this was the one I picked!
OK, 2018 is well on it’s way, we’re almost through January so I have to ask, how’s the New Year’s resolutions going? I thought about the old annual bid for betterment a few days ago while at the gym. Midway through a set I wondered how many people were there at that very moment because they are staying true to their resolutions. My cousin Ryan, who’s also my long-time gym buddy, have probably asked that same question to each other every single year since we ourselves started going about ten years ago. Each January, we’d see hordes of fresh faces that we had never seen before show up looking confused, a little out of place but ultimately ready and willing to start their journey toward a more active lifestyle.
It’s great seeing those people come through the gym doors for the first time (or starting back up), good for them, it’s about time they took charge and start taking care of themselves. It’s true, I do get excited when people tell me that they have gotten themselves a gym membership or have made their fitness a priority again, it’s motivating. Being the resident gym nut at work, people always share their fitness goals and woes with me. The stories including high-fives and way-to-go’s, I can listen to all day. It’s the stories of “life is just too crazy right now” or “I’ll start Monday” that reminds me how looking after yourself can easily stops being important.
Take me for instance, back in the fall I was struck with chronic neck pain, not sure exactly what it was, I honestly think it was stress, whatever it was, it took me out of the game. I have had aches and pains before, but this neck thing was quite possibly the worst I had experienced in my life…it sucked. Being the religious gym-goer that I am, agony like that almost made me turn my back on ever being 100% again, I was starting to think this was a lifer. I have a whole new respect for people who suffer from chronic pain, it’s not easy to live with for sure. Soon, I was scaling back my gym routine, not going as often, and I started to become OK with the littlest of excuses not to go workout. Ryan’s a new dad and a great dad at that, so understandably he had to cancel on me from time to time, when he did, I forfeited to the couch and was again, fine with that. It played with my head because I knew what I was doing and did nothing to curve it. For the first time in my life I was falling into the deep dark abyss of becoming lazy and giving up.
Finally, just after the holidays I had a moment, somehow I had finally awoken something inside me. I smartened up and told myself “Come on Ash, this is not you, not you at all”. So, once the new year rolled in I made myself a promise, you can call it a New Year’s resolution, call it what you want but something was about to change. Damned if I was going to let a little neck pain (it wasn’t little, “dramatic effect”), I wasn’t going to let any more excuses get in the way of getting better and get in the way of something that’s very important to me which is my health and working out. Fast forward to now, I am happy to report that Ryan and I are on week three of an eight week program, take that neck pain.
My faithful readers, there lies my point. Never let yourself become idle, never allow yourself to give up, sure life throws a lot at you but if you don’t take care of yourself then you might not be around to enjoy it. Yes, work is crazy, I agree juggling kids can be impossible, and there doesn’t seem to be enough time, I get it, I really do, but listen, where do you fit into all of this? You too deserve a little time for yourself to enjoy the things that for some reason has fallen to the wayside. The gym is my thing, but take this example and apply it to what you have lost along the way or have given up on. Giving up is easy, oh, and if you need something like a New Year’s resolution to do it then by all means, go for it, but let’s take it up a notch and make it one better, let’s all go ahead and make it a life resolution.
I went for walk a couple days ago and spent a little time in the basketball court, the air was brisk, the sun beaming down, just the perfect conditions for a pickup game. Both the basketball court and tennis court were free at the time, a sight like that in my youth would be like finding a dollar each time you looked down, pure win. Growing up I lived on the court where I played basketball, tennis, a lot of volleyball and well hockey was just a staple and a given growing up in small town Newfoundland, Canada. Sports like those were a constant in my life and a constant in the lives of my friends, we all had the same passion for high school sports with a camaraderie that still exists today. Certainly, we have all moved on with ours lives but if we happen to run into each other today we immediately start reminiscing of missed shots, long car rides and that time we all got in trouble for someone stealing a Crash Test Dummies CD. Sports did that for me, it provided some of the best years of my life and I think every young boy and girl should get a chance to play something and challenge themselves while they make friends doing it.
I remember the first time that I made a high school team, it was volleyball. I had signed up using the clipboard signup sheet that was always hanging from the coaches door, dangling from an old piece of wool that someone must have brought from art class. For the three days that followed I kept dragging myself to tryouts, each day at 3:15, all intimidated, nervous and unsure that I had what it took. To make matters worst my best friend had actually backed out the day of, so I was really swimming in the deep end now with most of the team consisting of the whole ninth grade, a grade up on me and I was only familiar with a couple of the guys. By the time the last tryout was finished I did get to know everybody but as a consequence to that I then learned that there were only a few open spots so I didn’t really get my hopes up. The two days between the last tryout and knowing if I had made the team were brutal, the suspense nearly killed me.
The day had finally came, the team had been picked and we were to be notified by the coach personally if we had indeed made it, if he dropped by the classroom that would be a good thing. It was pushing 3:00 on a Thursday afternoon when there was a knock on the door, it was coach, I immediately started to try to read his lips. I couldn’t make out what he was saying to the homeroom teacher but after what felt like an eternity he finally addressed the class and spoke three names, just three and those name were “Paul, Paul and Ashley”. Never had my name ever sounded so soothing to my ears, I was instantly relieved, all that hard work had paid off and I was now part of an actual team. (true story see below)
High school for me just kind of happened and I believe sports had a lot to do with that, I kept good grades, actually my grandmother deserves the most credit for that but playing sports was more like a luxury for me and being a good student allowed me that luxury. I see kids playing sports all the time, they’re fun to watch, there’s too much negativity in the world so we need more of the small things and we can find that in our kids. We watch them as they walk in our own foot steps and we vicariously start living through their success because you can relate to how genuinely happy they are playing a sport they love. A few years ago my daughter actually took up sports for awhile, she called one day to tell me she had made the volleyball team, I was so proud, and she was doing on her own merit. I remember barely containing myself hanging on her every word, I was a proud dad, it was indeed a moment (sniff). Although she moved on from sports as some kids do, she did get the chance to experience sports on a team level, she had some fun and created bonds for life.
Speaking of bonds, playing outside as a kid was how I met most of my friends, we played hockey on the street all the time. There was my friend Colin, one time he must have taken a full 30 minutes to get suited up in our makeshift goalie gear only to then take a rock to the lip on the first shot, he was done. Oh yeah, a guy by the name of Corey who had a the heart of a Stanley Cup champion, he loved road hockey. There were moments of my life where shooting a few hoops was a way to talk it out with a buddy, or maybe we’d make plans for the next day with a few jump shots before we called it a night. I remember walking home as a teenager from a school dance with a close friend of mine Willie, who has since passed on, sometimes we would shoot hoops until the sun came up, just chatting it up while taking layups on a dimly lite basketball net. I’ll never forget that, and I will never forget him, he was a good friend.
When I was a kid I would visit my dad for a couple months of the summer, his sport was tennis which then became our sport. He would bring me to the local tennis club and kick my ass up and down that court each match we played but I kept wanting more, some day I’d beat him, it was happening. Every morning and again that same evening I’d battle my father back and forth trying to anticipate his next move, closing the gap and finally getting close enough where I might pull it off. We played all summer one year barely missing a day. I enjoyed that time with my father, for the first time in my life I felt we had connected through sport and for those tiny moments nothing else mattered. We bonded a lot that summer and I learned more and more about him as we continued to play. It was like we were getting to know each other on a different level and I am just now looking back realizing how happy I was. He did a great job pushing me to my limits and taught me the lesson of being humble, I learned how to lose and I learned how to win. I have him to thank for that, he showed me that you can be good but there will always be someone who could be better, so try your best every time and make sure to have fun.
That’s the thing about sports, they bring people together, they teach us a lot about ourselves. Not only does sports help us physically and keep us healthy but it can be very helpful mentally as well. Physical activity can help with stress, you’d be surprised how good you would feel by just getting outside and tossing the ball around. I always look for opportunities to get outside with the nephews and nieces when they visit and they love it, there’s nothing like chasing the kids around the yard and teaching them the concept of a game.
Standing there at that moment and looking in at the empty court I couldn’t quite stop but think of the days where courts like the one before me would have been a forwarding address for me at one point in my life. Take advantage of those moments as often as you can, time flies by so fast so have fun as much as possible. Get out there and kick the ball around, walk to the park and shoot some hoops. Go ahead and put your household title on the line and challenge the kids to a game of horse with the loser getting the dreaded dish duty.
Went for a ride today, after work and as soon as I got home. I was looking forward to it and couldn’t wait to get on the bike, but I needed a change, I had to take a new route to keep me motivated. First I started off relatively the same and was treating the ride as more leisure than trying to get a workout too. The weather was great, it was super warm, so everything was in place for a nice ride.
Once I was well on my way I decided that I would maybe bike a little within the neighborhood, maybe the streets would provide a change that I needed and provide some new perspectives. So off I went no route in mind, just wherever the road took me and if I saw something that I liked I would take it as it came.
Right away I was enjoying the ride, I’m not really a fan of the traffic so I opted to take the sidewalks which provided lots of room and allowed me to focus on my pace rather than the traffic that was screaming pass me as people were commuting about. To be honest I am getting more accustomed to riding the bike than driving my car, it’s a lot less stressful and you get to see more than you would in a vehicle.
Peddling for a bit I came upon this spot where it looked like a path was leading into the inner park that weaves itself throughout my neighborhood so I was curious as to where that would take me so in a heartbeat I veered left and had no idea what I was in store for. The trail was much like the one that shoulders my street, lots of playgrounds, foot paths and small bridges that interconnected everything and at the same time gave me more ideas of routes for another time that I am in the area.
I’m maybe fifty minutes in by now so I start to ask myself if I wanted to keep going or shall I call it and make my way back home, but of course I kept going. After taking the urban trail way for another short ways I then found myself on the street again but now I had a direction in mind so I took the roadway a short stint until I made it to another park entrance and I was bound for Bowring Park , a very beautiful park that is nestled in the St. John’s, Newfoundland downtown area, it’s rich in history and provides for some of the most tranquil and scenic walks.
I had made it to the park and it was teaming with activity, kids were using the skate park, there were people playing catch and I was surprised of how many people were playing this new mobile phone app game called Pokemon Go, they were everywhere but eh, at least they were outside. The park was so beautiful and there was so much that I wanted to photograph but I new my time was getting short and had to start to think about returning home, it was a long way back.
I had a look around and took some more photos but soon started my journey back to home base, the gas tank was getting empty and by now I was pushing a couple hours. The way back was and is a bit more of a challenge as there is a slight incline the whole way, I had to really focus to get back to a rhythm after my leisurely passage through the park.
On the way back I happened to pass this little Syrian child that was walking with his mother, he was so intrigued by me and my bike, almost cheering me on, I gave him a quick thumbs up as I passed him and he smiled back at me surprised by my acknowledgement. I have to say that he was one of the highlights of my trip, his little face was so interested in what I was doing, my own personal little fan club, awesome.
I was gone for over two hours and it was a route that was pretty much on the fly but those are the best sometimes, never knowing where you will wind up, I enjoyed it. It was a great workout, got to see some new stuff and stored a bunch of the trails in the whole memory bank for another bike adventure to who knows where.
Wow it’s been a long time since my last post, just needed the inspiration I guess and I have just the reason to start writing again. Soooooo, I got a bike, yup for my birthday and since then I have been biking every chance I get since April, it’s become my new passion. As soon as I got on that bike I was instantly hooked, I was even mad at myself for not getting a bike sooner. So far, having a bike is a plus for me on so many levels, keeps me fit, helps me de-stress and the big one is that I get to take advantage of being outside. If you are looking to expand your horizons and your fitness portfolio I suggest taking up biking.
I’ve been using Map My Ride as my primary tracking app and it helps me keep a finger on the pulse of exactly how far I’ve gone and certainly a good gauge as to how long I expect my journey to last. The app keeps track of your workouts and I can say that it’s very satisfying knowing exactly what you accomplished. Actually for me, the journey is the best part, you can go anywhere, no boundaries and all you need is a direction. There’s this trail way network that runs right along my neighbourhood in Mount Pearl, Newfoundland and I have been using that mostly so far as I am getting more and more experienced as a rider. The trail way can take you east and it can take to west and then some, there are quite a few attractions along the way and plenty to photograph.
I have been usually hitting about 30K each time I go slowly aiming to get further every time. You would be surprised how far you are capable of going when you put your mind to it. Most of the time I find myself not wanting to stop, there is so much to see and so many paths not taken that has continued to keep me curious as to where I will end up next.
I see a lot of people using the trail way, there’s kids playing in playgrounds, people feeding the ducks, some the swans, there was even a group of people heading out for a canoe ride. The pond was perfect for it and it looked like a lot of fun, they seemed to be enjoying it, it was beautiful on the water.
It was warm and I really had to focus to get going, the heat zapped my motivation pretty quick but I struggled through and it was ok once I concentrated on my pace. Hydration was key, I made sure to drink more to accommodate for the high temperatures and because I was sweating a lot more than usual I made sure to stay on top of my water intake.
One of the best parts of biking is the way it makes me feel, it’s like the kid in me that enjoys exploring the unknown just takes over and there’s no telling where I will end up. I always wonder how far I would be capable of going if I really tried one day, the one thing I do know is that I intend to find out. Anybody can ride a bike and I bet if you took a chance and gave it a shot you would agree, for those who already have biking in there arsenal I hope to see you out on the trails sometime, it’s fun ain’t it?
To close I intend to blog about my trips and I aim to challenge a few trail ways in my area. I am going to make that a goal of mine for the summer and well into the fall. I plan to document my excursions and post some pictures to diarize my accomplishments, you’re very welcome to virtually come along.