I’m normally not one to really platform my way through certain parts of my life, for fear of pigeonholing myself. But you know what, I don’t think that my perfectionism will allow me any room, and so I had to, in front of my bass teacher and one of my profs, declare that I’m going to focus this last semester on playing electric bass. It’s the one that brought me to the dance, and while I LOVE LOVE LOVE double bass, I’m not in the right position currently to focus on DB the way I want, nor am I really able to speak with my own voice on the instrument. I’ll always play double bass, and there’s so much that I learned there that makes me a better electric bass player. (I’m also self-editing this as I go, checking my ego and aspirations and rampant perfectionism in the process…)


A recent foray with my therapist has helped me revisit the idea of perfectionism and how it provides drive action in my life. This is a long-standing thing for me and even comes down to the way I organize my day to make sure I can cram it all in. Part of it allows me to be super-productive, but also, as I age, I’m getting tired along the way. Anna took one look at my schedule and said “no wonder you feel like shit.”

That said, it’s time to get the things done. I’m using a combination of journals, notepads, Trello, and coffee to power through everything. So far, I have a grip on it. Let’s see how that continues.

Ok, I’m Back

New year means lots of intentions. But I also know that intentions have a tendency to backfire, and I’m often not good at keeping up with things, especially when it comes down to maintaining consistency in certain areas. Also, Phill Wade:

Well, dear readers, I’ve got some projects to keep me busy.

First, and foremost, I’m working through some long-term stuff that has been hanging around in my life for too long. I’ve finally been paired up with another excellent therapist, I’m on SSRIs now, and I’m starting to balance out. This in spite of being posted into a new position that’s unlike any I’ve done before, while also exorcising academic demons by going back to school remotely in a pandemic. While blending a household. And moving.

My therapist today asked a question that hit home: “Do you think you might be a perfectionist?” I’ll get to that in a future post.

For now, though, I’m getting ready to introduce my capstone project for my undergrad. Watch this space as it’ll be here both for the introduction as well as the ongoing saga of discovery over the next eight weeks or so.

Here we go again…

I get these hare-brained ideas from time to time. I’ll talk about the tattoos in a separate post (and these two will likely intersect later, but all in due course). For now, though, last night officially marked my kickoff to running a marathon before I turn 42.

I signed up for the Frontrunners clinic, and last night was the first “workout” session. I got the chance to meet up with some really great people, got introduced to Kristin, who will be my pace leader, and gained a pile of information about how this is going to work for the next several months while I prepare to run a rather long way.

I’ve talked a bit before about running, and how I got back into it upon my return to the army in 2011. Over that time, my pace has been increasing, as has been my distance. Current bests right now are 1:36 for a half marathon, just over 44 mins for a 10k, and 20:17 for a 5k. Compare that to only being able to sputter through 2.5k at 7:30/km when I first started, I’m quite proud of where I’ve ended up.

Last night’s run went great. I placed myself near the front of the pack, had some good conversations with a couple of people, and really barely cracked a sweat with a 7:08 average pace (we were averaging about 6:00 while underway, but there were obligatory photo stops, catch-up points, street crossings, etc). The run took us from the downtown Frontrunners through the edge of Beacon Hill Park, along Dallas Road, before hooking back down Richmond to the store.

Given my recent IT band pain, I was a little nervous about stepping off and running into difficulties along the way, but the slow pace really did it for me. I didn’t have a hint of soreness at all, and was essentially able to nose-breathe through the whole affair.

The training plan looks good – it’s very similar in scope to the plan I did for my half-marathons, though it starts up a couple of miles on the long runs from where I am. I can already feel my self-competitiveness kicking in, so it’s going to take all the restraint in the world to really slow down these long runs. The first one is 14km on Saturday. I also have to pay a little attention to what’s going on with the schedule over the coming weeks as I won’t be at some of the distance runs due to being away (and in snowy climes, which is going to also present a different challenge).

So here we go again. More zaniness. Can’t wait to see where this takes me.

Grey Matter

What a strange organ. I did a concussion recheck on Monday morning, and was assigned to stay home and do as little as possible for two days, which, of course, is nigh impossible with kids, especially when two of them are sick and the third one is struggling with depression.

I will say I have a much greater appreciation for how visual stimuli affects my brain. It took me a couple of days to really get into the idea of just sitting or laying down somewhere quiet and dark and just close my eyes. Right now, I think, more than anything, I just need to do some more of that.

There has also been a difference in the way different doctors have been treating my concussion. For the uninitiated, my care is provided through the military. I’m assigned to an Integrated Health Team, and there’s a group of doctors, clinicians, nurses, medical technicians, etc, who all have their hands on me and my file. I’d been seeing one doc consistently for my time here, but he’s gone now. The new doc I’d seen happened to be the one who saw me for the back issue from before. He’d helped me through my calf cramp when I was getting ready for my half-marathon, and he’s a musician and hockey player. The doc I saw subsequently when I went to get my concussion diagnosed had a different approach, which is fine (and plus, too, she also had a resident with her, and so I became a training opportunity, which I don’t mind). Next doc I saw was pretty hard-and-fast about concussions and what I could or couldn’t do. Today’s doc kinda bridged all of the above, and we talked about some of the risks I could/should take, and came up with a plan to move forward.

I’ve been put on half-days at work, plus a host of other restrictions (no running, no contact sports, etc). I tried putting in a couple of hours at the office today but in the end it was a bit much, so I went back to that space of lowered stimuli and just let my brain rest for a while this afternoon, which helped tremendously.

Rest is a weapon.


I wrote earlier about challenges of writing at night, and how the 9pm brain varied from the 6am brain. While that maxim holds true, I discovered an additional layer to this one over the course of this week.

I love playing hockey. From the time that I got posted to Edmonton, I have been lucky enough to have picked up the sport as an adult, to find acceptance from my teammates, and to be able, even if for just 90 minutes at a time, to focus on nothing else but trying to stay alive and in the moment.

On Monday night, during league play, in the last 5-10 minutes of the game, I was back in the faceoff circle, having a great time occasionally winning draws and garnering laughs from my opponent as we tried to outfox one another. On this particular play, he won (and rightly so), but in doing so, I ended up taking a blow to the head, and my neck twisted sharply to the left. I heard some crunching noises, and I will admit it didn’t feel great, but it wasn’t enough to prevent me from finishing my shift, or the game, and I thought nothing of it. It was a hard-fought game against our divisional rivals, and I played harder than I have in a while. When I got home, the usual muscle soreness had kicked in. A soak in the hot tub and a shower, and off to bed for me.

In the morning, I woke to neck soreness (not unexpected), so I decided to take myself to the clinic and get checked out. Besides, my back had been giving me grief from so much air travel over the last few months.

I walked in and had a chat with the Med Tech who was on duty that day, and the words out of my mouth were “I don’t think I have a concussion, I just wrenched my neck”. He went along with that, and I got a referral to physio. Doc commented that “age and responsibility are starting to catch up with [me]” and we left it at that.

I went to work, and proceeded to have a terrible couple of rehearsals, first with my own group, the other with the UVic group. Lots of confusion, stupid mistakes on my part. I was also very fatigued. This fatigue carried on through the next couple of days. Concurrent to this, food started tasting different (or not at all). By Thursday, I remarked to Kristy that the broccoli that we’d eaten didn’t really taste like broccoli – texturally, it felt like broccoli, but the flavour wasn’t there. I could taste certain things (soy, garlic) but not others (fresh, raw veggies). She said “hmm, sounds like you’re concussed.”

Come morning, I took myself back to the clinic, saw the same Med Tech and started explaining my symptoms. He did a check and the military concussion protocol, and his assessment off the top was that I was concussed. He needed to confer with the doc to see how we’d proceed. My usual doc wasn’t available, and so I got the tag-team of one of the other docs and her resident. He was very, very thorough, and I ended up going through a much more in-depth concussion protocol and discovered that my balance was off, and that my short-term memory was fried.

The recommendation was to send me to the hospital for a head CT. I was barred from driving, so I had my best friend come pick me up and cart me over to VGH, where I got poked, prodded, IV’d, and finally sent for a contrast CT. Thankfully, the CT scan came up mostly clean and I was sent home with instructions to go back to the doctor on Monday.

Things are definitely up-and-down for me right now. It feels largely like I’ve got a wet blanket over my brain, and certain activities are more difficult than others right now. I just rewired a telephone jack in my kitchen and it took way more brain power than it ought to have in order to just make the colours line up appropriately. Conversely, the music side of my brain doesn’t seem to be affected. I’ve still got my dexterity, I still can play. Today I’ll attempt some score studying and conducting practice and see how that translates between the visual and the physical.

Suffice to say, I’m off hockey for a while. Just at a time when my fitness was getting back to where I feel it belongs, that’s taking a sideline, too. Challenge for the next couple of weeks is going to be to heal, and to find ways to stay active while doing so.

If any of you, dear readers, have any advice on how to maintain fitness while dealing with a concussion, I’m all ears (even if they’re ringing). Leave a comment or track me down on social media.

30-day Writing Challenge – Day 30!

I made it! I’ve definitely learned a few things along the way, but the fact that I got through all 30 days, and did so on a schedule, generally planned out, is a pretty major thing in my books.

Today’s topic:

Your highs and lows for the month.

There have definitely been a bit of both for me, but this month has been a net-positive one for me.

Definitely in the positives department would be the lightning-fast 5k I did at Formation Run last week. 20:48 for a 5k is something I’ve only ever dreamed about, and to be able to pull it off was a huge win.

Also good this month are the conducting opportunities I’ve had and will continue to see into next month with UVic. Things are starting to come together in that department, and after Midwest, I’ve had a good period of personal growth with how I translate to the group.

I’ve worked hard, too, to be more organized, to plan my day deliberately, and I’ve had good success there. This writing challenge formed part of that – I committed to writing for around half an hour a day, and I succeeded, for the most part.

As my doctor said to me this week, “age and responsibilities are starting to catch up with you”. I’ve been feeling fatigued, and worse still, I’ve had this ache in my back for weeks now that just won’t go away. On top of that, my tinnitus is particularly prominent right now, so much so that I’ve got a touch of concern as to whether I’ll be able to continue in this line of work for much longer (hearing protection is a thing but I’ve yet to find some that work well enough).

30-day Writing Challenge – Day 29

What are your goals for the next 30 days?

While not an exhaustive list, here’s a few things I’ll be working on over the next month:

  • Successfully conducting UVic Wind Symphony and Naden Band in concert
  • Getting contracts and contractors in place to replace the flooring in my house
  • Having a great visit with my parents and sister
  • Finishing the touch-ups on my arm
  • Trying to get a 21:00 5k as a solo endeavour

30-day Writing Challenge – Day 28

Post five things that make you laugh out loud.

  • Joking around with Kristy. My gosh, our brains, when they get together, we say and do some funny stuff. We’ve had so many days or nights where our sides ache because we’ve been laughing so hard.
  • The Haribo Sugar-Free Gummy Bear Reviews. If you need to laugh so hard that you’ll cry, this is it.
  • My own stupidity – I don’t mean this in a demeaning way, but sometimes I can really say or do some dumb stuff, and it’s nice to be able to have a laugh at my own expense to try and defuse things.
  • My kids – as they gain in age, they get so much funnier, especially as they try and navigate adult language.
  • Dark humour. Sometimes, my job can feel bleak – having to make crummy decisions or deliver bad news is not my favourite thing, but to actually get to try and inject a little humour into situations allows me to become Dark Chief, and he’s a pretty funny guy.

30-day Writing Challenge – Day 27

Write about something that’s kicking ass right now.

I had a great moment on Friday. I got up, got my gear together, hopped on my bike, and rode to work. Once there, I switched into my running gear and made my way to Y-jetty on the base, where the crowds were gathering for the Formation 5k run. It was the first of these that I’d attended, though I’ve seen the masses doing them for a long, long time.

After a little stretching and some waiting, the gun went off, I started my tunes, and I launched into the throng of runners.

Through the gates to the Naden side, down the hill past the entrance to the main Naden gate, up the hill past the gym and Nelles block, down past the MP shack, around behind the CAF TU(BC) building, past my work and the drill shed, down the hill past the main gate again, back through Y-jetty’s gate, along the MOG 4 lines, past RP Ops, FMF, clothing stores, the back alleys near the Admiral’s house, around Duntz Head, then retrace back to Y-jetty.

Kyle was acting kinda like my pace bunny. He got a jump on me and spent most of the run 100-200m ahead of me.

I was astonished when I crossed the line and saw my time.

Before we get to that, let me talk a little about how I got into running.

When I was a kid, there wasn’t a ton of money going around, and bless their hearts, my parents worked hard to provide for us. Unfortunately, that meant that we didn’t always get the best kinds of footwear, and more often than not, I got shoes that were either ill-fitting or ill-suited to my feet, and it hurt. The doc made noises that I had patellafemoral syndrome (which, after some later research, definitely didn’t turn out to be the case). Turns out all I needed was some proper footwear.

Flash forward to 2011, when I got posted back to the Army in Edmonton. First thoughts through my head were “oh yeah, these guys run. I guess I should start running, too” (followed quickly by “oh yeah, these guys play hockey, I guess I should play hockey, too,” but that’s a different post). Slowly, and I mean slowly, I started running. 2.5km here, 3-4km there, around 6:30/km. Not with any real intent or purpose, but more just to do it.

In 2014, when I went to Borden for my conducting course, I started picking it up a little more. 6km runs, starting to edge downward into that 5:30/km range. Speed started picking up. The runs started to feel a little different, more like I could actually do them.

Late in 2014, when things really started to go south, I relied heavily on running and hockey to keep me sane and alive. I would run out my frustrations, anger, and sadness, and my times really started to improve. My dad used to always tell me that he could run faster mad than I could scared, and I started to see this in my times. For the first time, I broke a 25-minute 5k run. In 2015, my mission became to not run a 5k in more than 25 minutes (which I’ve largely managed to stick to).

My half-marathon escapade was fairly well-documented and at that point, I was consistently running 4:45/km or better over the short distances.

My 5k had kinda plateaued. The distance work was still going really well, but through a combination of circumstance and lack of training, I was *doing* 5k runs, and they were good, but I just wasn’t going anywhere with my times.

Flash back to Y-jetty and crossing the line. Remember how I was shocked when I saw the time?


Previously, I hadn’t broken the 22-minute barrier for running. My best was around 22:14 for a 5k. I had completely destroyed my best time over that distance.

While running, I knew I was running fast and hard. My body was telling me this was a pace it wasn’t used to, or particularly comfortable with, and coupled with hills, it was a real slog in some places. Looking at the splits and the GPS, though, I didn’t slow past 4:45/km, and spent a reasonable amount of time hovering on either side of 4:00/km.

Running has given me a real sense of freedom. It’s done wonderful things for my mental health, fantastic things for my body, and better still, I’m starting to run with my daughter, who proudly declared that she understood what a runner’s high was after doing her first couple of runs.

So yeah, running. That’s a good thing.