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

Minimalism in all things for a Happy Life

When you read that title, I am sure its a natural response to think “ yea, ok, you have no idea how complex X is”…
And you are probably 100% correct. What I am suggesting though is taking all aspects of your life, and see what you can do to the most minimum aspect to remove the added stress and /or work.

For example – work – you have to do your job and only you know what you have to do, but are their areas where to optimize your day you remove tasks that aren’t needed? A meeting that’s very general with no agenda? Ask for an agenda otherwise put yourself as optional for the meeting – if someone can’t express why they need a meeting then it doesn’t need your time. It should probably be an email and not a time suck meeting.
Let’s use a home life example: working out to stay fit and strong. You know I have told before about Minimum Effective Dose to stimulate outcomes such as strength, size and fat loss. You could use a whole commercial gym OR you could use a simple barbell OR even more efficient? Kettlebells/ T-bars. For most men a 50 lb kettlebell or sandbag with a hand that you can do swings with, will make you strong, lean and throw size on you. You can work full body, cardio, and strength all at once in a tool that occupies very little space.

As you can see its just about reduction of the complex. If you can find these areas of opportunity in y our life – work, personal, and family, you will have extra time, less stress and be able to appreciate how much LIFE/TIME you wasted on non-necessary things.

I have been applying this and find I am less stressed, which means more pleasant to my wife and son, which means better relationships and fulfillment as a husband and father. When you are happier it is contagious to others.

We want to be healthy, manly, and intelligent fathers and husbands. Toxic masculinity is not a thing, a lack of masculinity is leading to weaker men, a polluted society, and children without good role models.
This is what the greatest generation had and we need to reclaim that.
This will practice will help. It’s why your grandparents and great grandparents don’t see the need for our many new inventions/toys/etc.

Stay Frosty and kill it.

AFD 1*

Becoming a Dad Again

When my eldest daughter was born, I was the ripe old age of 26. I wasn’t afraid of babies, my mother was an OB nurse and I had taken care of babies before. I do remember being afraid of being a father though. I can remember sitting in the theater, watching Shrek 3 with my pregnant wife. You know the one, the one where Shrek becomes a father…. life imitating art as it felt.

Sitting in that theater I felt really apprehensive about the whole ordeal. Actually being responsible for a human life. I learned fast though that you will never be a perfect parent and you grow with your child in that regard. Of course everything turned out fine. Things got easier with baby number 2…and 3 as well.

Then life happened. My wife turned into a walking Lifetime movie fueled by Borderline Personality Disorder and those 3 kids and I were on our own for a long time. Life was scary, but being a dad wasn’t.

I do feel I lost a part of my 30s in an inexplicable way, dealing with what I was going through from 34 to now. In that time, however, I met and a wonderful woman with a young daughter of her own, with a similar experience to mine. We are now engaged and bought a house, making me a Dad of 4. Being a step dad is a whole other animal and will be the topic of a future post. This post, however, is about being a new dad again, because we are expecting baby number 5.

We knew we both wanted another baby, logistics aside as she is more of the ‘what if…’ part of the relationship while I handle the ‘what is now’ part. We had 3 girls and 1 son between us. Another boy would be nice, we thought. Cute little red plaid outfits and mini cargo boots. I knew from the second I got the positive test on Christmas, it was going to be a girl. Genetic testing and Maroon 5’s “Girls Like You” playing at ultrasound confirmed my suspicion. I guess it’s a familial thing, as my maternal Grandfather cranked out similar numbers in offspring. Our little girl is due in late August and we are both overjoyed. There’s no feelings of apprehension this time around.

I’m not 26 anymore. I’m about to be *40*. For whatever reason that number is a milestone in our culture, although I doubt I’ll feel any different than I do right now. I do go into this baby though with a sense of finality. She’ll 99.5% most likely be the last, and so I will watch those last *firsts* with a different point of view. The last first bath, the last first giggle, the last first steps and words. Much like you can be with your first child, I’ll be taking way more pictures and videos then ever as technology has made that ever so easy and I’ll be aware of those ‘last firsts’.

Time doesn’t slow itself for sure. My dad always said it’s like a roll of toilet paper. It goes faster the more you use it up, and he is right. I always play the game of “when she’s 15 I’ll be…” and relate that to our other kids and sometimes focus on the numbers too much. If life has taught me anything it’s to enjoy today and take the time to focus on what is present, not what might be.

I’m going to enjoy every second of this last first.

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*

How to deal with Sadness as a man.

Sadness, and emotions in general and not something we discuss very often as men outside of tragic events. When someone passes or other tragedy strikes, we give a small window where it is acceptable to feel sad before you are expected to then go back to normal.

But sometimes things in your life, including that loss, compound time over and you find yourself sad. What’s worse is sometimes we don’t know what is causing our sadness and we instead act angry or stressed out, because we are, but also because are sad and don’t know how to deal with it.

Firstly, we as men and fathers, need to identify if we are aggravated or angry because of a trigger or stimulus, or is it that we are saddened about other things that we are just not able to express? We hold in all these emotions all the time to be the strong rock of our families. Sometimes shit just piles up and then you lash out, or snap at those around you and that you love. This is not what a Versatile Dad strives to be.

Once you can identify what’s wrong, you can then attack it head on. Talk to someone, your spouse, your buddies, even to a long dead pet or relative, just to get it out and off your chest and mind. If you need to have a quick cry, do so, but out of sight of your children, because masculinity still needs to be preserved and crying about an issue won’t fix it, but it can help offload that tension from suppressing it.

Then do active steps to make things better. Clear your mind by meditating and working out. Go outside and get sun and fresh air and doing a walking meditation or simply blank out your mind and live in the moment as you walk or watch nature. Readjust you’re focus into what will help and benefit you and yours, instead of living in the past. Never forget it, but don’t ponder on it as it’s over and all you have is the now. Look for happiness in knowing you can affect change and course of your life and by being strong, mentally calm, violent if need be, but also compassionate and caring as the world and day dictates. Well rounded is not just in your education and training but also in introspection and mental health.

Take care of yourself brothers, look for the good amongst even the darkest of darkness and you will find it. Reach out if you need help or just someone to talk to. Healthy activities and goals will help. Professional help can also not be understated, but it also starts with your own iron will.

1*

AFD

2021, vaccines, getting back to normal?

So we are almost 3 months into 2021 and the world is still a pretty screwy place. A new regime leading a puppet and now finally vaccines being distributed to get the world to a place of “herd immunity”.

Between older parents with co-morbidities and a new son with heart defects, this pandemic has led to the need for more isolation then my wife or I would have otherwise allowed. Feeling like prisoners in our home due to relatives and media hyped risks.

That all said – my wife and I are now vaccinated as are our parents. We are returning to going out to eat, visiting places and in time – a week or 2 – I will be returning to training martial arts in the dojo. Ninpo, Aikido and Krav Maga will be back and getting this last 5 lbs of lock-down fat off.

It is time for the world to return to normal. Fuck all this “new normal” shit. If we don’t go back out to be the social animals we are and experience the interactions and exchanges with others in our country and countries we won’t get as much joy and pleasure out of this life as we should.

More posts to come in 2021 – more brewing – more martial arts and more DAD life tips.

It’s time gentlemen to carpe drum and become the best partners and fathers we can be.

Training for busy guys, physically and mentally

Training is critical to keep skills up, strength and conditioning going, and to be honest a boost of endorphins to reduce stress and help you feel good. You could be training in strength, skill, martial arts, doesn’t matter; what does is finding time to get the most out of whatever it is you are doing. I personally train in the martial arts and strength/conditioning as a prior and current first responder. For me then with a full-time job, preparing for a new baby, helping my wife, and regular house hold chores, finding time for self care is something I have the schedule. Here are the tips and tricks I use.

Make training a Meeting with yourself you can not cancel. If you have it on your calendar, and you have it reserved, you will be more apt to show up. I schedule a 45-1 hr block daily immediately after work. This keeps me on a schedule and it also helps it become a habit, a decision you don’t have to think about.

Be efficient and effective so you aren’t wasting your time. Use the 80/20 principal here. 80 of your benefit will come from 20 of your actions. You can also think of this as the Minimum Effective Dose or MED. This is again, what is the minimalist amount of work/activity I need to do, to get the most out of the time I am putting in? This applies to Strength and conditioning, but also works for combatives/Martial Arts/ other skills training.

KISS – Keep it simple, stupid. Don’t make things more complicated then they need to be, because once you do that, you may make excuses to not do it because of the complexity you have injected into the skills training. This rule can apply to all areas of your life, reducing stress and limiting mental drain.

Pick a training type that fits into the above in any skill, and you will succeed. It will be small victories each day that will compound into big wins. Just like compounding interest on a loan, use these smaller sessions to achieve that victory everyday – so even if the rest of the day goes to hell, you accomplished this.

For Physical Training – get kettlebells and dumbbells. Barbells are even better and train full body 2-3 days a week. The bigger the movement like compound lifts ( Bench Press, Deadlift, Back Squat) the more bang for your buck. Use any of the 5×5/5×3, 531 programs out there, or my own choice of Tactical Barbell. I am in and out of the gym weight training in 35-45 minutes. I always have something in the tank when I need it. I am as strong as ever and its simple so I am not mentally drained about my lifts.

For Conditioning – using kettlebells and HIIT will get you smoked, breathing hard and soaked with sweat in as little as 15-20 minutes, 2-3 days a week. That’s all it takes to get into good shape or maintain your current build while handling the rest of your day and keeping you strong for a lifetime.

For Martial Arts/ Flexibility/Combatives/Skills Training – 15-20 minutes of mental focus and minimal space is needed. I run through imaginary attacks based on scenarios I have done in training or on the street. I do Aikido and Krav Maga so you have drills or Kata you can do to keep your mind sharp and ready. If you have a training partner, that’s even better. 10-15 of stretching, dynamic stretching or light yoga will keep you from being locked up and weak in your older years, extending your quality of life. Think of it as a long term investment in being able to do what you want for longer. Be that golfing, fishing, hiking to just being able to get out of your chair without help.

For mental training – 5 minutes, do box breathing from my previous posts, do a simple body scan, or install and use a free app like Calm. Everyone from Arnold Schwarzenegger, Joe Rogan, Tim Ferriss, to multi-millionaires do some type of mental training to keep them focused, calm and happier. 5 minutes can be used when you wake up to prepare for your day, while out for a walk, or as you are laying in bed at night before sleep. This is a large ROI right here.

So taking all of the above into totals:
Physical training + flexibility + mental training = 45-60 minutes a day.
Flexibility + Mental = 15 minutes a day
Skills work = 15- 20 minutes to any of the above.

That’s it. You don’t have to do it all every day. Just try to do something little everyday for those small victories to help supplement your life as a husband and father. Stay frosty.

1*

Keep Calm, Carry On, Breathe.

Hope Everyone had a good holiday weekend this past weekend. I know being separated from Family and friends can make these times seem even harder.

Between being under pseudo- house arrest, and continued social isolation, many fathers are finding it hard to balance the increase in home time where now, home is home, work is home, and in some, unemployment is home; how long will we have our home?

There has been a resurgence recently in the Mediations of Marcus Aurelius and Stoicism as a whole. While I personally do not promote stoicism outright, the concepts from Aurelius in regards to self-control and calmness are a way to overcome negative emotions. The concept of Logos or a form of logic that drives all things as “fate” is a bit too woowoo for me, but how the Stoics respond to such actions is more attractive.

Marcus Aurelius - Wikipedia
A marble bust of Marcus Aurelius at the Musée Saint-RaymondToulouse, France

Keep Calm, Carry On – This is my understanding of Stoicism: no matter how bad a situation or how good, how you choose to respond and look at a situation dictates how you ultimately fair in the event. It does you no good dwelling on how bad a situation is, how much pain you may feel, or how hopeless it may seem. All that does it keep you were you are, burning your most precious commodity, TIME, while not getting you back to a position where you can actualize change to better yourself or life for your family. Some may see it as putting on a brave face, or “fake it till you make it”, but it has been shown that how other see you respond to a situation, will directly impact how they react.

With all that said, being around you family all the time, dealing with a nagging spouse, kids, barking dog, coworkers on yet another obligatory “virtual” happy hour, or the new job search, just remember that this is an opportunity to enhance those relationships, engagement with your kids, grow your career with coworkers, or even a find a new, better position to help you find peace/ happiness with a new job. You need to identify what is bothering you, evaluate how you are responding to the situation and step back for a second. Calm your mind, look for some positives in what can or will be next, and act as if those things are already going to happen.

Finally, take a breath. It will help you with all of the above as well as give your brain and nervous system the resource it needs to help you make actionable that which you now are trying to execute.

In the words of Winston Churchill – ” If you are going through hell, KEEP GOING.” Only by going through will you get out!

Winston Churchill - Wikipedia
The Roaring Lion, a portrait by Yousuf Karsh at the Canadian Parliament, 30 December 1941.

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