Messy Thoughts

Why I LOVE the new Canada Food Guide

Recently, Health Canada announced the release of the NEW Canada Food Guide. Dietitians all across Canada were eagerly awaiting this day. Health Canada has also launched tools that accompany the food guide that are practical and evidenced-based. The food guide is targeted to all healthy Canadians 2yrs of age and older. Please note that if you have a certain condition you may need tailored advice from your Registered Dietitian.

The food guide has diversity and uses traditional foods and emphasizes food sustainability by reducing food waste as well as growing and cooking our own foods.

The Nutrition Facts Table is also discussed and is emphasized as a key source of information to make informed choices. Choose foods lower in salt, sugar and saturated fat more often. A quick reference that I like to share with people is the 15% Daily Value (DV) or more is high for the nutrient and 5% Daily Value (DV) is low for that nutrient. We want to have higher % DV for fibre, vitamins and minerals and lower % DV for sodium, saturated fat and sugar.

Key messages from the food guide are:
1) Make water your drink of choice
2) Choose whole grains
3) Eat protein foods
4) Have plenty of vegetables and fruits

Practically speaking, instead of choosing high sugar beverages such as pop, ice tea, iced coffees with added sugar, sports drinks, energy drinks or flavored milk as a regular part of your day choose water with meals and between meals to quench your thirst. If you don’t like plain water you may want to flavor it with lemon, limes, cucumber, celery or other fruits.

Choosing whole grains includes brown or wild rice, quinoa, whole grain pasta, whole grain breads, oatmeal and cold cereals with greater than 2-4grams of fibre per serving. Enjoy whole grains with meals or as a snack. When making pasta for dinner try whole wheat or mix half whole wheat with white. Try brown rice with your stir fry. Quinoa can be added to salads, used as a side dish similar to rice, or enjoyed hot as a breakfast cereal (possibly with some nuts, fruit and low fat milk if you desire).

Choose protein foods every day and regularly include them as part of your main meals. One comment I have heard regularly is that milk products are no longer on the food guide. This is not true; milk products are included under Protein Foods. Enjoy lower fat milk or fortified soy beverage, yogurt, kefir and hard cheese with your meals. There is also an emphasis on plant based protein because of the many health benefits. Plant based protein include beans, lentils, tofu, nuts and seeds. A practical approach could be lentil stew, adding chick peas, nuts or seeds to salads, having ¼ cup unsalted nuts as a snack or enjoying hummus with cold veggies or whole grain crackers. Health Canada or Dietitians of Canada Cookspiration also has some great recipes cooking with beans or lentils. Lean beef, pork, poultry, fish and eggs can also be used to add variety and nutrition to your plate.

Having plenty of vegetables and fruits practically means including them with every meal and for a snack between your meals. Look at your plate and fill half you pate with a mixture of brightly colored vegetables and fruits. With the rising costs of vegetables and fruit I have been asked “how do I afford to eat this many vegetables and fruits”. Try choosing according to what is in season. In the fall and winter choose a variety of squash, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, apples, bananas, oranges or a variety of frozen vegetables and fruits. In the summer choose tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, lettuce, spinach, swish chard, berries, melons, corn on the cob. Growing your own vegetables in a garden box or pots on you patio if you don’t have garden space can also increase food literacy. By decreasing our portion size of protein foods to ¼ of your plate and choosing plant based proteins we can offset the cost of eating more vegetables and fruits.

The other components to the Food Guide that excite me when educating the public about nutrition is the concepts of eating together and cooking your own food at home. Both skills I feel we have lost over the years due to many compounding factors including both parents working outside the home, overscheduling and lack of cooking skills being taught. Batch cooking, crock pots, instapots and getting all family member involved in food preparation can help with these challenges. Eating out less will cut down on our food costs, along with decreasing our intake of saturated fats, sodium and sugar which are often found in higher amounts in restaurant meals.

For more information on making the Food Guide work for you contact your Registered Dietitian (RD). Stop by the Heal the Hat April 12-14th in Medicine Hat and I will be there to navigate the website alongside you and help to answer some of your questions.

Eat Well and Be Well;


How beneficial is your medical marijuana?

How beneficial is your medical marijuana?

Whenever I see a client the end goal is always the same, to optimize and align their body in a fashion that sets the individual up for the best opportunity to both heal, and become their best ‘self’ possible. Though the end goal is the same this often looks very different to depending on the person. Some individuals are in exceptional health and athletic ability, and they are looking to maximize their ability to perform at a peak level. On the opposite end of the spectrum I have individuals that through aging, disease, injury, or illness are simply looking to either heal, reduce pain, or simply enjoy the best quality of life with the time they have remaining on this planet. And then I have a wide spectrum of individuals, the majority of my clients, that fall in-between, seeking to both heal and move towards improving their level of overall health and fitness.

So let us bring up the ever shrinking elephant in the room, medical marijuana. As our laws shift towards becoming more accepting of alternative forms of medicine, and research continues to show case studies for their benefits, more and more individuals will seek to explore these options. They certainly are by no means new, in fact tribal healers, medicine men & women, and shamans have been using many of these plants, herbs, and fungi, as medicine for years. So is medical marijuana right for you?

This is the question many of my clients are beginning to ask me. Now let me set this straight for the record; I am not a Medical Doctor, Naturopath, Herbalist, Chemist, Pharmacist, or licensed Psychiatrist. Therefore, I do not prescribe drugs or medicine to patients or clients. Just like everyone else in most Western countries, I need to make an appointment, consult with one of these individuals, obtain a prescription, and then pick up my product, should I choose. In some ways I enjoy certain non-Western countries in the regard to being able to ‘by-pass’ the middle man… however, that likely brings up its own host of issues as well.

Now I am a Kinesiologist, so what I can and do with my clients is muscle test substances they are currently taking, or may be considering taking. This can be anything from prescription medication, vitamins, supplements, herbs, food products, body care products, lotions and oils, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, as well as controlled medicinal products such as marijuana. Essentially, through a series of systematic muscle tests I can determine substances you may want to avoid or seek alternative replacements for (after consulting with your doctor or physician), substances that are beneficial, and substances that are neither weakening nor beneficial and hence may simply be expensive urine. In fact, even the words you say to yourself and the input you put into your brain computer, can cause your muscles to either strengthen or weaken. A simple affirmation such as ‘I am strong’ will result in a strong test, or one such as ‘I am weak’ will result in a weak test. So remember this as you talk to yourself throughout the day.

But let us get back to the question at hand; is medical marijuana beneficial for me? Maybe yes, maybe no, and maybe it depends on the ‘type’ of medical marijuana. Yes, the type, since there are hundreds of different strains and varieties available. These strains essentially fall in three main varieties of plant; Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, and Cannabis Ruderalis. What are the benefits of each of these… once again not being a Doctor or a Physician, I will leave that up to them to explain those specifics to you. What I specifically will do for my clients is muscle test the product they have, and then determine if the substance is a benefit, should be avoided, or possible if it is just a quick method of blowing their monthly paycheque.

Let us use an example of one of my recent clients that I will refer to as Client X. Client X came to see me with a variety of vitamin supplements, along with two varieties of buds – one cannabis sativa, one cannabis indica, as well as a cannabis oil blend. Without disclosing the specific results, one product produced a weak test, one product produced a strong or beneficial test, and the third product produced a so-so, neither strong nor weak test. One more thing to note is that just because a marijuana product is the most expensive, does not mean that product is the most beneficial for the individual.

Should you take medical marijuana? Again that is not for me to determine, that is a choice for you to make as a grown adult, preferably over the age of 25, through discussions with your doctor. Personally my main experience with pot happened several years ago back when I was in college, and those were varieties of the un-prescribed kind. I found it resulted in causing perma-grin, giggles, excessive snacking, couch lounging, and the women I saw to appear extra sparkly.

-Wes Paterson


I recently attended my high school reunion. The initial idea to have a reunion started from an individual messaging me via Facebook, and inquiring if I had heard about anyone planning one. I then sent a message to the ladies that had planned the previous reunion, and they in turn spread the message via social media to everyone they could essentially connect with from our Grad class. From that a small group formed and spear headed the organization of the reunion itself, putting on an excellent event enjoyed by everyone in attendance.

Interesting thing though, reunions, they have a way of, for an instant, pulling you back into memories of a past left behind. Walking through my old high school it was oddly different. I mean I recognized it on the outside, but when inside… mind you renovations had been done and things had changed. However, it wasn’t until we entered the last wing, that memories started to pop back into my head. It reminded me of a Canadian made movie I saw about a year or so back called ‘Room’. Things were there, same as always, but the world had become much bigger.

During the reunion I was talking to one of my former classmates and he mentioned that when he first heard about the reunion, he didn’t want to attend, not enjoying social settings. I thought to myself ‘Who the hell does enjoy these things?’ Seriously, for the first hour and a half they are awkward and extremely uncomfortable, at least for me they are. And then I thought, you know, they are obviously that way for others also… it is like most of us need to do this uncomfortable interaction to start things off.

Some of the individuals who have become successful may be more comfortable with this type of social setting, possibly attending several different functions on a weekly basis. When some of those individuals would approach, I could even feel myself almost robotically default into business/network mode, ready to hand out my business card and brag myself up… but then I would stop and catch myself. That is not why I came here, to solicit myself. My sole intention for attending was to simply see individuals that had been a huge part of my early life. Some of the individuals that were in attendance have been my friends for well over 30 years, and distance/living in different cities, along with raising kids, essentially life, causes it so that we do not connect as often as we did growing up.

I also find there are different stages amongst us. Some people in attendance have never left this small Southern Alberta town. Others have gone on to attend college or university. Still others have completed graduate school. Some have started businesses, and others have become world travellers. Yet we all grew up together, at least for a portion of time, some right from childhood into adulthood.

Growing up I often saw myself as an outsider, a ‘mis-fit.’ I wore many masks, maybe just trying different ones on to see if one would fit. At times I was the brain/nerd, at others a shit disturber, was bullied at times, and at times I bullied and hurt others. I once won an award for being most congenial, and was also a complete jerk/asshole to people of great significance in my early life. In high school some teachers would see me as a model student during the week, and on the weekends I would rebel to the point of ending up in the hospital from almost drinking myself into an early death. The one thing I think I neglected while growing up was to step back and look beyond ‘myself’, had I done this I may have realized earlier that many others may have felt similar, at times as though they didn’t belong, at times as though they wanted to escape, or end it all, and I do remember some of those that did.

I took a drive through our small Southern Alberta town after the reunion and as I drove, a line from one of my favorite movies Pump up the Volume spoken by Christian Slater popped into my head. ‘Just remember it can’t get any worse, it can only get better… being a teenager sucks, surviving it is the point, quitting will not make you stronger, living will, so hold on.’ Often when I was feeling low, I would remember this, and think about doing something ‘crazy’.

Guess that is the point. As you grow up you have all these people ‘expecting’ things of you, your friends, your parents, your teachers, possibly even your church. You don’t have to work, but you have all these ‘rules’, these restrictions on your freedoms, what to say, how to behave, how to act, what to believe, and the constant nudge to conform. Play the game little man, you marked down that you aren’t afraid of anything, well I could give you the strap, and then we will see if you are afraid, words spoken from my 5’2” principal whom I realized later in life likely suffered from his own ‘Napoleonic short man syndrome.’ What demons must this man have carried to feel the need to ‘break down’ the spirit of a child in Grade 1?

In Grade 2 I remember repeatedly receiving lashes of a ruler across my hands from my Asian teacher Mr. Oka… later I remember smiling in high school having bumped into him and having my good friend Trevor mention – ‘Hey Wes, don’t you have a ruler in your truck?’ – if only I had a camera to capture the expression on Mr. Oka’s face at that moment in time.

It wasn’t until college that my roommate Tricia pointed out how ridiculous my mute laugh was, a defense mechanism, I figure I developed in elementary school (Grades 3-5) to avoid getting the strap, as I would often find it quite humorous at how upset teachers could become, when you weren’t ‘respecting their quasi-authority’. But these are just some of the experiences and trials I went through, and everyone would have experienced their own.

I remember as a child catching tadpoles in a ditch by the bowling alley, riding my bike to the local candy shop at noon hour to get a sugar fix, drawing pictures on sidewalks, walls, and my fathers suburban, imagining crazy things that would years later become a part of our material reality, like map computers (GPS systems) and flying squirrel suits (wingman base-jumping suits). I remember young love and heartbreak, air bands, and endless hours of video games. I remember dialing rotary phones, watching sunsets, camping under the stars, exploring nature, catching fireflies and bees, shooting gophers, cutting class, egging vehicles, and drinking slurpees until my insides would freeze up.

As I continued my drive/cruise through this small Southern Alberta town I realized that a lot has changed. Most importantly I realize that the physical place where I grew up doesn’t matter, I could have grown up anywhere and had similar experiences as the ones I had. What matters is, and has always been the people with whom I shared these experiences. The nice thing about reuniting with individuals from this period of time was that we all shared in a part of each other’s personal experience. We all ‘grew up’ together and we all played a role, whether active participant, or observer from the sidelines. Looking back on this portion I have no regrets, life is too short. I made mistakes when I was 3, and 5, and 10, and 13, and 17, and 21, and 29, and 34… and I will continue to make mistakes as long as I am alive existing, until the point I take my last breath on this planet we all share. If I hurt you while growing ‘I am truly sorry,’ please cross me off your Billy Madison style people to kill list should you have one. If I helped or inspired you in anyway ‘I am glad’. I gave up the desire long ago for having had lived a better past, had less pain, and had things come easier. The past has brought me to the life I have now, and I love it.

– Wes Paterson

The Program

I attended high school in a small Southern Alberta town called Taber. W.R. Myers high school ranged from Grade 9 – 12 and had approximately 300 students when I attended. During the first 3 years I was there, W.R. Myers did not have a football team. A couple of the teachers had brought up the idea of starting a team that if successful, would officially start during my Senior year.

To see if they could actually generate enough interest to launch this initiative, the two coaches – Wayne Pallet and Chip Koop held a two week long intensive spring training camp prior to my Senior year. Only about 1/3 of the students attending had actually played football before, and that would have been when they were in Junior High (Grades 6-8).

I fell into the group of students that had never played the game, other than tossing around a ball now and then with friends. The training camp was brutal! Most evenings we were so sore and exhausted we could barely walk off the field. Since my ability to catch or throw the ball was mediocre to terrible, I was placed into the position of Defensive Linebacker. This position was perfect for me as I discovered, I actually was pretty good at hitting people and taking them down. Though I had no real clue what any of the plays or even half the positions were, I did understand how to hit people, and was fairly strong having lifted weights daily since I was 13.

Wayne Pallet clearly had watched the movie ‘The Program’ probably a dozen or so times, as he would continually reference James Caan quotes as he coached. The movie was released in the early 90’s and had to have a particular scene pulled out of it where the team upon leaving a bar, decides to lie down on their backs on the centerline of a busy street while cars fly by missing them by inches. Unfortunately several kids had done this on some busy interstates after having watched the movie, and several died as a result. I could see it as we did this very thing almost immediately upon leaving the movie theatre.

Having instilled two weeks of pure mental and physical pain upon us, we were now set to play our first Exhibition game in High River, AB. High River was the 2016 Tier II Provincial Champions and they had agreed to have us out. Coach Koop on the ride out said things like, “we don’t expect you guys to win, it is just a game, and it’s an opportunity for you guys to get some practice in and exposure to the sport”. Wayne Pallet had another take, he figured we could win, and there was no reason in his mind that we should think otherwise.

Upon arriving at High River High School, it was clear that we were outmatched. Their field and equipment was state of the art. We pulled up and saw that they were clearly set out to dominate us. The average player on the High River team had a height advantage of about 2-3” and a weight advantage of about 35lbs. They were so certain of victory they even had a full BBQ set up afterwards to rub our noses in the smell of our defeat.

The High River team was already in full gear and warming up on the field as we quickly exited the van, and moved into the school to get our equipment on. We geared up and moved onto the field. During warm ups our team was uncoordinated with our timing in comparison to the synchronization of flow amongst the High River team. Our team was stumbling nervously, out of sync, when it happened… a singular event that connected and bonded our team on a, dare I say, ‘spiritual’ level. While warming up the High River team began to shout out the following letters directed toward us – U. R. F. A. G. S.

All at once our team stopped mid stride, and one by one we turned around, looking down the field at our opponents, at our prey. We now had a common united objective, this was no longer ‘just a game’, no longer ‘just for fun’, this was war. Prior to the game start, my friend Carlin and I performed the Program ritual right in front of the High River player’s bench, hammering onto each other’s shoulder pads and hawking loogies into each other’s mouths. Gross and disturbing yes, intimidating to the other team, absolutely.

First defensive play out, we set up for a 30 play, meaning that I would drop to the line and square up head–head with the opposing defensive lineman. Immediately I stared him down and began a barrage of comments directed towards intimidating the hell out of him. The ball snapped! I directed the lineman headfirst into the dirt as I rushed in exploding into the jersey numbers of their QB, causing all the air to exit out of his chest as I slammed him into the ground. I was ‘in the game’.

Our team went on to destroy the Provincial Tier II Champions, an embarrassing 32 – 0. Some of us tried to call the other guys over to enjoy some of the BBQ burgers they had prepared being served to us with the company of their Cheerleaders. Guess in the end, they just weren’t that hungry.

I only played a few games the following season, choosing to earn an income lifeguarding at our local pool, over playing football. A few of my friends that continued to play suffered injuries, some still feeling those effects even today. The game was never my passion as it was to some. For some football is a way of life, and I can absolutely see why. It is a battle, it is a rush, it is exhilarating, it makes one feel alive, and it made all of us realize that we were stronger than we believed, that we possess the ability to take down giants, and that we can be and are winners.

-Wes Paterson

That don’t impress me much

I think in many ways, Western Ideology instills in many of us at an early age, a belief or desire to impress others. We can witness this with children as they show off, or act up, often in an attempt to impress the other children or adults around. By the time I graduated and was headed off to college, I had my eye on impressing one particular group, women.

Now these are my experiences and certainly do not apply to everyone, and certainly not all women. But perhaps there may be a nugget or two of wisdom you can take with you into the world young man (insert YMCA theme song in your head here). Or if you are a woman, maybe you will enjoy a story or two, of foolish attempts made to impress your fellow womankind. To protect those involved in these stories I will use code names, and for those that know me well, you may easily figure them out. Enjoy!

Lesson #1 – Can’t buy me love

During my first year of University I was in an Introductory Economics class, and had been watching this extremely attractive blonde woman Miss N. for about two weeks. She was completely out of my league, but for some silly reason I felt compelled ask her out. So before class, I downed about 3 shots of tequila, and asked her out. And she said, yes. Actually, it seemed too easy… I had spent the past two weeks worrying about it and she simply replied “Sure, where do you want to go?” Being young and dumb, living on KD, student loans, and a fixed budget, I responded with a moronic “Let’s go to the Keg.”

Now I did have a $50 gift certificate to the Keg, provided to me as a gift from my father, so I thought I was set. Until about two minutes into the date when she ordered an $80 bottle of wine, then an appetizer, followed by a Steak & Lobster entrée. I sat there listening as she talked and talked and talked, about herself, looking bored, and barely touching her food. I felt like a complete ‘tool’ as I sheepishly excused myself to go use the washroom.

As I stood there looking at my foolish self in the bathroom mirror, something happened… I splashed some water on my face and wet my hair. First I got mad at myself, mad that I had been so stupid, then, I got mad at her. Seriously! She ordered an $80 bottle of wine, appetizer, and entrée, and then barely touches her meal… it is not like we met in the bar, she was in my class, she obviously must have known I was on a fixed income… but did she care about this fact, apparently not. As I exited the washroom and came down the stairs, I glanced over at the table and could see she hadn’t seen me. I quickly slipped out the side door, got in my truck, and drove off. Arriving back at the University Residence, I proceeded to share some drinks and laughs with my friends, and then simply adverted eye contact with Miss N. for the remainder of the semester.

Lesson #2 – I could have been in the X-Games…

No I could not have been in the X-Games, but a former acquaintance/friend of mine Mr. C mentioned this once to another former acquaintance/friend of mine Mr. BJ, whom happened to be holding a skateboard at the time during one of the college Keg parties I was hosting. Mr. BJ informed me that had he been holding a tennis racket Mr. C would have told him how he could have played in Wimbledon.

Mr. C was a chronic liar. Everyone new this about Mr. C. Mr. C also drove all of my roommates’ nuts, he irritated and annoyed them so much, I made sure to invite Mr. C over every week (I had some passive aggressive tendencies when I was younger). Like clockwork, Mr. C would show up at our place around 7PM, 6 pack of Growers in hand, itching to go to the bar and pick up women. I on the other hand would usually be looking to pre-drink until about 11:30PM before heading out, remember, I was a starving student.

Upon arriving at the bar, Mr. C would begin strutting around, often sporting a white undershirt to show off his many tattoos. Mr. C also suggested, almost daily, that I should be acquiring multiple tattoos. For this very reason, I believe a part of me today, avoids getting another tattoo as the recommendation that I should, came from Mr. C. When Mr. C. would approach a woman, he would begin staring at her over intensely… creating an uncomfortable state right of the hop. He would then proceed to make up some bullshit story about himself. One time I overheard Mr. C. talking about when he was in the Greek Army and they used to fight in the streets like Spartans; I believe this was around the same time the movie Gladiator was released. At another point I recall Mr. C. talking about having to get some rest and not drink too much, as he would be competing in a motor-cross event the next day.

The funny thing is, I never once heard Mr. C. mention to a woman that he played guitar. Truth be known, Mr. C. was one of the most talented guitar players I had ever heard. He owned about 5 electric guitars, over 20 custom foot pedals, thousands of dollars in audio equipment, and had re-built a customized guitar from scratch with a built in kill switch. Mr. C. tended to play a lot of hard rock, and industrial style music. Yet he never told anyone about this talent. Amazing talent, that stand alone, would impress pretty much anyone, and yet he chose to make up bullshit stories that ultimately impressed no one.

So what can we learn from both of these above examples. First, when you use things like money and status to impress someone, don’t be surprised if it works, and you get taken advantage of. Even though Miss N. behaved poorly on our date, I believe I had subconsciously permitted this behaviour to be allowed, by foolishly trying to ‘buy’ her affection in the first place. Second, made up lies and tales are never as interesting or entertaining as reality. There is a big difference between spicing up a true story with effective delivery, and making up some tall tale with so many loose ends and vague events, that the only person you are fooling, is yourself.

I have some hilarious stories from my college years where, my memory is vague, and the stories combine recollections of the fellow individuals present, and hallucinations experienced while socially experimenting with mind altering substances. For example; one time I was in our back yard and I turned around, only to have the BBQ begin talking to me, advising me that I needed to switch my major. Though the BBQ in our backyard never ‘really’ talked to me, when I frame it in the context of being ‘high’ on a mind altering substance, the story becomes funny and entertaining. Note: if I don’t originally set up the frame or context of this story at the start, I will likely end up spending more of my time in padded rooms.

People enjoy stories of real events, and everyone loves to be entertained. You can present the most mundane and boring life events to someone, and if you can deliver your message to them in a funny and entertaining way, you will captivate their attention.

If you don’t know how to do this, find someone who does, read a book on the subject, take a class, and practice, practice, practice. Mr. C. never acquired his 5 guitars, 20 custom foot pedals, and amazing talent overnight. He worked at developing his skill every day over the course of several years. Being an effective storyteller and a conversationalist requires continual practice as well. My introverted self is certainly a work in progress at best, and like anything, I continually put forth daily practice and deliberate effort.

It is easy to sit back on the sidelines, but that is not where the game of life is played. Life begins on the field, outside your comfort zone. Feel that rush of fear… that is life beckoning for you to participate. So bring your God given authentic self up to the plate, and take a swing. If you strike out, keep playing, stay in the game, and maybe you will succeed the next time. Stop caring what other people think of you, as that is none of your business. Hold your head up high, and quit trying to impress anyone other than yourself.  Instead impress upon yourself that you are an individual of value and worth and that you are deserving of all that life has to offer. You will then have silenced the biggest critic and judge of them all, you. Now that is impressive!

-Wes Paterson

Smurf ’em!

The other night I attended our local ‘Choices’ meeting. Choices seminars runs powerful intensive week-long personal growth & development programs for individuals, and over the years I have volunteered hundreds of hours of my time as a Coach/Facilitator to pay it forward to the current attendees. This program provided me with a large amount of value when I was a young man, and I still utilize many of the ‘tools’ to this day.

Throughout the Choices program, attendees learn a number of ‘tools’ that they can utilize in their day-day life. At our monthly meetings we share what ‘tools’ we currently utilize in our lives, and how they are working out for us.

At last nights meeting I decided to share a NLP tool that I learned awhile back. John Grinder & Richard Bandler originally created NLP, and I personally have a huge collection of Dr. Richard Bandler’s books & audio material, accumulated over the years, that I utilize regularly in my day-to-day life. I am not sure if the technique I am about to describe came directly from Dr. Bandler, or if it was created as a result of his material. Either way, the technique is called Smurfing.

Yes, Smurfing! You know, the little blue androgynous creatures that hum that unforgettable tune ‘la, la, la-la, la, la… la, la-la, la, la’. The Smurfs!

Now one of the most memorable experiences I had Smurfing someone, took place at my cousins wedding about four years back. There was a large group of our family and friends sitting at a table outside the reception area, socializing, and enjoying the fresh outdoor air. Everyone was having a great time, when this lady that nobody knew, suddenly approached our groups table and sat down. Instead of adding to the conversation positively, she chose to ‘negatively infect’ the group with complaints about her life, complaints about her boyfriend, a typical ‘Debbie Downer’ persona. Everyone else at the group could sense the ‘negative’ energy this individual was giving off, at one point my brother attempted to socialize/console this women, only to find himself regretting the decision soon after.

Sensing the annoyance and irritation of the others at the table, I decided I had to do something, I decided I would Smurf her. In my mind/imagination I painted her blue, shrunk her down to about the size of an inch or two, and began replaying the Smurf theme song inside my head. In addition to my self-created hallucination, I began hearing her voice, not in her normal tone, but instead in a high pitched Smurf-like tone. I continued this hallucination/visualization for about a minute or two and witnessed an interesting thing happen. She stood up, left our table, and did not return. Almost, as soon as she left, the energy at the table began to increase back to normal.

This is a great technique to utilize on others that bring negativity into our external environment. However, often the negativity will appear to come from our internal environment inside our own head. In Choices we refer to these as ‘tapes’. Tapes are the continual looping of negative self-talk tracks that we repeat to ourselves in a destructive self-defeating manner.

First we need to become aware of what are tapes are, and what information they present to ourselves. After we do this, we can then re-frame the tape and adjust the playback. If our tape is speaking to us, and saying something like ‘you can’t do that’, we can change the pitch of the voice into a high squeaky voice (ex: Mickey Mouse) saying ‘you can’t do that’.

Alternatively, I will sometimes slow down and soften my internal voice to sound like a sexy woman speaking things like ‘you can’t do that’, or ‘you’re bad’ whatever the internal voice is stating in my mind at the moment. Personally I find the ‘sexy woman’ voice inside my head re-frames negative information quite well.

Nowadays when I encounter an aggressive individual acting like your typical Ass Canoe, I will begin to look them in the eyes, hold their gaze, and smile/smirk as I then picture them shrinking down to the size of an inch tall Smurf. Internally I giggle a little as well.

At the end of the day remember, the reality you are experiencing is ‘your reality’, and you have the power to decide how you perceive the things you bring into it. You have the power to create your reality, and change the way you ‘see’ your environment, and those existing in it.

So the next time you find yourself becoming the target of some ones negativity, whether it is directed towards you or other people you are with… deliver a big smile, then Smurf ‘em!

-Wes Paterson


The Messy Thoughts

Going through a divorce was one of the hardest moments in my life. I was breaking down daily, in front of friends, family, co-workers… it was a mess… I was a mess. Dark thoughts plagued my mind, the kind of thoughts that have the power to destroy, ruin, and kill the soul if left unchecked. Though I have no desire to ‘dig up’ or ‘re-visit’ these thoughts of the past, I will share a process that I used to turn my state around, and pull myself out from my ‘Dark Night of the Soul’.

My mother, one of the individuals witness to my messed up state at that time, introduced a process to me that she discovered while taking an art class in Kelowna known as Morning Pages. Julia Cameron, first coined the process of morning pages in her Best Selling Book ‘The Artists Way.” This process introduced me to a method of free writing, which is essentially writing without thought.

This process is rather simple, however it does take discipline and commitment to the daily routine to see the benefit and changes it can bring to your life. Everyday upon waking you begin to write non-stop, until you have either written three pages, or 20 minutes of time has passed. The trick is the ‘not stopping’ part. Essentially there is no break during the process, you just keep pen moving to paper with no cares or worries of what is produced. To give an example of free writing I am going to free write the next paragraph here.

So I am writing this blog here in Waterton and I am here visiting family and it is great because I haven’t seen a number of them for a while. Last night I went for a walk with my brother and we saw a number of big horn sheep and then an RCMP stopped and we thought it was unusual, and there was flashes coming from their vehicle, so I imagine they were taking pictures, we may have been a bit intoxicated and I was enjoying a Cuban cigar on the walk. We continued down walking on the sidewalk noticing random people at times in the distance and it is May Long weekend so I imagine a number of people are out, and I am looking forward to the rest of the weekend…

Notice how this paragraph above is not written well, you will find spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors throughout (ex: ‘was flashes’ should read ‘were flashes’). The flow is rather choppy, and that is the point! You just sit down and write, write without giving any thought towards what you are writing.

What happens when you begin to do this is amazing. You will begin to take the constant mind chatter and release it onto the page. Prior to beginning the process of morning pages I would experience thoughts, over and over, that would continually spin around in my head like an endless loop. The process of morning pages allowed me to take all those messy thoughts, write them down, and release them from my mind. Without the constant cycle of ‘messy thoughts’ spinning around, clarity began to occur. Awareness heightened, as I became present with the ‘here and now’ and started to live a lot less in my head.

Often these messy thoughts deal with memories of the past, or imaginations of the future, neither of which reflect the present reality. When I began this process at that low point in my life, many of the thoughts that appeared on the pages I wrote were very dark, and often scary. The difference is that once they were on paper, they no longer remained trapped inside my head. I no longer had to be plagued by them throughout the rest of my day. This process allowed me to take all the shit in my mind, the entire mess, and throw it onto the page. Once I am done, I put down my pen, close the book for the day, and live my life.

This sounds simple, and it is, but certainly not easy. For instance it requires me to wake up 20 minutes earlier every day to complete. However, the amount of time I get back in ‘mental freedom’ is far greater. Morning pages have helped me relieve large amounts of anxiety and stress that I formerly dealt with on a daily basis. If you choose to write Morning pages, they are for you, and you alone, and not to be shared with anyone. After you begin to release your messy thoughts you will soon find that ‘new’ creative thoughts will emerge in their place. Life begins to become a little bit clearer, a little bit brighter, a little bit more beautiful, each and every day. Believe me, I know what it is like to be plagued by the dark, I have been there once, and I am not going back.

– Wes Paterson

Things I learned watching Saved by the Bell

Growing up in the late 80’s & early 90’s, I spent several Saturday mornings watching various cartoons, along with a show called ‘Saved by the Bell’. This show took place at a fictional high school in Southern California called ‘Bayside’. Zack Morris, the lead character, would often pause to narrate/talk to the audience, allowing us to see his perspectives, thoughts, along with the various schemes he would concoct as the show unfolded.
Every week the show would tackle a new theme, and lessons would be learned, all in the span of the 20-30 minute episode. One of the episode lessons that stuck with me came from the show’s spin off series – Saved by the Bell The College Years. In one episode Zack is enrolled in a Cultural Anthropology Class, and is given a challenge/opportunity from his professor. If successful, it will result in him receiving a B grade without the requirement of any future class attendance. The question posed to Zack is ‘What do Women Want?’
Zack begins his assignment by utilizing his opportunity to hit on various women throughout the college. Not coming any closer to the answer he seeks, he begins to stop hitting on the women he is interviewing, and develops a genuine interest in discovering an answer to the question ‘What do Women Want?’ However, upon reviewing his ‘field-work’ findings with his Prof. Zack admits to being more confused then ever stating ‘I couldn’t find the one thing that all women want… I guess they are just like guys, they want a lot of different things.’
Even though I was presented the answer to this question, personally, it wasn’t until several years, and failed relationships later that I truly understood the meaning it conveyed. In the past, when I would get upset with an aspect of a particular ‘woman’, I would often then proceed to project that attitude/belief onto all women. But what good does that do, other than putting individuals into our nice tidy little predictable self-created boxes.
Fast-forward just over 20 years and we can see that much has changed since the ‘Bayside’ era. For one, far less people are wearing neon, pastels and parachute pants. The modern day lines, between ‘men’ and ‘women’ have become significantly blurred with the rise of recent freedoms in gender identity. It now poses a re-visit or a re-frame to the question – ‘What do Women Want?’
Try this on for size. Instead of asking ‘What do Women Want?’ re-state the question – ‘What does Jennifer Want?’ or ‘What does Amy Want?’ or Mike or Steve, Rachael, or Shaniqua. Notice the change? With this simple re-frame we are no longer objectifying the person… no longer making them, a sex, a gender, a religion, a belief, a race, or a creed. We can now look at the essence of the other in their ‘presence’ and any pre-conceived notions, and assumptions we may have had, soon begin to fade away.
-Wes Paterson

The Paperclip Principle

Back when I was in college I worked part-time as a Lifeguard. It was the greatest job I ever had, I was essentially paid to watch people swim. Another aspect of the job involved teaching, mostly children, to swim. One day my co-worker was teaching a 9 year-old girl the front crawl stroke, when he noticed something interesting. When the child held onto a flutter board, she could perform the stroke flawlessly. However, as soon as the board was taken away, she would panic and sink. Given back the board, she would once again perform a flawless stroke.

Experimenting, my co-worker began to switch out different items for the child to hold. First he gave her a lifejacket, then a ball, and finally a small rubber duck. Every time she held an item, she was able to perform the stroke, and every time the item was removed, she would sink. He then gave the child a small plastic paperclip, and once again she could perform the stroke.

As a child, one of my favorite movies was the Disney movie Dumbo. Dumbo was a young elephant with big floppy ears that soon became a social outcast amongst his immediate peer group. After being kicked out of the circus, Dumbo meets up with a jive bunch of crows that provide him with a ‘magic feather’ giving Dumbo the ability to fly. Dumbo then returns to the circus and proceeds to jump off a platform, clutching the feather in his trunk. As he falls, the feather slips out of his grasp and Dumbo is required (forced) to believe in himself and flight is once again achieved.

Have you ever tried swimming with a paperclip? It is not easy. In fact, it requires a great degree of concentration to avoid dropping it in the water. It is far easier to swim without holding a paperclip in your hands. Yet all of us have ‘paperclips’ that we use day in and out to help us perform various activities. Some of these are practical tools, such as cell phones, computer software, day planners, etc. Other people engage in positive ‘acts’ or ‘rituals’ such as affirmations, physical activity, healthy diet, and getting enough sleep throughout the night. Still, there are those of us that will take on a negative behavior, such as drugs and alcohol, and will still, at least for a short while, gain positive benefits from their use. This will often later present itself in negative aspect for the user.

What are the paperclips in your life? Which ones are beneficial? Which ones are detrimental? When I ask these questions of myself and spend some quiet time in personal reflection, I begin to build awareness around what is causing me to act in a certain way. I also begin to release quasi ‘crutches’, or ‘security blankets’ that may be causing me to avoid ‘claiming’ my own personal power. Once personal power is owned, we can then begin to actively build and create the lives of our choosing. We are then able to release the paperclip and swim, let go of the feather, and fly!

-Wes Paterson

Why Should We Muscle Test

Muscle-testing has been a craze since the 60’s and the sky is the limit. If you can figure out how to apply a stressor to the body and test it afterward, you’ve just figured out the easiest way to get your own body to talk to you.

The more important question, I have found, is to ask WHY that works.

And we can actually look to physics for that answer.

Everything we see in our world is made up of matter. Tiny atoms that are electrically charged and hold together with what we call ‘electromagnetism’. Compared to gravity, electromagnetism is much stronger … and just like gravity, we can’t see it but we can become aware of the effects, or results, it has on us.

The truly neat thing about living organisms, such as ourselves, is that we have a bio-electromagnetic field. What makes us different than the chairs we sit on, for example, is that we have this incredible ability to generate (or even degenerate) electricity within our bodies. Our iron-rich environment and the blood in our bodies (which contains iron too) not only make us magnets, but we act as conduits as well. Every time we cut through the magnetic field of something else, we get charged. Even the simple act of breathing does this … for without it, we’d die in our sleep. The more we move, the more energy we have.

We call it resonance when we become aware of an external force … favourable or not, it often matches the current electromagnetic field we have. Since our electromagnetic field has a biological component and it changes, external forces or environments are also subject to change. For the most part, we never think about it. This is how we develop habits.

When we use muscle-testing in our world, we can essentially check to make sure that any stressor, such as food or supplements, is either beneficial or detrimental. When the muscle is tested and it’s strong, your physical body benefits from it. When the muscle is tested and it’s weak, your physical body will continue to breakdown if you continue to use that stressor. The same can be said for your behaviours, your coping mechanisms, your emotions and your thoughts.

“You have to have the courage to be who you really are in order to match the frequency of what would come to you naturally”

– Mandy Lee Metz