Ways to learn as a family during these times.

by The Good Life on March 23, 2020

in Uncategorized

So here we are, day 10.  We decided to basically lock down as soon as this thing started to look dangerous in the US and thus far, its been a pretty surreal experience with snow the first two days and then glorious sun the days since.

It feels a bit like a social experiment that the whole world is in together where essentially Mother Earth has just said “listen, you all need to learn some lessons, you’ve all taken things for granted way too much”.  Funnily enough whilst writing this I saw a instagram from Greg Martin reposting something from Dana White.

So we’ve been taking the opportunity, as I’m sure many others have to focus on us as a family so I thought I’d offer some thoughts on ways to use this time we all have together.

Music

Its funny, since Lilly was born she has loved music.  In The car, at home, at daycare she seems to love it.  Also with Lenny he has been played music since he was in the womb, especially Bob Marley as its the same beats per minute as a mother walking so it helps soothe them when they are born like they are still in the womb.  But with music being important and me knowing the square root of nothing, we decided to buy a couple of guitars and start learning.  Youtube has a whole host of ways to learn but I have struggled a bit with any of them being simple enough so I found Simply Guitar last week which has been amazing.  Tons of basics easy to follow and whilst I likely still sound terrible I am at least feeling like I have some progress.

Yoga

I’ve been an advocate for yoga for well over two years now and have made it part of my daily routine in between Crossfit and running.  However without the ability to go out or to the regular classes we do, we’ve been waking up early, committing to yoga, for 30 mins every morning which in times like these helps settle the mind no end.  The training team at Nike have done phenomenal work to take down the paywall to NTC premium this week which features some great practices.

Cooking

I know everyone right now is stressing on food shortages at the stores so a solution might be food delivery services.  We’ve used Hello Fresh for a couple of years already and considering how damn expensive groceries are over here we find it an amazing way to get great ideas for food along with the ingredients themselves.  We’re switching from 3 meals a week up to 5 so we don’t have to rely on the stores as much.  Along with baking things like muffins (including an insane sweet potato recipe) these are such good ways to spend time engaging kids.

Football 

To the original point about this being a teaching lesson, we’ve been playing football a lot together in the house and in the front yard.  Lenny has been going to “Soccer Stars” at rose city futsal which he has enjoyed, but I must admit with a heavy heart I hadn’t been playing with him as much as I should.  I fear that’s kind of the culture the western world has become.  If you want kids to do something, put them in a course.  

Many of my fondest memories and also how I learnt most about football and the way a ball bounces weren’t from playing in teams, it was from playing at home with my dad, kicking against a wall for hours on end.   So the last few days of playing with lenny to the point now where he has been actually now asking to play has starkly reminded me of how the simplest things can give children the most fun.

Gardening

This time of year is usually when I look at the garden with a sense of dread.  Weeding, laying grass seed, new vegetables, all the green finger stuff.  Its a great thing to for kids so they can understand how we get our food and much like the reference above, teach us all that food shouldn’t be as simple as having everything available all of the time.  Learning the importance of sunlight, water and good earth is one of the most simple lessons but so valuable to kids.

So thats our 5 things we have been using to get us through everyday as a family.

The other thing which has been the major change, has been like many of us is working from home.

Friday, I definitely managed to get the first day of productive work done it felt like. How did it start?  Well, yoga, coffee and then I showered.  Huge game changer right there! Sounds so simple but the first few days of the week I wasn’t really starting my day the way I needed to actually be productive.

We also at work elected to keep 12-2 free of calls and 4-6 free for work or just to be with your family which has been a game changer.  This article from Matt Barr gives some other great examples of ways to work as a team from home.

So for now, we’re going to keep making the best of things and be thankful for having a house with a yard, some decent weather, lots of activities and a being a family.

Thanks for reading.


Is there a silver lining to all this?

by The Good Life on March 16, 2020

in Uncategorized

I’m sure like many of you, the developments over the last week have seemed nothing short of surreal.  What started as a news story on TV has quickly become something affecting friends in Europe, to now something which is hitting home with work being affected, day care and school closed and people being told to stay at home.

What it has done is shown how quickly the world can respond when it needs too.  And I think thats the difference here.  The perception of need vs want.  We see that we need to combat this virus so measures have been brought in by individuals (self isolation), whilst companies have brought in measures such as closing offices, stores and then governments have brought in hard borders, travel bans and fines for those going outside.  The big shift here could be that we see what we as a human race are capable of if we work together and turn some of our desires and wants into needs. 

What If we responded to climate change in the same way we are this virus?

We could see some huge shifts and ironically this virus could be the thing that teaches us this lesson.  The threat of climate change is very real with some estimates are that in future up to 250,000 people could die each year from climate change in the form of malnutrition, heat stress and malaria. 

I just finished a course with Harvard Business School “Sustainable Business Strategy” and they focused throughout the course on the role of companies, individuals and government to bringing in sustainable business practices to help solve climate change.  Throughout the course they challenged us to think:

“Can companies make a significant difference to climate change”

Its interesting to think through that because you think about companies like Patagonia who have led the charge against climate change, against Dams (as below) even filing a lawsuit against the President because of his reduction in the size of the national monument in Utah. They have the reach and the means to be able to campaign for change without the issues of borders stopping them.  They can also create movements of people who will actively support the change.

In the course another company they highlighted were Lipton Tea who shifted to an entirely sustainable supply chain including helping local farmers develop regenerative farmer practices.  It meant that they had to spend $1.2 billion to make that switch, which they didn’t benefit from fiscally for the first few years, but eventually it paid off as they are seen as the market leader not only from market share but also from an innovation stand point developing better relationships with farmers and a better quality product.

They also focused on breaking it down into easy to understand bite sized chunks. I thought this commercial from PG Tips breaks it down pretty easily.

The beauty of companies like Patagonia, Lipton, Nike shifting their supply chains is that 157 of the top 200 entities in the world are corporations so don’t have the same borders as governments, so when they want to shift their practices, the effect across the world can be huge.  Lipton have up to 70,000 suppliers within their supply chain so these shifts can really make a huge change.

Hand in hand with that they also asked “what role governments should play in tackling climate change?” and whilst companies can make a huge difference, to really enact change across all of humankind, governments need to do their part.  When you asses the impact a government can have, bear in mind the % of pollution for the top 5 countries.

China 30%

United States 15%

India 7%

Russia 5%

Japan 4%

Now if governments really wanted to tackle climate change, the same way and with the same speed they are tackling Corona Virus they wouldn’t be just surcharging for plastic bags there would be wholesale change especially with the worst offenders. If any of you have been to Japan you will know the individually wrap each piece of fruit in plastic before putting it on the shop floor. 

The clue here could be to look at the impact of the restrictions set in place by the Chinese government has without their intention actually helped the air quality in china.“This is the first time I have seen such a dramatic drop-off over such a wide area for a specific event,” said Fei Liu, an air quality researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

I also saw this week that many resorts are closing this weekend for skiing and snowboarding.  I do wonder the effect that may have on the glaciers this summer.   I’m very guilty of this having trudged up many a glacier in June, where in general each morning you have thousands of cars driving up a winding road to get to the top and take a picture of how sad it is to see the glacier melting away.  Its likely negligible in the short term, but imagine a concerted effort across multiple resorts for a few months a year.  Yes it would impact the local economy in the short term but could that be part of whats needed to help do our part for future generations.  I read a thread from Neil Campbell online and someone commented that “In Whistler 9 tonnes of sodium nitrate used per week in the summer to keep a cat road access alone. Madness.”

Again to see the speed at which the governments have reacted I do wonder what a concerted effort against climate change could look like.  

For that to happen it does also require individual action.  I saw a particularly horrible tweet from someone yesterday.  I wish I’d saved the tweet saying “I’ll sat down for a long lunch in a busy restaurant and really took my time.  Nothing will stop me because I’m American!”.  That to me showed me one of the biggest issues that the US has.  We need to realize every action we has and its consequence. So to my last area and the role of the individual.

We recently did a body of work at Nike around waste and wanted to start close to home.  The coffee cup.  We estimated that with 75,000 employees if each person has 1 cup of coffee every day in a disposable Starbucks cup that equates to 864 tonnes of trash going into landfill per year.  Because you know Starbucks cups aren’t recyclable right?  Not sure around the world but if you live in the US take a look next time and ask as they all go in the trash instead of recycling.  We spread the word and eventually on campus they are now using reusable cups thankfully but you still see so many people with their single use coffee that they just had to get in the morning on the way to work.

We all have to realize the impact that our own actions can have upon the world, no matter how small.

So is there a silver lining to all this?  Well, I’m hopeful. I certainly hope it teaches us the power of working together with each of us taking the role of a leader. Be it In our country or in our home to bring about real change for continued improvement of issues that we should be seeing as needs rather than wants especially when it comes to climate change, for all of our sakes.

Giving Yourself Permission.

by The Good Life on February 29, 2020

in Uncategorized

Maybe it was the advent of smart phones.  Maybe it was the advent of social media.  Maybe it was the rise of accounts on social media encouraging us to “be the best versions of ourselves”.   I mean it’s not new.  Before all this I was reading as many self improvement books as I could.  But at a certain point it made me question, for all of that forward motion, do we as humans every now and then just require some Rest and recovery?  That might come in the form of a lie in or just having an easy afternoon on the couch.  I’m not sure where or when it started but I’ve surely fell foul of this.  As you progress through your life professionally and personally and you end up with more responsibilities until one day you turn around and realize, damn, there is a lot of stuff we’re dragging along here.

Its not a bad thing, but the other day it did make me realize.  I have a pretty full on job where I learn and have to learn how to constantly evolve everyday.  I have a couple of rental properties that mean some evening visits to fix things and of course the general admin that goes with it.  I have a wonderful wife and two kids.  Raising a family on its own is a full time job but thankfully me and my wife have found a great balance.  Of course with all this I like to think that balance is achieved through going to the gym at 5.30am I mean, thats what those instagram accounts tell me anyway that the worlds most successful people do. 

On top of this since I seem to enjoy this pace I committed to a couple new goals, one was taking a business strategy course online and to learn another language and then me and my wife added running our first half marathon on to the plate for good measure.

So with all these things the thing I have realized is that there’s always something that needs doing.  Always an email to read.  Always a child to read a book too.  Always something to get after, fix, a trip that needs planning or taxes that need filing.  It doesn’t stop and I guess I’ll never go back to being 16 when there weren’t smart phones and you even had the opportunity to be bored.    

But with all of these to dos and distractions its just made me realize, one of the hardest things to do, is just to give yourself permission to just “be”.  To get off the hamster wheel of self improvement for a second and relax.  Thats why having kids has been an amazing time and taught me clearly that sometimes you just have to go at their pace.  No amount of rushing or hustling will help.

But its bigger than that, its a wider issue, for me anyways, maybe its generational or culturally handed down but its also giving yourself the permission to understand that with all of this forward momentum its ok to reward and (I shudder as I write this) maybe even celebrate sometimes.  

For example, I have a thing for surfboards.  I love them.  I have more gear than I should for someone with my scant ability.  However much I love buying a new board I cant hardly ever seem to make myself do it because its one of those things that no matter how well financially I’m doing, it seems extravagant and I cant quite give myself the permission to do so.

I was the same with taking vacations.  When me and my wife got together, I hadn’t taken a proper vacation in a while and one year after a particularly busy year on the road I came home in the Spring and she had booked us a holiday to Egypt.  Food, drink, Golf all included.  Very much not me usually but it felt amazing to just relax, read a book and chill.  We try and do this each Christmas when we can too.  Allow some time for self reflection, some planning and relaxation.  Whats odd is, when you have the opportunity to take these breaks, reward yourself, its more often than not, me that cant seem to allow myself to do so.

Yes its a weird goal to work on as it’s not that tangible, but something I am going to begin working towards. 


Giving myself permission to take the day off or take the trip or just be totally fine with being here, present and doing not much as all.

It might take a while, but lets give it a go.

Anyone else dealing with this?

Ericeira

by The Good Life on October 9, 2019

in Surfing

This sums up the last 2 weeks pretty much.  Wife, kids, surfing, friends and a cheeky beer to go with it.  I won’t beat around the bush, the last two weeks have been nothing short of amazing.

Ericeria, Portugal is a beautiful little fishing village which is now part of the second “surfing reserve” globally because of its amazing quality and frequency of waves.

Luckily a good long time friend, the one and only Mark Ruperelia moved here a year ago and snagged a place big enough for us all to squeeze in.

No wonder we enjoyed the wine with him.

The weather has been great, the food tasty as usual and the surf has been… well…

This is Henry Jackson shot by Dan Mullins.  Henry is good enough to paddle out, loose enough to not know his limit and thats a pretty amazing combo.  He can surf like this thanks to that..

I managed to sneak a few most days too.  yes this was when me and the reef were still getting to know each other.

Theres also an amazing skatepark at Quiksilver, they have done an amazing job with retail, experience, food, coffee, all rolled into one.

We also ventured into the country to find some vineyards too and this amazing farm to table restaurant:

With the most amazing spots for afternoon snoozes.

We also visited the La Point surf camp too which has been an amazing afternoon.

Great food, amazing location and with a great pool which the kids loved

and yes that surf….  sizable..
Thanks Portugal!

Crossfit Woodslawn

July 13, 2019

Now before you see CrossFit and look away, I’m here to break a few misconceptions.  I’ve been a member here since January this year.  Yes, that’s right, I’m a resolutions […]

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Guanos 2018

November 13, 2018

This weekend, we got so lucky.  Great waves, offshore wind and no one really out since its Guanos…. Tweet

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Traveling around Europe with kids for a month – it takes a village

November 1, 2018

This Autumn, we were lucky enough to be able to take some time off for paternity leave (which I will write a whole other blog about), but we aimed to […]

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France 2018

October 14, 2018

I’ll write a few thought out blogs in the coming weeks, but for now just wanted to fire up some photos from an insane trip this last month. Breakfast everyday. […]

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Parenting.

September 4, 2018

I suppose I’ve been thinking about this post for a while, and now being a parent to 2 kids, I could say that I maybe have a little introduction into […]

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September 2, 2018

Writing the blog above did make me think about how lucky we are to have so many good role models and so thought I should add a role call.  Sometimes […]

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