Art of giving and receiving

Receive without an ounce of entitlement.
Express your feelings without blame.
Communicate your feelings without expectation.
Communicate your hurt without hurting the hurter.
Communicate your hurt without the demand it be mended by the hurter. 
Know exactly, tangibly, what you wish to see as a result of communicating your feelings. Recognise that many things we do in pain are counterproductive to our goals.
Do for them without enabling.
Do for them without expectation of gratitude in return.
Receive without taking it for granted that it’s be given again.


Fighting is a collaborative art with a goal in mind

I don’t say “but.” I always say “and.”

Discussions, arguments, and fights are a **collaborative** art between two people with an end game of mutual respect and versions of truth.

They are not a battle of beating the other person for the satisfaction of winning or fear of being beat down. If it were that, why do you have each other in your life at all? (the urge to win is a whole new topic for another day)

Show respect to the point they just made even if you disagree.

“But” says rejection, putting the other on defense. People want to be heard, and “but” isn’t conducive to it.
Try replacing all of your “but”s with “and that contrasts with” or “and at the same time.” If someone’s point is completely moronic, try “and on the other hand.”

Avoid blaming

You know what else is a poor choice for starting collaboration – blame. We dispense blame so unintentionally and freely. “Why did you do this?” – if you ask this question knowing it puts 99% of people on defensive, is it conducive to collaboration?
“I’m hoping to understand __” or just make a statement “I felt __ when __ happened.


I found this clip (probably illegally posted – I’ll buy the book to make up for this repost). I believe those are good rules for life.

The anatomy of a hockey stride

Hockey is a weird sport. Ever google stuff like v-start, mohawk turns (I don’t know if this term is offensive to the Mohawk people – let me know if you do), running starts, correct stride…

There is nothing that’s immediately helpful.

So here is random selection of what I’ve learned from listening to conversations, listening to Ray Ferraro, listening to coaches, some of which I don’t have the skills to do myself.

Three parts of your stride match the three parts of your skates. 
The entire time, the skate blade must be 90 degrees in relation to the direction of the push. 
1. The butt extension: first 5 inches of your stride is directly under your hip, using gluteus medius. I was taught this comes from the back 1/3 of the blade (not that I can do that.
2. The leg extension: from there pushing back at 45 degrees-ish. Be sure to keep your knees in line with your toe, or you’ll cause muscle imbalance and knee injury. This is through the middle of the blade.
3. The toe extension: from the toe of the blade. A complete extension has become practically impossible with the introduction of plastic/composite skates. But we must at least get as much as we can out of it.

Doing only one or two of those is like using 4 cylinders in your V6.

Don’t force the skates
The change in skating style since the introduction of plastic skates is very unfortunate. I imagine everyone realizes the tremendous drawbacks it’s had on the game of hockey, but, oh well, if one guy is wearing a really fast skate, you also have to. What’s the point of agility and creativity if you aren’t even around the play?
In these stiff skates, the shins are too vertical. Straight knees. Torso tilted forward. No tight turns. (think Zach Kassian) The players just look really really uncomfortable.
This exact thing happened 37 years ago to skiing. All I can say is that my friends had plastic boots from the get go, and I didn’t convert till grade 3. As a result, today, edges and I are the best friends. Even though I took up skating as an adult and it shows in my very awkward skating posture, people assume that I grew up skating. I never feel I have to force the skate. My edges and ice never have a disagreement.

There is a way to simulate this. If your ankles are strong enough and you’re at a practice or a public skate (i.e. acceptable risk of injury), lace up just to the top of the foot and leave the rest loose so you can’t overpower the technique. Practice some strides and turns that way. Focus on the contact between the soles of your feet and the insoles, and forget the boot, like how you would ride a surf board or skate board. After a while of this, you’ll develop a very intimate relationship with the edges. It’s a very wonderful feeling, and it’s absolutely worth the effort.

Using all the muscles available
Keeping the knee in line with the toe not only saves your knees but also utilizes all the big muscles that are available to you. This of course makes you faster as well as prevents fatigue and makes you more stable.
This is a good video to see this in action
One big mistake parents may make is that they get so excited that their kid is fast/good among peers that they don’t put them through power skating classes (or put them through “fun” classes). They might be ok among peers now, but technique will come into play as they advance. And, as we all know, bad habits are hard to correct if you let it repeat for years.

Learn the trick skating
I cannot emphasize the importance of learning trick skating. It teaches you to use any part of the blade (inside edge, outside edge, heel, toe), meaning you can start accelerating in any direction from any position. This shaves seconds in response time. It’s hard to shave seconds in a pure race.
Start from cross overs, hockey stops, and running starts. Then move on to mohawk turns and spread-eagle (aka “10 and 2”). Be very comfortable on outside edge. (shaves a second in stop-and-starts and in coming out of tight turns)
Once you run out of basics, keep moving on. I resorted to these.
Some of my friends might have seen that I sometimes glide just on my tippy toes or on my heel. That’s a practice, not a show.

Protecting oneself
Taylor Hall might be fast, but he’s very cringe-worthy. It’s easy to blame the hitters, but the onus is also on the hittee. Near the boards, in front of the crease, being leaned on, a player must, and is expected to, take a defensive/protective position. Learn to pick your head up, put your torso up straight, put both feet down, angle the feet and knee in such a way that it absorbs the jolt. This absolutely applies to non-hitting hockey. Especially in rec hockey where unplanned, unpredictable movements happen more often than the pros or the Olympics. Visualize it now and again so you can calmly place yourself in a safe position as a course of normal playing knowledge.

No jersey numbers
As a defenseman, we absolutely do not want to see your jersey numbers. You might see those fantastic stretch passes in NHL, but you only have to watch a couple of Canucks games to know that it’s a very low-percentage play even with an NHL passer and an NHL receiver.
Almost every time I get the puck, I see three jersey numbers. A couple of things wrong with this.
1. If I give you pass, the puck is naturally much faster than you and coming up from your blind side. You have a very very small window of opportunity to grab this puck. In reality, the puck is either so fast it blows by you or so slow that it gets picked off.
2. If you do receive this pass without going backwards, you will slow down – not stop – the puck just enough so the puck and you are the same speed. In reality, it probably bounces off your stick and goes down for icing.
If you think “But it happens!,” watch this footwork by Patrick Kane.

In practices and warm-ups, how do you pass the puck? Either passing drills or a variation of St. Louis (“corners”), you are facing the passer. In a game situation, this type of pass is created by
A. Receiver doesn’t take off too early so the angle between the passer and the receiver are max 45 degrees off north-south.
B. Receiver skates laterally east-west across the rink.
C. Receiver skates backwards like Kane did in the clip above – Notice this isn’t as safe as it might looks. Kane probably knew all 9 skaters were behind him.

My chronic knee pain = SOLVED

Just like many of you, I’ve been to many different physios many different times to no avail. Just chalked it up to “I screwed myself working out too much when I was too young to be doing so.” I did train 4 – 6 hours every day on concrete and asphalt when “alpha-gel” was the new big thing in shoe sole technology when I was only a kid who hasn’t finished fully growing, resulting in avulsion fractures and such.

Over decades of going to physio, I was repeatedly told “Look at your leg. VMO is HUGE and VL is wimpy. This is causing your knee to turn inward. You have to work out VL.” This is true – the inside muscle is so overdeveloped that it pushes my knee caps visibly outside. I did the exercises religiously, and it simply never gave me any relief. I just hiked less and less and less. I stopped goal-tending.


So Eureka came from something that I thought was unrelated. A couple of years ago, I went to Gina Grain (TaG Cycling) to see if she could help make skating strides more efficient. She immediately told me my gluteus medius is very weak and my brain didn’t even know how to fire it. In fact, I couldn’t even do some of the exercises she gave me (and I usually excel at isolating muscles in workouts).

Gluteus Medius is that muscle where the “hockey bum” lives.Posterior_Hip_Muscles_3

It was very uncomfortable to work this muscle, so I thought to myself, “I’m a rec player. Everyone skates funny. I’m still pretty fast. So who cares if I skate funny” and stopped doing the exercises.

The last few weeks, I was kind of bored so I started really focusing on the gluteus medius when I’m skating and when walking the dog. It had an impact within a couple of weeks. I’m more agile in my hockey skates, and outside-edge stop is more comfortable. This morning, I suddenly realized my knees are straighter and my pain is much reduced. The force of balancing out the VMO was coming from the gluteus medius – or should I say that’s the balance that’s been missing. I suspect that my oversized VMO was a symptom, not a cause, of the imbalance in muscle strength.

My gluteus medius overheat, and it’s uncomfortably warm in this summer heat after a dog walk, but I think I’ll stick to it.

Everyone’s situation is different, and this may not apply to you. But I’m posting it just in case it is. Because I spent decades and thousands of dollars before I came across Gina Grain.

If you want to know if this applies to you, here are what I would like to ask.
– Does the outside of your knee joint feel “pressure” all the time? Like there is a 2-lb weight sitting on it?
– Does the inside of your knee joint feel sharp pains?
– When walking, do you feel most of the weight going through the big toe (not evenly across the balls of the foot)?
– your muscle takes a while to start firing when trying an exercise like this? or gets tired very quickly (5 – 10 reps)?
– do you look like the blue guy in the first three strides of “running start” instead of holding a V-diamond like the guy in black?
(proper v-start in photo #2 here)

If it sounds like this also applies to you, please seek professional advice.

For everyone, there is a huge benefit to learning to skate from your butt, by the way. First of all, it gives you the “hockey butt.” Secondly, it is a vast improvement in confidence on the rink. Please see my next post.

Tough talk: When your spouse isn’t there for you

I am not a psycologist by any means, and this article must not be construed as an advice. 

When I hit about 28, I came undone. It started with just some normal “tough life events” that piled up. My spouse was not there for me when I desperately needed him, and that abandonment became bigger than the reasons I needed him. Quickly, I no longer had any grip on my life or my emotions. After 5 years of unsuccessfully seeking for help and living a chaotic life, I found this therapist. who told me: There are very few things more harmful than being neglected by the very person who’s supposed to be there for you. This one remark gave me my life back.

A bit of background. I was neglected by my parents who went to all of my siblings’ school or athletic events but none of mine. I don’t remember a hug or a simple conversation. I don’t even remember a high-five or “how was school?” When we are out once a year to buy clothes and I wanted to hold Dad’s hand, he thought it was funny to stay just far enough ahead so I couldn’t quite touch his hand. This game is supposed to end with the child finding the parent’s hand. I never got to find his hand.

My sister used to beat me physically and emotionally every day. Sometimes she would have a knife or a glass bottle. I was constantly petrified. I believed for years that this was the cause of my problems. The therapist said I was wrong. “It is not the fact she beat you. It is the fact she beat you in front of your parents who are supposed to be your ultimate defender. There is nothing more harmful than being let down by the person who’s supposed to be there for you.” It is the neglect, the betrayal, the abandonment, being all alone in the whole world.

The therapist continued, “There are few that are more cruel than neglect. Not only that you have nowhere else to turn because your parents are supposed to be your ultimate support but also that neglect doesn’t leave a visible bruise or a clear event you can describe, and many people refuse to understand that you need their help and support.”

“Your parents may not have done anything to you, but you are still a victim of abuse.”

(I’m simply repeating his words here because these words truly helped me. Personally, I think there are several that are much much much worse than neglect, and he said those words to help me stop minimizing my experience.)

Of course, as they say, I ended up repeating the pattern. Once an adult I stayed in relationships that were filled with neglect – infidelities, lying, exclusion from social events, isolation from my friends, broken promises, abandonment. Here is what I’ve learned.

4 things to consider when your spouse isn’t there for you

1. Feel validated for what you’re feeling.
You’re feeling neglected, abandoned, disregarded, and outprioritized. Don’t let anyone (including you) tell you those emotions aren’t valid. Don’t let people make you question if what your spouse is doing is “all that bad.” Don’t listen to people who tell you you’re “too sensitive.”
Remember what my therapist said. Neglect as abuse is difficult to explain, and some people aren’t able to understand it no matter how hard you both try. Some people are just adamant to conduct scrutiny before dispensing empathy as if it were something to be earned. Don’t waste your energy.

2. Combat frustration with empathy
OK, so your spouse is acting childish and they are not living up to their responsibility in this relationship. Do they deserve empathy?
It’s not about that. Empathy is not for them. It’s for you.
What is causing your spouse to act this way? They are just like this, and they can’t help themselves? They lack the capacity or willingness to understand? Or to care? They had an easy life and simply have all fear and no skills to face a difficult situation? They are not as strong as you wished they were? They are facing their own difficulties they haven’t told you about because they don’t want to burden you? They too are having a rough time in life and needing you right now the way you need them? They are exhausted or suffering from depression and don’t have the energy to face yet another situation?
What if there is a slightest sliver of chance one of those is true… It doesn’t mean you’re not abandoned and neglected, and it still hurts. But empathy should curb frustration.

3. Take ownership. And do it now
Taking ownership is not the same as admitting guilt. Taking ownership is about exuding control. It’s not about bowing down – it’s about rising above.

I say “do it now” above very seriously. Two mental health dangers here I’ve personally experienced. 1. My spouse is supposed to be there when I need them but they aren’t! is a variation of gaslighting. I kid you not. 2. I was repeating the same thing (pleading my spouse to understand that I needed him) over and over and expecting a different result. You know what that definition is for, and in this case cause-effect goes both ways.

I still to this day wouldn’t admit “I’m never ever going to be able to change my spouse,” but I knew I was running out of time. I had to at least move forward with “All I can change is me.”

So what does “taking ownership” entail? To me, that means sitting down to really wrap my head around these things.

– Take ownership of the clarity of the request
by narrowing down to the one small thing I need most from him. He hasn’t heeded me this long; he won’t just get up and do several things. But my list of “things he did wrong” is only getting longer, and I can’t help be frustrated by – and nag him about – the length. At this point, my message is very non-constructive – “Look at how long this list is!” = “Bad spouse!” Not “Could you do this one thing? I really need it right now.”
I must give him just one small tangible task at a time. e.g. “It makes me feel so wonderful when you take a second to make eye contact with me when I get home.”

– Take ownership of the manner of communication.
You don’t send a telegram to a blind person. You don’t give a Yankee hat to a Mets fan. The responsibility to “read the intention” is often placed on the receiver, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth: The responsibility is on the sender to make sure their message is received in a way they intend.
Two examples of ways that I put a lot of effort into but didn’t help at all: Nagging and criticizing. It felt like I was “trying hard” at the time. But the best I accomplished by nagging was “reluctantly following instructions.” Criticizing only caused resentment and shame and drove us farther apart. But when I gave him a sincere thank-you for that one time he picked up his socks – he did it for a few days after that.

– Take ownership of the fact this is the person you chose.
When your partner accused you (sleeping in late, not cleaning the bathroom, making plans without asking first), you probably said “This is me. Accept me for who I am.” This goes both ways. Your spouse might be weak, childish, selfish, disappointing. But that’s the person you chose to be with even if you may not have known that before. No one knows another person 100 % before or during the relationship. We keep learning about each other, and surprising new things pop up now and again. We take them for who they are, or we have no right complaining about them not being there for us. Sure, all of them let us down in one way or another. How do you live with it while accepting them for exactly who they are?

– Take ownership of the emotional control
Do you know your end game? And are you committed to only doing things that help reach your end game?
When you yelled at your spouse last night for wanting to go out yet again, how did it help? Did it bring you together or create more resentment? Did your nagging text, another email, another Facebook post bring you together? Did you think the 89th text would work when the other 88 did nothing but shame and guilt-trip?
Know the difference between action driven by the desire to unleash your emotions and the planned action toward accomplishing your end game.
Take ownership of your emotional control.

– Take ownership of the fact that you’re sometimes wrong.
If you answered “No I’m not” or “Well, sure, but not this time,” I must tell you that you’re making your own journey difficult on yourself. Let me tell you a fact: For most people, they are wrong because they don’t know they are wrong yet. If this last item was the “aha!” moment, please go back to the beginning and read again.

– Take ownership of the fact YOU are a spouse too.
Let me challenge you. You’ve been so caught up in your hurt that you haven’t sincerely asked your spouse “How are you?” or left them a little love note or little gift? If you want your spouse to be there, you genuinely have to be there for them too. No matter how angry you are. No matter how exhausted you are. Because, after all, that’s what you are expecting of them, isn’t it?
Try asking “So, how are you?” and really really mean it. Really meaning it possibly includes listening to your spouse for hours – commit to it. They might reciprocate it.

4. Most importantly, please seek professional help. You may not need it yet. But, take it from me, it’s much easier to get help when you don’t need one than to get help after the fact. It took 10 years for me to get my life back fully.


Kind of dislike the word “agender.” I kind of dislike that “a.”


That “a” is kind of yucky. “Absence of.”

Though I guess that describes me best.
I’m not unhappy with the gender on my driver’s license. It’s fun to be this gender. I think it’s also fun to be the other gender. I’m irked that I can’t experience being the other gender without giving up mine. I love dressing up masculine in a smart suit. I love dressing up feminine in an elegant dress. I love doing activities that are traditionally associated with either gender. I am very cut-and-dry like traditionally expected in a man, and I am very feelings-oriented like traditionally stereotyped for a woman. This may be a pretty common feeling for anyone – from transgender, cisgender, to agender.

What makes me agender is this: The feeling of being a male or a female is absent in me. When people talk about “feeling” or “showing preference as” a male or a female (either in a child, in themselves, or in the topic of gender dysphoria), I simply do not have the slightest understanding of what it feels. People talk about girls liking dolls and boys liking trucks…I can’t wrap my head around it.

I normally dress a bit androgynous. Some days, I feel like a jacket and tie feels good. Another day, I feel great putting on a dress and heels.

I love it. I love all of it. I’m just tired of seeing the shock and… “disgust”? … when people see me in something that they weren’t expecting. And, let me tell you, different people make faces at jacket and a tie, and others make faces at a gown.

What I really don’t get is this: Why do other people make so much fuss over my identifying as agender or transgender people identifying as trans?

That’s not a rhetorical question. Also, you’re very welcome to ask any question. Please ask in comments below, and I’ll reply unless I perceive the question to be mean.

P.S. For people who asked me “Who do you date, though?” I’d like to let you know that gender identity and sexual orientation have nothing to do with each other. And we don’t really like our sexual orientation assumed based on our non-traditional gender identification. Yes, there is an overlap, but there is always overlap. This overlap does not have to imply cause-and-effect or co-causation just like how being cisgender does not imply being straight.

The neglected child’s win

Someone called me “fair” yesterday, and I felt this thrill.

I grew up with no TV, zero magazines, and little interference and interaction from adults. There are good and bad about that.

The good: I am not flattered by “pretty,” “skinny,” or anything to do my physical being.
But I’m extremely flattered with “interesting,” “fair,” and whatever else that points to who I have grown up to be.

I tell you because I believe I’m a proof that our obsession with appearances is taught.