How I Lost 100lbs: Part II

The first part of this post can be found here.

I ended the last post with a short note to those readers who are currently on, or wanting to start a weight loss journey.  What I am writing here is what has worked for me. Everyone is different and you will need to find those tricks that work for you.  I am lucky enough that the weight has come off and is staying off, but if you are having a difficult time, please goes see your physician to find out if there is something medical standing in your way. There is no shame in owning your own body and wanting the best for yourself.

OK. Now that we have most of the preamble out-of-the-way, we can get into the nuts and bolts of my weight loss journey. I’ve decided to break this into two sections that I think are equally important in terms of losing pounds, fitness and diet, and then we’ll wrap things up with some tips and tricks I have learned along the way.

Fitness

It’s been said that every journey begins with a first step and, in my case, that can be taken quite literally. My weight loss began with walking around Wascana Lake in Regina with my then girlfriend, Megan.  To be honest, at first I hated it.  It didn’t take much for me to work up a sweat then and I was really self-conscious of appearing as this big sweaty fat guy lumbering around what felt like hundreds of fit people.  That said, Megan loved to walk and I loved Megan, so I walked. This activity has been the one consistent factor in my entire journey.  I now walk (almost) every morning with my dog Sully.  I have found that I love walking. It gives me the chance to collect my thoughts and to reflect on my life.

I have gone through different periods of increased exercise which helped to kick my losing into high gear. This included going to the gym every morning, running on the treadmill every night and playing soccer again. While these are all good (and needed… I should be doing more of this), some of my attempts were simply not sustainable. I would be ‘good’ for a few months and then fall off the wagon and do nothing.  Something I have been able to maintain is my daily walks. It takes only about an hour a day and makes me feel hundreds of times better. I think it’s important to note that if you want the weight you have lost to stay off, you need to have an exercise routine that you can commit to… forever. And that’s it.  I have been lucky enough that my weight is able to be controlled with moderate exercise and diet. That said, I still have a way to go and actually plan on doing P90X… at a later date (famous last words).

Diet

The biggest changes I have made in my life are in regards to diet. As mentioned in the last post, my diet consisted of mostly unhealthy food.  This was because the only factor in my choice of what food to eat was whether or not it tasted good. In order to change my eating habits, I needed to become educated in what I was putting in my mouth and how it was being absorbed in my body.  Three key terms will need a brief explanation before we can go any further (keep in mind, I am not a nutrition expert and that these are just the definitions as I understand them. If you see something that is off, please point it out. We learn better when we learn together):

Carbs: or carbohydrates, are used by the body for energy.   They are found in a lot of different foods, most notably sugar. This means that candy, bread, milk, fruit, wraps, chips, potatoes, rice and more all contain a high number of carbs.

Fiber: some carbs are also fiber. Fiber is good because it helps get things moving in our digestive track.  Fiber usually comes from grains and vegetables.

Fat: the wiki article linked here pretty well explains this one. Basically, it’s another source of energy that can be stored by our bodies for later use.  Fat can be found in meat, nuts, and dairy.

Protein: can be used as energy for the body, but also help in the rebuilding of torn muscle tissue. Protein is usually found in meat, but is also abundant in some grains.

Most of the food had been eating was both high in carbs and high in fat. The first move I did was to cut out all the sugar I was getting from soda.  This meant no slurpee’s or pop (the former of which had been my main source of liquid). I think it started as a competition with Megan (my wife) about who could go longer without their vice (mine being slurpee’s and hers coffee).  I don’t remember who won, but the important thing is I ended my addiction to soda and have never looked back. Instead, I now drink diet soda, which contains no sugar (I’m not going to get into an argument over aspartame at this time… so don’t bother).  Making this simple (at the time it wasn’t simple, but now I couldn’t even imagine getting a regular soda or a slurpee) change combined with my walking helped me to lose 30lbs in about 4 months. Now 250lbs and starting to feel amazing.

Next, I decided to try the Atkins diet.  In short, Atkins is a diet that focuses on eliminating, at first, and eventually controlling the amount of carbs that a person consumes. In thought is that the body will always burn carbs for energy before burning fat.  In order to get rid of the fat in the body (i.e. have the body use it as energy) you need to starve your body of carbs. I actually believe (and who knows if this is true or not) that by not eating carbs, I was training my body to use the fat that I had stored for energy. I think that this ended up teaching my metabolism how to work correctly.  I don’t know all the technical jumbo on how this happened, but I do know that I have an easier time maintaining my weight. I also become very familiar with which foods contain high carbs and which do not.  On Atkins I lost another 30lbs, bringing me down to 220lbs.  I didn’t continue on this diet, however, because I found it completely unsustainable. While I was losing weight, I also found that I was “cheating” more often than I had before and that when I “cheated” I REALLY “cheated”  (I can remember one time eating half of an ice cream cake… tasted amazing at the time but I paid for it later).  I had decided that Atkins was not the diet for me, but the lessons I had learned about carbs stuck with me and have benefited the rest of my journey. 

The remainder of my weight was lost by following the diet that I have now. What do I eat, you ask? Everyone morning I have either a small bowl of cereal with very little milk (1%) or 2 eggs fried in a small amount of low-fat margarine. For lunch, I usually have soup that contains chicken pieces, chickpeas, lentils, or other high protein or high fiber grains or a salad containing chopped peppers, onions, mushrooms, cheese (just a little bit), and a protein (usually chicken).  Supper’s usually consist of a protein with vegetables.  Staple proteins in our house include chicken, fish, deer meat, and occasionally steak (in the summer). Snacks usually include a small portion of nacho chips (usually no cheese) with salsa, veggies and dip, diet soda, and the occasional hot sauce and crackers. Sounds too simple right? Well… it is and that’s why it’s sustainable.

Tips and Tricks

Throughout this journey, I have found many tricks that I feel have allowed me to sustain my weight loss and I am more than happy to share them with fellow travelers.

1. Don’t go at it alone.  I think this is why programs like Weight Watchers are so effective; they encourage you to find a person or group of people who you can travel with.  This adds accountability and encouragement and you will more likely stick with it if you know someone else is depending on you.

2. Know what you can eat/drink as much as you want of.  I can’t even explain how important this is. I would have failed many times already if I had not learnt this. I know I can eat as much as I want of 5 things without ever compromising my weight loss.  I can eat/drink as much black coffee, diet soda, hot sauce, vegetables and garlic as I want.  When I feel like splurging on some potentially unhealthy snacks, I grab a sweet diet soda and feel the craving. Works wonders.

3. Learn how to cook. When cooked the right way, ANY food can be tasty. I usually start whatever I’m cooking with a base of 1tbsp of olive oil, an onion, a pinch of salt and a few cloves of garlic. I have taught myself to LOVE the taste of savory food, instead of relying on fat or sugar to make something delicious.

4. Try everything twice. This tip comes with a little story.  When I was younger, I went to Africa on a missions trips. What I saw there was extreme poverty and people eating whatever they could find that would fill their stomachs. We are SO picky here. After seeing these people who would eat anything, no matter how bland or flavourless it was me, I decided that I needed to try more foods (one’s that I had previously decided “weren’t for me”). Trying every food twice gives you a chance to really know if you like it or not (firsts can be weird at times).  I can’t imagine not being able to eat sushi, Indian food, onions, and salads.  I would be missing on so much.  If you are someone who “doesn’t like” healthy foods, I recommend giving them another chance. At the very least, just think of how these foods will benefit your body as a whole.

5. Buy some “goal” clothes. I have hanging in my closet right now a shirt that is still too tight for me to wear in public.  It the third “goal” shirt I have had since starting my journey. Periodical, I would try on my goal shirt to see if it would now fit. My first “goal” shirt was an XL, second an L, and third a tight M. There is something super encouraging and satisfactory about wearing clothes that you know you could not have fit before.

6. Treat yourself. Now this one needs to be done sparingly… otherwise it wouldn’t be a treat. For me, this is pizza. I LOVE pizza, but it’s not good for me.  Instead of swearing off of it for my entire life, I only allow it at certain occasions.

7. Don’t worry about failing. If you stop your exercise or go off start eating unhealthy food again, do not be despaired. Look at what has led you to this, learn from your experience and try again.

Bonus Tip: Where to ‘eat out’. There are times when you either can’t or don’t want to cook for yourself.  Many people cite this as a reason that they eat at fast food restaurant chains. Well, there are good options out there that offer quite the tasty little meal. My favourite are Pita Pit/Extreme Pita and Subway. Healthy choices at these establishments are easy to make. Subway offers salads that you can build yourself… I usually pick chicken with no cheese and add hot sauce and a little bit of BBQ sauce.  At pita places, the same thing goes; chicken, hot sauce, BBQ sauce.  I would try to avoid any sauces with too much sugar, or the high fat proteins they offer; you don’t really taste it anyways with all those veggies in there.

There you have it. I hope that you can feel encouraged through this and if you have any questions, please feel free to ask either on twitter (@ddubs08) or by commenting on this post. I really want to help you if I can.  It has been a long process and I still have more to learn.  All I know is that I feel better than I ever have before and know that my life is changed for good.  There are times when I am still tempted to just eat whatever I want (and there are times that I still do) but I don’t let these times set me back.

 Have a great day and happy trails!

 

Well That’s a Load Off: How I Lost 100lbs

The last three years have seen incredible change in my life.  I got married to the love of my life, I bought a house, I went back to University and I’ve lost 100lbs… well almost. I’ve actually technically lost 95lbs, but I hope by the end of this post series that I have reached my goal.  I have been thinking about writing a post on this for a number of weeks now, but I was waiting to reach that magic number of 180lbs.  I was tired of putting it off and decided to do this as a series of posts (its been quite a long journey) starting with how I gained the weight that I had and then sharing some of the strategies I have used to lose that same weight and ending with hopefully sharing that I have reached my goal weight.  I have not used any special ‘diet pills’ and have tried a number of ‘trend diets’ but have found the biggest factors in my success is not doing it alone, having the patience to do it the ‘right’ way and never giving up (I’m no stranger to failure, but have learnt that it’s not so bad). Ok here we go…

In 2007, I had just finished my second year of College (I had at one point be going to Bible College with the intention of becoming a Youth Pastor) and had already made up my mind about a number of things.  One of these was which foods I liked (sugar, fat, salt), and which I didn’t (vegetables and most condiments). I’m not sure where or when in my life I decided not to like certain foods, but was resigned to this ‘fact’ and was set in my ways. As such, when I started to purchase my own food, I chose mostly high fat, high sugar, high salt foods.  This diet helped me to quickly gain pounds. The Freshmen Fifteen quickly turned into the Sophomore Fifty and upwards. At my heaviest, I weighed 280 lbs, which for someone who is only 5 feet 8 inches tall, made me quite the pudgy man.

In my teen years, I was fairly athletic. I played both indoor and outdoor soccer and ran on my schools track team (100m, 200m, and relay’s. Side note: one hilarious attempt was made at a regional  track meet when we had an open spot for a long-jumper. I deserved the last place finish I got on that one). In my teen years, not matter how much I seemed to eat, I never felt full and never really seemed to put on any weight. This changed when I graduated  and no longer participated in any physical activity. Combined with my love of fat, sugar and salt, lead to a potentially deadly cocktail.

My added weight helped to develop some new character traits and defensive mechanisms that I used to justify my hefty state. I decided that I would be the classic ‘fat funnyman’ and that ‘I didn’t care how I looked.’  Pictures from this period are scarce (reasons obvious) and I resigned myself to the fact that I was fat, I was always going to be fat, and that I was OK with it.

I moved to Regina in 2008 (to be closer to my future wife) and was given an opprotunity to recreate who I was which I believe ended up saving my life.  (we’ll continue this story in the next post)

If you are struggling with your weight (and I know there is a tonne of us out there), I hope these posts can encourage you that change is possible and while the methods I have used to lose weight worked for me, they may not work for you (everyone is different).

More to come in the weeks to follow. Peace. Part II can be found here.

Building an Online Identity

This morning, I have spent a good chunk of time looking for myself on various search engines, observing what I have seen (and haven’t seen).  This led me to think about how I’m currently represented online and prompted me to make some updates and clean up my ‘Online Identity.’  Typing ‘Dan Wachal’ into Google (we all do this… come on… admit it) shows my Google +, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, LinkedIn, Picasa,  and About.Me pages. Phew. Who knew the internet knew so much about me?  If I am going to be this visible on the internet, I better make sure I look good (or ‘fresh’ as Jersey Shore would say).  I have found some of these sites to be good representations of myself and would like to share what I have learnt along the way.

photo by: fredcavazza

Google +: I really don’t use my Google + account too often.  Actually, the only reason I have it active is because my Android phone instantly uploads any pictures I take to this account.  I think, typically, move them to my Facebook Account or my blog.  It’s not that I have anything against Google +, it just doesn’t fill a need that hasn’t been satisfied elsewhere (ie. Facebook). Typing ‘Dan Wachal’ into Google does yield this profile as the top search result, so use it simply to maintain appearances.

Facebook: This is where I spend the majority of my online time and where the most detailed information about me is visible… to my friends. And that’s how I like it. Not that I have anything to hide really, but if you want to know some of the deeper details about me, I would at least like to have met you at some point.

Twitter: Twitter is perfect for making connections. I have used Twitter to build a network of peers that I trust in different fields. I also love being able to join global conversations (whether they be about educating students, sport, etc).

WordPress: I have found WordPress.com (the site that hosts this blog) to be very easy to use.  It has given me a platform for sharing my thoughts, ideas, understandings and musings. I also love the social aspect of being able to comment on others blogs, have them comment on my own. Though I haven’t used them, friends of mine have used Tumblr, Blogger, and Blogspot.  I imagine you get similar results with whoever you choose to go with.

LinkedIn: I started a LinkedIn account a number of months ago, but never really spent much time adding content to it. LinkedIn, as far as I can tell,  is a place where you can have a professional identity; sharing information related to schooling, work experience, skills, etc.  To me, it appears to be like an online resume. There may be more to this site, but I will likely check it only periodically until I’m a professional.  I keep this profile updated because I feel it would look terrible to have a profile on a site without anything on it.  If someone looks for me on the internet, I want everything they find about me to be a good representation of who I am.

Picasa: I haven’t used my Picasa account too often.  It, like my Google + account, instantly uploads pictures placed on my laptop onto the site, where they can be accessed from anywhere.  Handy in theory, but I actually haven’t spent anytime doing this.

About.Me: If it were possible, this is the site that I would want to show up as the first search result on any search engine.  My picture, a brief biography, and links to my blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook accounts are readily available. What more could someone need??

I think it is important to maintain an online identity and if you have sites that hold empty profiles of yourself, I would recommend cleaning them up.  I want to be consistent wherever someone may find me.  If you do not think you have an online identity, think again. We all do, and it is important that we take control of what the internet is saying about us.  Have you found any other ‘social’ or ‘profile’ sites that you use regularly or think that I might benefit from using? I hope your weekend goes well. D.

Book Review: Toolbox for Sustainable Urban Living

Scott Kellogg and Stacy Pettigrew’s guide, Toolbox for Sustainable City Living, is an accessible, well-organized, and convincing read.  From the introduction, which clearly lays out the authors philosophical beliefs, to the conclusions, which ties the ideas presented within together, Kellogg and Pettigrew have done an admirable job of compiling different systems that could be used by the urban dweller to live sustainably. The reader will be prompted to constantly look at how they are living and look at possible changes they could make to their own life to help create a more sustainable world, thus increasing our planet’s longevity. The author’s propose the questions of ‘How can one live sustainably in an urban environment?”, “What practical changes are possible?”, and “If changes are made, will society be able to avoid a total collapse?” and make a valiant effort to convince the reader that change is possible, while at the same time giving practical ways in which one can obtain sustainability.

The majority of this guide is spent giving the reader clear systems that if put into place will help the reader achieve their own individual sustainability.  The author’s touch on water use and recycling, micro-livestock and growing one’s own food, and how to compost scrap food, to name a few. Given are instructions on how to create these systems of sustainability and encouragements that they can be implemented even in apartments, small lots, and other urban dwellings.

                Kellogg and Pettigrew, with the backing of their humanistic ideologies, argue that governments are not, and are not going to, make the types of changes that are required for sustainable urban living. Instead, “…change’s will take place at the grassroots level”, as governments are continually resistant and slow in their progress of towards this ideology (Kellogg et al., 2008).  There are many factors for this (economics, politics, etc.), but the author’s say that shift from a consumer or capitalist society towards an individual sustainability society is desperately needed.   The author’s subscribe to Malthusian ideologies and the “J-Curve Model”, believing that at some point, the world will reach its environmental limit, and that societal collapse will shortly follow.  In order to slow and potentially reverse this inevitability, the author’s urge readers to live in more sustainable ways.

                To support their thesis, the author’s often referred to the Rhizome Collective, a compound where the author’s, with the support of like-minded individuals and eventually the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), have put the systems of sustainable living on display. Though hard number statistics are not presented in their writing, the systems presented in this book appear to work successfully.  Evidence of their success can be seen in a $200,000.00 EPA grant and the establishment of a number of different organizations including Bikes Across Borders, The Inside Books Project, and the Austin Independent Media Center, to name a few.  To the authors’ credit, however, they do recognize their lack of results and explain the difficulty in collecting sufficient resources. They identify that they are merely taking the first step towards sustainable living.

                At first glance, Toolbox for Sustainable City Living appears to be more of a “Do it Yourself” step-by-step guide to creating a sustainable urban environment, and less like a book promoting an ideology. It appears that the only sort of ideological sentiments to be found are in the brief introduction and the even shorter conclusion. Whether it was the authors’ intentions or not, a thorough read through exposes thoughts and ideas that permeate out from the guided sustainable system creation.  By only referring to their ideologies in the briefest way, this book has the potential to be accessed by people who are not just interested in Geography, Environmentalism, or Sustainability, but also to gardeners, handymen and women and do-it-yourselfer’s. This allows exposure, but also allows the spread of ideas.  Books on sustainable living often refer more to ideological beliefs, understandings, and rhetoric, and less about how this is to be achieved.

                This is where Toolbox for Sustainable City Living really shines.  Displays of practical systems that can be undertaken by all city dwellers convince the reader that not only is sustainable living important, it is something can be achieved. It is likely that many more people will be able to lead more sustainable lives through reading and putting into practice this book, then will be convinced by a set of textbooks, theories and lectures.

                There are some areas in which this work would have benefited in some acknowledgement of various scenarios.  While the authors’ did well in identifying that some State laws may prevent the systems they are suggesting from being implemented, they completely ignored one other determining factor; the weather. In the northern states, parts of Canada, and other areas around the world, the authors’ fail to acknowledge that some systems will only work in the right environment. It may be possible to filter greywater into usable fresh water in an area of the world that receives positive temperatures (Celsius) year-round, but this same system become completely impractical in places receives snow for 50% or more of the year.

                The books also suffers from its lack of head evidence support the success they claim to achieve by implementing the systems described. Ideas are nice, but hard facts would really support the authors’ original thesis. It would be effective to see numbers in how much energy was used prior to and after starting to use the suggested systems of sustainable living.

                As a book arguing an ideology of sustainable living, Toolbox for Sustainable Living does exceptionally well. Kellogg and Pettigrew are convincing in their statements about the current environmental situation and the changes they feel can be made by urban dwellers. Its strength lies in the way that it subtly supports ideologies through the do-it-yourself projects described.  This book has the potential to create new believers to the ideology of sustainable living by showing how simple changes can lead to big changes and will encourage all who read to look at their own lives to see what they themselves can do to move towards creating a sustainable environment.

I Love the Prairies

Just like the great John Denver, I am so happy to be living on the prairies.  There is really nothing else quite like it.  Hear in Saskatchewan, we sometimes get a wrap for being simple, country folk from a Province whose only purpose is to house a highway connecting Manitoba to Alberta. I’m originally from Winnipeg, MB and shared those same ideas… that was until I moved across the border.

I was just cleaning up my blog, and I wanted to put a background picture showing the prairie landscape when it hit me.  I truly love living, learning and working in such a beautiful part of the country. Some look at Saskatchewan and say that it is flat and boring.  I don’t argue with the flat part (well, portions of this province are flat) but boring!?!  Give your head a shake.  Some people will look at places such as the Qu’Appelle Valley or the far north and say “see… we’re not boring. We have valleys and forests!!” I, however, am not one of these people.  While I do think the valley’s are beautiful and the forests are lush, I truly love the flat, open landscape that Saskatchewan offers. It inspires, awes, and causes me to reflect all at the same time. Open spaces are like endless possibilities.

As the population is Saskatchewan continues to increase at a rapid rate, I hope and pray that this place does not lose its charm.  I don’t have much more to say on the subject, but I want you to know that Saskatchewan is great and maybe the next time your travelling from Winnipeg to Calgary, take a moment to be lost in the vast openness.  Let your imagination take you to a simpler time.  A time when wild animals roamed the Canadian countryside, and you could travel for days without seeing anyone and anything manmade.

That’s all for today.

D.

Using SMART Boards

This week we were asked to find some SMART Board resources based on a particular SK Curriculum Outcome. The outcome I have chosen is SS (shape and space) 9.3: Identify an understanding of similarity of 2D shapes.

photo by: touring_fishman

The first useful resource I found was on the SMART Exchange website (here). This would be an activity where students would use the SMART clicker to answer the questions found on the board.  It would be a good way to see students understanding of the concepts prior to beginning lessons.  I would need to modify some of the language (as it is different than what would would use/say here) and some of the questions I would get rid of completly as they do not pertain to this particular outcome.

The second resource can be found here and I think I may actually use this one at some point in my career.  It says that it is geared towards Grade 6, but with a few simple modifications I think I could make it very useful in a Grade 9 classroom. It would be awesome to be able to have SMART Notebook on my laptop, so I’m going to look around and see if that is possible.  If you know how, that would be sweet.  I want to be able to play around with these lessons and see how I can modify them and how easy/hard it would be to incorporate these into the classroom.

That’s all for today.  D.

This is How I Fell off the Horse (and how I got back on)

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Winston Churchill

“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.” Abraham Lincoln

 

My first experience riding a horse was at a friend’s birthday party (I was probably about 7 or 8 at the time). I was placed on a horse and told to hang on for the short trail ride that would follow. I remember being unsure about being on such a large animal, but my mind could not think of a cleaver way to avoid the situations, so I instead decided just to endure it. The ride was pleasant at first, and I started to enjoy myself until the horse in front of us on the train decided that we were following to closely and kicked my horse in the head. This led to my horse becoming extremely agitated and eventually bucking me off.  From that moment on, I had a great fear of horses, convincing myself that they were not a beast I would trifle with any longer.

Failure is something that happens to all of us (some more often than others it seems). Dwarfing my fear of horses, was my fear of and hesitation in going back to school.  My initial attempt at a post-secondary education was with a small college in southern Manitoba, Canada.  I had all the right ingredients for success; I was interested in the subject matter, I had success in my high school English, History, and Arts classes, and I had taken the right classes to ensure admission into a post-secondary institution. I was meant to succeed.  But I didn’t. I failed. The first time I failed I chalked it up to being fresh out of high school and having to adjust to a new type of school.  The second time I failed, the reasons I used to explain away my shortcomings (a.k.a. excuses) were much less effective.

 

My flight or fight response kicked in at this moment, and I decided to flee. I did not want to be around anyone or anything that would remind me of my failure. I worked out a situation where I was living on my own and had a lot of time to think, reflect and come to terms with what had transpired in the last 3 years of my life.  In my reflection, I noticed a couple of areas in my life that led to my failings. First, I took for granted that I would succeed, and as such, did not take my classes as seriously as I should have. I learnt that if I was going to be successful, I would need to learn how to treat the classroom as a job where my performance was being evaluated on a regular basis. I also realized that while I was struggling in school, I was portraying an image of success to my friends, peers, and family. To them, everything looked fine.  This allowed me to hide the struggles I was having, but also forced me to go through them alone.  I had people in my life who would be willing to help, but my pride kept me from asking for any.  If I was going to succeed, I would need to learn how to ask for help. Living alone was very hard at times and I often found myself feeling sorry for my situation.  This was the greatest area of my life that needed to change.  I realized that I would need to suck it up and to see my failures for the growth that they had spurred, not for an excuse to give up.

While living on my own, I had been working as an Education Assistant at a local high school.  Here I learnt that I had a passion for seeing young people learn and grow.  Ideas of becoming a teacher had floated around in my mind, and I knew that I wanted to go back to school (for the third time now) and become a teacher.  I understood this would not be an easy process (and it wasn’t), but I was committed and felt that I had learnt enough from my previous experiences to finally be successful.  After taking some classes (to boost my confidence and my overall GPA), I applied to the Faculty of Education and was denied. This stung, but I was used to failure and decided that I would try again in the next year.  My second application to the Faculty of Education was accepted and I was finally on my way.

I now have a network of people I trust to help edit my work, which slowly made me a better writer.  This time around, I expect my classes to be difficult and stretching for me.  I no longer see ’school’ as a stepping stone on my way to a career, but rather a process by where I can grow my understand of my craft (teaching) and can make connections with like-minded people.  I have also learned to not hide my shortcomings, but to learn how to grow from them.  If I come to a difficult problem (whether in school, life, or work) I know that there are people who are willing to help me succeed.

A couple of years ago, my wife Megan and I were invited to ride horses at a camp where we are counsellors. I had been on a kick of facing my fears and decided it was time to get back on a horse and learn how to ride.  To my surprise, I throughly enjoyed the ride and got to see my own fear dissipate.  If you have failed at something in life, I would ask you to heed the advice given in the two quotations at the top of this post and trust me, if I can make a comeback, so and you.  The only real failure is when you give up.