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 *

Getting leaner and lighter without giving up pizza ( or other food you love)

Do you want to eat foods you love but also lose weight at the same time?

It is easier then you think. Now, you can’t eat all the stuff you love at every meal in any quantity you want, but you can strategically do it without counting calories.

Make 2 out of your 3 ( if you choose to eat 3) meals a day healthier and lower calorie meals. How do you do that? Follow steps below:

Breakfast –
NO CEREAL ( looking at you fruity pebbles). These cereals are high in sugar and though they are fortied with vitamins and minerals, they over all don’t fill you up. Eat a protein like eggs, egg whites, sausage, ham, Scrapple. Eggs are a solid choice and you can add light cheese if you like. Avoid bacon and other higher fat meats – fat has more calories then protein or carbs. Try to have a good grain if you like having toast, whole grain or ancient grain breads with a jam or jelly. If going that route, use one with no added sugar.

Lunch –
Same theory as breakfast: Have a protein source, a good carb ( veggies – raw or cooked (steamed/baked), potato, sweet potato. Avoid adding tons of butter to everything, instead use and cook in olive oil. Add in some other heathy fats like avocado. Protein sources should be lean cuts of beef, pork, turkey, chicken, tofu, fish. Avoid sauces that are fat heavy. This doesn’t mean no fat, but pick better fats.

Dinner –
Eat what you like. Just keep the same ideas above. Do this most of the week. We are going for 60-70% adherence here.

Alcohol –
This is NOT a carb. Drinks can have carbs in them as drinks come from the fermentation of fruits and grains (wine and beer). The drier a beer or wine the less sugar (Carbs), but the alcohol is itself its own macronutrient.
What you need to remember here is that Liquor (vodka etc) is a grain alcohol that has been distilled and has no sugar left in it. Due to this fact, its got less calories than all other types of drinks.
So with that information, when drinking remember to drink lighter calories drinks like vodka soda, light beers, dry wines and avoid anything with added mixers ( soda, sugary mixes, etc.).

If you are going to drink, restrict it to 2 drinks daily, as alcohol slows or stops your body from burning other foods for energy and prioritizes the alcohol, because your body sees it as a poison and wants to get it out. Drink in the evening so your body has burned food and body fat all day for energy, then when you drink, it won’t affect your diet. Remember also – heavy alcohol consumption is bad for your liver and sleep and recovery and, well you fucking get it lol.


You don’t need a cheat day on this diet because as long as you follow the above most of the time, you can have a burger here, pizza there.

If you follow this way of eating you will lose weight.

Now – you won’t be skinny as a reed on this diet, but it will allow you to keep your weight down and if you are overweight it will help the pounds initially fall off. You will at some point get to a plateau where you will not lose any more weight. That’s because the amount of food you are eating possess enough calories that you no longer are eating in a deficit. To help you could: workout, eat less “bad” foods ( looking at you deep fried anything in sauces), or simply eat smaller food portions.

Here is the real secret: Workout by lifting weights 3 days a week, walk instead of driving (if you can), go for a walk 2-3 days a week, and use the stairs (not elevator). You do this AND eat mostly like above – You will see dramatic changes in your body and how you feel.

Thanks everyone – more posts like this and around weight lifting and engaging your kids to come.

1*

AFD

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*

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



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!

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*

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*

The ageless athlete and mobility – What All Dad’s should know.

Simple Exercise, executed consistently will maximize longevity.

We all know that the healthy habits we can stick with are ones we will do and will benefit us most. Crash diets, workout programs and supplements may work in the short term, but if they are not sustainable they are not functional.

Strength, as we have previously discussed, is crucial in being able to move and live longer. But what we haven’t really discussed it mobility. Building muscle, staying strong helps increase testosterone and reduce fat as well as allow us to maintain more muscle mass as we age allowing us to keep moving and doing activities we love. However, if you do not train mobility – the ability to manipulate your muscles and joints in multiple planes of movement – is similar to being a robot. You may be big and strong but you won’t be able to wipe your ass or tie your shoes, and that will only get worse as you get older. That is not something you want.

This also impacts activities like playing with your kids/grandkids/etc. They have amazing range of movement, whereas I am betting you do not. I am guilty of letting myself get muscle bound by not stretching enough or just going into my lifts and only training those movements. Martial Arts will let you know quickly where you are not flexible enough and can help get you more bendy quickly, but can also get you hurt if you aren’t careful.

Yoga is a good option if you like that kind of stuff but I don’t. It’s too woowoo for me and not my style. Dynamic stretching would benefit many of us, but still can limit your range of motion. My suggestions then are – Taikokyu ( think stretching using a staff to assist you into really nice stretches and even self PT). Secondly I would say Mace exercise movements. Yes it looks funny but that with a good dynamic stretching program and foam rolling will unlock your tense shoulders, back and neck. The Taikokyu or Dynamic Stretching will open up hips, low back and legs.

I encourage you all to start doing something for just 15 minutes every day or two to help start loosing yourself up.

Lastly – meditation for 5 minutes a day, or even just quiet deep breathing where you clear your mind, will make your day of stress and tension drop away. It will help you dream better at night and will help you think more clearly during your awake hours.

Add these practices in to your programming, if you haven’t already, to see your performance everywhere else get better.

Stay Strong!

AFD 1*

Brew Day 2: Peach Session Mead

Today I am writing about a recent brew I did that I bottled today. It tastes AWESOME. If you like Peach with just a touch of honey flavor on the back end, then you will love this mead.

Now I know its cinco de mayo and I will be enjoying a taco salad and cerveza later, but right now I need to express how great this mead is and would go well with some flan or Churros! Now to get on with how I brewed it –

I used a flavorful Peach Tea blend (2 bags) and 3 pounds of clover honey to create this spring/summer sipper in just 5 days. That’s right, just 5 days. Some people will say that is sacrilege, but anyone who has tried this mead will protest! I steeped the tea in 4 cups of water and let it sit till it was room temperature. I then added 3 pounds of honey and .5 oz of Wyeast nutrient into my (clean and sterilized) fermentor and mixed the hell out of the solution. I then added more water to get my final volume to 2.5 gallons. a final stir to make sure everything is all mixed together and a good amount of oxygen taken in, I pitch my D47 yeast (2 packs).

I let the wort ( un-fermented beer or mead/wine) ferment for 3 days at 68 degrees. On the 3rd day I sampled the mead and it was semi-dry, flavorful of peach and some vanilla and petulant ( slightly fizzy). It had a good aroma on it and hazy very hazy ( think Wheat Beer). I did a gravity reading and the mead was sitting at 6% AVB on the nose.

I decided I liked the ABV and flavor so much that I cold crashed the mead by placing in my fridge for 48 hours. Now some will argue that technically the mead was still fermenting and I could have gotten the ABV higher and had the mead clear more if I just has waited. Well screw that. I liked how it tastes, its at the alcohol level I want and it frees up a fermentor for another brew!

I bottled the mead this morning and have enjoyed it chilled with a splash of seltzer as well as straight in a highball glass over some ice. Its very reminiscent of peach tea and can be served similarly.

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.

Things to Do and Learn During Isolation This Easter/Passover (Keep Sane and Make Your Own Booze!)

Happy Friday All,

I know the coming weekend is a popular holiday with many of the world’s big 3 religions, Easter, Passover, Ramadan. It will be very different this year with the social lock down and stay at home orders. Just because you can’t go out doesn’t mean you still can’t celebrate with friends and family.

Thanks to the advent of different technologies you can Zoom/ Facebook Message or FaceTime your friends/families/parents/dog or cat/ goldfish(?). Regardless you can use this weekend and downtime to advance your skills that you can share with those people (and almost all of them over video chat). I am going to list some options below and then link out to other posts and sites I have either made or have found extremely helpful. Lists of ingredients/tools/materials needed are listed as well. So without further adieu:

Learn an instrument: I personally love playing the ukulele and have a few. You can find affordable starter soprano and tenor (bigger, lower tones, better for bigger hands) on Amazon, MusiciansFriend, and other sites. I personally love my Makala ukuleles with Nygut strings. Sites to help you learn basic chords with TONS of songs are out there but I love this site. This is also awesome as its a great starting point for your kids to get into other musical instruments such as guitar!,

Learn another Language: My wife and I love to travel. I lived abroad for many years and was exposed to many languages in Europe. Since my wife and I have started seeing each other we make it a point to go adventure! Now I know right now that’s not an option but that gives you more time to learn a language in as little as 5 minute a day playing games and listening to stories. https://www.duolingo.com/learn is a free resource that allows you to create a profile and go out an learn TONS of languages _FREE_. I have used this to teach myself German, which I used to navigate Munich,Germany, Austria and Switzerland! “Eins Mas, Bitte” ( a Mas (1L stein) of beer please!) I used it to help me remember my high school and college French and I have even started learning DANISH on there – Jeg Drikker Ol! (“I drink Beer”, remember start with the essentials). There is an app that you can download as well from Duolingo and can be installed on you iPad/phone/android devices. This is a great way to expose your children to another language and help educate them when online school meetings have lost their appeal.

Learn to make your own Alcohol: Beer, Wine, Mead – All use the same basic principals for fermenting sugar into alcohol. How they taste, the volumes, and the creativity in formulating recipes are all up to you!
I will add more posts in regards to wine and beer, but go online to find resources locally, such as local brew shops, who can provide you a vast knowledge of where and how to start brewing, but also to help you with any questions you may have. This also helps your local communities and the economy so do your civic duty and drink up. Personally I have been brewing only Mead (Honey Wine) recently. I do it many ways mixing in fruit or spices or Hops. I primarily make Mead in 2 styles, wine style ( 12-15% alcohol), or Session style (4-7% alcohol and carbonated like beer). You can get a decent Session mead from raw ingredients to something you can drink in as little as a week!

Dry Hopped Session Mead

The folks over at Groennfell Meadery in VT have great resources online to teach you how to make and trouble shoot your own meads at home, and the head Meadmaker Ricky, is a delight with his knowledge and awesome “Ask the Meadmaker” YouTube videos. https://www.groennfell.com/blog

Self care – Meditation: There are many apps out there that will give you guided meditations and many more videos on YouTube etc. to help. The simplest tool I have found to help anyone start is Box breathing. Here is how is goes:
1. Find a quiet area and sit comfortably or lay down and close your eyes.

2. Clear your mind and just focus on your breath, coming in, going out and how it feels in your head/chest/back then arms and legs.

3. Now just focus on the breath, inhale for a count of 4. Hold it in for a count of 4. slowly breath out for a count of 4. Hold you breath without air in your lungs for a count of 4. Then repeat inhalation instructions. Do this once or twice a day for 5-10 minutes. You will feel clear headed and calmer with lower levels of anxiety after.

This is a technique taught to first responder’s, Navy SEALs, Military and other professions of high stress situations. You do not even need to sit down and close your eyes but this activity helps calm the nervous system and is an essential *Life Hack* when things are just getting too intense.

Alright everyone – I hope you enjoyed these tips and advice. Much much more to come in the future around these topics and many more. The meditation/Breath technique will definitely help during this pandemic and being stuck at home. Thanks all for reading! Happy Easter/Oester/Passover!

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AFD

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