You Can’t Help If You Don’t Know

We often like to believe that the world as we know it is at its most chaotic and that things have never been this weird or strange. But in truth, things have pretty much always stayed consistent. In their own way. We generally feel like there’s been a measurable change in society because recent decades have opened a spigot on accepting everyone and everything, combined with a complete and total inability to process and accept criticism, judgement and opinions. It’s a toxic combination as it’s breeding a world where people can claim to be whatever they want (even if they aren’t that particular thing) and shame on you if you tell them different. Have you experienced this? I recently did and what’s worse is, it was with someone I’m actually acquainted with. I can’t imagine the further shit storm I would have faced, had I been a stranger.

One of the things that’s always lit a fire under me is how folks simply EXPECT you to know something about them. And of course, every situation is specific and circumstantial to the moment, but sometimes one needs to acknowledge that there has to be a bit of give to your take. A good example I can provide is from almost twenty years’ ago when I managed a restaurant. We had a gentleman who came in, almost on a daily basis. He was a bit older than I was and was usually accompanied by what appeared to be family. Nothing out of the ordinary, other than the fact that he was in a wheelchair. This was not a temporary thing and he had obviously had something happen to him, earlier in life.

Through coincidence and circumstance, I had never had the opportunity to serve him. Then one day, I did. I took his order, accepted his payment and held out his change, which he accepted. Then I made the apparently offensive mistake of offering to carry his tray to the table… Now, I totally get that everyone is on their own journey and we never know what they’re going through and so on and so forth. And that’s quite true. You never know what’s bubbling underneath the surface. But the way this gentleman reacted to me was disproportionate to the fact that I was simply making an offer to help. He took instant offence and became irritated, asking me how I dared to assume he was incapable of carrying his own tray.

Being as I had worked at that particular job for quite some time and had plenty of practice at staying calm in the face of customer anger, I simply took a step back, held my hands out placatingly and apologized, as the man grabbed his tray, laid it across the arms of his wheelchair and pushed off. He executed each movement with the kind of over-exaggerated jerkiness that made it clear he was upset. He also never broke eye contact, glaring at me the whole time. Holy shit. What just happened? I asked the two other floor managers I was working with if they knew the story, but neither of them did.

Since I’m a firm believer in allowing matters to cool before addressing them, I left the man alone but I chose to address one of the family members he had with him. I explained what had happened and I asked her if she knew why he had taken such offence. She explained that it was mostly a pride thing, as he always tried to be as independent as possible despite being in a wheelchair. I wanted to tell her that I understood but that he may want to reconsider his approach, since the person he’s addressing may not know that. instead, I just said that I understood and asked her to apologize on my behalf as he seemed to be pretty pissed at me. She nodded understandingly and said that she would.

This begs the question? Was I the asshole? And no, I don’t mean in general, before any of my friends or family jump on THAT particular bandwagon. But was it fair of this person to use their anger on me like that for something I didn’t know about? One would think that it would make sense to offer aid to someone who is in a wheelchair and although it could be understood that such a person would want to retain independence and do things for themselves, would it not be the better approach to simply explain that, rather than get angry?

The rights and acknowledgment of a large number of different groups has become a hot topic around the world. One good example is gender identity, which has become something of the norm in recent years. We always see stories on the news about people who have gotten into physical altercations and public arguments because someone might have said “sir” or “ma’am.” Every person has the right to their identity as they see fit, but is it fair to unleash the hounds on every person who may not know? You can see and read about these situations almost every day as they relate to politics, gender identity, handicap and the less visible diseases and sexual orientation.

And although I know that this can be a bit of a touchy subject, it begs an important question as to whether it’s more important to receive the correct acknowledgement or be treated in a specific way as opposed to making it clear in the first place. I think that if I address someone by a particular title, I would like to be informed if I’m incorrect. This would be much easier than starting an angered tirade that can easily snowball into something uglier. I’d rather not have that person emotionally explode in my face because they identify as something other than the term I used.

I’m not referring to times when dealing with specific folks who feels it necessary to work AGAINST any particular group. That’s an entirely different bag. I’m referring to the normal, everyday interactions that we have while out in public (not that THAT happens much these days). Harmony and peace would be so much easier if people would simply take a moment and say, “Please address me this way…” or “No, thank you. I can manage this on my own.” As a Diabetic, I’ve often had people try to be accommodating or helpful. Especially when they’re “helpfully” suggesting what I should or shouldn’t eat… But that’s for another post. My point is, I view such instances as a chance for education and clarification. If every person did as much, it could go a long way towards preventing so many negative encounters. Food for thought… ☯

Bloody Circulation

Did you ever fall asleep on an arm or a leg as child, and marvelled at the sensation as proper body flow made its way back to the limb? Or maybe you were one of those kids who tightly wrapped a string around the tip of their finger, just to see it turn purple. Nathan does that… Freaks me out every time he does. But anyway, a limb tends to “fall asleep” when there isn’t sufficient or proper blood flow to the appendage. Left unchecked, it can become uncomfortable, numb and even painful until you get some movement into it and restore your circulation.

Everyone experiences this sensation in some given way, shape or form at one point or another in their lives. If you have Type-1 Diabetes for any number of years, this sensation happens on its own and usually far too often for comfort. Over years of having the condition, one’s blood circulation can become hindered by damaged blood vessels; a result of years of bad blood sugars, poor dietary habits and lifestyle. The damaged vessels will usually form more plaque than healthy ones, leading to less circulation.

This particular problem is aggravated if you happen to be a smoker or have high blood pressure. If left unchecked over time, it can lead to stroke, heart attack and permanent damage to limbs. Most literature seems to refer specifically to foot circulation, but it can occur in other limbs, as well. I’ve started to notice that I seem to lose feeling in my fingertips if I sit on the couch with my arm up on the back for more than five minutes. It’s incredibly annoying. I’ve also had to start altering my sleep habits, as if I didn’t already have enough trouble sleeping.

I’ll often wake up in a position where I fell asleep on my side or in a position that kept an arm or a leg under me for a period of time, resulting in several minutes of moving and flexing the limb in order to restore proper circulation before falling asleep again. It’s become somewhat problematic, and I can’t be certain if this is an issue surrounding my recent break from intense physical activity, progressing age or a combination of both. Having started a new routine where I’m awake at five o’clock every morning, every minute of sleep is critical.

All the material I’ve read (and there’s plenty out there) identifies physical activity as the top way to prevent circulatory issues in folks with Diabetes. Certain lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking can go a long way as well. Smoking can harden the arteries and increase blood pressure, which can lead to poorer circulation. But getting your exercise in can be an easy and healthy way of increasing circulation and ensuring better health. That means it’s time for me to step off the sidelines and get back into an intensive groove,

Besides keeping good blood flow, poor circulation will also be the culprit when wounds take longer to heal. Over time, this can lead to infections and ulcers on the limb. This is one of the reasons why you often hear of uncontrolled Diabetes leading to some form of amputation. It can also lead to heart issues, since the damaging of blood vessels and arteries surrounding the heart can lead to heart disease.

Alright. Now that I’ve got everyone sufficiently bummed you all out, it isn’t ALL bad news. There’s plenty one can do to help stem and/or prevent these complications. Believe it or not, putting your feet up when you get home from work is a great start. I’ll leave it to you to decide if you may be putting your life at risk by coming home and kicking up your feet, first thing. But jokes aside, putting your feet up when you sit can be helpful. Keeping the movement going is another good practice. When my wife and I are watching television for any length of time, I’ll usually flex and move my toes every few minutes. Its become a subconscious habit, and it helps to maintaining proper circulation.

Other steps include all the usual stuff that any doctor will tell you. Increase your overall weekly fitness. Take a walk, go running, cycling or swimming. Aerobic exercise is best in this instance, but as long as you incorporate movement everywhere in your body, you can’t go wrong. Maintaining good blood sugar levels and better overall A1C’s is also key. The better controlled your blood sugars are, the less overall damage to your circulatory system you’ll cause. Doctors will often recommend sleeping with a pillow between one’s legs to prevent blocking blood flow, but let’s be honest… I move way too much in my sleep for THAT to be effective.

I’ve grown up seeing far too many other folks lose a foot or a leg to amputation due to poor circulation due to Diabetes. Although none of the complications associated with Diabetes are pleasant, I think using the use of my eyes or legs would definitely be at the top of my “nope” list. Last week, I started waking up at 5 o’clock, going downstairs and cracking out a quick, 30-minute circuit workout before getting prepped for work. With better weather on the horizon, it’s a good first step in moving back towards proper fitness. And letting it flow. ☯

Finding Inspiration Among The Stars

Happy “May The Fourth,” everybody! And may the Force be with you! It’s no secret that I’ve long considered myself to be a nerd. And proud of it, for that matter. I think there’s a lot to be said for enjoying and finding inspiration in fantasy, science fiction and make-believe. And I’m one of the more hybrid fans, who won’t subscribe to a specific “camp.” What I mean by this, is that I’m a huge fan of Star Wars, Star Trek and all the other brands of fantasy and fiction including J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert Jordan, Brian Keene and Lee Child.

I spent the majority of my childhood, immersed in books. I escaped the cruel world of Diabetes, hospitals and illness by walking the road to Mordor with Frodo, travelling the stars with Captain James T. Kirk (and later Jean-Luc Picard) and learning about the One Power with Rand Al’Thor (That’s the Wheel of Time series, for you muggles!) What was particular and special is that Diabetes didn’t seem to exist in these worlds, which as a child, was one of the most appealing aspects of it. That, and a genuine love of reading kept me occupied whenever I wasn’t in karate class or studying.

Star Wars Day, or May the Fourth, started in 2011 as a way for fans to celebrate, well… Star Wars. Ironically, George Lucas had nothing to do with creating the so-called holiday but has since embraced it. I grew up on the original trilogy (Episodes IV, V and VI) and absolutely loved the use of a light sabre. It was actually one of the inspirational thoughts behind my study of Kendo. And there’s no denying that Jedi robes can easily be seen as something akin to a martial arts uniform. The Jedi Temple very much resembles a monastery, especially since they refer to themselves as the “Jedi Order.”

I know that not everyone has been a fan of the prequel trilogy or the newly-minted closing chapters of the Skywalker Saga (Episodes VII, VIII and IX), but I’ve loved and enjoyed every one of the movies, television shows and spin-offs. Except for Solo. That was a poorly-filmed piece of shit that cost me time I’ll never get back. But that’s just an opinion. I think that everything before, during and after the original movies painted a fantastic saga, and the books are even better. For example, I’ve read a book trilogy from the Old Republic days about the rise of Darth Bane and how he developed the “Rule of Two,” where there are only ever two Sith: A master and an apprentice.

I sincerely love that over four decades after the first movie was released, Star Wars is still hammering along has continued to the next generation of viewership and is adding more depth to the story. I’ve recently started watching The Mandalorian and it’s quite good. There are more plans in the works for different shows and features as well, and this nerd couldn’t be happier. Never discount a bit of sci-fi and fantasy. A touch of imagination and indulgence can go a long, long way. One might even say it can transport your imagination to a galaxy far, far away… ☯

Make Sure It’s For You

Look at that bald, handsome devil! I may be a bit biased, of course. This is me on my way to work, last week. Despite the current pandemic situation, I don’t have the available space or resources to be working from home. So I go to the office. There are a very limited number of staff working on site at the moment. And most employees have taken to dressing somewhat more casually than they usually would, with a full office. So, this begs the question… Why do I go through the effort of a clean shave and a properly tailored suit? I do it for me. Plain and simple.

Appearances aren’t everything, and this much is true. But there’s definitely something to be said about taking some steps to improve your self-image by dressing and/or training in such a way that makes YOU feel better about YOU. I could no doubt sit in my office in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, but my suit makes ME feel professional and improves MY self-image. This leads to healthier, happier days and better productivity as a result.

This line of thinking came to mind when I was having a conversation with one of the guys at the office, who mentioned his disdain for people who constantly post photos of themselves without a shirt and flexing at the gym. He commented that he wondered who that was for and felt that it was a bit on the braggy side. I can honestly say that I agree. I know people who do nothing but posts constant stream of photos of themselves in various flexing poses and such. I know, I know… THIS, coming from the guy who just threw a GQ pose into his blog post…

I’m mostly referring to the folks who don’t post the photos to show their progress or to show the “before” and “after” side of their journey, but just take photos for the sake of flexing for people to comment on them. There’s a big difference between having a healthy image of oneself and being narcissistic. This is a personal opinion, of course. I’m sure there are those who feel that constantly posting photos of themselves does in fact help them to self-motivate and work towards their fitness and self-image goals. And as they say, to each their own. It simply isn’t the way a humble person does business.

The simple bottom line is this: Dress to impress. But it better be to impress yourself. How you look and feel to yourself is the primary importance. As long as you have a positive self-image and feel great, you’ll project the confidence and energy that you need to be successful. And if you’re brave enough to share your fitness journey through photographs, be sure that it’s also being done for you and your continued well-being. You’ll be all the better for it. Food for thought… ☯

Punch Your Way To Fitness

One of the things I miss most about training at my local karate dojo is dealing with the lack of a punching bag. I’ve written on occasion about the importance of actually striking something during training. This is important, because form is all well and good but the effectiveness of your strike can’t be achieved unless you learn how it feels at point of impact and get used to it. Further, your knuckles also need to develop; something that can’t be done through forms. Knuckle push-ups will only get you so far and won’t contribute to experiencing the impact. But I digress…

My point is, having a punching bag or a striking surface can be integral to proper martial arts training. I’ve been considering getting my own punching bag ever since we moved to Regina, but there’s always been a lack of location and opportunity. My basement had no spot to safely install a punching bag, and I had to deal with fact that my continued pounding would cause chaos for the rest of the family, upstairs. Not least of which is the fact that our basement was recently demolished, leaving a bare basement with no safe area to work out in.

My new toy! Note the indent on the right edge as I couldn’t resist kicking it, as soon as I had it up.

With the warmer weather becoming more prominent, the time has come to shake some of the cobwebs off and start doing more physical activity outside. As such, I decided to stop being such a cheapskate and purchased a punching bag. Although the garage was effectively full last year as we demolished and braced our basement, we’ve moved enough stuff back into the house that I now had the available space to set up a bag. It didn’t take me long to run out to my local sports outlet and purchase what I needed.

The punching bag stand is made by Century, which if you recall is the same martial arts equipment company that makes the karate gi that we wear at Kenpo. It only took about a half hour to assemble, with nuts, bolts and washers included for easy assembly. The stand is unfortunately required, since the beams of the garage would no doubt hold a heavy bag but likely wouldn’t last under the constant barrage of strikes and impact I would inflict upon it.

Interestingly enough, the sports outlet that sold the stand had no punching bags available. Since it was the last stand they had in stock, I gambled and purchased it, sans punching bag. I really wanted a 100-pound bag, but I knew I would have to do some searching in order to find one. The first place I stopped at was a local retail store, which I won’t name for liability issues but it involves the color blue and usually has a fast food or coffee outlet inside. Draw your own conclusions from that.

Anyway, I managed to find a nice little kit containing a 70-pound bag, bag gloves, hand wraps and binding cords. Not too shabby. I added it to my cart so that I had a bag with which to start training and made my way home. I figured I could wok on getting a heavier bag later, depending on how much time I actually put in on it. I lifted the bag up to the hook and my wife helped by attaching it. A few experimental punches and kicks told me I would be enjoying some garage time, this summer.

Despite the fact that I usually enjoy cycling and swimming, a punching bag offers a wide variety of workouts that one can perform. These can include circuits and drills and even workouts where you incorporate the bag as a “set,” meaning you go do a number of sets of other exercises and keep coming back to the bag. Nathan and I like doing a back-and-forth where one of us punches the bag for a straight minute while the other is on a jump rope for that minute. Then we switch. It makes for a wicked sweat. This is what we did yesterday. Little bugger actually held his own for the whole half hour!

It worked nicely!

Punching bags can be nice as they allow you to experience the impact of your strike and help to properly develop them. But it also works almost all your muscle groups, provided you maintain correct posture, stance and incorporate punches AND kicks into your workout. Last but not least, sticking it out on punching drills makes it so that you end up with a killer cardio aspect, as well.

I’ve been in a bit of a fitness slump in recent weeks, which I attribute to the fatigue of starting a new job and having no access to my actual karate dojo. So I’m looking forward to doing something that will allow me to work up a sweat and start building back some arm strength. With our basement renovation plans expected to happen over the summer, the next step will be to get a bench and some free weights. here’s hoping it’ll be a good summer… ☯

A Boy Needs Heroes…

When I was a child, my father and I sat through the original Christopher Reeve Superman movies. That’s plural, because by the time I actually sat down to watch them, I was about the same age as Nathan and they had just released Superman III, with the original Superman movie being released a few months after I was born. Now that I’ve effectively deepened my legendary status in nerdom and properly aged myself, I do have a point…

As long as he behaves himself, Friday nights are usually the evenings I spend with Nathan. My wife generally takes advantage to try and get some extra work in so that she can have her weekend, so Nathan and I will usually watch a movie, crash on the living room floor with sleeping bags and enjoy some snacks. As I mentioned, it’s all contingent on him behaving himself throughout the day. But everything had gone reasonably well yesterday, so we sat down on the couch and discussed what movie we would watch.

Much like the joke about couples never being able to pick a restaurant, Nathan is notorious for never making a choice but declining any offers I make. Last night, I asked if he’d like to watch a Superman movie. He nodded enthusiastically and I started to search my streaming services for one we could watch together. None of the original Christopher Reeve movies were available, so I opted for 2013’s Man of Steel.

Comparatively much more violent than the originals, considering the actual fights, punching and battles scenes involved, some may argue that such a movie wasn’t the most appropriate for a 6-year old. But I was then caught by surprise as Nathan learned a significant number of important lessons throughout the movie. And I’m going to share those lessons with you now. I should probably point out that sitting through an entire movie is something of an amazing accomplishment for Nathan. So, there’s that. Moving on…

If you’ve never watched Man of Steel, proceed at your own risk, as there will be spoilers. That being said, I have a great appreciation for the movie, since it steers away from the typical depiction of the all-powerful and invulnerable Superman in favour of a hero who actually feels and who can be affected/harmed by significant opposition. The movie starts by showing the birth of Kal’El, followed by his being sent out amongst the stars by his parents before the total destruction of Krypton. Although any Superman fan is well aware of Krypton’s destruction, it made for an interesting piece of the story to actually SEE some of the storyline, rather than the typical movie with the red and blue suit stepping into the frame within the first fifteen minutes.

As Superman’s parents place him in the rocket and say their heartfelt goodbyes, I glanced over at Nathan and noticed he was red-faced, red-eyed and had a single, fat tear rolling down his cheek. I asked him if he was alright and why he was crying. he responded, “I’m sad…” When I asked him why he was sad, he explained that those parents had to send their baby away and they would never get to see him again. He also pointed out that the baby would never get to know his parents. I was caught off guard with the emotional and mature response he provided. I don’t mind saying that it was extremely uncharacteristic of him.

As the movie progressed, there are a couple of scenes that reached Nathan and we discussed them. The first was when Clark Kent is working in a truck stop restaurant as a bus boy and tries to intervene against a trucker who’s harassing a female waitress. When the trucker confronts him, Clark chooses to walk away. Nathan asked why Clark didn’t just beat him up, as he was obviously stronger than the trucker. This gave us the opportunity to have a talk about how just because you’re stronger than someone else, doesn’t mean you should exercise that strength against them.

The next scene came when we flash back to Clark’s teen years and he gets shoved to the ground and taunted by a group of bullies. Clark sits there and ignores their taunts until they depart. He’s helped to his feet by another classmate and as he releases the steel post he was braced against, we see Clark’s hand has imprinted on the steel. Nathan was blown away at the level of strength and asked why Clark wouldn’t fight back and beat up the boys, since they started it and he should defend himself. I explained that Clark showed restraint, which can often be a more valuable quality than a show of force. Especially in light of the fact that he managed to de-escalate the situation by avoiding a fight.

There were a number of other scenes but honestly, I’ve made this post long enough at this point. I often say that knowledge and wisdom can come form the most unlikely sources, and last night effectively proved that point. What started out as an evening of movie-watching fun proved to be an evening of important life-lessons for my young son. We still had fun and enjoyed the movie, but a little growing was done at the same time. Not too shabby, for a Friday night… ☯

When Bad Habits Can Be Good

I’ve been known to have my share of bad habits, from lack of sleep to eating a plate of nachos when I’m too lazy to make an actual meal. But, can there be times when bad habits can actually have some benefits? I’ve done a fair bit of searching, only to find that the articles that typically deal with the “benefits” of bad habits refer to things such as cursing, consuming too much coffee and fidgeting. But what about some of the more common bad habits that no one claims any benefit to? Are there any? I believe so…

A short while back, I took a couple of hours to indulge in the holy trifecta of bad habits: a cigar, a beer and a comic book. Classically, all three of these things are viewed as unhealthy. There’s no argument here, that smoking is bad for you. I have the benefit of saying that I have the occasional cigar every few months and it isn’t a consistent habit. That’s how I rationalize it. The occasional glasses of wine or beer are a bit more frequent, and one needs to recognize the calories, carbohydrates and effects it can have on a Type-1’s blood sugar levels. Coming books certainly aren’t a bad habit, per say. But there are obviously better, more constructive uses of my money and time if I wanted to read something.

My trifecta. Don’t judge my choice of beer.

As I was sitting there enjoying my little treasure trove of bad habits, I got to thinking about what it is I ACTUALLY get out of indulging in these habits. And I came up with a few reasonably good points. This is a short list, and I in no way endorse or encourage the use and indulgence of the above seen items in the photo. This is simply my opinion and what I feel I get out of it.

Relaxation: If I have to explain the how’s and why’s that alcohol can relax a person, then you’re either a minor who shouldn’t be drinking anyway, or a someone who has simply never had a drink, which is good. Stick with that. But the “ceremony” of sitting back and sipping on an ice cold beer on a sunny afternoon has a distinctive calming effect. And being calm is good. The aroma and warmth of the cigar also has a calming effect;
Time Alone: No matter your familial situation and ESPECIALLY given the current state of the world, taking some time to spend on your own is important and has its benefits as well. Time alone allows you to collect your thoughts, contemplate the days that have passed and allows you to partake in reading or just enjoying the day, without interruption;
I Can Meditate While Doing It: This is more of a “me” benefit, but if monks can sit in a meditative state while incense is burning and coiling around them, my cigar should be no different. Considering life obligations and distractions, meditation no longer happens for me as often as I’d like. These little quiet moments are an opportunity to do just that. This isn’t traditional or typical, but one can get themselves to a point where they can effectively meditate while performing other actions, such as these;
Enjoyment: And this last one simply points to the more selfish side of me. I enjoy the occasional beer. I enjoy the occasional cigar. And I certainly wouldn’t be the Alpha Nerd that I am if I didn’t enjoy comic books. Granted, I essentially enjoy reading in general.

Are these bad habits? Yes. Could I live without them? Absolutely. And that’s the difference. When stating these “benefits,” I’m not referring to the unfortunate folks who have addiction or are slaves to their bad habits. That’s an entirely different ball game. And I can certainly admit that all of these things have a financial cost to them that could likely be allotted elsewhere. But as everyone has no doubt heard, at some point in their lives, you can’t take it with you. Happiness is important to proper health and longer life. ☯

The “What’s It For?” Side Of Food…

I’ve been writing this blog for a few years at this point and I have some posts that I like more than others. And one of the best posts I feel I’ve ever written is one that describes the purpose and use of most vitamins and minerals that we get through our food. People usually focus on what they can eat that’s healthy, can make them lose weight or accommodates certain food allergies or aversions. But very rare is it do people take the time to consider what the actual nutritional aspects of food provide for the human body.

We ultimately consume food for two reasons: for energy, which we obtain through the consumption of calories, and nutrition. As a Type-1 Diabetic, I usually focus on the energy side of things, things carbohydrates are the form of fuel we obtain that affects blood sugars. But the nutritional aspect is important. Because if you’re taking in tons of calories but getting none of the nutrition, you could be causing issues for your body that nobody wants.

So, what do all of these vitamins and minerals do? Each one can serve a purpose and provide something for the body, and I compiled a list about two years ago that walks us through all of them. It’s a bit of a long read, but the good news is the list is mostly in alphabetical order, so you can go straight to the vitamin and/or mineral you’re looking for. And without further ado, here’s the regurgitated list:

Vitamin A: This is an all-around vitamin that provides a number of functions including but not limited to the proper health of various bodily functions, tissues and helps to fight chronic disease and is known to be good for the eyes.

Vitamin B: This one is a bit complicated, as there is a large grouping of enzymes, vitamins and minerals that fall under the “B” category. In general, B-vitamins are used for energy production, immune function and absorbing iron. Some them include B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B9 (folate) and B12. There are a few more that I can’t recall, but B12 is considered amongst one of the most important of vitamins overall because it helps you turn food into energy.

Vitamin C: At some points, this one has been referred to as the sunshine vitamin. I’m thinking that’s mostly because people’s main source of Vitamin C is from citrus fruits. But this vitamin also helps with iron absorption, immune function and is a natural antioxidant that helps with the elimination of free radicals. Eating citrus fruits are also what sailors used to eat on long voyages to prevent scurvy.

Vitamin D: This vitamin helps with the strengthening of bones and teeth. Our bodies are designed to self-generate this vitamin naturally through exposure to sunlight, but obviously that needs to be done in small doses. Modern life has created an environment where more people spend their time indoors, away from the sun. So supplementation becomes important.

Vitamin E: A pretty straight forward vitamin, this one helps with proper blood circulation and clear skin.

Vitamin K: This vitamin is essential for blood-clotting. In order words, if you’re deficient in this vitamin, small cuts or injuries can cause excessive bleeding that can become dangerous.

Folic Acid: We hear people speak about this one as being necessary during pregnancy. And they would be correct! Folic Acid helps to prevent certain complications during childbirth but is important to everyone for proper cell renewal. This one is also known as Folate, or Vitamin B9 (as listed above).

Calcium: Most people should be familiar with this one. Teeth and bones, people! Teeth and bones! Good calcium levels are required to keep those body parts healthy.

Iron: This helps to build muscle tissue naturally and helps with proper health of the blood. As an interesting sidebar, it’s also what makes your blood red through the reflection of light!

Zinc: Immunity and Fertility. I’m a little unfamiliar with this one and haven’t had the opportunity to research it a great deal.

Chromium: This one is near and dear to my heart. Because it helps to control blood sugar levels. Chromium is what helps all the systems of your body to get the energy they need when they need it. Some traditional medicine practitioners will suggest Chromium supplements for Type 1 Diabetics who may have difficulty in maintaining proper levels.

Magnesium: This one helps your body to absorb all the other vitamins and minerals. It also acts as something of a relaxant to muscle tissue and play a role in proper muscle contraction.

Potassium: This mineral helps with the proper hydration of your body and helps to control blood pressure.

These are really just the major ones and there are plenty more. But these are the common ones that you’d be looking for in your food and your multi-vitamin. There’s a lot of mixed opinion about multivitamins, with some believing that you get nothing out of them and some swearing by them. Although we’d like to think we get everything we need out of our daily meals, such is not always the case and a multivitamin can help. My doctor has always sworn by them, so I make a point of taking a daily capsule. This can be of particular importance, especially if you’ve had a lazy day where your meals may not incorporate everything your body may need. ☯

You Can’t Please Everybody

Everybody wants to be liked. Of course, they do. Even the people who puff out their chest and claim they don’t care what other people think would prefer to be liked than disliked. This is a natural compulsion and it makes sense. After all, life is always easier when dealing with people who like you than the opposite. But the big problem is that you can’t please everyone. No matter what you do, there’ll always be someone in the equation displeased with what you say, do or think. Trust, I know. I used to be one of the people who tried to please everyone…

Although the average person tends NOT to think so, complaining about the negative always seems to be easier than simply appreciating the positive. If people could simply be happy with what/who they have, the world would likely be a more peaceful place. And if you haven’t noticed, I’m kind of keen on the whole peace thing. I used to try and accomplish this by doing exactly what was described above: trying to please everybody.

I can remember some specific circumstances of when I’ve done this. I remember the one time where I attended a party with a handful of people. (I know, right? We actually used to do things like gathering in groups and the police WOULDN’T show up) Anyway, I lost a bet and it fell on me to buy the “adult beverages” for the evening. Beer. I had to buy the beer. There were only a handful of us and we had a bit of an organized game night happening… D&D. We were going to be playing D&D.

So, I accepted my loss and graciously purchased a case of beer, which would provide each of us with a couple of drinks. This was more than adequate for our early 20’s metabolisms and we needed to keep our heads clear for the game, anyway. Out of the friends who were there, there was ONE guy who decided he was unhappy with the brand of beer I purchased. Now, I know what you’re thinking: the guy should have been reasonable and appreciated the drinks he was getting for free, regardless of the brand. That should have the way of it.

Instead, this guy indicated that he doesn’t drink the brand of beer I brought and wouldn’t be drinking it. Some of the others indicated their disapproval of this opinion, especially since it was brought for him and it was free (albeit through the loss of a bet). But as the game started, the guy actually pouted a bit and would glare at me regularly. I should probably point out that I was the storyteller, what’s referred to as a Dungeon Master in D&D circles. But I’ll stop firmly establishing my throne in nerdom and point out that it was ridiculously childish and distracting while I was trying to focus.

So, what did I do? Did I tell him to suck it up? Did I tell him to stop being petty and have a couple of drinks, since they were provided for him at no cost? Did I have enough of his petulance and kick him out of the game. No. No, I didn’t. I put the game on hold, asked him what brand of beer was his favourite and actually went to the corner to grab him a 6-pack of his own. I brought it back, he smiled and grabbed a bottle and we got on with our game. I’d like to say that it was because I just wanted to shut him up, but back then I genuinely just wanted to please most people.

Should I have done this? In retrospect, I shouldn’t have. All I accomplished was showing this guy that complaining and pouting about something would eventually get him his way. If I’d been smart, I would have put my foot down so that the rest of us could enjoy our game. The debt incurred by the bet had been repaid and there were bigger fish to fry. All I really accomplished that night was putting myself out further than I should have. Sure, all the guys got what they wanted that night so I guess that in a way I “pleased” everyone, but at what cost.

I recently read somewhere that “You can lie down for people to walk on you and they will still complain that you’re not flat enough. Live your life.” An that’s quite true. It’s always a beautiful thing when you can get along with everyone, but it’s unrealistic to think that you’ll ever be able to please everyone. If you make a meal, there’ll always be an aspect of the meal that someone at the table won’t like. The important thing to remember is the effort you’ve put into the things you do. If there are some who don’t like it or aren’t please with you, so be it. You can’t base your life on whether or not you’ve pleased everyone. ☯

“But Daddy, Zombies Are Real…”

That title isn’t just an abstract one; these are words that my 6-year old son chose to utter, just a few weeks ago. When I asked him what made him believe that zombies were real, he explained that he had seen them in “real shows,” not cartoons. So they must real. This not only prompted me to have an in-depth discussion with him about the realism of what he sees on television, regardless of cartoon or live, it also prompted me to thoroughly scrub his restricted list on Netflix, since he obviously accessed something he shouldn’t have been watching.

The unexpected result that it had, was it caused me to question how easy it would be to survive through a “zombie apocalypse.” This thought is further deepened by the fact that I’ve recently started re-reading a bunch of Brian Keene books, a well-known horror novelist. He’s had some really great ones, including The Rising and City of the Dead. But the one I’ve been reading recently is called Dead Sea, and it follows the story of a down-on-his-luck protagonist who saves a couple of kids from fires and zombie hordes when the zombie apocalypse comes. They wind up on a ship on the open sea, hence the title. CAUTION: There will be spoilers on this book, ahead. Here’s the cover, in case anyone is interested in looking it up:

So, you may be asking yourself, “Why are we talking about zombies on a Buddhist/Fitness/Diabetes blog?” Well, the answer is quite simple: because I can. But even more so, sometimes it can be refreshing to take a different perspective at things, and books often provide a means of doing just that. But what’s more than that (he says, calming his sarcasm) is that something that a lot of these stories bring up is a person’s propensity to keep fighting and survive, even when faced with what appears to be insurmountable odds. And as I mentioned in the second paragraph, it’s made me question and wonder what my odds of survival would be when faced with a situation like a zombie apocalypse.

First, let me start by pointing out that the possibility of zombies is something I find ridiculous at best, for a host of reasons. Between rigour mortis, decomposition and the concept that reanimating dead and rotting tissue in such a way as to allow mobility is an impossibility, I’m of the opinion that zombies are right up there with vampires and unicorns. Anyone with a medical degree that could correct me is free to do so in my comments section. Granted, at least the concept of a horse growing a horn out of its head is more likely than a reanimated corpse. But I digress…

The topic of this post is actually supposed to be about survival; a topic that the main character of this book touched on quite well in the first page of the first chapter. He said, “Listen… you never know what you’ll do until you find yourself in an impossible situation, so don’t ever say never. Survival instinct is a motherfucker, and when your back is against the wall, everything changes. Everything. I know. It did for me. It all changed for me.”

In the pages that follow, a number of specific aspects of dealing with any survival situation is addressed. The need for food, supplies, a safe haven for rest as well as the resources to protect yourself are all aspects of such a situation. And not only protection from whatever may have prompted the emergency, but from the people who would benefit from it as well. There are always some of those. Even in the face of our current pandemic, there have been people who have sought to use the current state of the world to their advantage, preying on those who may not know better.

I think the reason this story resonates with me so much, besides the fact I occasionally enjoy the horror/fantasy genres, is the fact that about midway through the book once everyone is aboard ship and cruising to relative safety, a character named Stephanie is identified as having Diabetes and being without insulin. She succumbs to a Diabetic coma and passes away in her sleep shortly thereafter. And THAT more than anything provides an important wake-up call for me, from a survival standpoint. It raises the question of how long would I last in an apocalypse scenario given that I would need to find some means of securing an insulin supply and the materials needed to inject it.

In all reality, I can live without my pump and even without a blood glucose monitor. It’s not ideal, but I could do it. I lived until my late 30’s without a pump. And in a total breakdown of societal resources where stores and retail locations would ultimately be looted and emptied of their contents, insulin may not be everyone’s top choice of things to grab. So I could potentially manage to scavenge and find an adequate supply. For a while. Even when you consider that a breakdown in utilities could mean that insulin supplies stored in pharmacy dispensaries would eventually spoil due to temperature extremes and lack of proper refrigeration.

But then what? If society breaks down, it’s doubtful that there’ll be manufacturers still producing insulin. So, although I could no doubt survive for a period of time (especially since the self-defence aspect would be no issue) there would no doubt come a point where, no matter how prepared I am, the Diabetes aspect of me will cause me to succumb to the new, apocalyptic environment in which I find myself. Maybe that’s why I enjoy these types of stories so much; because I know they involve an environment I couldn’t survive in and is the only format through which I can experience it. Not that I WANT to experience a disaster… I’m jus’ saying’…

Hopefully, we’ll never have to deal with an “apocalyptic”-level event in our lifetime, but it’s humbling to think about how a simple medical condition that I’ve lived with for almost four decades would bring about a swift end for me, based on the state of the world. It’s a bit of an eye-opener. Even if I fortified my home, stored non-perishable foods and did everything I could to be prepared in the event of a cataclysmic event, my downfall is more likely to be, not from zombies, lack of food or the inability to defend myself but from the lack of a small, glass vial. ☯