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.

How to be a better father in 3 easy steps

Hope cliche is that title? In actuality its many many tiny steps every day, but we can sum them up into 3 broad ranging categories.

1. Be there and be aware –
When you are with your children, be there. Not just physically being there, but mentally engaged as well. Interact with them, ask questions, ask how they are doing, engage with them. Play with them. This will build good memories for the both of you, as well as allow you to have a more personal relationship. Think about what it is they are doing and saying, this will help you feel more connected and not regret later on in life.

2. Put down the phone
This seems pretty straightforward after our last point, but giving a phone or device to your kids to entertain them if not helping them develop. You have regressed socially thanks to your device, it is doing the same to them as well as creating a potential addiction. Studies are showing the degenerative effects these technologies have on our kids development as well as exacerbating things like ADD and ADHD. You have probably noticed it yourself, not being able to stay on track with a thought, or engaged in an activity without mindlessly looking at your phone. Put It Down.

3. Talk to them and think about them
Let you kids know you love them, you are thinking about them and are proud/sad/happy, whatever. This allows your child to know it’s ok to have emotions and that its safe to share them with you. You by communicating are leading by example. Now this isn’t a psychological cure all, but it will help. Plus, who doesn’t like hearing their parents tell them they love them, are proud of them, miss them, and are going through the same emotions we all go through, but don’t always vocalize. — This works great with your partner too, who would have guessed?!

Well gents, that’s all for now. Meditate on this and be proactive in executing the above. It will help make you happier and help your kids develop.

AFD

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*

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

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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.

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AFD

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.

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AFD

Changes are a-coming

Change. It is inevitable. The better we can accommodate and change to it, the better off and happier we will be. Or so that’s what the research says.

I have lived through much change. From the simple times of childhood in the 80s and 90s through my teens and 20s in the early 00s and 10s. I have lived abroad and traveled a lot. In that time life changes as I grew and matured were awkward but expected.

What changed and wasn’t expected was going to high school and watching the Twin Towers come down in NYC due to a terrorist attack.
What wasn’t expected was a second armed conflict in Iraq, or worst, the continued GWOT (Global War on Terror) in Afghanistan. Now, 20 years on from that September morning in 2001, The world, our adversaries and their capabilities are a lot different from the 80s and 90s.
Back then there was no “extreme” left or right wingers. If there was, most people identified them as almost radical. Today, trying to find a moderate if like trying to find a ride out of Kabul Airport.
Our enemies were known – Communism, Fascism, Genocide, the destruction of American morals and normalcy.

The world has made great strides and progress – American too – for LBGTQ and equal marriage as well as coming together to fight a pandemic – be it from a virus, or the corrupt tyrants who shut down states, economies, and ruined small business peoples lives.

Now we face another change – The world after Afghanistan falls. Will it be like when Taliban took over in ‘96? Now better equipped with US hardware and weapon systems – will it be even worse for that population and expanded global terror is Asia, Africa, and then advance to the EU and US?

I don’t know.

What I do know – I will do what I can to make this the best world possible for my child(ren?). My co-author on this site is expecting his 4th in a few days and I can not wait to meet them. That said , we must accept these changes and be the agents of change we wish to see in this world. It’s what drove my into Law Enforcement and now into medicine and working as a volunteer with the local fire company and my Masonic Lodge.

Thoughts to ponder and a final quote:

If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace” – Thomas Paine.

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Spirit – being more than yourself.

What is spirit? What is having spirituality? I don’t mean having religion, though for some those two thought processes go hand in hand.

What I am referring to is, as a father, believing in something bigger then yourself to help guide you, your intuition in situations, and having a comfort in something greater.

I know – this is sounding a little woowoo – but if you take all religion out of the picture and think to even a cosmic consciousness existing, and having a supreme consciousness or architect, then you know when you say to yourself and the universe, please let my kid be ok, please let me be a strong husband and father for my family, that something is listening. Be it Karma, or elemental atoms – something is there.

When you bring in theology things get more complicated as there are dogmas and taboos that are VERBOTEN. I think we all have a moral compass and as long as we try to be good, strong people, and teach our kids how to be compassionate, strong, independent people. There is not much more we can ask for.

Regardless of what you believe, having some spirituality will help you be a better version of you, which in turn will make your kids better people too. Have faith in that.

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.

Quarantine Day 754

Well, not actually anyway but it does feel like that. Much like the movie Ground Hog Day, except I’m not Bill Murray. Instead I’m Ned Ryerson getting punched in the face daily. BING!

Ok, it hasn’t been THAT bad, but it’s been an adjustment. As this is my first blog post and I’ve yet to write my bio/introduction, which I promise is coming soon, I’ll give you a quick background on myself. I’m approaching 39 very quickly. I live with my 3 children, ages 12, 8 and 6, along with my girlfriend/common law wife at this point and her soon to be 7 year old daughter. That’s sixth, 2nd, 1st and kindergarten for those keeping track at home.

We’ve had to learn to adapt quick, as we just all moved in together in a new house and COVID put us in the pressure cooker. The first week or two was much like semi-controlled chaos. Kids and dogs everywhere. Dishes making other dishes. Crayons in your sock drawer. Put that down. Pick that up. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Since then we’ve started pulling things together. My partner luckily teaches 2nd grade and we’ve brought some order back to our isolated lives. So I’ll give you some ideas what is working for us.

Chores

I can’t stress this enough. Without it, we run in circles picking up after mini versions of ourselves. While the kids always had their typical responsibilities, we needed to get more organized since we are now spending every minute of the day in the house.

We have a chore chart now with a list of daily tasks. Every week the lists rotate and they must complete the tasks on the list every day.

Set Bed Times and Wake Up Times

The temptation is there because we aren’t bound to an alarm clock to live every day like it’s the weekend. Don’t. Keep them *and yourself* to a semi decent bed time and wake up time. My 12 year old daughter would stay up all night TicToc’ing and not wake up until 11 otherwise. Keeping a semi normal schedule is vital, not only for bedtime, but for other activities in general including…

Home School

Before this madness started I bought a new wireless laser printer for the house because I anticipated the volume we would likely be printing. *Insert plug for the Canon model I purchased from Walmart here* Our kids get their assignments daily and I print out their packets. 860 pages later and counting… Being blessed with having a 2nd grade teacher for a partner, this is going well for us. She’s done a great job not only with her own online teaching, but keeping the kids on task and schedule. We like to have their work done by mid afternoon and keep them engaged in as many educational activities as we can.

For All the Other Times…

Get out and enjoy the outdoors as much as possible. We built a fire-pit in our backyard and love sitting around the fire listening to music and watching the kids roast marshmallows. We take daily walks around our development to get our mail and get our dogs out for a walk. We don’t want them wasting away on iPads and watching TV all day. We’ve had them do crafts, like painting some of the decorative rocks we have in our garden and just encourage them to get outside and play. My oldest daughter has learned to dribble a basketball between her legs and my youngest daughter found out she can throw a pretty good football spiral at 8 years old. My son runs around collecting magic wands and trying to conjure demons from the magical book of the Decedents. We do have family movie night often. We set up a relatively inexpensive projector and a blank wall and have our own Hi-Def movie theater with popcorn and the works. We’ve been watching a lot of Disney+ and classics like the Mighty Ducks and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids along with new releases like Onward.

Finally…

Make time for you and your partner if you’re lucky enough to have one. Kids, dogs, messes and isolation has divorce lawyers licking their chops I’m sure. Don’t let the chaos get between what brought you together in the first place. Have a special dinner one night. Plan activities just the both of you and don’t let the kids, dogs and quarantine divide you.

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