The 7 Day Unplug Challenge

This is my 7 Day Unplug Challenge. I hope you’ll join me in scheduling your own week to truly unplug. Please read on to unplug.

You may need to unplug if you are anything like me and:

  • Wake up and have a smart phone in your hand within 5 minutes.
  • Own an iPhone & a work Blackberry. (multiple phones and Internet connections)
  • Deal with multiple Internet related responsibilities from the time you wake to the moment you sleep.
  • Deal with 100+ emails per day.
  • Recognize that technology & the Internet, sometimes, is hurting the people you love the most; including yourself.

You may also need to unplug if you are:

  • Feeling the Internet is affecting your personal relationships in any negative way whatsoever.
  • Feel technology is getting in the way of you eating, exercising, sleeping or relaxing.
  • Find that the Internet is interfering with your career or schooling.
  • You may need to unplug if you even think for a second that ‘you need to unplug’!

We’ll get to the actual  7 DAY UNPLUG CHALLENGE in a moment, but first let me give you some background information as to how you can imagine it recently came about for me, and at the end, I hope you will join me in some fashion or another by accepting the 7 day Unplug Challenge.

With a two week holiday just coming to the half way mark,  Tanya, my awesome wife, was kind enough to encourage me to relax on the first week of my vacation, do all the things I want to; like play with the kids, stay up late watch movies, post a few blog articles, write some music, and spend quality time as a family in general and even putter around on my computer gadgets! Yipppeeee!!!!!!

Her request for my second week of my vacation was to PLEASE, PLEASE TRULY relax and 100% UNPLUG.

So my first response was, “OK, so you mean no computer?” Nope she said, “100% UNPLUG meaning No computer,  No Blackberry, No iPhone, No tablet, and NO INTERNET PERIOD. So if someone wants to get a hold of you they are just going to have to do it ‘Old School’ and call our home phone number!” I can actually count all the people on one hand who actually call my home phone! In the moment the thought of me actually fully and completely unplugging was making me a little queasy with worry how I would cope, and for that very reason alone I accepted the challenge. I knew in my heart it was time to unplug.

Now reality sets in and I am minutes away from the 7 Day Unplug Challenge. I guarantee I will go out of my skin for a few days with probably some fairly realistic withdrawal symptoms; phantom vibrating blackberry syndrome, iPhone envy, and even a little ‘what do I do now’ whining!

Here is my quasi plan:

  • All devices off.
  • Absolutely zero internet.
  • Out of office response on all my email addresses (don’t ask how many :)
  • Three books to read (The Hunger Games Trilogy)
  • My guitar.
  • A pad of paper and pen.
  • My wife and three beautiful children.

Your guess is as good as mine how this will turn out (I’ll post an update next week) , but I am hoping that I come back a week from now relaxed , invigorated and ready to take on the rest of 2011. Thank again to Tanya for making this happen and my apologies in a advance if I’m a  grump for a day or two :)

Hope you’ll join me and create your own 7 Day Unplug Challenge.

Pass it on.

Living Up To Expectations

This new street is being developed not too far from where I live, and got me to thinking about the expectations we place on ourselves, our relationships, and people in our lives. If you lived on a street called “Romance Lane” could you live up to the name?

The only point I’m going to make is that, it is pretty apparent that the greatest expectations are created in our own minds and are really dominated by the word ‘could & ‘if’’!

My relationship could be better if my wife could just ________ ?

My job would be more satisfying if I could just get my boss to _______?

I could be better if I just __________?

I’m going to try and live the next week making mental notes of how expectations may be having a negative effect in every aspect of my life.

I think Fritz said it best!

“I am not in this world to live up to other people’s expectations, nor do I feel that the world must live up to mine.” Fritz Perl

My Father In-Law Died Today

What do you say in the short term when someone close to you, and those you love dearly, passes away? I’m sure it’s different for everyone, but here is my perspective!

At the time I started writing this, my father in-law died a mere three hours ago, it wasn’t unexpected and the pain is so fresh it is surreal. One of the main reasons I haven’t blogged in a month is our time has been focused on him. Now that he is gone, and everyone in my life is mentally & physically drained to the point of exhaustion, they have gone to bed early tonight. I can’t! It’s time to pour my guts out the best way I know how!

He was 63, lived a hard life in every way imaginable, and only really got to know the people who loved him most during the last 6 months! That may sound strange, but it is a reality that we will struggle with until they day we are gone and is a novel unto itself. In the end, cancers a bitch, and I will spare you the details, but he was suppose to have more time. It was not to be.

I remember asking him a month back if he could share with me if there was anything, any advice, he could pass on to me. His response was, “Don’t make me cry!” So with nothing to share, my greatest connection to him became a promise. That promise being that I would always take care of his daughter and three grand-daughters! On his deathbed, a mere 2.5 hours before he passed, I said to him, “I promise to take care of your daughter and schnookies.” Then I said goodbye and cried! He didn’t squeeze my hand, he didn’t moan, nor did he blink his eyes! However, I feel deep down to the core that he heard me.

So what do I say? Right or wrong here it goes:

1. What a rip off! 63 is too freaking young, and damn it is more than unfair. I am glad he isn’t suffering anymore.

2. I’m a husband, who like most guys wants to becMr. Fix It, and I can’t do a damn thing to make my wife feel better. This is a pain I have not seen In her face before, and frankly it tears me up inside.

3. After telling our 10,8, & 4 year old daughters their Opa had died, I cried. The only consolation here is that, I think, because we have not shielded them from the truth all along, they took the news in stride. They cried, but quickly went back to playing like kids should. When we asked our 4 year old if she understood what died means, her response was, “It means you can’t ever come home or see your friends again!” Wow is an understatement!

4. I do feel a minor sense of a relief that a major burden affecting the entire family has been lifted.

5. Did I say already cancers a bitch?

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I had to stop writing and started again 5 days later.
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6. He is at peace.

7. Death is a stark reminder to live every day to it’s fullest. It so easy to get lost in the day to day routine.

8. The world keeps turning and life does go on after a loved one dies.

9. Fathers love your daughters!

10. Rest In Peace

One day, hopefully a long time from now, I too will die and hope to have the strength, courage and conviction to pass on with out once complaining. My father in-law left this place as a true gentleman.

Rest in Peace Manfred… Rest in Peace!

Your Bucket List

Ya, Ya… I know!!! The movie has been out for over three years, but have you used that as a fire under you  to put together the list of things you want, activities you most desire to do,  or are committed to trying to achieve before you die.

I’ve posted mine online here, but this isn’t about me…its about you!

Have a little listen to John Mayer, who wrote a song for the movie, & while your at it,  grab a piece of paper and start making your own bucket list. Then start living & loving the list :)

The majority of us don’t know when our number is up. Live for today!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gt58Z_XuGe4[/youtube]

In Over Your Head

I think we have all felt at times we are in over our head. Whether that’s with work, family, or an extreme combination of the two.  The analogy is easy to understand and relate to; an inexperienced swimmer falls into water thats too deep. You feel like you can’t get up for air!

The common theme is that it is always about a specific situation. It is often short lived. I like Derek Siver’s blog post of a few years back best that says, ” Stay In over Your Head!”

Whatever you’re doing in your life right now, if it’s become a routine, it’s time to move on to something new and scary.

Abraham Maslow wrote, “Life is an ongoing process of choosing between safety (out of fear and need for defense) and risk (for the sake of progress and growth): Make the growth choice a dozen times a day.”

Whatever scares you, go do it.

As the Olympics are going on right now, do you think that just possibly a few Medal winners felt at the most stressful point of their events that they just might be in over their head!

Whether its a new job, a new project,  family pressures or extreme time restraints you really only have two options:

1. Fake it until you make it!

2. Stick your tail between your legs and give up!

It’s your decision!

Are You Paying For A Massage You Never Get

Use it or lose it!

It surprises me how many times I have heard people say, “Oh, I’m covered for that through work, but I never seem to go for a massage. I really should!”

So, I thought I would see if I could dig up some stats on how many people in Canada are covered for extended health benefits such as massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, Naturopathic Doctor, etc.  I was able to find a few, and  although the numbers aren’t exact or all that current, the  fact remains that too many people are paying for coverage they just aren’t taking the TIME to take advantage of.  I will end with a few ideas on how to rectify that.

Here is approximately how many Canadians are covered for supplementary health coverage. I have made the assumption that there has not been a vast change in percentages over the last decade:

Approx 20 Million Canadians are covered for supplementary heath coverage
Approx 20 Million Canadians are covered for supplementary heath coverage

As an example, ever year only 8% of Canadians utilize the service of a massage therapist.

Percentage(s) of Canadians Using Extended Health Plans
Percentage(s) of Canadians Using Extended Health Plans

In other words, even with my backwards math, if  63% of Canadians are covered and only 20% are actually consulting  any sort of alternative health provider then by my estimations almost 2 out of every 3 people covered are paying for a massage they will never get, new eyeglasses they are entitled to but will never see, a check up from a Naturopath that never happens, and or many other extended health services that simply get forgotten.

If you are paying for it already, then there is no other excuse for not getting the massages & alternative health services you  deserve, other than sheer laziness or an understandable  lack of finances ( Recognizing that some people just can’t afford to pay the small percentage that insurance companies ask you to cover for such services!)

Here are a few ideas on how to rectify the situation:

1. Go look at your benefits now. Do you even know what you are covered for?

2. Print out 10 copies of any forms necessary to submit receipts and keep them in an easy to remember place along with 10 pre-addressed and stamped envelopes. After every massage, Naturopathic Doctor visit or other alternative provider, immediately submit your receipts for re-reimbursement. I know of some people that carry these envelopes with them to their appointment and mail the receipt and form immediately after.

3. Whether it is massage, chiropractic or any other service that you wish you were committing to on an ongoing basis. Just call them and book a standing appointment once a month, once every quarter or how ever often you can afford the time & your deductible.

Taking the time to plan out how to use ‘YOUR’ alternative health services could ultimately help you & your family  relieve stress, keep you on a track to a healthier you, and ultimately stop wasting hard earned money you are spending every two weeks to pay for the coverage.

That is the point… you are paying for it already. You might as well get your moneys worth.

Is Food Stressing You Out?

Is Food Stressing You Out?

If you had to rate your level of stress by describing yourself as food what would you be? Are you a healthy well prepared five course meal or are you the proverbial Big Mac, Fries & Super Sized Milkshake?

Awhile back I wrote a post about the 5 most stressful events in life; death, job change, marriage, divorce & personal injury.  The problem with stress is that for the most part it is invisible, and in the case of major life events it is often out of your direct control or absolutely necessary. However, the food we eat, for most people in developed nations, is absolutely controllable and whether we want to admit it or not is directly related to our daily level of stress. An unhealthy body is a stressed out body!

Challenge Yourself to Remove Food Stress From Your Life

What if changing your eating habits for one month out of your life reduced your stress? A mere 28 days for many people is all it takes; my self included. You see, I never ask or recommend my readers to do anything that I haven’t already done myself or researched thoroughly.

My 28 Day Challenge

As one of the biggest meat eaters, BBQ lover and general foodie in my circle of family and friends, I went completely out of my comfort zone this past month and committed to eat as a VEGAN for 28 days. Yes you heard that right! I have never in the past, ever denied myself a quality rib eye steak before in my life. As a temporary VEGAN, that means absolutely no meat, no dairy, no saturated fats and solely surviving on greens, nuts, beans, soy products and vitamins.

So what happened?

After just 20 days, more than stress has melted away from my life. I am 8 pounds lighter, have way more energy, spent WAY less money on food, and every area of my life seems just a little bit better. I will definitely be going back to eating meat, but have a new found respect for food and how it affects me both physically & mentally.

If you are interested in challenging yourself, here are a few food challenge(s) and other resources for you to consider: (the first being a link to the exact 28 day challenge I took part in)

  1. 28 Day Vegan Challenge
  2. Mayo Clinic- Food & Anxiety
  3. 28 Day Diet Makeover (Muscle & Fitness)
  4. Eat Local Challenge ( Going to try this one next!)

If you end up taking a challenge or find another challenge to dig into, please let me know how you are doing, how it has affected your stress levels and or anything else on your mind. Thanks for reading, and please sign up to receive blog posts right to your email so we can stay in touch. (I respond to every email and love to hear your ideas and comments)

The Art of Dying

Crazy title I know…

Unfortunately, someone very close to me is dying. My thoughts are constantly with that person, who I’m sure prefers to remain names less.

FACT: One day both you and I will die.

CHOICE: How will we deal with our own demise?

If there indeed is an Art to Dying, and I believe there is, then I think the most we can hope for is to make the right choices each and every LAST day. Some might call this being a gentleman or a lady under extreme circumstances, and others might just call it crazy. After all, would anyone truly blame someone who is dying for losing it in a million different ways?

THE END: All I think we can hope for in the end is that we go out with dignity, pride & hopefully surrounded by people we love.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgniXgUE6qw[/youtube]

Colton passed away on Oct.31st/2009!

5 Most Stressful Life Events

Stress permeates all of our lives and has an affect on everything we do; from our daily jobs and personal relationships to our ability to concentrate.

A long time ago I came across a list of the Top 5 Most Stressful Life Events and committed them to memory. Here they are in no particular order:

  1. Death
  2. Job Change
  3. Marriage
  4. Divorce
  5. Personal Injury

Why am I writing about life events, being a marketing and idea guy?

Well, quite simply the more we can personally reduce or understand the stresses in our life, in theory, the better we can perform and enjoy life. More importantly, by understanding that anyone who we may be talking to, emailing, communicating or writing for may possibly be experiencing one of life’s most stressful events, it just might change how we approach people or communicate. I’m not saying we go around assuming that everyone we speak with just had a family member pass away, but odds are if you communicate with a large amount of people on a regular basis, then you will be touching a few stressed out folks that are currently going though one of life’s most stressful events.

I know awareness is sometimes not the only answer.

A few years back I went through a program from Tony Robbins & I think many of the TOOLS he teaches you might find very useful. No matter how tough the times are… I know most people can help themselves get though almost anything. You can find Tony’s Website here: http://www.tonyrobbins.com/

If you are in the midst of serious stress right now… my thoughts go out to you and If there is anything I can do to digitally assist you please post your comment below & I will do my best!