iStruggle, is there an app for that?

The other day I did two interviews. One was for a podcast, Totally Rad Dads and other for my mother in law project. The questions asked in those interviews where deep and for the first time I was able to talk about it deeply, and it felt good to talk about my struggles, I mean was not easy, but I did feel relief afterwards. That is why I decided to share a bit in this post.

I fought depression and anxiety for most of my life. I had several episodes where I tried to hurt myself, nothing crazy, just thoughts. Most of my depression came and comes (now I learned how to manage) from a difficulty of expressing myself. In part this happens with the fear of being judge which I believed the consequence of that is shame and guilt.

One day I decided to make a change, but I did not really know how, but I started to challenge myself. I started to exercise, and the physical pain was helping, but the mental struggle was still there. I remember after every single ironman it was a case of the Mondays where all mix emotions came out alive. You know, in order to do your best in such an endurance race takes a tool in your mind, in fact one of the greatest athletes in the sport once said: Training is 10% mental and 90% physical, racing is 10% physical and 90% mental.

After one of those ironmans I went on my second biggest depression phase where one day I punch myself in the head a few times. After a lot of intense therapy some things started to get clear in my mind and the emotional numbness that I had all these years started to dissolve. I started to dig where are all those things coming from.

Well, I realized this whole thing was way deeper than I thought, its something that runs deep in our society. You see, I am an iron maiden fan since a very young age. I remember at the age of 5 I asked to grow my hair just like the iron maiden guys, and I wanted to play the guitar like them. But guess what? That was shut off because heavy metal was considered bad and evil. When I was 7 the pope went to my hometown, and that was right after the catholic church prohibit Iron Maiden to play in Chile. I remember seeing him on the news I stood up and literally called him an asshole. Well, of course I got in so much trouble. I could not understand how something that gave me so much joy could be bad or evil? All of these made me angry to a point I tried to stop listening to my favorite songs. But then something happened… I became a Dad, and that is when real changed happened.

After Luke was born several things happened when it comes to spirituality, well they still happen, and they are very strong at time. However, there are 2 big situations that brings a lot to my attention. First, one day I took Luke to a park where a group of kids from a church were there, and they were beyond nasty with Luke, talking about him, pointing, laughing to a point a parent came to take their kids from getting close to Luke. Second, was the Jehovah witness that knock on my door and try to lecture me about disease, and the devil. From that day and beyond I thought, I cannot let this happen with Luke.

So, I started to write and that is when all of this is coming from. Since I struggle with self-expression, I tried a few different approaches on how to pass my massage until, fatherhood rocks came to life. I decided to embrace myself and write about it with this blog, my e-magazine, my podcast and videos. Writing is a self-healing process that may or may not help other and may or may not make people uncomfortable since I talk about things that challenge the status quo. I always try not to be an asshole, but when you talk about things that challenge beliefs sometimes you will sound like an asshole, but oh well…

The funny thing is a lot of Iron maiden lyrics helped me understand and overcome a lot of those challenges, for example the song judgments of heaven, from the X factor album. I know I cannot change the world, but I can be the change I wish to see in the world, and this is what fatherhood rocks is all about.

Rock it,

Richard Wygand – A dad on a mission!

Here is the Iron Maiden song with lyrics is case you are interested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TseKeYIKb2M

PicsArt_09-06-10.54.31

Iron Maiden

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-2ah7g-bf2777

Fatherhood Rocks – Iron Maiden

In this podcast I share one of my favorite story from my childhood, it was the day I called the Pope an Asshole. I was about 7 to 8 years old, so I added the soundtrack from iron maiden (favorite band). 

There are 8 of my favorite songs from 1980 to 1990!

Rock it!

Richard Wygand – A Dad on a mission!

Join the Ganja Witness revolution: https://www.facebook.com/groups/494019488057475/?ref=group_browse

Fatherhood Rocks Manifesto

Growing up was kind of confusing because all I heard was “be yourself” however, being myself was not acceptable, in many ways. Did not matter which way you looked at it, society, family, or the religious way. Being myself was not “approved” and I needed to fit in in the status quo. So, I started to follow the same old story, go to school, get a job, and be unhappy behind a desk. This battle leads me to a dark place of depression, shame, and fear where I started to numb myself with drugs. The 3 worst drugs in the planet. I started to smoke cigarettes, excessively use of alcohol and food. One day I realized I was killing myself and I needed to do something, but I did not know what, since I was still confused.

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This is one of my favorite spots in the world. The arpoador Bowl in Rio de Janeiro Brasil, where I learned a lot about skateboarding. Can you see me? Hint: Orange helmet, and I was 10 years old.

I started to run to lose weight and I started to enjoy the physical pain of running hard and the mental battle that goes on during long distance running. I was enjoying the physical pain the mental battle, so I set the goal of doing an ironman. All the training with music (my biggest passion in life), the physical pain was making me feel good. I felt so good that I decided to make that my profession, why not?  Little by little I started to lean about myself more and started to uncover all that numbness. It was not easy, but felt good, and I started to see things differently. Until I started to realize that this path was not for me, but it was leading me in the right direction.

In the end of 2015, we got pregnant and that is when things started to make sense to me, for other seems like I am in a midlife crisis. Well, in fact I am in a middle life crisis. I am almost 40 years old (midlife), and life is a crisis. Well, the way I see it, life will be always challenging you, and those challenges generate crisis. For me crisis is just an opportunity to optimize yourself and grow.

I always believed in leading by example, and I believe that leading by example can change the world, just like one of my favorite quotes from Ghandi “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. Well, while our pregnancy I questioned myself a lot in what kind of world, I want to leave for my son, and the answer is simple: A clean, peaceful world where people can be themselves free of  judgments. Because I truly believe we all got our light to shine, just like I explain in my kids book The Sun.PicsArt_09-06-10.54.31

My son shows me every day the true meaning of life, which made me a Dad on a mission. The mission is to show my son that he can be himself and in order to do that I need to set the example, so Fatherhood Rocks is just me expressing myself, being that change I wish to see in the world.  Because I believe we can stay true to ourselves, and that is the only way we can make the world a better place.

Embrace it, Face it, Rock it!

Richard Wygand

A case of the Mondays, Episode 6

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-dijy4-ba604a

A case of the mondays Episode 6.

I was actually debating posting about this topic, but then I did something that I always do: I stopped and asked myself, why not? So the answer was “Yeah let’s make everybody uncomfortable and talk about religion.” Is can’t be any more awkward than when people asked you: Do you have a minute to talk about Jesus? Like Jim Gaffigan comedian once said.

Well here it is. 

Rock on!

Richard Wygand – A Dad on a mission!

Fatherhood Rocks

Fathers day in US just happened last Sunday the 16th, and I was thinking, what it means for me to be a father. Well, I think I have to start from the beginning.

For years I have been “looking” for something else, that I did not know what.  I remember clearly during my night time walks with my dog (Bolt) and I would look to the sky and think what is missing, and I could not quite figure it out. Until one day…

It was right around Christmas time, my bike was broken and I went to a friends/client house to borrow a bike so I could train. When I got to his house and I saw the kids playing and having fun. That was my ah-ha, the search was over. Fatherhood is what I was searching for all this time.iron lulu

After Luke was born was the first time I didn’t feel alone. The very first time I felt complete. Becoming a Dad was like completing a puzzle that started long ago when I met my wife. This is something very hard to explain, but super easy to FEEL. lulu

The other day I heard “fatherhood is being responsible for a life that you have no control of it”. Therefore, I can say that fatherhood is one of the biggest blessings you can have in life, and with big blessings comes big responsibilities. I believe our goal as fathers is to accept our kids exactly how they are and to empower  them so they can navigate thru their life journey the best way possible.

Fatherhood made me see life in a whole different way. Sometimes I ask people, if your life was a movie, what would be the soundtrack? For me, the answer will be rock and roll. Because rock and roll pumps me up, and makes me feel alive, happy and vibrant. That is why I say, over and over again, fatherhood rocks and nothing else matters (thanks Metallica).

pool lulu

Rock on!

Richard Wygand – A Dad on a mission!

 

I am not an Ironman, I became one

When people see my tattoo, or when they find out that I did 18 ironmans, I always get the same reaction: “oh but you are an ironman!”. Does not matter what I am doing, the minute the word ironman comes up people automatically think that you are super strong or something like that. However, the reality is different.

chubbyLet me explain. When I decided to follow my dream and become a pro athlete, I was literally 260 pounds, smoking 2 packs of cigarettes a day, drinking a 6 pack every night, depressed, and working on a job that I hated (I was a manager at Wendy’s, by the way don’t ever eat there LOL). All I had was a dream, and I did not even knew where to start.

My first Ironman sucked. Everything went wrong, I threw up 12 times in almost 14 hours of racing but I crossed the finish line, and instead of putting the head down I used my “failure” to motivate me and embrace the challenge. I end up completing 18 ironmans including winning the hits triathlon 140.6 series in Naples right before Luke was born. Naples.png

During my ironman training and racing years I learned how to face my demons (limitations). Facing my demons, was the only way I could overcome them and become the athlete I was wanted to be. The same can be applied to life.

Life, for me, is a sequence of ironmans (like a championship), each phase of your life is a different race that you are running with different challenges. We must embrace the challenge because they are part of who we are. I always say, “its not about waiting to the storm to pass, neither about learning how to dance in the rain. Life is about realizing that you are the storm.”

I never had a natural talent, neither was I an athlete as a kid. However, I embraced my challenges, dedicated myself and became an ironman. So embrace your challenges/crisis, be grateful because they are here to make an Ironman.

Feel Good,

Richard Wygand – A Dad on a mission!

Community effort

Yesterday as I was working from home building the program of the kids camp that I am running this summer, when I got the news of another school shooting. This is becoming too normal, and too often, but how can we help? what kids really need nowadays?

shooting

I have coached and worked with kids on and off for awhile. I thought many kids how to swim, bike and run. Now, I am working with after school program and I got to experience many different things in short period of time.

I am not in a position to judge parenting, and I will never be. However, I notice a three important things:

  1. Help and attention! Kids are screaming for help and attention. Sounds crazy, because  we thing kids have everything. I mean things that were really hard to get back then now became so easy, but they are still screaming for help. So we are definitely missing something here.
  2. Food! This for me was the most impressive things that I ever seen in my life. After kids have their typical snack or school lunch (loaded with sugar and chemicals) their behavior gets at least 90% worst. It’s a reality and is out of control.
  3. Trust! Kids are starting to not trust adults anymore.  Can we blame them when we are destroying the environment around us? I don’t think so.

When I became a father I learned 2 things super quick. The #1 was when my son was born and he was in respiratory distress. I came to him and said, “Daddy is here” and he grabbed my finger. That moment he knew that he could trust us, he knew we were there for him. Think about it, this was his first thing he saw in this world, and I believe that was the moment he realized “I am not alone”. You can see how important it is to a kid to trust an adult.

The second part is acceptance. When we were pregnant people were telling us that he would be a great triathlete because of that fact my wife and I were good athletes. Our answer was always the same: He is going to be whatever the hell he wants. I am glad that we always thought that way, because Luke was born with a rare muscle condition called nemaline myopathy. So, thinking this way made a lot easier to accept his physical challenge. And if I am pretty honest here, hearing the diagnose was not that hard, because the minute I decided to become a father I automatically accepted him the way he is. Like I heard the other day, to be a father is to be responsible for a life that you have no control of it. This is so true, because I have no control on who he is, I can only accept him with love and provide him with all the necessary tools to overcome his life challenges. Please download the kids book I wrote for me son here. It’s FREE!

I do not have a solution for this obviously, but I can say one thing: Getting out of this mess it will require a community effort. I mean, we are our environment, and the change must come from within, from how we see things. For example, start accepting our differences can be a great place to start.

One thing I do often with my son is talk to him. Luke is not even 3 years old and due to his muscle weakness he does not talk yet, however, I explain him everything. I mean every surgery, every procedure, everything that he had to go thru I talked and explained to him, and guess what? It worked, every time I explained to him what was going on he was way calmer.

Now, we are what we eat. Honestly, sound cliche but we are, and what we feed kids make a HUGE difference. I see it every single day. Don’t believe me? Go work in the school the week before valentines day and the week after and compare. Keep in mind that the week before they are still eating lots of sugar and chemicals, but on valentines week the amount is increased tremendous. The behavior during the valentines week is completely insane. So, changing our dietary habits to real food is critical. Please take some time to watch the documentary called Magic Pill. 

Just to finish my food for thought, I grew up Rio de Janeiro Brazil, which you may know is not the safest place in the world. In fact, I had a gun pointed to my head for over 2 hours at one time. However, when I was in my school I never worried about someone coming in and shooting us, especially a classmate. I few weeks ago, 20 years after I graduated from high school, I am preparing my son to go to PRE SCHOOL, I repeat PRE SCHOOL, and they told me at that they already  do drills to protect from shooting. I must say, this is not the world I imagine be living at 38 years old. This is not normal and is up to us to change something. Government and new policies might help but the change must come from within….

With Gratitude,

Richard Wygand – A Dad on a mission!

Ps: Feel free to join me on my fatherhood rocks podcast and share your story. Click Here.

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