Archive for the ‘Mental & Physical Health and awareness’ Category

Learn to hit curve balls

Life as we know it is rarely a smooth journey. We might not always get where we want to go or things might not go how we would like them. Sometimes your day is wonderful, sometimes it is not.

But sometimes a life event might hit you like a tonne of bricks. From the death of a loved one to a break up to the loss of employment to your favorite Netflix show ending. Some of these are more tragic than others but from person to person the effects may feel the same. Perhaps a sense of loss. Perhaps the feeling of emptiness has washed over you. Or even you feel without purpose. If such an event happens what can you do?

First, I think its totally ok if you need time for your self. A little time for quiet and lack of stress to help calm your nervous system might be exactly what you need. It can however easily spiral. If you find your self for more than two weeks in such a state especially if it feels more like depression than quiet reflection then it may be time to get help.

Luckily for you, if you are reading this you are probably one of the lucky ones. You already have one of your best medicines. The fact your do Krav Maga, BJJ, Karate, Kickboxing, kung fu or insert your style here. (Please note that if you feel something is seriously wrong, please consult your doctor or mental health professional preferably someone whose the first reaction isn’t to just prescribe something).

What you may fail to realize is that your martial arts school is not just an outlet to let of attitude-change-life-quotes-Favim.com-1657043.jpgsteam physically but it is also a social group which you belong too. You think you dont have friends? well, you do if you train martial arts. It is unlikely that in the entire group of people you regularly punch in the face or try to choke out you can’t find one or more people to find support from. And you might not even need to take it that far. Simply being around other people that you like for an hour or two a day will most likely help you feel a little better.

Perhaps you learned something new that gave you a sense of accomplishment to lift your spirits. Perhaps you met someone new and you taught them something and that lifted your spirits. Perhaps simply being with people knowing you are doing something rather than sitting alone with a drink helped you out. You never know what it is but something will most likely help you feel better even if only a little.

Yes I know, you may not feel like going, you may still feel immense pain inside but you need to force your self to go and train. Just do something with people around.

I can speak from experience as recently something happened that I was less than thrilled about and while I took some time for my self I told my self ok nows the time to train. I then went to all the classes I could fit in my schedule and I can say I definitely feel better. I found the support I needed, and the sense of accomplishment by training the amount I would love to be on the regular.

I know I am not the only one as at any given time one or many of my students are going through a hard time. Usually, they stray away from training and I encourage them to come and train. Lately, I think the environment has been a good one and more students seem to be coming when they are having a hard time. Just know if you haven’t figured it out by now I think this is the right thing to do.

Of course, there is always a caveat. An outlet to make yourself feel better can always spiral into an addiction. Yes, you can train too much. If you train so much that everything else in your life falls to the wayside that perhaps you can train a little less. Especially if it’s not helping you achieve other goals in your life. The other thing to be aware of is physical burn out. Know your limits stick within them. Sometimes in order to hide the pain people train so much, they end up breaking their body down in a way that is just not healthy. So you always need to do little mental and physical checks to see if you are training the appropriate amount without totally overcompensating.

For example, in a normal week, I might train 2-4 times. This past little bit I have been training 10+ hours a week. Though I feel much better mentally I can say that physically its time for a break. So as I sit here writing this I am also taking 2 days off so that my body has proper time to rest.

So just remember, its the journey that matters the most. Learn what you can and strive to grow and learn. But most importantly be happy, or as happy as you can be in the process. Sometimes it will happen in leaps and bounds and sometimes only millimeters at a time. So long as your forward momentum overall is still going forward then things are probably not as bad as they seemed. So when life throws you a screwball, train more, be around a supportive group of people who have the same goal and remember you are here to train Krav (Insert other martial art) so that you may learn to walk in peace both inside and out.

Advertisements

 

Recently, in my quest for improvement, I started to meditate. I had always heard meditation was good for you, unfortunately, the types of people who always told me to do it were often WOO WOO types who like crystals or individuals who maybe took a few too many hallucinogens in their lives and were people I really couldn’t take seriously. When I was in university there was mention of the benefits of it when I was working on my Psychology Degree.

The question is why didn’t I listen then? It is possible that I really did not respect individual professors. Or they simply didn’t put a real effort into getting the classes to attempt to meditate. Or they really didn’t understand it enough to teach it in a way that was relatable or meaningful for everyone. Or I simply didn’t care to listen.

So why did I start?

Many of the podcasts I regularly listen to, individuals who I respect for the expertise or drive all had one thing in common. No matter their political ideology or stance on things they all meditate. Why? Because according to them it helps them focus and most of their successful friends do it. Oh and don’t forget the science. All signs seem to point to one thing.

Meditation is good for you.

In all honesty, I had tried meditation before but always had trouble focusing. So how you ask am I now regularly meditating with the guidance and structure I need to stay on track?

Easy. Sam Harris recently released his Waking up Guided meditation app on Android.  Here I can get daily regular guided meditations from someone I respect. Someone who is a respected neuroscientist, American intellectual and someone who has spent much time on the subject of meditation and mindfulness. You don’t have to agree with everything he says to appreciate the work he has put into developing this simple and easy to use (and affordable) app that can help one and all learn to meditate.

Now that I have started almost daily I have noticed a few things. I am enjoying the little things when walking outside. Like shadows, colors and other things and thinking positively of them rather than thinking nothing. I am a becoming more aware of when I am getting agitated. And in general, I am feeling better.

While I am no expert like Sam the key seems to simply be about calming your mind if only for a bit. In today’s world, we have far too much stimulus. While in the past if we wanted to have a quiet time it was a simple matter of a walk in the forest. Now unless you live next to the forest even that takes stimulus and effort with driving etc. And unless you want to make a big trek out of it most of the popular forest trails have far too many people.

Meditation is a way to easily and regularly quiet the noise both externally and more importantly internally. I have been doing as little as 5-10 minutes a day and have notices benefits. I should know that due to my previous experience with Yoga (casually) I have some experience with breath control. So if you are reading this and decide to start to know it might take a little longer to get the hang of it. The waking up app is designed for beginners so dont fret too much.

Being the Krav Maga instructor that I am, I started to think about how closely related mindfulness is to the Mental model of the Awareness colour code we use at UTKM. Or more commonly known as being “Situationally Aware“.

We as Krav Maga practitioners know how to be aware of impending physical violence by maintaining situational awareness or mental colour code yellow when we are out and about. But how often do we apply the same model to our own mental state? If you are stressed or anxious, internally that might be equivalent to being in colour code orange. The only difference is the threat is not real but perceived. The problem is prolonged time at orange means our bodies will get tired and burn out.

In a real threat with an identified threat, it can quickly go from orange to red. How long in real life would you stay around an identified threat or stay in a fight? Say a person standing there with a knife. Our first instinct should be to get away to safety. Or if we must FIGHT with all our might.

Ask yourself how is that any different if the threat is perceived but your nervous system is giving the same response.

The fact we often forget to consider this as Kravist, especially as we spend so much time learning to be hyper-aggressive, is a problem. We often do not learn how to be balanced.

In today’s world, Soldiers, Police, and first responders are experiencing and the epidemic of PTSD and other side effects because they spend so much time dealing with real threats they start to internalize and bring them home as perceived internal threats.

We can only fight for so long before something has got to give.

In traditional martial arts, they have to know about the need to connect mind, body, and soul for a long time. Its just unfortunate they lost the practical application to their styles along the way that for people like us Kravists its far to easy for us to ignore the other important aspects of self-defense that we spend little to no time on.

That is the internal mind and soul part. Sure we train our minds to handle stress at the moment for self-defense situations but we dont learn to soften them for the rest of the time. And we certainly don’t spend time on any spiritual aspect because for us time is limited.

Meditating-1Yet it is so important for us to remember that “so one may walk in peace” should mean both physically and mentally. Change your perspective that the mental awareness color code is for both external and internal threats. Recognize when you are becoming your own worst enemy and though you can handle physical foes, your mental ones are the real problems.

So I ask that you consider meditation and mindfulness as a path to walking in peace and remember that they are not just for monks, priest, hippies but also for warriors, soldiers, officers, Kravist or those who simply need a break.

 

 

If you haven’t noticed by now be some of my recent posts there is a focus on self-improvement. For those of you who are new to the site or just spent to much time on Facebook and not on the content of these pages then UTKM’s core concepts may be foreign to you. One of them however is Never stopped learning and growing. This doesn’t just include the students, but the instructors and myself as well. For us, an instructor who no longer wants to improve themselves and face the challenges associated with it probably does not want to be an instructor anymore. We have this attitude because leading by example is the best way to get students and others to do it too.

Don’t get me wrong, being a better person is hard. In fact, it may be the hardest thing most people do in their lives. It means facing the things we don’t like about ourselves in a honest manner and deciding if we are willing to change for the good. With the new years in order, I don’t really want to make a new years resolution I want to make a lifestyle change.

For those who have taken a class with me you may think, or know that I can come off as very confident and charismatic. The truth is despite this, I truly have a hard time making meaningful connections with those around me. Whatever the reasons for this are, dont really matter. What matters is that I would like to change this.

alone-in-a-crowd.jpg

Without meaningful connections, it can feel like you are alone even if there are lots of people around you. People, you may even consider friends.

If you dont have meaningful connections how can you reach out and get the information you want for self-improvement? Traditionally, there were books, then the internet, now there are podcasts. Podcasts are amazing as they give you a direct connection, often to the people that textbooks cite, except you can get the most updated information directly from the source.

One of my go-to podcasts for health, wellness and fitness is the Ben Greenfield podcast. Ben is one of the top fitness and nutritional experts in America and an elite athlete. He is driven to constantly better himself in all aspects of himself because he knows despite his achievements there is much to improve.

 

His recent podcast posted before the end of the year titled,

The Hidden Health Epidemic Nobody Is Talking About (& 6 Ways To Protect Yourself From It)

Ben-Greenfield during a ultramarthon

Ben during a Spartan race

Really spoke to me. Yes, Ben is a little religious for my tastes but the reality he is right. If you are depressed because you feel lonely it is likely you are lacking meaningful connections with even a few people. I can say that this may very well be the case for me (though I dont feel particularly lonely as I have the UTKM family.) I find it difficult to relate to people, and many people find me difficult for one reason or another. I have noticed whether intentionally or otherwise the podcasts I listen to all have been focusing on self-improvement lately(probably very intentional due to the new year).

If you are like me a more right-leaning (Politically) indivudal then you might find a lot of the people who talk about mindfulness and meaningful connections often sound very WOO WOO. The truth is, its probably because they aren’t the best themselves and are really just parroting the information. That or they have done a little too many hallucinogens in their lives and have lost touch a little. The reality is, the science seems to be fairly consistent at this point.

Humans are social creatures and as humans to be happy we need meaningful connections.

Even if this podcast doesn’t reach you like the way it did for me use it as a starting point and find someone that you can connect to. Either way, Ben is an amazing source for the most updated science-based fitness knowledge and info.

To give you an idea of some of the things he covers in this podcast:

  • How loneliness, or “social isolation” negatively affects your physical health…8:30
  • The correlation between smartphone prevalence and loneliness…16:15
  • Practical things you can do to fight loneliness…24:12
  • The chemistry behind face to face interactions…38:20
  • 6 ways to enhance your life and longevity with love…47:15

*pulled from his website on the link given above for the podcast

At this point, this episode has been out for almost a week and I have listened to it a few times. Two of the things I am working on immediately is

  1. putting away my phone during meal times and turning off notifications outside of business hours.
  2. I am also working on the eye contact part, something that has always been a challenge for me for one reason or another. Usually, if you think I am looking you in the eye there is a good chance I am actually looking at your nose. A trick I picked up a few years ago but probably does not help with meaningful relationships.

In many ways. Podcasts like this are far more helpful than seeing doctors. Usually, their advice is diet and exercise. But that’s usually because they are not really trained outside of acute medicine among other reasons, but I will not get into a rant here about it….

For someone like me, this advice is useless because I do exercise and I do eat fairly well. So what else could it be? Well, it should seem obvious to the doctors, but it is not. (I generally only go to them if I have already figured out what the problem is like the time I tore my ACL, even though they thought I did not).

So if your doctors are not helping you, and you do exercise and you still feel lonely. Then it is possible you lack meaningful connections. This is why those who are surrounded by people are still lonely. It is because the majority of the relationships are shallow, hollow, fake or just surface relationships. So if you think this might be you then, this podcast is a great start to a new lifestyle change for the new year.

I hope it is as helpful for you as it was/is for me.

P.S. If you are the type of person who prefers to read. The Transcript for the podcast can be found here!

 

 

I Must Not Fear 1

Pull yourself together! Just overcome your fear! It always sounds so corny or easy when people tell you that but it actually can be very difficult.

Last weekend I participated in my first BJJ tournament and I sucked, I lost my two matches and still got away with a bronze medal. But even though I lost, that bronze medal means so much to me – over 20 years ago when I competed in Judo I always dreaded competition day. When I stepped on the mat I was scared and I often blanked. I was afraid of doing the wrong thing so I often did nothing. You remember the colours we always talk about in krav maga? White being oblivious, all the way through yellow, orange and red and the colour we always try to avoid – black. This is where I was, code black, frozen, unable to do anything. I didn’t enjoy competition at all and tried to avoid it like Satan the holy water.

So why would I sign up for a BJJ competition to begin with? We were talking about cross training for Krav Maga and how competition can help you to get better. When rolling mostly with the same people you are getting used to their style and it limits you. When I signed up I was hoping others in my club would follow. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen but it doesn’t really matter.

I was incredibly nervous and anxious, like for my orange belt test. It was my first competition in decades; I read the rules over and over again to make sure to understand them and not to do anything that could get me disqualified. When I stepped on the mat for my first match I tried to focus only on my opponent and also to be active. And I somehow managed to not go into black but was able to do something, I faked one way, used my opponent’s reaction to throw her and got her to the ground. I, unfortunately, wasn’t able to submit her and we went into overtime. Each of us had to take the back of the other and we had to try to escape out of the seatbelt grip with the hooks in as fast as possible. My opponent was a bit faster than me.

Editors note: Though we fully understand the ruleset of the competition she was in (a submission only tournament). Petra should be proud as in a points tournament petra would have dominated as control is an important aspect in these styles. We want to give props to her opponent who showed excellent defensive skills.

I was disappointed in myself. I usually tend to be very hard on myself and that’s not always easy to deal with because it is in my head, my inside voice(s). When somebody else is yelling at me or gives me a hard time I can go away, close the door or hang up the phone. That is impossible with my inside voice. After I also lost my second match I was sad, disappointed and then also relieved because it was over. And then I realized that I also had a bit of fun. I have to train more, put in the effort but it also means that next time I’ll be better prepared, I’ll know a bit more about BJJ competition, the rules etc. It won’t be completely new for me. If I had given in to my fear I would not have made that experience and learned something. Every failure is also a learning experience, unless you die, of course. After the matches were over I started to feel excited because I had stayed and seen it through and this is what that bronze medal stands for.

if you let fear run your life, you don’t have a life.

 

Fear can be good, it makes us more cautious. I’m an analytical person. When I’m in a difficult situation or have to make tough decisions I analyze everything and try to be as rational as possible. When I’m able to understand what makes me feel scared I can somehow handle it better. It doesn’t take the fear away but it helps not to drive me insane.

Petra wins bronze.jpgI also had a little bit of an epiphany when I was in my early twenties and working as a travel rep in Crete. I got into an argument with a co-worker who lost his cool during that argument and started threatening to kill me. He got fired right away and had to leave Crete. I went to the police but they couldn’t do much. It didn’t take long and that guy came back, he had gotten another job at a car rental place. He started stalking me and one night he slashed two of my tires. My car was parked right in front of my apartment. The knife marks on the tires weren’t pretty and it was a shock for me. At night I kept my windows closed, my door locked. I was incredibly scared! Also because he came back couple nights later to slash my other co-worker’s tires. It took me a long time to get over that fear but it taught me a valuable lesson – if you let fear run your life, you don’t have a life.

 

If you are not sure about who mike dolce is, it is most likely because you are not a UFC Fan. Mike Dolce got famous as a nutritionist and coach to many UFC fighters many years ago. Though what appears to be because of politics and personality difference he no longer works directly with UFC camps though he still works with some fighters.  He was also on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast Episode #546.

A little while ago I was re-introduced to him on the Below the belt podcast with Brendan Schaub Episode 84 and I decided to start listening to Mike’s podcast The Mike Dolce Show.

One thing I can say if you are looking for a good quick dose of daily motivation I find his podcast to be quite uplifting and he also gives out a lot of free general nutrition and fitness advice.

Ok, so why did I decide to try the diet or as I should say lifestyle change. For one, ever since I got my purple belt in BJJ I have been, luckily, mostly injury free and have gotten back into the competitive circuit. In the past, I usually just trained casually and show up to competitions and do however I do. However, This is not very good leadership on my part as I do run a martial arts and Krav Maga gym. I decided that now is the time to start taking things seriously and one of the things I always had trouble with was being consistent on a healthy diet or lifestyle.

Don’t get me wrong I have always known about general health and fitness but I always have difficulty staying on one thing on my own for long. I think the last time I stayed on a serious diet lifestyle was pre-army many years ago, and then life just kept getting in the way and I was full of excuses. Anyways back on track now for sure.

One of my excuses was that I liked to go out socially, the other was meal preparing for the day or week is a pain in the ass. I have to say, that having a partner in crime to live a healthy lifestyle with has certainly helped this time around as we can both support each other and move forward together. So thank you.

In reality, both these excuses were just that.

Ok, enough about me, time for my thoughts on the diet. If I had to sum it up quickly I would say.

BEFORE:

AFTER:

Sorry for the grainy before photos, not sure why it is doing it. As you can see I am more toned and slimmer with more muscle mass. And yes, I would be what many might call fit before, but I was and still am no where what I could be. I am not flexing in these photos.

It is an excellent diet (LIFESTYLE), for any beginner to start who isn’t sure what to do.

It is an excellent diet (LIFESTYLE), for any beginner to start who isn’t sure what to do. the three weeks to the shredded program is actually 4 weeks as they throw in an extra week. My understanding is it was originally designed for fighters to do healthy weight cuts prior to fights and they say you can lose 21 pounds in 21 days. Which is definitely achievable through my goals were only to lose a few pounds and cut and tone, which I most certainly achieved.

You can easily sign up on their website www.thedolcediet.com for either 3 weeks to shredded or living lean (which I am going to try next). The website (once signed up) allows you to track and record notes and progress you make with your exercise program.

Another thing I really like is that the idea of weight cutting can be done healthily. To many people, think weight cutting needs to involve starvation and water cutting, and this simply isn’t true.

On 3 weeks too shredded I was eating 5-6 meals a day including snacks and was on a guided workout plan 4 days a week. The workouts are also on the website with video and to my knowledge are called based on your goals. As I was on what I can imagine was a more athletic program, my workouts were about 40-50 minutes in length and involved squats, bench variations and deadlifts and variations as well as numerous lower body stabilization exercises and core workouts. Needless to say, this was definitely what I needed to get my ass going.

I should mention I was hovering around 162-165 lbs before now I hover around 155-168lbs. Again while you can lose 21 lbs and sometimes more on this I didn’t want to as I needed to stay at my current weight class for competition. At least now I do not have to worry at all about making weight I just need to be and feel healthy.

While I am a largely self-motivated person I also have a very hard time with routine and doing anything for more than two weeks usually gets boring for me. Fortunately for me, the foods on the diet are things that I actually enjoy. It focuses on mostly whole foods fruits and vegetables and Micronutrients as well as proteins including, fish, chicken, eggs and the occasional steak.  But you should be prepared to eat similar things all week long with the major changes at least in my program was the dinners varying from week to week. I also understand they have vegan and gluten-free diet options and you can always talk to them directly if you need specific alternatives.

With the program done I can say that I feel great and have more energy than I used to and I think this is the kick in the ass I needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle diet wise.

Here are things I learned directly from the program:

  1. I need to eat more calories appropriate to my exercise levels.
  2. Eating 5-6 meals a day is not painful with a little prep.
  3. I needed to get enough protein for my needs, which I previously was not.
  4. I needed to weightlift more throughout the week. Previously I was only lifting 1-2 times a week with no plan.
  5. Adding in more lifts other than the three main powerlifting lifts is necessary to get proper full body balance. This is often called accessory work, which based on what I have seen from watching different powerlifters also helps prevent injury.
  6. Doin variations of your main lifts can make your workouts easier to do more often so you do not get bored. It also gives your muscles something different.
  7. Staying on a program is easier when you have guidance. So either get an online program or get a trainer to keep you accountable and pushing yourself.

On top of this diet, it encouraged me and my partner in crime to start looking into health and fitness and lifestyle experts, and we are now heavily down the rabbit hole following people like Tim Feriss, and Ben Greenfield and many more. As I enter my 30s I can say that now was definitely the time to fix the issues in my lifestyle before I settle down and have a family. However, no matter where you are in life it is never to late.

I can also tell you for me and my partner it saved us a lot of money. While we both can cook we live busy lifestyles, so we were getting a bit lazy and just eating out which was costing far more than what we were spending on groceries. As one meal would be between $60-90 Canadian with both food and alcohol. But now we were spending maybe $100-200 a week for the two of us so you do the math.

Lastly, a positive effect of eating healthy is that I just don’t want to drink as much. While I don’t think I will ever outright stop drinking being healthy has allowed my body to self-regulate a lot better and I just don’t feel like drinking. So if you are a person trying to cut down or quit drinking alcohol perhaps a change of dietary lifestyle is in order.

Remember, the program itself is customized for you and will start with your needs and goals. So if you are looking for a lifestyle change this may be a good start for you. And remember, this fits right in with the Krav Maga attitude of living in peace. It is not just about your ability to defend your self but also be happy and healthy physically and mentally.

received_286853338562673

*I am not a nutrition expert this is simply an opinion based on my personal experience any diet or exercise changes in your life should always be been done with consultation with your doctor and appropriate professionals.

**The dolce diet is just one way to approach a healthy nutritional lifestyle and there are many that work. Actually going down the rabbit hole as shown me you may need to do a mix but one thing that seems to be consistent between what I have found out is to stay away from processed foods and sugars. Coffee can be good for you. Regular or some intermitted and full fasting is good for you. Cheat days are ok. Your body needs a variance and no one program should be strict for more than 3 months. Again, I am not an expert on nutrition this is just a cheat sheet of what I have learned in the past month both through the dolce diet and other sources.

Follow be on Instagram @theponderingkravist

Music a Tool to change mood: A Personal History – Part 3

Posted: November 2, 2017 by Jonathan Fader in Mental Health

Music a Tool to change mood: A Personal History – Part 2

 

Depression in nabulus.jpg

Depression near Nabulus

 

Fast forward to the middle to later part of my service. Stationed in Nabulus (Schem) on a mountaintop next to a Jewish Settlement overlooking numerous Arab villages. It was a particularly stressful time with little sleep, constant guard duty, pointless riot control that was like a stupid game of cat and mouse. At the same time, my best friend at the time and Spotter had been selected to go to sergeants school which means he would be gone. At the time I didn’t realise how having him, there was helping me to keep my sanity, but apparently, my commanders noticed a drastic change in my behaviour after that.

Outside of the army, almost all the people whom I had moved to Israel with had either moved off the kibbutz where I was living or were people I disliked or vice versa. Nothing had gone to plan, and I felt Isolated and alone with no support. I was spiralling into a deep depression and didn’t even know it at the time. Thankfully I rediscovered the album Kelidescope by Tiesto which had been released a little over a year previously. Though controversial from his fans as it branched away from his traditional style, it might have literally saved my life.

I found myself when not on guard duty, putting my headphones in and putting one or two of his songs on repeat. I could be seen pacing around our room or the base listening to it on repeat on what could probably look a zombie with earphones. At this time the album was the only things that brought me any Joy. One song often found itself on repeat. Here On this Earth feat. The Cary Brothers

“And the sun has fallen, and the backbeat’s telling truths
That you want to hear, and you want to hear again
And the closer that you get, with the force of all the weight
And it’s also clear, do you want to feel her

Want to feel her, want to feel her

For as long as you are, here on this earth
I feel alive
For as long as you are, here on this earth
I feel alive

And you take your time, because we’ve got all night
Saturday or nothing, we can do what we want
I’m a sucker for your game, it’s the way you tease
And it’s so unreal, when we touch the ceiling

For as long as you are, here on this earth
I feel alive
For as long as you are, here on this earth
I feel alive

Make it so, it shakes your heart
Nice and slow, but can you let it go
And you feel life fall away, and you have no fear
And you let it go, just let it go
And you feel life fall away, and you have no fear
Can you let it go, let it go

For as long as you are, here on this earth
I feel alive

Feel alive, feel alive, feel alive, feel alive
Feel alive, feel alive, feel alive, feel alive”

Though the song talks about love, and a person existing giving the person meaning for me it was the chorus that helped me.

“For as long as you are, here on this earth, I feel Alive”

For me, I put myself in place of the lover and the protagonist and as long as I was Here on Earth, I felt Alive. Just like the Warrior I had imagined myself before coming, I felt alive, and I was fighting for myself emotionally though at the time I didn’t know it. It wasn’t until much later after I returned from Israel and had a manic depressive episode that I even knew I had depression. But this song grounded me at what would be one of the darker times in my services.

Music. A powerful tool. Intuition says so, Science says so. So how are you going to use it? Early in my life, I used it to enhance my mood negatively. Later, I used it to motivate and drive me forward. Then I used it to stay alive and feel alive. The trick is not just finding music because it is trendy but finding music that not only speaks to you personally but music that can be used positively to enhance your mood. Don’t listen to music to enhance dark moods for this will only make you feel worse. Find music that inspires and motivates and keeps you feeling alive. Use it as a tool to help you with your mental challenges so that you can once again walk in peace.

Conclusion Note:

When I chose this topic to write about I had an entirely different idea in my head of what the final product would look like. But then I started writing. I began to listen to the songs I discuss, some of which I have not listened to in a long time. Not surprisingly to me, though slightly unexpected and certainly surprising to anyone who thinks they know me these songs brought back some relatively strong emotions as I re-lived these times in my life.

This just shows the power of music and its effect it has on emotion. Despite what people think even my self the robot is only human and is still subject to the same general biological rules as everyone else. I thought, am a warrior at heart, and accept my humanity, even if I think emotions cloud judgement far too often for far too many people. So if you have a hard time with emotional control find the tools and use them positively, music is just one of the few tools that can help.

 

Music a Tool to change mood: A Personal History – Part 1

It’s actually because of Matisyahu and his music that helped convince me at the right time to drop everything, move to Israel and join the IDF. Specifically, two songs. Jerusalem and Warrior which also happen to be two of his earlier songs. But with all music, words alone cannot do them justice so here are the songs, assuming It doesn’t get pulled.

Jerusalem:

 

At one point I considered getting the lyric

“Jerusalem, if I forget you, let my right hand forget what it’s supposed to do.”

tattooed on me, in Hebrew as it is a biblical verse. I am glad the tattoo artist convinced Jerislam hebrew.jpgme out of it as it is a bit too religious for my liking now. Instead, I got the Hebrew word for life tattooed on me, to symbolise that I chose life, which I put in the centre of my black and white star of David. It not only expressed my identity, as I am a proud Jew even if I have great disdain for religion but also that the universe demands unity of everything. Male and female, right and wrong, and good and evil.tattooed on me, in Hebrew as it is a biblical verse.

However, the second verse of Jerusalem, in particular, spoke to me, which goes as follows:

“Rebuild the temple and the crown of glory
Years gone by, about sixty
Burn in the oven in this century
And the gas tried to choke, but it couldn’t choke me
I will not lie down, I will not fall asleep
They come overseas, yes they’re trying to be free
Erase the demons out of our memory
Change your name and your identity
Afraid of the truth and our dark history
Why is everybody always chasing we
Cut off the roots of your family tree
Don’t you know that’s not the way to be”

It references the Holocaust and how history has attempted to destroy the Jews as a people, uproot us and destroy our lineage. Did I mention I am a proud Jew?

I decided to accept my identity of as a Jew not because I care about the Torah, not because I am religious, not because I like the holidays but because of history. In the end, it does not matter what I think, whether I accept myself as a cultural Jew, a religious Jew, or a genetic Jew. Those around will always see me as a Jew.

Hitler determined that if you had two grandparents that were Jewish, even if you weren’t a practising Jew you would be considered a Jew and thus subject to the atrocities that were committed under his orders. This was even used in the construction of Israels Right to Return Laws.

Despite claims that there is no anti-Semitism in this world, it is a false narrative. Even when there are mass protests, like the misguided love trumps hate rallies, many of those who claim to operate in the name of love still hate Jews. For antisemitism is real and strong as ever. As such, no matter what I think those who would hate Jews will always see me as one no matter what I think.

This song, as well as the hate of others (irony), made me realise I must accept who I am and be proud of my heritage even if I don’t plan to continue the Jewish practices. This song helps me solidify who I am as a person. It helped me know who I am and accept it. It helped me understand the meaning of the Term Never Again, when referring to the Jewish People in particular with that second verse and come 2008/2009 when I decided to move to Israel to join the IDF this was one of the reasons I convinced my self to go.

The second of Matisyahu’s two songs that helped me decide to go to Israel was Warrior

With this song, the line in the chorus,

“You’re a warrior, Fighting for your soul”

spoke to me.

For I am a warrior, fighting for my soul. Lost and unhappy and looking for a purpose.

For I am the Lion, The Wolf and the Fox, and I will fight for me because no one else will. Though I add the animal analogy as I write this, the three animals which I think embody UTKM, the rest was true at the time. I decided, yes I am a warrior. I don’t care if others look down at me, berate me, hate me, or deny my talents and potential. I will do it for me.

I even thought of my Grandfather who was a proud veteran of the Canadian Forces and a proud supporter of Israel. Outside of my Israeli Cousins, I would be the only of his children or grandchildren in North America closer to him that would continue the military tradition. I know he would have been proud of me, though unfortunately, he passed before my service, the memory of him and his dedication along with the song and what it means to be a warrior further pushed my decision to join the Military.

Music a Tool to change mood: A Personal History – Part 3

Your musical brain.jpg

Music is something that has been in the history of man for as long as most can tell. It is sound, vibration, the transfer of energy that creates soothing, or intense emotional reactions. Some of us, are even lucky enough to get goose bumps when we hear music, myself included. Music is ingrained in most cultures in one form or another and can be used for the most beautiful of intentions or used to manipulate you into buying something you wouldn’t otherwise have done.

In 1991 a French Researcher Dr. Alfred A tomatis wrote about something he called the “Mozart effect” in his book Pourquoi Mozart? Tomatis did research into auditory effects of music to help with various mental ailments.

In a follow-up study published in Nature in 1993, Rauscher et al showed using the Mozart effect that listening to particular music could definitively help with spatial reasoning and enhance IQ scores.

In short, something we have always known intuitively, that music enhances mood was shown by the Mozart effect and numerous other studies that music can improve performance and mood both for good or for the bad.

Now that the obvious is out of the way, let’s get into my personal history with music and how two artists, in particular, helped inspire me and get me through some tough times.

When I was younger at home, my parents used to put on things like classical music, opera, or some form of news radio. I used to fall asleep to things like Enya, Sarah Brightman, Andrea Bocelli and Peter and the Wolf as narrated by Captain Jean Luc Picard himself Err, I mean Patrick Stewart. I often forget that when I was younger, I was exposed to such things as it was so long ago, but once in a while when I take to time to think back I remember, I do like such music. Outside of that, however, music was not a part of my life as my family, in general, is not of the musical variety.

As I grew older in Elementry school, for some reason or another, I lost interest in music completely. I didn’t understand my peer’s obsessions with the top 10 hits on the local radio stations. Among other things, this was the begging of my realisation that I am not really like other people. Perhaps I didn’t understand why they all just blindly liked the same thing like sheep and I rejected music because though I didn’t know it yet I am and always have been a wolf. Because of this at the time, I never used music for the good or the bad.

Enter High school and the standard years of angst. I don’t recall exactly how or why I started listening to it, but I began to listen to angry music like Slipknot, D12 or other such things. At the time I used it to enhance my anger, my hate and the feelings of loneliness and despair as I slipped closer to the Dark Side. Though I had “friends” I certainly never fit in, and looking back I feel like they only kept me around out of boredom or to have another person for their games. Post army, learning what real brotherhood and friendship was like I realised none of them ever were my friends. It’s a shame I didn’t know that at the time for perhaps I would have found different friends and had a happier time.

Later, in high school, I found a different group of friends, those who were also social outcasts but not socially inept. Through them, I found things like classic rock, The Beatles, Guns N’ Roses, AC/DC and at the time my favourite Led Zeppelin. Though not any happier with myself or any less angry at least I found music that would no longer enhance such emotions but instead would foster a more open view of the world around me.

As time passed, happiness, finally free of the prison that is the school system. A place not for people like myself, who don’t fit the mould in anyway shape or form and someone completely, to this day, unwilling to be a sheep and conform to the lies and laziness of the powers that be.

It was at this time I started branching out into alternative music and EDM and other similar genres.

On January 18th, 2006, only a few months free, while watching the late night show I saw this performance:

Yes, you guessed it, Matisyahu. If you had read my series on my Camp My Way Experience you would have noticed several of his songs. Though Matisyahu has evolved from his previous personal as that Hassidic Jew singing reggae his music has always spoken to me. Though I am not in anyway a religious man in any way I think Matisyahu’s lyrics and music do a beautiful job at capturing what it means to be human.

Whether I knew it or not, like the butterfly effect, changing the channel on this night at this time would set things in motion for things to come and lay the path of my future life.

Music a Tool to change mood: A Personal History – Part 2
Part 5: A Land before time – Day 5 – The Lost Canoe

“Today, today, live like you wanna,
Let yesterday burn and throw it in a fire, in a fire, in a fire,
Fight like a warrior,” – Matisyahu – Live Like a Warrior

Isolation can be one of the worst forms of torture a human can be exposed to. Loneliness can cause a person to die slowly from the inside out. But what about when a person chose out of their own free will to isolate themselves. With no constraining walls or man made rules, just the laws of the universe.
For so much of our history, so many would live isolated alone or isolated in small communities. There would be little stimulation out of a task or job and the work it took to functionally survive. In many cases, there would be no free time, in others nothing but free time.

Camp my way seems to wish to remove the unnecessary stimulus to allow individuals to focus on the self, while still with people there to support. When Isolated by choice, and in nature, this can be a good thing. There can be no better isolation, no better satisfaction even if for only a brief moment, isolated on the top of a mountain with nothing but the world around to stare and admire in awe. If this is something you have never done, get up and get out, find your mountain top and climb it.

In the literal sense, it can be inspiring full of beauty, wonder and accomplishment. Climbing your internal mountain can be the most isolating of all things, for overcoming that which is in your way can become an isolating journey for it is yours and yours alone. For some, this mountain is too much to climb and too much to over come, but for others, it is simply another challenge to be beaten. So if over coming to your mountain, what ever is holding you back is too much, why not try something more tangible, and climb a real one. Find the kind of isolation that inspires and plants the seed of growth, don’t let it overwhelm you, and if need be, bring those who support you to challenge it together, because after all, we are social creatures. So find your mountain, and climb, experience and overcome.

 

Lonley Mountain.jpg

The Lonely Mountain From a Hobbit an Unexpected Journey

 

Finally, we would be leaving our campsite some to return home but a few of us to climb that mountain. There had been some confusion as to when John had to be home, as he originally said we could return on Saturday, but as it turned out, he had a wedding to get back to just after noon. But it was decided that there is no way were not going to climb the mountain that had been promised. It would have been easy for me to say no, and just leave in a relaxed fashion as I do hate to rush. But it seemed to Terrance it was important, and to me, it was simply something I felt I had to do for what ever intrinsic reason

So the remaining campers set out in the two canoes we had and the rest of us climbed into the two tin dinghies. We still had to pick up the lost canoe we had beached yesterday. Being as we woke up just after sunrise around 5 or 6 am the wind had not had time to pick up yet. This was the reason we were supposed to leave early on previous days yet never did. Of we went.

Calm and quiet. Only us on the lake. Too bad we did not have time for fishing, it would have been a perfect time. Instead, I would have to settle for the view as we slowly made our way back. A mother eagle was perched on a dead branch looking out over the lake. Her nest was 100 meters farther back. We all pondered what could be going through her mind as she watched us in the tin and carbon fibre boats on the way to much gear loaded on. “Foolish hoo-mons, they know nothing” is what I imagined her thinking.

When we beached we began the arduous task of returning all the canoes and gear began. Those who had to leave helped pack up all the gear that needed transporting to Terrance’s house while Terrance and another set out to return the canoes to all his neighbours.

Everyone except John and myself, packed up said their goodbyes except Terrance and company who were still taking the canoes back. Now it was just John, and I left alone to sit and think and talk.

It must have been two hours, and Terrance had not returned yet. I decided to go and check, yet as luck would have it as I was half way down the road to the lake Terrance turned the corner in his Jeep. If you have never seen his Jeep, it is unmistakable, for on the front is a moose skull and it is covered in sponsorship stickers left from when he flipped the tire up Blackcomb mountain. It like Terrance was a head turner destined for big things.

Back in the cabin, and tired we decided to take some time to rest and nap. It seems on this trip I had returned to my liking of mid day naps. Something the past months had not allowed me to do regularly. I can certainly say there is some merit to the siesta even if you are not in the hotter Mediterranean countries. I think perhaps because it forces you to slow down and take a break. Something that sometimes the hectic life of the city does not allow.

Awoke, and ready we loaded up into my Tacoma for despite the moose head on Terrances Jeep mine was in better condition (and probably safer) to take the long unpaved roads up the mountain. Terrance and company decided to sit in the truck bed, with John and me in the front. Terrance explained that he was always the one driving and never got to sit in the back of his jeep. I allowed this only because we were out away from the city and such things I knew to be common. Of course in the city, I would never dare, because I would most likely get pulled over. I think there is much debate about such actions and reasons for or against, but out here there are far fewer rules. Personally, while I fully understand the safety around such acts, as I have grown older I feel we have are too fear full of injury and death and have over regulated ourselves into the depressed insanity that we live daily in the cities. This whole thing would lead to a discussion later when we reached the top which would give me a lot to think about.

First, we had to make our way past the native reserve and the hydro dam. Then we had to find the entrance off the main road. Another almost barely marked unpaved road that would be easy to miss. This lead to some 20 or 30 switch backs up the mountain. I thoroughly enjoyed the drive up; I went fairly hard on the straight aways and cautiously on the corners. I would have wished to push it and test the Tacoma, but with Terrance and company in the back, I didn’t feel it was safe to do so. I kept thinking about the famous Pikes Peak Rally course and how this compared.

As we reached what appeared to be a mountain top radio receiver station, we veered off on to a heavily brush covered maintenance trail. Thankfully due to the power lines, these trails ran all through the mountain range making it possible for vehicles to navigate the beauty they had to offer. Well, off road vehicles at least, I would not suggest taking your mom’s Honda civic unless you are planning on getter her a new car. Switching the Tacoma to 4 X 4 Low, it was slow and steady as we navigated through the tree covered trail. As we got higher and higher, the trees thinned, and eventually, we came to another fork. Terrence told me to hit a right and park the truck as it would not be able to go further. The next bit of road was probably at a 30-40% incline. We decided to take a break and eat some food, as after this it would all be on foot.

 

IMG_20170825_182559.jpg

The Beginning of the Hike

Terrance commented on how dangerously I was driving. I was not impressed. For me, it hit a nerve, why I couldn’t tell you. Looking back, I suspect it might have had to do with his previous experience in rescuing people from this very trail. Realistically, there was no way for Terrance to know that I am an excellent and controlled driver with hundreds of thousands of KMs under my belt. While once upon a time I might have taken unnecessary risks now I do not do anything I don’t think is reasonably safer. I also tried to tell him how sitting in the back is probably far more dangerous than the way I was driving. For him though, perhaps it was the perception of the freedom not being trapped by the walls of the truck should anything have gone wrong. He figured he could just jump out of the bed if the truck started to go off the cliff, I am not so sure how safe that would be with out injury. I think this was something we would agree to disagree.

Issues like this always strike a nerve, thinking about it now it’s probably the hypocrisy of it. It’s like the people who yell at me for driving fast at night (20km an hour) in my complex yet are wearing dark clothing making them hard to see. It’s the kind of thing where people try to put their safety in the hands of others with out taking responsibility for themselves.

Anyways, off topic.

Packed up and ready to go, leaving the troubles behind it was time to start the hike. By now it was probably 6 or 7 pm. There was not too much of a climb to the top, but we still wanted to get there before sunset. The climb reminded me again of the forced marches in the army, a struggle but still something to enjoy..well after the fact. In this case, there was no rush, and we took our time to enjoy the scenery. Terrance kept asking us to stop to get some footage for marketing for future camps, which we were happy to oblige. Eventually, we got to the windy yet clear mountain top.

Dropping our packs, we set out to explore. On the top, we found an abandoned and now smashed radio station probably the predecessor to the one we passed down the mountain. It must have been built sometime during the war or after but all that was left were the foundations some of the walls and supports and various construction material. We also found a plaque of some kind that was almost impossible to read. It must have been put there well before the radio tower. Terrance told us how many years ago this was one of the few places there was reception for TV. A friend of his one of the local natives used to climb up here to watch TV on the few stations he could get. I imagine that this was back in the day when rabbit ears were still a thing for TVs.

We realised that the wind might be a problem when setting up the tents. I found a spot and decided to leave off the rain tarp from mine to allow the wind to blow through. Though this prevented the wind from moving my tent too much, it also meant that every large gust of wind would lead to a long and restless night of half sleep. Terrance and crew wanted to find a place less windy, but except for the large crevasses in the rock formations, which would not have been comfortable to sleep on there were no such places.

 

IMG_20170825_191632

Loneliness or chosen Isolation, You Decide.

 

I began to think that it was going to be much colder than we had thought and none of us had any winter clothes. I was certainly happy now that I had sprung for the -40-degree sleeping bag. Unfortunately for the rest of them none of them had the same luxury. Someone suggested they all sleep in the same tent for warmth which I then strongly encouraged. While I have never had full hypothermia, there was one time I was showing the early stages, and I didn’t think this would be a great place for any one to get hypothermia. Especially considering we had no reception and no GPS signal (NOT ADVISABLE), there would be no quick rescue should something of this nature have happened.

Eventually, the tents were set, and we enjoyed the sunset around 8 or 9. As it started to get dark, I made some food, and they attempted to find some materials to create a windshield for their tent. As Darker and darker it got. It also got colder and colder. I had no gloves and other than my thermal underwear and shirt I was not wearing much else. It was getting cold far too quickly for my liking. I decided the only good place for me was now in the sleeping bag even though I was not that tired. Boy was I right.

Panoramic of Sunset on the Lonely Mountain

IMG_20170825_201728

Moon of my life, My Sun and Stars

 

I was glad that I could see the stars, for falling asleep the other day with out the tent and a clear view felt great. I probably could have done the same as the tent didn’t provide any protection from the elements, but I had it, so I guess I just set it up with out thinking. Eventually, I fell asleep though it was more of a constantly disturbed nap. At one or two points in the night though I could not entirely see where the rest of them were in their tent I could certainly hear them. I don’t think they got much sleep either.

I had set my alarm for 5 am, to watch the sunrise. 5 am arrived my alarm went off, and I awoke. The problem I felt was that it was still far too cold to get out of the sleeping back, so I decided to stay in, which was probably a good idea.

A while later, Terrance came over to the tent and told me that it was too cold to stay so we were packing up to go. I had to quickly pack up all my stuff myself, which was difficult especially with out gloves. Did I mention it was cold? By the end I could barely feel my hands and clipping in the straps of my bag was difficult. I would periodically have to stop to warm my hands up so that I could function. Once again I was reminded of how much I hate the cold.

After, as best as my hands would allow me I saw them laughing and talking. And here I thought there was a sense of urgency to get off the mountain lest we all freeze. I may not have been the most polite, but they didn’t seem in that much of hurry. Maybe they had better cold tolerance than me, or maybe they just enjoyed being cold. I couldn’t tell you, but I am fairly certain I said, “I have some good advice, Stop talking and let’s get the fuck off this mountain.”

Again, and I can’t stress this enough, despite being Canadian, I dislike the cold very much. Israel and its awesome climate ruined the cold for me, and after I came back to Canada I was never quite the same in my ability to tolerate it. Oh well.

Down we went. It was much quicker the way down than the way up. I guess that’s how gravity works. Up is hard, down is easy. Well except on the knees. I had considered bringing my carbon fibre knee brace before this trip, but I thought it was a bit much. It turned out to be fine, even if I almost ate shit on the way down once or twice.

The truck at last, what a great sight for cold eyes…

 

IMG_20170826_064823.jpg

Except for my Ridiculous outfit, this could be something out of a catalogue #Tacomanation

 

We packed up chatted for a bit and headed down. This time with everyone in the cabin. I definitely went slower on the way down, because well gravity and also because I didn’t feel like getting into another dispute.

At one point someone saw a Bear cub run up a side trail. We attempted to follow for a second just to get a better view for a photo but I opted not to go too far. This mainly because where there is a Cub there is a mama and well this was a new truck. I am not sure how to explain bear claw marks to the insurance company (Which is BC is TERRIBLE, and despite the fact everyone hates them they still have a government supported monopoly…).

We chatted on the drive about what ever and eventually made our way back to Terrance’s house. I was glad we made it up the mountain and back. Terrance had kept talking about what a great view it was, which of course he was right. Also, the climb is supposed to be part of the full Campy My way experience. As Terrance explained it to me, eventually this would become a two-week program. Starting at one end of the lake, to where we had been camping. Then a short portage of the gear. Then the mountain and then trekking the second of two long lakes eventually ending in a hike ending in Lillooet.

You may have noticed by now I have not given away the exact location of this whole experience, but that’s because I want you to figure it out for your self. OHH, how interactive.

At Terrance’s We separated our gear from his and said our goodbyes. Off John and I went.

Terrance was right; the road back looked a lot different in the day than night. A cliff on one side and a mountain on another. Though not as steep or windy as the road we were just on there was far more traffic. Truck, Truck…wait is that a neon with a spoiler? And Terrance thought I was crazy here was a fully loaded Neon with a spoiler gunning it on the mountain roads. If you didn’t know, as I know, as I once drove a neon they are toasters on wheels and can barely handle paved roads.

I once again enjoyed having the truck. I haven’t said it yet but #Tacomanation all the way. It was a beautiful drive back, and I kept my eye out for any for sale signs. Having a property in a place like this was a new goal. Though this will not be happening anytime soon, it is a good goal to have. Back through Merrit, then Whistler then Vancouver. John would make in time for his wedding after all.

I though roughly enjoyed this trip. Once of exploration of both myself, others and beautiful British Columbia. It got me thinking I wanted to get back into nature more often. Now I had the means; I just need to find the time and the will.

The Next Day, it was back to the grind in what would be working for seven days straight on various things. Man what a change of pace it is. It makes a difference, but I was glad I made the Journey.

Camp My way is a Brilliant and yet simple idea and is something though I know it needs a lot of work to become something great, its concept is already something great. It is a cause that I look forward to supporting in the years to come. I hope you enjoyed this adventure story I sincerely hope there will be more of these in the future.

My Time in the land before time was short, though eye opening. In the city, we measure everything so precisely and are bombarded with so much stimulus. One of the things I did upon returning home was cover all the lights on my computers and electronic devices with tape so they would no longer affect my sleep. I also decided that I would always sleep with the blinds open to allow the air and sounds of the water in the park next to me to sing me to sleep naturally, just as the river at camp had done. One day, I will find and make my home in nature, and live a life without time. But in the mean time, I will continue to build UTKM to give people around me the strength to live better, happier and safer lives. Just like Camp my way gives people the time to look within. I will do what I can to give people the skills they need to do the same. For Krav Maga, is not just a set of physical moves, it is a way of thinking and a lifestyle.

With this, I end with another Matisyahu video – Live Like a warrior. To encourage you to have the spirit to live life the way you want to so long as it makes you happy and does no harm to others around you. With, Of course, the exception of Self Defense.

Please help Camp My Way become the program I know it can be and DONATE TODAY!

Part 4: A Land before time – Day 3 & 4 – The Fairy Grove & FIshing

I Must Not Fear 1.jpg

I have talked about the litany against fear many times. It is from one of the greatest science fiction novels of all time Dune, a true masterpiece and one of the few books I have read that truly changed my perspective on life and how to interpret it and the people in it. The litany against fear is an important moral that we should all learn yet don’t. It discusses fear but not in the way you might think at first. There is a concept of No Fear, and it was even a popular slogan trademarked by a clothing company many years ago. The thing is, however, that a person with out fear is dangerous. This is because they are out right ignoring their intuition, that feeling internally telling us there is severe risk ahead. It is foolish and often leads to actions with little regards to those around us. The litany against fear, however, talks about overcoming fear through acceptance. About allowing us to use the fear as a productive tool to move forward and build inner strength. I find too many people live their lives through fear for what ever reason. Fear of failure and fear of the unknown are two of the biggest things I see controlling people and their decisions. Instead of accepting these fears and moving forward and growing to many individuals choose stagnation rather than facing their fears. This mentality is one I hope people to over come through my teachings in Krav Maga or these blogs. So that they may walk in peace allowing their fears to pass over them and through them to be better, stronger and happier.

Today was suppose to be the day we got up to go on that mountain trek Terrance had kept telling us about. It was, after all, suppose to be the second part of the camp. For numerous reasons and set backs on all camps, it never quite happened. We ended up waking up late for what ever reason, I suppose people were all too comfortable letting go and relaxing. It wasn’t a bad thing. When I awoke, after coffee I immediately started to pack up my tent and gear because for me rushing is not something I like to do. Like a good soldier, I was ready to go at moments notice knowing the wind and lake conditions may affect departure as this was one of the reasons we held of leavening the day before. After another late breakfast, there was a discussion of whether we should go or not. The waves though not too bad were certainly not calm. The assessment of whether the risk was worth it was the real challenge. Several of us decided that we would try our luck and go out on the canoes to the second beach where the therapy had taken place before. If we could comfortably do it, then we would leave camp a little later. We made it no problem, and I ended up hearing some of the stories of the both Terrance of the others during their drug rehab and before. Perhaps we hung around for too long, but when made it back Terrance was cautious, and the others were unsure as to whether we should collectively leave or not. I voted to go now before it got too bad. For if you allow fear to overcome you and you keep putting things off then things will never get done. Again, I do not allow fear to control me when I consciously can. In the end, I was outvoted, and the decision was to stay for another day even though it took a long time. For me, there is nothing worse than indecision. For me, the longer it takes, the longer things may pass you by. This and having not been on medication (SSRI’s)for a few days made me irritable, and it reminded me why sometimes I just don’t like people.

Either way, we waited too long, and the waves picked up. My point about indecision was proven correct, though I didn’t say much about it. We could have left earlier if we had stuck to the plan yet didn’t. Now with the rest of the day free, it was decided that we would walk up the river and do the walking meditation that several of the group had yet to experience. Eventually, we found a log crossing that had been constructed previously, by settlers or campers, who knows? There was a more modern rope on one side indicating that someone had used this crossing more recently. Eventually, we found the abandoned cabin again.

I was surprised at how quick a walk it was considering it was in the bay over that we had previously canoed too. Another discovery at least to me is that at one time this cabin had numerous fruit trees, some of which were still producing fruit. We explored the cabin a bit more and then picked some apples. Terrance asked me to explain how the walking meditation works to everyone and again one by one people set out. This time I went second to last.

We admired the waterfall once again, this time with more pictures. Someone noticed another trail that went farther up the mountain, and we decided to go up to the second water fall higher up. This time it was less of a calm winding path and more of a steep hike. I was starting to understand why so many hikers take hiking polls. At least we didn’t have our backpacks which for me made it easy work as my Vibrams allowed me to stay low and nimble. The second waterfall was probably twice the size of the first and much farther back in the mountain. We could only watch from the cliff side as it would be impossible to safely access this pool with out serious climbing gear and experience. Again we noticed that there was another less obvious path going further up the mountain. Terrance had never seen the next waterfall and suggested we explore. So up we went.

This time it wasn’t just steep, and the path was not so clear. The mountain side, littered with loose shale and steep, uneven terrain proved tricky. We hug the cliff side. Shortly after much of the group got too nervous to continue as it was not such an easy climb. My self and another decided to push farther to explore and see if this was a viable path for future camps. We discovered that shortly after the trail died in what appeared to be the scorn of winters rath, an avalanche path covered with fallen trees. Perhaps at one time, there was a trail but not anymore. After climbing up and around to look down the cliff side, we decided that there was no point in continuing as it would most likely take hours to scale to the peak and we didn’t have the proper equipment, so we carefully went back down to the group. Some indicated that it was a dangerous decision, but to me, it was just a calculated risk as the weather conditions were good. Again, my relationship with fear seems to be vastly different than others. Back to camp, we went, this time we found a path that came through the fairy grove, which was easy to find as the purple towel was still there floating suspended on some twine.

Upon arriving it was noted that something was not quite right. 1, 2 and…wait… there was no 3. Apparently, the Tin canoe was nowhere to be found. It had been left sideways on the shoreline rather than pulled right up and the best we could figure it had been swept away by the wind and the waves. Terrance and several others were still making their way back. In my head I thought, if we don’t get it now there will just be more excuses tomorrow, and we will never be able to hike the mountain. As John Sambo was standing right next to me and as he had claimed he had been in rough canoeing conditions previously I asked if he wanted to come with me to find the canoe. He obliged, and just as we pushed off into the water, Terrance and company came out of the tree line just in time to see us pushing off the shore. Theirs was a look of worry. To me though, this was a mission no different than any challenge I had faced previously.

On the way to find the canoe, we were moving with the waves, which made things easier. We, of course, made sure to take lifejackets. I should note, that had we not had life jackets there is no way in hell I would have done this. I neglected to mention earlier, that I don’t like deep water, for you see I had a near drowning experience when I was younger and since then I prefer to keep my feet on the ground. Despite this fear, I was confident in my ability to face it and overcome it…with the life jacket on of course.

We stayed close to the coast so as not to be swept out into the centre of the lake where the waves were the larger. As we moved forward, we spotted what we thought might be a canoe. Nope, just a large boulder.

We kept going, and in the faint distance, we spotted something blue. The Tin Canoe had blue wooden structures on it which I believe was at one point meant for a person to treat it like a row boat. Too bad, they were not set up as such, it would have made things far easier. As we approached, I noted that not only was this beach a rocky, bouldery one making it hard to land, but the waves were crashing onto it every few seconds. It was lucky in reality that it was the Tin boat that had been taken as it was likely here for hours and any of the fibreglass canoes would have probably been smashed up by now. Never the less we had to attempt to return this boat, so we very carefully beached our fibreglass boat and pulled it up to the shore as far as we reasonably could.

We were pleasantly surprised to find, that not only were both the oars and life jackets were still in the canoe but also someone’s boxers who had made the ill fated decision to use the canoe as their drying rack.

The priority was pulling the canoe up the shore so that we could empty the water now gathered inside. Initially, we tried to bail the water out using an old empty plastic bottle we found and our hands. This proved far too tedious with the waves crashing in every few seconds. We decided to pull it up further as we then tipped this cumbersome boat on its side to allow most, but not all of the water to drain out.

The plan was to tie one boat to another using the paracord I had brought. Then one person would get in a boat push out a bit, then the second would jump in, and we would paddle out. This, however, failed. John sambo tried twice to launch in the tin boat but twice capsized. I assessed that it was too shallow, the boat and John were just too heavy to move out safely. Plan B. I would get in the tin boat get it off the shore and John would get in the fibre glass boat and together we would go out into the wildness of the lake. This too did not go exactly to plan. While I managed to get the lead boat out and John managed to get the second boat out it was a struggle. For you see, John had clearly exaggerated his ability to paddle and steer in rough waves. I found my self-being dragged back as John paddled his boat in circles. His inability to control the direction of his canoe kept causing my starboard to be facing the on coming waves. It was now becoming dangerous as we both now risked cap sizing. I attempted to give firm clear directions how to steer while trying to do this same. After a few minutes of this I said, ” I am sorry, but I have to cut the toe line”. I pulled out my Leatherman and while keeping the canoe as straight as I could I cut the line. While team work is preferred, sometimes it is just is not possible. The waves were too big, the wind was too aggressive, and I just did not have the strength to steer and pull both boats. Off I went. I righted the direction of the canoe and began what would be a longer journey than I had originally thought.

After watching John capsize previously at the shore, I assessed that the seats of the canoe were far too high allowing for a dangerously high centre of gravity. I decided I was going to sit on the floor at the bow of the boat. It turned out to be the correct decision as It kept my centre of gravity low and kept the weight in the front preventing the waves from flipping the boat. However, I knew this was the right decision I don’t know, but it just felt right at the time. Later I justified it by explaining that by weighting the front I could break the waves easier and paddle hard to keep the front from being over come with water. The truth is it was an instinctual decision, as having little to no previous experience in such conditions and in a canoe no less I really can’t tell you how I knew other than I just did.

I looked back and saw John still paddling in wide circles; I didn’t know what to do. I yelled at him to try to get to shore and wait while I went for help. I don’t think he heard as he kept going in circles. I had no choice but to move forward. I started to paddle hard when the waves came and continuously so that they wouldn’t push me back and the little progress I was making for nothing. After a while, I started to think about all the warriors of the past that would endure such situations. I thought of the Maori in New Zealand, the Polynesians in Hawaii and the Vikings. I too felt like a modern day warrior. It was not a great situation, but I felt great. For thousands of years, these kind of situations were common. Many had to prove themselves a warrior would have to complete such tasks alone with out help. It made this easier as I fought through it and kept paddling.

I looked back and saw John going in circles still and then trying to beach himself. He succeeded but then tried to make his way out to water again. It failed. It must have been 2 or three attempts in total but none worked. Since leaving camp, it must have been about 2 hours now. I must have been alone for more than an hour of it and was probably only halfway back to camp. The swells up until this point must have been between 3-4 feet, it what seems like a never ending battle with the gods of the lake. No, I don’t really believe that, but hey I was just trying to get into the Viking mentality.

Eventually, I saw the little dinghy in the distance. It so happened that the waves had calmed down and I used my paddle as a signal. They got close enough for me to yell, ” I am fine, go help John and I pointed in his direction.” as I gave a thumbs up. They received the message and continued passed me.

They too tried to help John the way I could, but even with the motor, the waves were just to pick and well, poor John was really out of his element. They eventually gave up, beached the fibre glass canoe on the beach and told John to walk. They then came out to me. It was Terrance and his helper Alex. They came around and pulled up along side me. I wasn’t sure what their goal was. I assumed that they were going to toe me, which I was mildly relieved as it was still a long way to go, and the waves were only getting bigger. I was wrong. The dinghy and its motor were not designed for these rough conditions. Back to my warrior’s mind set. They tried to tell me I needed to bail the water out of my boat which I kept trying to tell them it was fine. In the time it took them to decided what to do the boats had turned side ways. I got impatient and recognised they were not helping but making things worse. I yelled, ” either one of you gets in this canoe to help me paddle or disengage.” Startled, Alex got in the canoe grabbed a paddle. Terrance disengaged and headed back to the beach disgruntled.

So Alex and I would finish the journey, while I am fully confident I would have made it on my own, I was glad I had help. The waves were now probably reaching 6 foot or more. It would have been an epic struggle like something out of an ancient Greek story had I been required to do it by myself, but it was still epic even with two people.

We started to go on what would be another hour paddling. At some point, Alex began to chant in a loud booming voice.

“NOW I AM THE VOICE.
I WILL LEAD NOT FOLLOW.
I WILL BELIEVE, NOT DOUBT.
I WILL CREATE, NOT DESTROY.
I AM A FORCE FOR GOOD.
I AM A FORCE FOR GOD.
I AM A LEADER.
DEFY THE ODDS.
SET A NEW STANDARD.
STEP UP!”

It was epic. It turns out it was a Tony Robbin’s mantra, while I am not a fan of his, an argument Alex and I would have later, at the time it truly was epic and very appropriate. It gave us both strength for a time and quite frankly makes this story even better.

Eventually, though, the mantra wore off, and the long hard grind was starting to wear on Alex. Despite the fact I was exhausted long ago, I had to dig deep and embrace the suck. I told him this, he had to embrace it and not give up. Slowly, one paddle at a time and with a little team work we made it closer to camp. The problem was that we couldn’t simply bee line it to shore. Because of the waves, we had to paddle past the camp and then turn around so that the waves would guide us to shore. If we turned too soon, the waves would push us past our beach. Imagine, the goal in sight after what was getting close to 3 hours, but unable to reach it for a time because rushing could mean imminent danger.

We paddled passed as our comrades look on from the shore. Eventually, we got to the point where we could turn around. Unfortunately, it took several attempts as the waves weirdly kept pointing us back in the same direction (rather than flipping us). Finally, we got coordinated enough to turn around.
Finally, we were back on dry land.

As we landed on the beach, there was what I imagined a collective sigh of relief from all parties. Ironically John had just beaten us to the camp not a few minutes earlier. Perhaps We should have beached earlier too, no I thought, as then we would have been down two boats and not one. I made the right decision.

I attempted to lift myself out of the canoe but couldn’t. The moment I stopped paddling my arms gave out. It took me several attempts, but I finally managed. Soaking wet and with a smile on my face I was back at camp. I think people thought I was crazy as is common in my life but I didn’t care, at least I had something interesting to write about.

It took me a second to settle in and then me and Alex high fived. Then, Finally, some luck, while we had been struggling they had made food. At least I got to eat to replenish some strength it was a good day after all.

I then took off my wet clothes and put on my some long johns and a thermal shirt. I knew all to well from the army how quickly hypothermia can set in. I told both Alex and John they should change to warm clothes so they could avoid it as well.

The day ended with me, John and Terrance looking up at the stars once again. Discussing the universe and me attempting to explain what little I know of it from an astronomical point of view. Despite the hectic day, it ended it calm. Because I was tired and had previously packed up my gear, I decided that I was just going to sleep out in the open looking up at the stars. It was the right decision as I looked up at the milky way I smiled as I was at least for a brief moment happy. Then with heavy eye lids, I faded off to sleep.

Part 6: A Land before time – Day 5 – The Lonely Mountain

Please help Camp My Way become the program I know it can be and DONATE TODAY!