Is COVID-19 Affecting You Too?

No funny story this time.

Let’s talk real for a minute. No politics. No mask debate. No Trump talk. No ‘he said, she said’; none of that.

This is a post that has been a long time coming; and quite frankly I had to get this off my chest because I’m certain I’m not alone in this. Actually, statistics say that I’m not. I’m going to try and keep this short, but we all know how that goes…

June 12, 2020: exactly 3 months of working from home and feeling ‘off’ most of the time, I went to the doctor and got diagnosed with ‘severe’ anxiety. Pretty cool, right? I’m not sure that “severe” needed to be the adjective used, but I’m not the Doctor. I’ve always joked about having anxiety, I know that I’ve dealt with it for most of my life-but I was able to, for the most part, overcome it. I got bullied a bunch as a kid–I think that’s what started it, but that’s a post for another time!

This time seemed different; I could’t ‘laugh my way out of this one’. When I sat in the Doctor’s office, he said this: “I certainly don’t mean to make light of this situation, but you are another float in the long parade of people that have been in here in the past couple weeks for anxiety”. He also had another analogy that was really good as well; he said “picture a big lake with a couple stumps sticking out of the water: those are the people with anxiety right before this started. This pandemic has significantly lowered the water level so that more stumps start to show up”. Pretty deep, right?

When I got home and stared at my newly dispensed bottle of anti-anxiety pills and tried to figure out what to do. I felt like Neo in the Matrix; except my decision was a white pill or no pill at all. I needed to figure out how to get this under control somehow. I just wasn’t sure which way to go.

I finally chose no pill. The bottle still sits on top of my microwave and I haven’t touched it yet. Although-there have been plenty of times that I’ve thought about it! With the help of my wife, we worked to figure out what caused my anxiety: we basically came up with “the world”. So good news, that’s only everywhere. I think the negativity of everything finally got to me. If you turn on the news: negativity, drive down main street and see businesses shut down: negativity; open up your 401(k): negativity; and finally:

Social Media. The all-powerful demigod ruler of all things negative.

I understand “Free Speech”, it literally is what allows me to have a blog. Even better: you’re allowed to absolutely hate it, and if you do, cool – I hope you have a great day and move on with your life. Obviously, its rare for exchanges like that to happen on social media. It seems like everyone has to bash everyone else’s opinion now days. Go on Facebook or Twitter, even LinkedIn (quickly becoming Facebook with better profile pictures), right now and just do a search for “mask”, “COVID”, “Trump”, “Walz” (MN) and start reading the “conversations” people are having with one another. The comments under news station posts are the best. It really makes you wonder how we function as a society doesn’t it? We have this “I have to be right” and/or “I need to make sure I get the last word in” (I’m guilty of this one sometimes) mentality that turns everyone into a keyboard warrior to get their point across. We can’t just say “hey, I disagree with your opinion, but that’s fine”. It’s OK to keep scrolling if someone’s opinion is different than your own, I promise. I usually try to keep scrolling because I don’t like confrontation. :D

I wanted to get my mind under control, so I hit ‘reset’ in a way. I muted certain words on Twitter and un-followed SEVERAL people on Facebook. I still wanted to be friends with them but I didn’t want their views to somehow affect what I thought of them–because it really shouldn’t matter. I also limited the time that I spent on Social Media in general. I actually downloaded an app that blocks any type of social media/websites/phrases for a certain amount of time each day. That has definitely helped (I’m also more productive)! I exercise more, I even bought a Panda Planner and have tried to write in it every day to get some sort of structure into my life. There is also a spot where I can write what I’m grateful for each day as well as a personal affirmation section. This is something I’ve never done in my entire life-quite honestly, I thought it was silly. But, it really does make you think. If you are able to write down just two things each day that you’re grateful for; you’re probably doing better than you think you are. I also have a WAM (Weekly Accountability Meeting) every Monday morning with one of my buddies to set goals for the upcoming week and review the past week/weekend. These things have helped me get some sense of normalcy back into my life.

We’re living in an unprecedented time. I’d love to be living in “precedented” times, but we’re not. This shit is wild, let’s just face it. People miss the personal interaction with their friends and co-workers; they miss going to a full bar on the weekend, they miss “normal”. Now, whether you want to wear a mask, or you don’t. Whether you agree with President Trump or you don’t; whether you think this is all being controlled by the government or you don’t; whether you think kids should be in school or you don’t. You can at least try to respect other people and be respectful of someone’s differing opinion. You don’t know how they might be affected by this or something else going on in the world. The ‘new normal’ has taken it’s toll on me upstairs lately-and probably some of you reading this as well. Initially I struggled to keep it under control, but I’m managing and I do think it’s slowly getting better.

I grew up thinking that anxiety was something that could just be “fixed”, or just part of life, or “not manly”, or whatever. It is very real and it actually affects about 40 million Americans every year and and only 36.9% of those people seek out treatment. It’s getting better, but there’s a stigma around mental health-especially for men for some reason. Maybe it’s perceived as ‘weak’?

Call me ‘weak’ if you want; but then I guess you didn’t get the point of this post.

If you want to chat about what I’m doing to work on my brain; let me know. I’ll do what I can.

Funny one next time-I promise.


Disclaimer: If you use medication to treat anxiety and/or depression, good for you. I’m proud of you for tackling it in your own way. Also, I know that other people have been affected in potentially worse ways by losing their jobs or loved ones due to COVID-19. I’ve been very fortunate through everything thus far.

2018 New Year’s Resolution Recap

Happy New Year Everyone! I’m starting off 2019 by immediately looking backwards into 2018! In 2018 I set some New Year’s Resolutions and for the first time in my life, made a semi-conscious effort to adhere to them. This may make you feel really good about your own resolutions!

Let’s recap with letter grades…

Continue reading “2018 New Year’s Resolution Recap”

Patient of the Day!

There was a long time in my life; I really disliked going to the dentist. Frankly, I hated it. I know this isn’t breaking news that people generally don’t like going to the dentist. However, this is my blog and I’m going to talk about whatever I want to-this time it’s my dental experience that I had yesterday. Anyways, there was a period in my life that I think I went almost 7 years without going to the dentist (gross–I know). I knew I had issues with my teeth, I was reminded every time that I chewed, drank anything, took a breath, slept, laughed too hard, sneezed…you get the picture; it was bad. Finally, after I had a job with amazing dental insurance, I decided to take the plunge and “get back to square one” so to speak. It wasn’t any fun-college and remodeling a house had taken it’s toll…

Anyways, when my wife Kate and I moved to our current home, we needed a new and closer dentist. I knew that I needed a checkup, so I did a Google search and the one with really good reviews showed up as “Norwood Dental“. So, I called them and set an appointment. (Disclaimer: I’m not being paid or anything to post about my experience–although, since I was so brave at my appointment yesterday, they did anoint me “Patient of the Day“, no big deal).

About a year ago, my awesome hygienist, Nyssa (Nee-Sah) and Dr. Ross told me “You have a cavity that is building underneath one of your old fillings”. Obviously, I was like “yeah-OK, whatever Doc…I’ll be fine-I’m a grown ass man, where’s my free toothbrush.” Well, it turns out Dr. Ross (and Dr. Bussler) knows what he’s talking about! At my most recent checkup, Dr. Ross said “you need to get that fixed, or someday your mouth is going to be in so much pain, its going to jump off of your face” (paraphrasing). So, I scheduled an appointment to get a crown and a cavity fixed, with the possibility of a root canal if the cavity had gone too deep. Yay!

By the way, I’m talking about Dr. Ross because that is who I have dealt with 96.8% of the time I have been a patient there; in the small interaction I have had with Dr. Bussler it’s been terrific as well. I’m not sure what comes to mind when you think of “Dentist”, whatever it is; I’m willing to guess it isn’t Dr. Ross. He looks like he could fight middleweight division in the MMA tomorrow night; bald head and all. He’s hilarious and makes you feel so much more at ease by talking to you like a friend; and not a patient. Listen, when people are digging in my mouth I’d rather have them be lighthearted, funny, conversational, and look like they are genuinely having fun with their co-workers.

Anyways, before I scheduled yesterday’s appointment, Nyssa and I were talking about “the gas”. I told her that I had never had it before and her exact quote was “It’s like having 4 glasses of wine”. So, I tried it for the first time, and- IT’S LIKE HAVING 4 GLASSES OF WINE!! I don’t know why people just don’t do this for fun? There are Oxygen Bars that literally give you no feeling of anything (don’t you dare tell me otherwise)–can you imagine Nitrous Oxide bars? Sit there for an hour with your friends after work, relax everything away and then take a quick 5 minute shot of pure oxygen and you’re good to drive home. I might be onto something…Investors, please contact me

As I was sitting there floating away with my happy gas, Dr. Ross and Rachel (a new hygienist to me; Nyssa still stopped by to say ‘Hi’) were walking me through everything that was happening throughout the process. They made sure that I was still with them and felt comfortable during the whole operation. I understand that this is turning into a review of the dentist office and not a blog post–I’m sorry, but when you’re “Patient of the Day” you can do that… During the entire appointment, Dr. Ross kept making jokes about this being his first day “on the J-O-B” or how “we had a procedure today that almost killed all 3 of us, but I’m sure you’ll be fine”. He even called me a “Bloak”, I’m not sure where it came from, but at one point we got on the topic of me having this blog. As talking about myself is one of my favorite activities-I’m sure that I started the conversation; which somehow turned into me being a “Bloak who Blogs”. It was pretty funny, but as I’m writing this-I think you had to be there…

I get that this style of dentistry MIGHT not be for everyone-but again, I’d rather have someone talk to me in the same way that I talk instead of (Ben Stein voice:)”Ok Michael, it looks like you have a Grade 3 plaque buildup on tooth number 16 along the anterior side of your gumline next to the peripheral incisor with a possible Level 1 low-grade cavity” (None of that makes any sense–it was just to prove my point). So, I enjoyed the banter between him, myself, and Rachel.

I even took a selfie with them. I’m the one in the middle.

dentist 1
Rachel, Myself, & Dr. Ross

Anyways, they fixed my teeth (one crown and one small cavity–on the back side of one of my front teeth; seriously who gets a cavity there). It was a completely painless and *pause for drama* enjoyable experience. Things have clearly changed in the way that anesth….annesthest…..numbing stuff is administered as well. I literally did not feel one thing. I know that I had NOS flowing through my veins, but I could still feel things-and not once did I ever feel any pinch or pressure, etc. It was awesome.

I didn’t mean for this to turn into a Google or Yelp review of Norwood Dental; so if you were looking for a funny story or something like that, I’m sorry. You should probably just subscribe so you don’t miss the next one. But in all seriousness, go to the dentist if you haven’t in awhile. Its only going to get worse if you put it off–trust me, I know from experience. I don’t care if it’s Norwood Dental or not, just go.

If you do go to them, however—tell them that the Patient of the Day from 3/14/18 sent you.


I’m Losing It!

Weight, that is.

I wouldn’t say that I jumped on the “New Year’s Resolution” jam-packed bandwagon, but late in 2017 I kind of made a decision that I wanted to get down to a more manageable weight. Winters in Minnesota are prime weight gaining time, and I wanted to avoid it this year. Throughout my life, I have had weight that has fluctuated fairly drastically. My freshman year in high school, I was around 140lbs, when I graduated I was hovering around 200. I’d like to say most of that was muscle (and honestly-some of it was), but a lot of it was Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. You guys, I ate it like it was candy; and I made it per the instructions on the box, you know, with 1/2 a stick of butter. At night–I’d eat it at night!! The WORST possible time to shove anything in your face. A tongue-in-cheek “thank you” to my parents for having a steady supply of it in the pantry. Not their fault, however. I made it, I ate it. To this day however, it is still absolutely delicious–let me state that fact.

In college, like most people-I peaked. Not mentally, athletically, sexually, or spiritually; I’m still waiting on those. I peaked weight-wise: Senior year, 218lbs. I realize that for many people-that isn’t that bad. Hell, my youngest brother is cut like a Greek God and weighs about that much and looks skinnier than I do. For me, however; 220lbs was the “OMG” moment. I had gotten engaged at the time, and I told her that at the wedding I would be 180lbs. 6 months, no problem. She was supportive and decided it would be inappropriate to laugh directly in my face.

The day of our wedding, I was 179.8. BOOM! I’m not sure that 40lbs in 6 months is healthy and recommended, but I did it anyways.

Fast forward 9 years I had gotten back to about 197-199. When I gain weight, I tend to gain it in my chest, back, and face. It’s not a good look, unless your, I don’t know–Santa(?). I also have a family history of males having heart problems as well. My dad had a heart attack in 2007 I believe, his dad had open heart surgery, his dad had a heart attack, so on and so forth…. I had also just had a routine physical and the Dr. told me that my blood pressure was borderline high, I had slightly high cholesterol and I was overweight (the last one wasn’t shocking). Knowing that I have 2 little kids that I want to be around for in 65 years and that I was probably exiting on to Heart Attack Alley, I needed to change.

I reached out to my aforementioned brother, Matt, who is a personal trainer and asked him how a dad of 2 young kids with a full time job can lose weight. His response was simple: “Stop shoveling food into your face hole”. Point taken, Matt…thanks. #brotherlylove

So, I made a “lifestyle change”. I stopped eating so damn much. Basically, my meals for the past 3-4 months have consisted of this routine: For breakfast I have a piece of toast (no, its not organic or gluten free or whatever…It is whole-wheat bread heated up), with 1/2 an avocado spread on it, with a fried egg on top, and a banana. Lunch is usually a salad that I bring from home; usually no meat, no cheese; 6 croutons. Dinner/Supper is whatever I want, I’ve had like 400 calories all day! I also try not to eat after 8pm. For snacks I have fruit, carrot sticks, and I drink a metric ton of water. Dammit, it’s working; I’m down almost 15lbs since mid-December.

“But Mike, how do you keep your muscles?” Terrific question, thank you for asking. I knew that I would probably need to work out a little bit, even though I hate it. Muscle burns more calories than fat, so it made sense to do something. I researched that push-ups are a terrific at-home workout because they work a ton of different muscles around your body if done correctly. So I have an app on my phone called “Push Ups (genius!)” that reminds me to do push ups every day. So far, since Jan 1, 2018 I have done almost 5,000 push ups. My mom told me that she can tell–I’m not sure if that counts or not, but I’ll take it. I’m swimming in a hotel pool this weekend with some family that hasn’t seen me in a while, I’ll keep you posted. I’m sure you’ll be anxious to hear the update.

In an interesting twist, I went to the dentist the other day (my dental health is a whole ‘nother blog…I’ll save you the details, let’s just say–I have another appointment) and they do what they call a “courtesy blood pressure check”. They checked mine and rattled off some number over another number, said “hmm”, and wrote it down. “Is that good?” I asked sheepishly, expecting an ambulance to back up to my chair. “It’s almost perfect!” she said. My blood pressure had gone from borderline high to perfect (basically) in under a year. Keep in mind, I haven’t really done anything outside of eat healthier and do a stupid number of push-ups. This was the first time that the whole “feed your body with good food, and good things will happen” had ever had an effect on me. Also, I’m not sure if that’s an actual quote or not…if I just made it up right now, I’d love credit–I need some followers. :D

The entire reason for this post was that I saw a very overweight gentleman at the store this morning buying 8 (EIGHT) 1.25L Mountain Dews, and I was buying a case of water. I didn’t even mention that encounter until right now…oh well. That’s what happened and somehow it brought me to this. If you want to lose weight, you can; just stick with it and eventually you’ll get there! People now days are learning how to be kinder and more supportive, they’ll help you! Thanks for reading.

Please eat responsibly.