The Problem: A Medical Mystery
Five years ago, in a doctor’s office on the Baltimore City/County line my doctor is scratching his head. That’s what he says to me: “Chad, your old doctor is scratching his head.” I am not scratching my head; I am maybe literally dying. I weigh 126 pounds, down almost 40 from what I weighed when my daughter was born. I’m in constant pain and I can’t eat. I can barely move let alone exercise. But none of the tests, none of the drinking weird chalky shit after not eating for 36 hours or lying perfecting still in a science tube after not eating for 12 hours, none of the blood taken, can tell my doctor what is wrong.
My doctor was a really nice guy. He went to Johns Hopkins and we talked about all the writers who passed through that institution. In another life he might have been a writer. After college he stayed in Baltimore and was sending his kids to school there too, which not everyone sticks around to do. He really tried to help me. He just couldn’t. I left his office knowing that and knowing that if I was ever going to get better, I would have to find my own way.
The Solution: Food, Exercise & Cannabis
Now, five years later, by eliminating foods my body couldn’t handle, and incorporating cannabis into a daily health routine, I’ve gained back nearly 40 pounds of muscle. I exercise on a regular basis and, at 41, might be in the best shape of my life. Most importantly, I can wake up ever day knowing that I’ll be pain free enough to be present with my family and with my work. I can take my daughter out for books and my wife can take me out to dinner.
It’s not a program that will work for everyone. Each of our bodies are different. They respond to various of kinds of care. It took a lot of trial and error, and even more practice – because I fucking hate routines – to find and implement what works for me.
A Day in the Life of a Homeschooling, Work-From-Home, Cannabis Consuming Dad
5am: I’M GOING TO STAY IN BED
When we lived on the east coast I was such an early riser. Everyday I was up and ready to go, even if I didn’t get much done. And I know one of the Wahlberg brothers gets up really early to work out. Something happened to me on the west coast though. I never get out of bed before 7 in the morning. Even though I’ve kept to the habit of scheduling whatever meetings I might have for earlier in the day, I get up way later. It’s something about the trees and the fog I think.
7-7:30am: OKAY ENOUGH FUCKING AROUND
If I want to get anything done, or as a work-from-home dad homeschooling an 11-year-old, want to be guaranteed a conversation with a grownup, I need to get up and get ready. As a habit I picked up working with people who had been laid off from large corporations, I like to take a shower and get dressed first thing.
7:30-9am: BREAKFAST DRINKS WITH MY FAVORITE GROWN HUMAN
Sometimes referred to as my wife. Whoever wakes up first gets first crack at the blender. We have different dietary needs, but both start the day with smoothies and coffee. It’s easier for me to digest the calories I need in the morning if they’re primarily liquid, and I like to add some CBD in the form of cannabis-infused almond butter or coconut oil.
When I started working out on a more regular basis, I did some research on whether it was better to have a high protein smoothie before or after a workout. After several hours of watching YouTube videos and reading men’s health articles the answer is clear: Both are wrong! So I just divide my morning drink in half to make sure I’m not hungry while I’m exercising but I have something quick and easy to eat when I’m done.
Drinking my morning beverages with someone I like is also nice. Our days are necessarily different. She spends her time in an office while I get to freely roam Portland and our home with the third human in our little family. But this time is important. We talk about the things that make our days different and remember all the things we have in common.
9-10:30am: WEIGHTS AND WATER
I don’t like exercising in front of people. I’ve never done yoga in public. While my weird shit obviously limits my ability to fully experience life, it does mean that I never have to get ready to go to a gym. And I’ve found routines using dumbbells and yoga that work really well for me. The internet is full of advice on what’s the best way to gain, cut, build, lose, or blow the fuck up. Some of this is helpful. Some of it seems pretty fucking dangerous. I’ve learned to listen to my body, not to press too hard, and, most importantly, to allow myself time and ways to recover. I like an intense 50-minute workout followed by a 40-minute “recovery period.”
I’m not LeBron James and I don’t have any kind of cold recovery chamber, so I like to alternate between cold and hot water in the shower. A couple of times a week I soak in a bath with some kind of salt, and I always always always use a high-CBD topical after. In places like Oregon it’s easy to buy these products and it’s almost as easy to make them. The combination of THC and CBD really seems to help my sore old muscles and my sore old bones recover faster. Sometimes I think its helps the muscles grow a little quicker too. Maybe I’m Imagining that.
9-11am: ALSO BE DAD AND TEACHER
The benefits of homeschool: you get to let the kid sleep in a little and keep to a more natural rhythm before waking up to start their day excited to learn. The downside: past a certain age, no kid is ever excited to wake up ever and, no matter what kind of asshole everyone is to each other, you have to get over it because work needs to happen!
I’ve read a lot of online diaries for inspiration. One day my day will be that organized. But for now my shit overlaps. So I wake up the kid, or start reminding the kid to wake up, and I start to exercise. They’ll need things. I’ll take breaks to help. Somehow everyone gets fed and the day begins.
11am: CHECK-IN AND MEDITATION
Maybe it would be better to mediate first thing in the morning. It’s not easy for me to wake up and be ready for that though. I do believe in the importance of practice everyday. We sit together for ten minutes. We are quiet and still and then afterwards we talk about what we’d like to get done that day, or what we’re worried about, or what we just can’t fucking wait for, because we are an excitable group of people.
The story of how we became a homeschooling family isn’t really all that long or interesting. We were planning to move across the country and wanted the freedom to relocate after the school year started. Everyone thought this was a better option. We’ve experimented with different kinds of routines and programs over the years, but have found that regularity is important and that if we’re passionate about a project we can put a lot of effort into it. We’ve also discovered that math sucks. We’re not bad at it. We just hate it.
11:30am-4pm: TRY TO DO A LITTLE WORK WHILE ALSO BEING PRESENT IN THE MOMENT AND NOT TAKING ANYTHING FOR GRANTED
This one is tricky. It’s not fair to anyone for me to be constantly looking at my phone. Children get mad and the work never gets its proper attention. Still, it’s important for me that my daughter sees me working hard at the things I care about. As she gotten older and more independent I’ve been able to incorporate more of my own getting-things-done time, where she sees me with a computer open, or maybe even taking a phone call, and she’s expected work hard on something that matters to her. Then we do math.
4pm-6pm: DECIDE WHAT CAN BE DONE TOMORROW PLUS WHAT DO YOU FEEL LIKE EATING FOR DINNER?
Look, pobody’s nerfect. I don’t keep to this program every day, and there’s never enough time to get everything done. So when school is officially over, I take stock of what I can reasonably accomplish with the time and energy I have left. Then I send out emergency texts because I never have any idea what’s for dinner and who the fuck has the energy to cook? We should just eat out, right?
6pm-7pm: FINE WE SHOULD JUST MAKE DINNER
Portland is a city with amazing food. Still, we can’t go broke eating out. And honestly, as we’ve gotten older and our bodies have changed from being able to eat whatever fast food we found on the way to whatever concert, it’s been better to incorporate routines in our nightly meal planning too. Some kind of protein. Some kind of root vegetable. Some of kind of green vegetable. There are a lot of ways to adjust the equation. So many cookbooks!
7pm-8pm: FAMILY DINNER TIME
It’s super clichéd, but we still eat dinner together every night. I know it’s not sustainable. That one day they’ll have things to do and other people to eat with but for now we keep to this. Sometimes we start the meal with “five minutes of silence” because it’s always a good idea to practice shutting the fuck up. Especially when you’re a grown up. “Five minutes of silence” is generally when the most food is consumed.
It took a long time to accept this, but we clean up after every meal. Sometimes it’s a family project and sometimes it’s one person alone in the kitchen. But having a clean space in the morning is essential both for mental clarity and the room we need to make a morning smoothie.
8pm-9pm: FAMILY TV TIME/NOW YOU GO TO BED PLEASE
We like Bob’s Burgers or The Great British Bakeoff even though we are 1/3 vegetarian, 1/3 gluten intolerant, and 1/3 too tired to understand even basic television at this point in the day.
9pm: WINGARDIUM LEVIOSA
Harry Potter time! Another tradition we’ve held onto, and I intend to keep it up until she’s sick of it. We’ve finished three and are a few hundred pages into the fourth. All read out loud. No, I don’t do the voices because I’m bad at it.
9pm-11pm: BABE ARE YOU ASLEEP NO I WASN’T SLEEPING YOU WERE SLEEPING BUT I HEARD YOU SNORING
We’ve written elsewhere about the importance of cannabis in our relationship. About how slowing down together with a nice pipe or pen helps us reconnect after separate hectic days. And what a time to be alive! Want to pair Murder Mountain with a strain they first cultivated on Murder Mountain? You can do that! Want to eat infused truffles while watching Top Chef! You can do that too! The options for cannabis consumers just keep growing, and we like to try them all! Responsibly of course.
When one of us sees the other slumping over on the couch, we start the long process of getting ready for bed. Somehow this takes more time than getting ready in the morning. I generally reapply infused topicals on the parts of me that are the most sore from exercise and fall asleep telling myself that tomorrow I’ll go to bed a little earlier and get up a little earlier. Because telling myself that I should be doing a better job is the most regular part of my daily routine.