BURN OUT

I am burned out. I am burned out from work, from training, from working out, from life’s ever continuous stresses. Combined I am beyond burned out. 

I do not have a vacation scheduled till summer. I do not have enough PTO to “take a day”, because of needing to use my free PTO to attend to my sick child when he was admitted to the hospital.
I do not get enough sleep a lot of nights, because I am attending to work emails or trying, TRYING, to find spiritual answers and Martial Arts instruction or learn from my teachers on my own. I spend hours doing stressful things for my job, growing ever more taxing and demanding.

I try to work out daily, either cardio from walking or kettlebells to help balance and PT injuries from years of lifting heavy weights.
Thanks to inadequate sleep, elevated stress, and recovering injuries, I am not losing weight like I want, leading to more estrogen and cortisol in my system.

This is a negative feedback loop, keeping me tired and fatter then I like and should be. I try to dedicate time to being a good and attentive father and husband, yet work and house needs keep me from being as present as I want to be.

I AM BURNED OUT.

SO – how do we fix this?

I am going about it this way:

Taikokyu – Mind Body Breath – Daily. I am stretching and meditating and breathing. Working my body’s musculoskeletal systems and organs. Focusing and clearing the mind of RELAXING .

Kettlebell workout 3 days a week – Complexes of sets and reps for time. Hitting all the major muscle groups, increasing strength, endurance and hyper trophy 25-30 minutes a day.

Ninpo/Aikido – I will train aikido 1.5 hours once a week, and I learn and read and practice basics of ninpo 10-30 minutes daily. Even if it is just kata for ichimonji no kata. I will also mentally drill Gyokko Ryu and Wing Chun/ JKD. I may consider even returning to Krav Maga once a week to keep my skills sharp against real opponents.

Be Present – I try to spend as much time as I can daily with my son while he is awake. Not always not stressful, but being there and experiencing him makes me happier and my heart fuller then I would have thought. I then spend evenings with my wife, even if its just spending time in the same room together, not doing the same activities, we get to unwind and talk.

Daily I try to be a “good” – fill in the blank for you, whatever that means. I think being rounded and trying to enjoy the here and now and continually try to better oneself is the core essence of growth.


This is how I intend to fix burnout. A few beers with friends and a trip to the shore doesn’t hurt either, but those are not as frequent as I need. I need to refocus on my Budo, my why, and also grow, be confident, and stop this constant struggle. Embrace the stresses, alleviate what you can, and proactively work on you. A stronger you is an anti-fragile you.

Using Travel to Reconnect

So as many of you know, and for those who do not, my wife and I love to travel. I lived abroad for almost 10 years in the UK and experienced many countries and cultures growing up. Since meeting my spouse I have tried to share that with her, and she has become addicted to it.

For us, its not just saying we went somewhere and saw something. We do it for the experiences. Bavaria, Germany and Austria are where my soul feels at home sometimes and I long to go back. Ireland and Northern Europe, my ancestral routes. Italy, where a quarter of my heritage originated, Iceland – where I experienced a spiritual awakening and connection with the earth that I must return to.

With everything opening back up due to COVID ending as WW3 begins, my wife and I thought against Europe, but are instead going on another adventure trip, this time to Alaska. MG and his wife will be joining us as we head into the great white north to experience arctic terrain again with unprecedented beauty.

What I find when we travel though, is my wife and I reconnect and enjoy being together again. Our normal issues from day to day life seem to fall away and we have that spark and excitement again. It lets us experience new things together that we can think back on in the future. To identify more and more different things we like to do, and experience all our lives have to offer us.

Now am I saying this is a panacea to all of marriages/relationship woes? No. But if you and your partner can connect and reestablish healthy activities together, experience new things together, work and forge that commitment again, together – you are going to find you are probably happier together as well.

Now I am not saying book a trip to Europe and all will be fine. A lot of people can’t afford that or Alaska, but you can afford camping, maybe staying with friends in other states, or hitting up motels along classic Route 66. Either way, you can find ways to affordably see things you never have before, even in your own country. Do not let life slip you by, the world is too big and beautiful with great peoples and cultures to only stay one place.

Go live life, reconnect with your honey, and enjoy what time you have!

Heck one day … maybe you even take the kids!

AFD 1 *

Returning to work after Family Leave

So as stated in a previous post, I’ve been out on Family Leave for the last 20 weeks. My wife and I welcomed our son to the world last June and I have had the joy of being on bonding leave since October; when my wife went back to work. It’s s been an absolute dream to be with my son the last months and seeing him grow from a tiny bean to a tiny person with his own bubbly personality. But as with everything, it was time time for the next chapter.

This past week I returned to work full time, and to say the least, it’s been different. While I have missed being with my son all the time, it’s felt liberating to rejoin a part of my life that im proud of. It’s been great being part of my team again, and having conversations with adults rather than the babblings and drool filled raspberries of an infant. It’s also felt strange being back at work too. Having been out for so long, I can’t help but feel like the new guy all over again. The past few days have been filled with meetings and countless email threads to get back up to speed with all the various projects and initiatives going. When I get home I see that toothless smile, and it makes it all worth it.

Another great aspect of return to work, but also a whole new challenge on its own, has been working from home a couple days out of the week. It’s great to be able to retain a couple days spent with my son, but finding a way to be productive and keep an eye in the baby, has been a game changer. It was hard enough to keep him occupied when there was nothing else to do, but now that I need to juggle calls, team’s meetings and multiple projects; its a whole new ball game.

Luckily he is taking better naps at times that I have scheduled meetings and he has taken pretty well to his play pen. He has also started pulling himself up and crawling more, so his world is expanding by leaps and bounds. Fingers crossed he doesnt start walking too soon. 🙂

Long story short, it was great being home with my little guy for as long as I was. At the same time I’m happy to be able to go back to work and to takle all the new challenges that come with it. As the saying goes “See Every day like it’s a gift, that is why it is called the Present”.

Until next time, Have a good one.

MG

Zoiglbeir – Fresh Bavarian Lager

2.5 Gallon recipe

3 lbs Pilsner DME, 1lb Munich DME, .5oz Hellertau 60 min boil ( 30 min whirlpool) Bavarian lager yeast

As I have written about technique previously, I won’t go too deep into it with this beer either, but will stay more high level.
A Zoiglbeir is a traditional Bavarian Lager brewed fresh and locally. It is brewed almost farmhouse style in open top fermentor and served at cellar temperatures from the tap house/Pub basement.

This malty lager is fresh and clean tasing with hop and malt complexities. Great spring time or early fall beer.

Bring your 1.5 gallons of water to a boil and add your dry malt extract (DME). Once a slow boil has returned to your wort, add in your hops and cut the heat, stirring almost continuously for 30 minutes with a low IBU hop. We used German Noble Hellertau at .5 oz for this 2.5 gallon batch.

Let wort cool to 70F before throwing in your lager yeast. S-189 works great, but I used Mangrove Jack’s Bavarian Lager yeast this time. Gives a lightly fruity finish to the beer that works well with the spicy hops.

Ferment cool for 1-2 weeks until ferment is complete and then lager (or store in a cool dark place) for 1-3 weeks. Let the beer drop clear before you either bottle condition or force carbonate.

Lastly enjoy a regional specialty not normally seen outside of Bavaria. Prost!

AFD

8 Months looking back

To start, I’m going to say this outright, that I’ve been extremely blessed. I have a beautiful, healthy baby boy who is smiling and laughing more often than he is crying. I’ve also been lucky enough to work for a company that has allowed me to be with my son full time for the better part of the last 6 months.

When my son was born, my wife and I agreed that I would take my paternity leave when her leave was over. We did this so we could prolong as much as possible, having to worry about 3rd party child care. For the first 3 months, sans the first two weeks after he was born, I was working full time. I cherished the time I had with him in the evenings and the weekends. But largely didn’t get to see him during the day.

When the time came for me to start my leave back in October, I would be lying, if I said I wasn’t scared shitless. To that point I had only been alone with my son a couple times while my wife went to the doctor or went out to the store, and most of the time he was sleeping. So I never had to be a lone parent to that point. My first day alone with him was, let’s just say – less than ideal. He either screamed or cried for pretty much the whole day. That night, when he finally went to sleep and my wife went to bed, I sat on my couch and thought how the fuck I was ever going to make it through the next 19 weeks. The next day was consideredably better, and eventually the little man and I got into a routine and we made it through.

Over the next 4 months, I got to watch as my little guy grew from an infant that bearly wiggled in his seat, to an almost toddler that wants nothing more than to stand up and walk. It amazes me how much he can be curious about the world around him. He has gone from a potato, to a little person with a growing personality and a smile and a laugh that lights my world. We have gone on road trips and vacations, and no matter where he goes he always seems to enjoy himself. Like a true heart grabber, he always smiles for the ladies.

I’ve learned a lot over the last months and I can’t say I would even recognize the guy who was sitting where I am now, back in October. Things as simple as knowing which toy he likes or how to hold him so he is comfortable. From learning the difference between when he’s crying because he’s hungry, to when he’s upset. Sitting here I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to find the little things that make life easier. Whether its a song or a hum that calms him down, or a certain face that makes him laugh when he is sad. It’s hard to give anyone advice on being a dad or a mom, every child is different and reacts to different things.

So I will leave you all with this as I look back on my 4 months. Enjoy the little things. Enjoy the laughs, the smiles, the giggles, even the diaper changes. Everything is part of thier story. When the time comes you will look back on things like how they looked in a pair of pajamas or how they looked at you and giggled when they wake up from a nap. While I’m anxious to go back to work and go on with normal life, I am scared as hell of missing daily milestones. But while I may miss some things, I know I will be there for so many others. I can only hope that I never forget the small things that came first.

As always Have a Good One,

MG

Don’t be “that Dad…”

Sports. We all love sports. As we age, however, our time in the spotlight dims. We aren’t throwing touchdowns, scoring goals, and typically we live in the memories of glories past.

But then, we have children. As they grow, and happen to get involved in sports of their own we experience another type of high. Living through their play.

My eldest daughter has been playing basketball since 2nd grade. She is now in 8th grade. Watching her play, when games are close, you get a feeling like you’re watching game 7 of the NBA Finals.

Parents are SCREAMING from the stands. Instructing their kids on what to do.
“POST UP!”
“WATCH THE SHOOTER STAY WITH HER”
“TAKE THE SHOT TAKE IT!”

All I can say is stop. Stop it. Don’t be that parent. The games don’t really matter in the grand scheme of life.

It doesn’t only happen when the game is close either. Yelling at the refs, ‘coaching’ their children. It’s just not needed. The kids have enough pressure on themselves the way it is. Trust me I’m yelling inside, but my daughter doesn’t NEED to hear it in the moment. Her mother will yell at her from the stands. I don’t speak with her due to emotional damage ripped from a Lifetime Movie, but my daughter loathes it.

After her games, we will talk. She will ask me or say “I didn’t play well”. Now, during those times is when I’ll tell her what she did well and maybe needs to work on. Slow down your shot, be more aggressive, attack the ball more. That resonates more than yelling at her when she’s on the court.

I’ve seen some pretty terrible behavior from parents in the stands and 9/10 times their kids play reflects their parents shitty attitudes. They play dirty, they take cheap shots. That’s the only time I tell my daughter you have 6 fouls, use them.

Stop being “that Parent”…

BPD

Live in the NOW – you won’t regret it!

We here all to often to not worry about the future or to wallow in the past. For many of us it seems unlikely we can focus on the “now”, this present time and what we are doing.

We all know that we should live in the now, experience our kids growing, bonding and spending time with our spouses, yet we waste the now thinking about the future and or the past. We don’t enjoy the now as we should, instead attributing excitement and joy to some point in the future, a future that may never come.

I know it is easy to say “live in the now”, but doing it is quite different within our society. I am guilty of it as anyone else. I will be sitting there thinking about my work day ahead or what will need to happen to go to somewhere in the future instead of observing and engaging with my son, watching him as he develops language and eats his breakfast. Making funny faces and learning as he plays with his toys or even when I wish he could just talk instead of use the 30 or so works he has now and how adorable it is

I think back to when he was an infant and how I was impatient for when he was awake more or doing more things. Now I miss the time spent feeding him his bottle or figuring out how to use his hands and how to roll over. I miss those times because I was thinking about the future, and I am missing the now and feeling bad, because I am focusing too much on the past. I remember a line from Kung-Fu panda from the old Turtle master Oogway that sums this up.
“ Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called a present.”

Enjoy the now because it is all you have and will give you memories in the future when you watch your family in different ways.
Be ever present in the present, get off your phone and enjoy your real life, in the now, because this is all you get.

AFD 1*

Introductions are in Order

Let’s get things rolling shall we? First things first, I’m Matt – here on after known as Griff or MG on here. I’m 34 and live in NE New Jersey. I’m a Penn State Grad, (class of ‘09), an avid sports fan – Yankees, NY Giants, NY Rangers and all things Penn State. I also have a love of the outdoors. I’ve been fishing and hunting since I was young and I’ve been snowboarding for the better part of the last 10 years. More recently I have developed a love for home brewing. Most importantly of all, this past June I became a father to an amazing little boy. Hopefully I’ll be bringing you all some amuzing observations, some helpful tricks and insights along with my humorous, whimsical and sometimes warped point of view on the world around me. I’m excited to join BPD and AFD here at The Versatile Dad. Until Next time.

Have a Good One,

MG

New Writer Incoming

Hey all

Happy 2022 – or you know 2020 part 3.
We have a new father coming on board to contribute to the site and bring in a fresh set of eyes as BPD and I have been up to ours in diapers!

MG is the new contributor and is also a new father. We share a love off Brewing, Sports and Fishing. We are friends and alumni of the same University ( WE ARE.. PENN STATE) as myself and BPD.

New stuff coming down the pike at you fast and hard for 2022.

Till then Keep Frosty

1*

AFD

Brew Day – Christmas “lager” – Sparkling Vienna Amber Lager with seasonal spices.

3 lbs Sparking Amber DME
1lb Caramunich III malt grain
1 oz German Tettnang hops
1 packet M12 Kveik yeast (dry)
Dash Pumpkin Pie spice ( or just nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, clove)
2 Dash Ground Clove

Bring 1.5 gallons of water and steeping grains up to 185 and remove grain bag.
Whirlpool hops for 10-15 minutes depending on strength you desire.
Remove hop bag and throw in your DME and stir till mixed well.
Add 1 gallon COLD water and stir.
Sprinkle in your spices and stir again.

Let the mix cool to about 90 degrees and move to fermenting vessel.
Pitch yeast and close up fermenter in a warm place. The yeast (kveik) responds well to warmer temperatures and will burn through fermentation. Expect this to be done in 1-1.5 weeks before you can bottle condition or keg. Just in time for Christmas.

I will update when I get this on the gas and show follow up pictures and flavors.

Update #1

3 days in a 72 degree house was all it took for complete fermentation. The taste is malty with light-ish body and a mellow flavor of spices. I am cold crashing now before force carbonation. I am shocked at house aggressive and clean the Kveik yeast is. May be a new standard go to. The hops are a bit strong with peppery and good bitterness for a malt forward beer. Close to Pale Ale IBUs. Once I get it on the gas I will post another update and pictures with final gravity and taste test.

Musings and possibly a book.

First and foremost – happy 600 days of “14 days to flatten the curve.”

I am tired of things not being back to “normal” and the new normal is pretty f*cked up.

That said, it has given us all more time at home with our families if we are lucky. That has been the driving factor behind TVD and our stories, experiences and tidbits of info we provide on the blog and instagram.

I was out blowing leaves and was thinking about the blog and being a start up company/entrepreneurs. We provide a product – this blog and its information that is actionable to not only help you in your life and journey but ours as well.
We are passionate about many things and most are covered here in the blog, but one thing that is a top passion for me, besides my family, is my love of fermentation and home brewing. Now – I would NEVER be good enough to be a professional brewer – there is a lot to learn, and buy to even get close, but I can certainly help others find a love for the art and if they then go on to become pros… so be it.

With that all in mind – I am going to try to WRITE A BOOK! About brewing for people who don’t want to know everything but make solid beverages and develop new skills! Plus it will be for quick and lazy brewing! No day long brew days here!

More to come soon!

1* AFD



Pets and letting go.

Hey all – I know it has been a bit since our last blog article but had a lot of stuff going on and well, as the title gives away, its about our pets.

My wife and I have 3 cats, yes I know that is a lot. They are all close in age 11-12-13 yrs respective. One day last week our smallest boy ( and youngest cat) threw up and then became lethargic and very much not himself. A trip to the 24 hour emergency vet brought the finding of an abdominal mass and subsequent testing confirmed a highly aggressive, malignant tumor. He has months, not years, the Veterinary Oncologist informed my wife and I.

I knew the older cat would be going soon as She is getting up there in years. Never ever would I have expected this from the baby. He still acts like a kitten and looks it too.

We did his first round of Chemo today and he is doing well. 1 shot a month and then a pill every 2 weeks with steroids daily to hopefully get him in to remission.

Eventually though we will have to make the decision to say good bye when quality of life is no longer available to him. We do not want to make the decision, but we also do not want him to suffer. Losing a pet that you have know almost their whole life, who are like children to you, is a heartbreaking thing. Having to choose the hour of their last, makes it even worse.

My wife and I know we will have to do it sooner then we ever thought, and neither of us is emotionally ready to not have that little character here. He was the best cat – almost like a dog and great with our infant, now toddler, son.

I will miss him, as I miss all my other pets that have gone before. I truly hope that when they cross the rainbow bridge they play and have fun until its time for our spirits to reunite again.

I love you JoePaw. Let’s have a hell of a time together before its over. Then I will see you again one day. My best boy.

1*
AFD

Brew Day – Schwarz Bier ( German Black Lager)

Recipe:
1/2 lb Black Malt – milled
1/4 lb Roasted Barley
3 lbs DME Golden Light
2.5 gallons water
1/2 oz Hellertau Mittelfuher hops
S-189 Dry Lager Yeast from Saflager

Process:
Steep grain in bag as 1.5 gallons water heats to 180 F
Pull Grain bag and bring to boil
Mix in DME
Bring to boil then cut heat
Whirlpool hops for 20 minutes, then remove
Add 1 gallon COLD water
Let wort chill to 68-70 degrees then pitch yeast
ferment 1-2 weeks or until complete and cold crash beer for clarity.

Keg or bottle as desired.

I am making this today and will let you know how it turns out in a few days/week!

Update: fermented 5 days then cold crashes for 4 at 40 degrees. Force carb over night and the results are stellar. Flavor of dark roast and barely but light body as should be for a lager.

AFD 1*

Meditation/Calming Waves

Hey folks, here is an 80 minutes track of a recording of waves isolated to help you focus and relax after a stressful day, or when you are trying to meditate, or just clear your head.

Add in the box breathing from the other post we have and/or any other type of breathing protocol and enjoy!

Birthdays and other musings

Hello ALL

I apologize for the longer hiatus between posts recently – life is busy and gets in the way. Lots of new things going on that I will go into today as well as the joy/anxiety of another birthday for me.

So – where to begin? I guess it would have to be with the ending of Summer 2021 and beginning Fall ‘21. Got to spend a few days at the beach this summer, not as many as the past but my son seems to enjoy it. The beach naps aren’t as good and though he still requires 2 naps a day, it did put a certain limit on beach and “relaxing” time.

PSU football is back, and crowds are in full swing making this feel like we are getting back to normal. I am not a fan of people thinking “new normal” and want the real normal back.
We have also switched out our inflatable pool for a SoloStove Firepit and though it is still warm at night, nothing better then relaxing with a beer by the fire – after kids are in bed of course!

Stress and anxiety are still running a bit high as we adjust to having a walking, babbling toddler. We have yet to fully “ baby-proof” the house but we are getting there. We had storm damage to our home and the process of getting a new roof and, new fence, and vehicle damage repaired is anything but smooth, relaxing or carefree.
Compound daily struggles, stress, work obligations and potentially trying to move within the next year – puts a ton of pressure on your marriage, relationships and mind.

I have been looking to try to calm my mind. To look inside instead of out and ground myself. I have had a questioning of what I believe, spiritually, since the passing of my cousin in late 2020. I have returned to meditating more. Stretching more to focus that mind/body connection. Breathing deeply while trying not to think.
I have returned to using Reiki and other energy healing techniques, as well as Shinto philosophies from East Asia to bring me back to, well, me. It’s the only way I can think to be the best version of me I can.

I have reinvested in my fitness and martial training. This is all in attempts to continue to refine myself and have a sound body and sound mind. We are our biggest critics and enemies. I need to fix that in me, so I can be the best husband and father I can. I need to not be quick to anger or judge. To listen to my gut and intuition when I have spent so long ignoring it.

Due to all of the above, my upcoming birthday this year feels heavy. Another year gone and like everything else, some regrets with it. Who knows how many birthdays we will have? Who knows what comes after? Who knows what the future holds. I just hope to give myself the best hand I can to live the best life I can.

Also – I want to travel again. This lockdown and then movement restrictions is going to break the world – we are not meant to be slaves to fascists declaring they know better then I, on how to help me. We are a social animal, who needs discovery and adventure. The time is rapidly approaching for an adventure to help with my mental space as well.

New things will be coming to this page – assuming anyone actually reads this. More fitness, Spirituality, life skills and martial thoughts incoming!
I also will revisit brewing and other fun things. Till then.

1*


AFD

How to have a happy(er) life.

With that lofty title I present to you 4 things to make you happier
1. Workout
2. Eat good food (not crap from a box or pre-made)
3. Try to meditate/clear your mind/ brain dump
4. Get some intimacy from your partner.

There you go. Simple right?

Now of course that isn’t as simple as it sounds – but why? I am going to suggest a rather Spartan approach you can take and try for a week to see how it makes you feel.

1. Start a workout program – anything is better then nothing, do it 3 times a week. A kettlebell will give you more then enough exercises for you to get the blood going and the muscles pumping.

2. Try to eat better food – meats, eggs fruits veggies. Avoid dairy if you can and “white” carbs – any carb that is or could be made white.

3. Meditate – use box breathing from a previous post or the calm app with its *free* meditations or google Mokuso Meditation and perform any for at least 5 minutes daily. You will think of other things, that’s ok, just acknowledge that and move on.

4. Talk to your partner, start “dating” them again. Make the effort and increase your intimacy.

Now that’s 4 easy things that take just a little effort that will reap rewards.
Physically performing and feeling better – adding muscle and losing weight will increase your testosterone.
Meditation reduces cortisol which increases/preserves testosterone.
Eating good food will cure most hormonal issues and – you guessed it- helps with testosterone levels.
Sex is Sex and will help you keep your hormone levels in check.

Testosterone is the foundation of men being healthy, looking younger, staying fitter and living longer.
Also – reduce how much you are drinking. It will help as booze converts testosterone into estrogen and you don’t wanna lose your gains, bro.

Keep frosty, structure this stuff in for a few weeks and you will see you feel better, sleep better, and are thinking more clearly with less stress and ALL of this will help you feel better and happier.

-AFD 1*

Brew Day – Oktoberfestbier (1 month or less… 6 days for me)

This is a very simple recipe with great results… in a week if you can 2-3 weeks if not.

This will yield 2.5 gallons – scale accordingly.

Ingredients:
3 lbs Pilsner DME
.5lbs traditional Dark DME
1oz Saaz hops pellets
.5oz Hellertau Hops pellets
dry hopping bag
1 packet Lutra Kviek Yeast

First bring 2 gallons of water to a boil and then cut the heat.
Toss in all your DME and stir well.
Toss in your Saaz hops whole or in a steeping bag ( preferred method for clearer beer).
Let the hops whirlpool in the beer for 45-60 minutes. I like a spicy Oktoberfest similar to Spaten, so I leave mine sit a little longer.
Cool your wort to 100 degrees and toss into fermenter.
Top off with COLD water to 2.5 gallons.
Pitch yeast at 90 degrees or close there to.

Now let that ferment for about 4-5 days at 75 degrees and you will have a damn fine Marzen. on the last 2 days of ferment (yeast will have dropped) dry hop with .5oz of Hellertau and refrigerate. This step will get the beer to clear, pick up the hop flavor and, in my opinion, pseudo lager the beer.

Bottle or over night force-carb in Keg and serve the next day ( or when bottles are ready).

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