The Daily Challenge of Life at the Moment

I haven’t posted for a very long time on my website, it hasn’t been an intentional thing on my behalf just a fact that life feels like it has gotten away from me…

I have found it increasingly difficult over the past few years to just keep my head above water at times with the amount of “stuff” going on in my life and taking up time which is the most valuable resource a person has, after all, it is the only commodity one can’t make more of, only slowly lose it.

I love my life. I really do believe that I one of the most blessed men to ever walk this earth, I have so much going for me (and that is not me trying to boast).

My wife and children are my everything and why I try to do everything that that I am doing to hopefully become a better man, it doesn’t mean that at times I still feel that I fall short of being the husband and father that I want to be and that they need.

I have an amazing job, I am a musician. I get to go to work every day as a Music teacher at a beautiful school and get to share my  love and passion for Music and the Arts with so many young men, it really is a privilege. I am mindful though that with this privilege comes a lot of responsibility and my occupation isn’t without a cost to time away from those I love and hold dear.

Then there’s just the everyday run of life…that takes time as well.

So, why am I saying all of this? Is it to try and justify not posting for a very long time? Absolutely not, it is merely to try and give a broad picture on where I find myself at this moment in time, after all, a life not reflected on is a life not lived and I want to continue to make sure that my life has been one lived to its fullest potential…something that at times I probably don’t live up to as much as I’d want to.

Where am I at? What is it that I am striving for and am passionate about as 2017 continues to move along.

Putting it bluntly, I want to grow and be a better person. Hopefully by the end of the year I’ll be able to look back at 2017 and have grown and developed in every area of my life. I don’t think that I will necessarily have “made it” in any of the challenges I am undertaking but hopefully I can be at least one step closer in each of these.

Being a better me…what does that mean exactly?

Well that I believe can be broken down into a number of smaller categories and sections, I have been doing this every year for the past 7 years and there have been some positive results out of it…some of my goals I am going to outline below.

Goal One – Family.

imagesWe are created to not live in isolation but to live in community and, primarily, as a part of a family unit. I love my family both my core family of wife and children and my extended family (both my wife’s and my biological family). I have always tried to keep family as the core that everything is built around, they are why I work as hard as I do, but don’t always get the right balance between work and time with them. I am really going to try this year to keep the right priority and focus, spending quality time with them regularly being totally present.

Goal Two – Friends.

UnknownI have some great close friends, they are keenly loyal to me and I know that I can trust and call on them at any time of the day. These relationships have been built over many years of time together, sharing joint experiences both happy and sad times. The past few years have been challenging to get quality time with them regularly due to the business nature of my work and wanting to spend every spare moment with my family. I am going to try and work on these friendships more, not taking them for granted, throughout 2017. It doesn’t mean necessarily spending less time with family but more trying to get the right balance between being at work and being away from work.

Goal Three – Fun.

I used to know how to have fun and have a laugh. Somewhere along the journey I’ve become a lot more serious about everything in life. That’s something that I need to change whether it’s through being spontaneous in doing something, making light of a difficult situation and just consciously trying to smile more…I think this one for me will be a big challenge but they say that laughter is one of the best ways to reduce stress. Let’s give it a crack.

Goal Four – Fitness.

UnknownThese post are usually all focused on my fitness goals and progress. I have been exercising, but no where near as frequently or at the intensity that I’d like. This has been a result of the stresses at work and need to get in at much earlier times, combined with late nights and then injuries on top of it. All excuses aside I need to start back into a good routine as I am carrying a lot more weight than I want to be at this moment and a I worry about what the long term health effects would be if I don’t change something. Similarly I need to work on my diet. The stresses have resulted in me eating a lot more unhealthy food, sugary and salty…another aspect that will need to change in 2017.

Goal Five – Furthering / Formation.

UnknownI’ve worked really hard on some of these goals over the past years and am happy with some progress. I have managed to maintain a healthy (and manageable) reading regime of a minimum of twelve books a year (one a month) for the past four years. I’d love to read more but know that with the speed I read that it is just not feasible without having a negative effect on other areas of life.

I made the decision this year to really try and further myself as an educator. I am currently working towards completing my Certificate IV in Training and Assessment so that a Vocational Education Training (VET) Course in Music Performance may be a possibility at school. I am also looking at completing some Kodaly courses / accreditation over the next couple of years.

Musically I have started learning the trumpet, I feel that this will help me become a better band director in school through being able to share experiences and  knowledge with students…let’s see how that goes. I have also been working towards my Fourth Grade AMEB Flute performance exam…hopefully that will be done by half way through the year!!!

Goal Six – Financial.

imagesI have set some very specific financial goals. A book that I am currently reading, “The Richest Man in Babylon”, has really confirmed a lot of my previous thoughts and beliefs about savings and planning for the future. There’s been a lot of savings measures I’ve started to bring into my everyday life, trying to try the fat, as well as more structured budgeting to where money is going for saving/preparation for various planned expenses. Hopefully by the end of the year we’ll really start to see some dividends in this area of life.

Goal Seven – Favourable

A wise man once told me the importance in looking upon others with a sense of “favour” or good grace. This is something I really struggle with, always jumping to the worst conclusion as if I have been wronged. I’m really going to try and make the effort to look on every situation with good grace, showing favour and forgiveness to people always…I know this will probably be the biggest struggle for me but if I can take it one day at a time I might be able to at least improve a little.

The Challenges of Daily Life

Well that’s what the year 2017 is going to look like. Will I achieve all my Fs? Probably not…can I give them a red hot crack and see how far I get? Absolutely.

One sure thing is that I know I will fail a number of times (look any that, another F). But it really isn’t a matter of whether or not I fail but rather what I learn from that experience and, as I said to one of my boys at school during the week, how I respond to the situation after failing / being let down. There’s a lot I can’t change in the world and the environment I live, but what I can always change and work on is who I am currently am in my thoughts, reactions, speech and relationships. If this remains my focus I know that come the end of the year I will have grown and transformed.

Will I post more often in 2017…I hope so, but hey…who knows what life is going to throw at me.

The challenges I face in life daily are really and some are big of me but through the grace of God there is nothing to big that it can’t be overcome.

 

 

 

A New Year Means New Beginnings

Day 1 – Tuesday 1st January 2013

Today marks the beginning of my Fitness Training for 2013. With the New Year comes New Beginnings, I admit that we are all affected by what we have previously done and experienced but this does not need to necessarily dictate our future and the successes we can have as individuals going forward. We are a product of our past but have control over present which, in turn, has influence on our future and who we become. This had lead me to decide on calling my fitness challenge for this new year “Pushing the Limits 2013” as it is exactly what I want to do, push the limits on who I am and ultimately who I can be.

When my alarm went off this morning I was really tempted to not get out of bed and take the day off. I felt I could justify it with the night before being New Years Eve and me not getting to bed until after 1:00am. After running through this process in my head I pulled myself out of bed as it is more important to me to start the day off well. It would be fantastic to see if by the end of the year I had completed an entire year of training, the 1st of January I feel; is a logical place for this to begin.

Day One - A New Year Means New BeginningsLuckily the temperature today is no where near as bad as what it has been over the past week in Perth, this suited me as I was going for a 7km run around Lake Monger. This run I had completed a few days ago in just over 44 minutes, I was hoping that today I would be able to better this time. With my iPod on Lincoln Brewster’s album “Today is the Day” I started my run. My legs were feeling quite stiff from yesterday’s cardio session and when combined with being quite dehydrated still from last night’s gig in Northbridge I found the run at the start quite challenging. Today’s run I managed to complete in 40 minutes at a time of approximately 5 minutes and 43 seconds, a little better than the last run but still a long way to go before I am completely satisfied.

I am really hoping to Push the Limits throughout the course of 2013, taking it a day at a time and building on the successes of each session will be the key.

Rounding Out the Year

Day 221 – Monday 31st December 2012

This morning’s session signalled the end of my Fitness Training 2012 regime, to complete the year I hit the gym to do a cross-training regime.

I am quite happy with how the session went, especially considering that when I got up this morning I didn’t overly feel like completing the session. Perth’s heatwave has continued and living in a house with no air conditioning meant that the outside temperature of 40 plus degrees last night was really like 45 degrees inside the apartment. The result of these conditions was a night of disrupted sleep with me waking every couple of hours from only a light sleep to turn the fan back on and in a pool of my own sweat (not very pleasant at all).

I finally did manage to pull myself out of bed at 7:00am (an hour and a half after when I had planned to get up) and due to the temperature already being over 35 degrees I decided to head into the gym to do a cross training session rather than complete a 7km run.

I arrived at the gym a little after 8:00am and headed for the treadmill. Starting on 7.5km an hour I did 5 minutes before increasing the speed to 10km/h for 10 minutes and then finally 12.5km/h for the last five minutes. After 20 minutes I had run 3.31km which would equate to an average of  kilometre every 6 minutes and 3 seconds. I was feeling nicely warmed up by this stage and headed to the rowing machine to complete a 10 minute row. I had decided that I still wasn’t going to push myself too hard on the row and so set out keeping my stroke rate at 30 per minute and an average 500m split of around the 2 minutes and 15 seconds. For the first 8 minutes I managed to maintain this before increasing the work rate for the last 2 minutes to have completed a distance of 2,247m inside the 10 minute timeframe.

Day 221My legs were beginning to feel fatigued from the work put in across the running and the rowing as I headed onto the cycle to complete a 15 minute ride. I alternated the resistance on the bike in two minute intervals beginning with the resistance on 6. My legs were quite fatigued and I found it difficult to sustain a speed above 90 rpm on the level 6 resistance. By the end of the 15 minutes I managed to have ridden a distance of 6.89km, whilst this is a long way beneath my personal best I am aware that I am still only just getting back into the routine.

To complete my workout I moved over to the stretching area and completed three sets of 50 sit ups using a 7kg medicine ball to provide extra resistance. After this I spent a good 10 minutes stretching out my leg muscles to try and help in my recovery before tomorrow’s planned run in the morning.

As the year draws to a close and I look back on my training in 2012 I can honestly say that I have learnt a lot about myself. There is a bit of disappointment that I did have an end of the year where I didn’t really commit to my training, as a result of this I have put on weight and feel incredibly unfit. I am excited though about the prospects moving forward into 2013, the past week has been enjoyable to start to try and get some sort of routine back, I do have a long way to go but feel like it is possible. I am still considering the goals I want to set for myself in fitness and life in general in 2013 as there are many exciting factors outside of control that will come into play. Do I want to try and run a a marathon come August, or do I want to change my regime a little and include cycling and swimming to push for a triathlon? My main focus on training is to try and have a healthy lifestyle, I want to feel good and hopefully extend the length of my life so that I will have more time to spend with my beautiful wife and the children we will have in the future. Whilst these are my focus and main motivation I do know that it is important for me to set some short term goals.

I feel 2013 is going to be a great year for me and my family and friends, on this note I say fair well to the Fitness Training 2012 an hello to my 2013 regime – Pushing the Limits 2013.

 

Taking Baby Steps

Day 219 – Saturday 29th December 2012.

This morning I felt like it was another important step to me getting back into shape with me completing a 7km run around Lake Monger. When my alarm went off at 6:00am the last thing I felt like was getting up, however after some procrastination I managed to pull myself out of bed and got ready for my run. I had thought that this morning I really wouldn’t enjoy the experience as Perth is still in middle of a heat wave and the temperature really hasn’t dropped for the past three days by more than 5 degrees. I was pleasantly surprised when I began my run that I didn’t it find it too hot at all, my legs were quite stiff and it did take me a while to warm up but the heat wasn’t really too much of a distraction.

Day 219Today’s run had the purpose of being a starting point, I wasn’t too interested in the time it would take me but more into whether or not I would complete it. I have experienced the joys in the past of pushing myself too early in a training program only to sustain a slight injury that sets back my progress. It was important as I ran to keep this in mind, especially when having the humbling experience of having other runners run past me whilst I was completing my second lap. This was a new experience for me as in the past I have always been the one who has done the overtaking.

Keeping my focus on just completing the run in a reasonable time, and without injury, I managed to run the 7km in 44 minutes and 28 seconds. This is by far not a blistering speed and well off my personal best times but is a start. It equates to running each km in 6 minutes and 21 seconds, I will aim to get this time down to 6 minute kms as my first goal with an aim of smashing it down to 5 minutes in the next few months. A worthy challenge and achievable goal.

As I write this I can’t help but reflect on where I had gotten to fitness wise towards the end of 2011 to where I am today and everything that has happened inbetween. Some people would feel demotivated to find themselves in a less fit state than 12 months prior. I can’t felt but feel motivated to dedicate myself to getting back there. I can remember from my past experience it isn’t about the one session but the accumulation over a period of time and the baby steps that are taken with each session. Today’s baby step of getting back into a run will only prove beneficial if followed up by another session tomorrow morning. Here’s hoping that I can take that next step as well.

A Disappointing Effort

Day 218 – Friday 28th December 2012.

I would like to be writing this post saying that this morning I was up at 5:00am and completed my planned 10km run. Unfortunately, this is no the case, in a disappointing effort I didn’t complete my run this morning. My alarm went off at 5:15am and instead of getting up I rolled over, turned it off and went back to sleep.

Day 218

They say that you can learn something from every situation and I believe that this is no exception. One of the largest factors for my failing to get up this morning was a failure to go to bed at a reasonable hour last night. I was hoping to go to bed between 10:00 and 10:30pm however got distracted by a movie that came on television which didn’t finish until just before midnight. Five hours sleep always used to be enough for me to be able to function, however in the past year I have found that I can’t function as well off that amount of sleep. I have been working off a six to six and a half hour regime but think that I may need to try and get seven hours sleep a night regularly as I go into 2013. One of the advantages with this next four weeks is that I get to work on finding the “right” bed time for me to be able to not just survive but function at my best in the coming year.

I am sure as the next year progresses I will need to reassess amount of sleep and things will change, but if I  have a plan it is always easier to readjust it after having been proactive than just being purely reactive in all things.

Here’s to a (hopefully) earlier night tonight and a great run tomorrow morning!

The Slow Road Back

Day 217 – Thursday 27th December.

I have slowly started  working on getting back into some sort of routine with regards to exercise. The second half of the year has proved nothing more than problematic for getting regularly to the gym. Unfortunately I have no one to really blame for this but myself. I am going to stop short of declaring that I will be back into a full training regime immediately…I just worry that I might fall short of this goal. I do, however know that I by slowly plugging away at things that I will get there.

I realise as I write this that the road back is going to be a long and difficult one, I currently weigh 84kg (the heaviest I have been for years). I have started looking towards next yeart and the goals I want to set myself to help inspire me to train, I believe that this is an important key to life in general – set yourself goals to help you strive for success and to become more than you are at the present.

The past week has seen me do three sessions at the gym, the first one a cross training cardio session with the next two being weights sessions. Whilst it might not seem like a lot of time it is a lot more than I have been doing over the past few months.

My cardio session was quite good, I didn’t push myself too hard with it as it was the first one back, I managed to run for 20 minutes on the treadmill before completing a 10 minute row and a 20 minute ride. I didn’t set any PBs with this session but did feel good at it’s completion.

It's a long way back to fitness after such a long break.

It’s a long way back to fitness after such a long break.

I completed my first weights session for a number of months on the 24th of December. I did my usual routine with a little less weight. I managed to get out three sets of tweleve reps on 60kg for the bench press. This was followed by using a combination of 17.5kg, 15kg and 7.5kg for the rest of my training program.

Both Christmas Day and Boxing Day I suffered from my first weights session, however come this morning I was back in the gym for my next weights session. I tried to start off with a bench press on 60 kg but couldn’t complete it with my chest still being quite sore. I moved the weight back to 50kg and still struggled to manage three sets of eight repetitions. At the completion of this I moved on and completed the rest of my routine, with being sore I dropped the weights used to be a combination of 15kg and 7.5kg dumb-bells. The day really did turn into an opportunity to try and stretch out some of my soreness.

Tomorrow is supposed to be a running day, I am hoping to have an early night tonight (probably around 10:30pm) as I will need to be up at 5:00am. Perth is currently in a heat wave and the temperature will be up over 40 degrees tomorrow, if I don’t start early my run just won’t happen. I am glad that I won’t be in the gym tomorrow as I injured myself whilst playing goal keeper in a friendly game of soccer this afternoon (I jarred my right thumb).

I am really excited about the challenge before me, it’s going to take a lot of dedication to get back into shape. Give me six weeks of training and I think (hope) that I will be right on the way to being back on top of it all.

Hitting the Weights

Day 115 – Tuesday 18th September 2012.

I must admit that I have been quite slack over the past few weeks in keeping up with posting my results from my Fitness Training 2012 regularly (the last post being back on the 9th of September). Although things have not been ideal and I have missed days (and at times whole weeks such as from the 28th August – 9th of September) I can say that this past week my training has been rather consistent at an average of three sessions per week. My biggest dilemma at the moment seems to be finding the opportunity to blog on my progress due to the ridiculous number of university assignments I have had due and still have due in the next two weeks, i am just grateful that I have stayed on top of the University workload otherwise I’d be in all sorts of trouble by now.

This morning I made the intentional effort to be up extra early to ensure that I would be ready for the gym. I was disappointed yesterday when I slept through my alarm and didn’t get to the cardio-vascular session, I really feel with the new indoor season a matter of weeks away that I can’t afford to be missing too many sessions if I want to ensure that I am fit. I did do my first weights session for a long time today, easing back into the routine all my weights were dropped significantly from what I have previously done managing only 55kg on  the barbell for my bench press and using only 10kg and 15 kg dumb-bells for the remainder of my workout. I could have pushed myself and gone quite a bit heavier but as I have had such a long break I want to ease into it to try and reduce the amount of tightness and soreness I will experience over the next few days. I also hope that doing it this way will allow me to really focus on my technique and isolate my muscle groups being worked to ensure that I get the most out of the exercises.

To be honest, I am feeling quite good at the moment as I write this post, hopefully this feeling continues throughout the course of the day and into tomorrow when I get up to do my next cardio-vascular workout.

I am aware that I will need to be mindful of my workload over the next week and a half, I have 5 assignments due in over this time. I am feeling pretty good and confident about getting everything completed well and on time, I just know it’ll be a push as well. Fingers crossed that my dedication to training will put me in good stead to be focused during those times of university study and focus.

Fighting a Lack of Motivation

Day 102 – Wednesday 5th September 2012.

Today’s post is a quite different to the previous entries on for my fitness training 2012. I have been struggling for the past week and a half to get to the gym largely due o the amount of assignment work and lack of sleep I have been getting as a result. I think on average it’s around the 5 hours a night I have been in bed, though I think the sleep factor has been much less as I have been finding it hard to sleep.

This morning I should have managed to get to the gym, I finished the large rationale for the use of large ensembles in schools in an educative role on Sunday morning only to now have had the whole class given a week extension on it’s due date today. Events like this that have occurred over the past week has just left me feeling totally demotivated and not feeling like doing much at all. Making sacrifices and paying cost is just a normal part of life, the frustrating thing is when you do this only to feel like it is thrown back in your face and disregard for your efforts occurs.

Demotivation is a tricky thing to try and get through when you are already feeling physically tired and run down, there is still so many things to get done that I know I will just have to pick myself up and try and push through it. Tomorrow is supposed to be a weights training day, I am really keen to give it a good crack to be at the gym first thing in the morning at 6:00am. Here’s to hopefully turning the corner and getting the fitness training back on track, and, hopefully from there be able to build up some momentum in motivation with the other areas needing work.

Pushing to Breaking Point

Day 93 – Monday 27th August 2012.

This morning I managed to get back to the gym for my first session for two weeks. I have been struggling in my sleep patterns, regardless of the time I go to bed I just have not been able to sleep, lying in bed awake with my mind racing at a million miles per hour. I would like to say that I managed to have a good night sleep last night, however that was not the case at all – I probably had the worst sleep I have had in two weeks! Luckily my wife woke me up at 5:45am (45 minutes late) and I managed to get to the gym and do my session.

My session was an interesting one, I found it quite intense and taxing on my body which is probably due to the two week break from training. My 20 minute run on the treadmill was pretty good, I felt a bit tight throughout it but managed to keep the pace at 7.5km/h for the first 5 minutes, 10km/h for the next 10 minutes and 11km/h for the last 5 minutes. I then moved onto the ergo and without thought ended up pushing myself harder than I have for a long time. I managed to keep the 500m split down at an average of 1 minute and 55 seconds for the entire 5 minute time and a stroke rate between 32 and 35 strokes per minute. I finished the 5 minutes having rowed over 1.3km and was absolutely exhausted. I moved onto the bike for my 10 minute ride, I began it but a minute in had to stop as I felt like I was going to vomit – I had reached breaking point.

I moved onto my stretching and managed to get out of the gym by 7:15am. The next few weeks is going to be incredibly busy due to all of the University assignments that I have to get completed. I am still passionate to try to get to the gym every morning as I am still of the strongest belief that a healthy body contributes to a healthy mind. It will be a difficult task, I am hoping that I can rise to the challenge. I suppose I will have to take it one day at a time!

Juggling Many Balls

Day 73 – Tuesday 7th August 2012.

Some days I get up and feel like I am trying to juggle too many balls at the one time, ok in all honesty there’s many days that I feel like that but it is one of the things that keeps my life full and interesting at the moment. A lot of people would probably think that I am crazy and a sucker for punishment but I really do believe that the most growth only comes through being willing to go through the hardship of testing and being stretched in ones capacity – the more you are willing to be stretched then the greater the growth in the long run. A good friend of mine said something to me a couple of months ago as I sat with me having coffee whilst overlooking the beach up in Hillaries that has really resonated with me. I was sharing about how a lot of people have commented on me being mad trying to do so many things this year and his response was;

“Don’t worry about that because they are wrong, everything you are doing this year is a part of your personal story and journey, the testament of your life and it says a lot about your character and desire to grow and be disciplined in everything you do. Anyone who tells you otherwise really isn’t worth listening to as you have been created to be exceptional and are exceptional so don’t let the ordinary pull you down to their level. Be the 1% of the 1% of people who are truly exceptional in their life.”

These words continue to resonate and encourage me as I continue through this year and manage to find ways to keep all the balls not just in the air but well balanced, althoug there are moments.

This morning’s session was a great weights session. I was at the gym before 6:00am although it was a struggle to get out of bed this morning as I didn’t get to bed until after midnight. I had no reason to be so late with my bedtime apart from the reading of a good book at the moment and enjoying taking a little time to unwind after a hectic day of uni lectures and tutorials, teaching and then 6 hours of study and assignment work. I am not setting any PBs still at this point in time although I am continued to feel encouraged with the increase in the number of repetitions I am managing and shortening of time I need to recover from my sessions.

Today I will get the chance to do some additional university work as soon as I finish this  post, my biggest lesson I have learnt this year is to stay disciplined in the work that I do and keeping to task. If I take liberties of not applying myself then very quickly I am sure that I will fall behind and then I will be in serious trouble. Some people comment on me being lucky that I am disciplined and well organised in my life and approach to everything. I always laugh at this to myself, discipline and organisation I don’t believe are traits that come naturally to anyone, they are skills that are learnt through regularly committing yourself to the tasks that need to be accomplished. Anyone can be organised, it just takes the decision to start and taking it one day at a time allowing yourself the leeway that at times you will fall short but in the long run you will improve and develop the skill.

As my dad would always say;

“Give a busy man a job and you know it will get done.”

I aspire to be that sort of man who can be relied upon to accomplish tasks and never use the excuse of being busy.

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