gym is an amusement park wonder to gawk at.

There are machines with handles and barbells sticking out in various directions, all laid out in beautiful straight lines. Bright spotlights peer down from above onto stationary bikes, and rowers, and treadmills, and ellipticals, and all manner of thingamabobs with names that only Dr. Seuss could have contrived.

Huge numbers of average folks throng to these high-tech halls of power and fitness to make themselves more beautiful and buff and just plain healthy. It’s good to see but I’m mightily confused – as I am by so many things in my life. Let me explain.

The guys and gals pour through the doors, and plunk down their hard-earned membership dollars. Then, like in the old smoky-hazed drinking parlours from a hundred years ago, the men and the women disperse in opposing directions.

Men drift off towards the big heavy lifting machines and barbell racks where bench presses and monster leg squats await tantalizingly like BBQ’d steaks and beer on a hot summer day. The 350 lb. “grunt” lifts soon begin and the muscles bulge and ripple. This is the “BRO ZONE”.

Meanwhile, women amble towards the organized group classes of TRXBOSU, Kick Boxing, PilatesSpinBoot Camp, Yoga and…well, you get my drift. Lululemon butt-hugging apparel bursts out all around like an untended field of pretty dandelions, music volumes crank up and movement begins. There is hard work to be done and sweat to be shed. One of the best things resulting from these classes is a killer “aerobic” workout that pushes the heart and lungs way beyond the comfort zone.

Now, maybe it’s just the gyms that I go to, or the small’ish city  where I live in British Columbia, Canada, but in most of the group classes that I stop in to participate, I’m the ONLY guy. It’s a lonely world for those of us with a Y chromosome.

yoga ine guy

…alone again…naturally…


Why do my male brethren avoid the group workout in a room filled with the fairer sex?

  • Too much talk? Who can talk with a heart beating hard enough to be heard across town?
  • Not enough muscle aggrandizing work? Guys…there is no lack of muscle building activity in a TRX or Boot Camp class, believe me!
  • Music too distracting?  Maybe, but it helps to take the mind off the pain and make time zip by faster.
  • Female Intimidation? Are the men coming to the gym fearful of what women might think of them if they can’t keep up in a class setting? Are the “ball-busters” just too much for the male ego to handle?

I wish I knew the answer to my own questions.

Today’s world is taxing enough for a man who is trying to understand how the double X chromosome sex thinks. But then to run into a wall of confusion regarding his own gender-kind seems perversely mean-spirited.

Have I been somehow cluelessly parachuted inside a Twilight Zone world where I’m straddling a gender fence surrounded by a dark, murky haze?

Maybe hanging out with my BRO’s will clear the confusion in my head and remedy the lingering pain in my HALF MARATHON legs.

I’m heading off to the gym to think about this.

kid planking

Way to go BRO!

TRAIN Your Mind, The Legs Will Follow


There is one time in life that I’m singularly ecstatic that I have both an X and a Y chromosome.

YES…Porta-Potty time.

The only time I really need or use them is before I enter into a sporting event, like a run or a triathlon. Nobody likes to run on a full bladder or bowel. I always look after the bowel part at home before a run but our bladders need more frequent attention, yes? Being able to stand rather than sit in a Porta-Potty is a huge perk for manhood.

Despite the gender advantage, I still hate Porta-Potty lines…but I HATE Porta-Pottys themselves more. I probably don’t need to tell you the reasons why, because you probably “nose”…

…it’s fecal aromatherapy at its worst.

port a potty lines

This is a hell-of-a-lot of nervous bowels and bladders…

But let me backtrack here.

I get up most mornings at 5 am so that I can start the day with about an hour or so of physical activity.

I’m a morning person, so getting up this early isn’t too too difficult. Of course, when the glowing alarm clock radio first starts up, I mutter a couple of 4-letter words and feel like I want to cry just a little. But then I accept the hard truth that the night’s sleep has ended.

My “Kate Upton and her SI swimsuit” dreams waft lightly into the ether as I listen to the CBC news for a few minutes hoping the world’s bad-news stories will just keep going on…but then they end, and I MUST get up.

DISCIPLINE is what gets me up.

Discipline is a word with a lot of meanings. But here, I’m talking about the self-discipline it takes you and me to get up each day and carry out our normal lives, do the things we have to do, like work, and eat, and drive kids to soccer or ballet practice, and sleep. Then, on top of the necessary stuff, we discipline ourselves to carry out some sort of physical activity for the goodness of our health.


There’s enough science out there to let us know that we have to move our bodies in some way almost every day so that we can live longer and healthier lives. Most of us buy into the science – it might have taken a fit, trim 60 year-old Swedish guy in 1970’s Canadian ParticipAction TV commercials to convince us, but we eventually came around – a call to action!


National pride is one motivator, but so is personal history. My Dad had a heart attack after shovelling wet snow in his late 50’s and my Mom died from a heart attack at 60 years of age, so health-related motivation is exceptionally easy for me. I just close my eyes, see their faces and think about their shortened lives, and I can get myself off the couch.

But also, to keep myself motivated day in and day out, I set goals. The dangling carrot (carrot cake!) draws me forward each day.

Just to brag a bit:

I’ve participated in a couple of Ironman races, a few marathon runs, and dozens, maybe even a couple of hundred short-course triathlons, half-marathons, 15K, 10K, and 5K runs.

And now to tarnish my swagger:

I’m telling you that I’ve “participated” because I’ve never NEVER ever come close to finishing at the front of the pack of any one of those races. The fact is, I suck at winning. I was pretty good as a little kid, but no more. Like most things I do in life, I’m just an average guy when it comes to my physical pursuits.

But, know what? I’m OK with this.

Larry Ironman 1990

A MUCH younger and MUCH trimmer me in my first Ironman…

The only REAL competitor I have in any event I participate in is myself…or to put it another way, the clock. I’m only interested in beating my own time from earlier events. I love goal-setting, and so my goal is either to beat a previous outing, or to beat a certain time like running sub-40 minutes for a 10K run (which, to be truthful, I’ve never done…23 seconds short!)

I firmly believe that fitness is more in the mind than the body.

Let me repeat: I firmly believe that fitness is more in the mind than the body.

Our bodies are usually ready and able to do far more than we give them credit for. There’s that old (and probably false) expression that most of us use only about 10% of our brains, meaning there is huge untapped potential. We could quibble about numbers here, but I think that most of us leave a great deal of untapped physical energy inside of us because we lack the mental energy to put it to use. It’s the mental energy that’s critical to keeping ourselves motivated.

So how do we develop mental strength for training our physical selves consistently? Here’s a few thoughts:

  1. Believe deeply that fitness and physical movement are as important to our lives as work and grocery shopping. Make activity a scheduled part of the day, just like picking up the kids from school. Physical and mental health will move ahead in lockstep.
  2. Work upwards gradually but consistently. Injuries are the boogie-man waiting to catch you if you try to move ahead too fast. I’ve found that the adage of adding no more than 10% in distance or speed weekly works pretty well. Mental toughness comes gradually too, so while the physical muscles are adjusting, so too are the mind muscles. Even if adding 10% means walking for 1 minute longer, it’s a stepping stone and is progress. Not everyone starts out as a thoroughbred, some of us are plodding donkeys that resist forward movement.
  3. I like Malcolm Gladwell’s concept of working at something for 10,000 hours to become proficient and masterful…like the Beatles and Wayne Gretzky. Physical activity needs consistency to become a part of your life. Habits, good and bad, need repetition to fool the brain into believing this is the norm and not just a one-off affair.
  4. Associate with those who have a positive mindset towards their health and fitness and are working towards achieving things in life. They will rub off on you and boost your motivation.
  5. Pay more attention to the rewards of your success (an extra block walked, a pound shed), and not on focusing on your mistakes (missed activity, a slow or more anemic workout). Do what is necessary today, and leave tomorrow for tomorrow. One step in front of the other takes you to your goals. In writing parlance, E. L. Doctorow said, “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” Fitness can be like this too. Take it one day, one step at a time and results will come about bit by bit.


There’s a “Fitness Taste” of one sort or another for every one of us, regardless of whatever limitations or preferences we might have. I have “Chairman Bill” (wheelchair bound) who comes for a workout at my local gym with a smile on his face, muscles in his arms, and wind in his lungs each day. If he can get out there, so can I.

There are so many ways to move our bodies daily that don’t necessitate queueing up for a public bathroom break. Man or woman, you could go through your entire life never needing to use a mobile blue upright toilet.

But I’m feeling just a bit smug in thinking that entering a PORTA-POTTY is positive proof that I’ve achieved a supreme level of mental strength.