Humming Boyz II Men…

Despite how loud and outspoken I tend to project myself as, I’ve never really been a social butterfly and I rarely keep an increased social circle within my personal life. This isn’t because I don’t WANT friends… Far from it, in fact. But the nature of how I live my life, mixed with familial and home obligations, doesn’t make for much free time to hang out and spend time with friends. And that’s fine. I have a handful of people whom I call “friend,” they know who they are and I get to see them when our respective lives allow us to.

With that in mind, it’s a normal thing for people to come in and out of our lives. Sometimes it happens organically and doesn’t really change a great deal. I have people that I spent TONS of time with, twenty years ago and somehow life carried us in different directions and life has progressed all without the sense of loss that should normally come with that lost connection. However, once in a while a person may make an impact on one’s life that makes it a little bit harder to accept their departure when fate deems it necessary for them to step away.

We usually navigate our own lives oblivious to the direct impact we have on other individuals. And that impact can be either negative or positive but the reality is that any given person will ALWAYS have an impact on others. When you meet someone genuine, someone who is helpful, a teacher, guide, mentor and friend, that impact is all the more measurable and important. It’s made all the more special by the fact that these people often don’t assume or consider how much of that impact they’re responsible for. And that’s kind of what makes it special… If a person did all these things with the purpose of being recognize and considered as a genuine, impactful person, I think it would lose a little something.

In some cases, many cases, we are oblivious of the importance of such people until we’re at risk of losing them. And that loss can come in many forms, whether illness, death, falling out and misunderstandings, moving away to a new location or simply unavoidable circumstances of life. Once they’re gone, it leaves a significant gap and sense of loss and one can suddenly regret that the requirements and rigours of life prevented more time spent with these individuals. But, such is life! That’s why it’s important to value and appreciate the important people in your life while you have them. Because you never know when someone who impacted your life significantly will have to leave. ☯️

If it Isn’t Hard, Is It Even Worth Doing?

I read an interesting quote by Ashton Kutcher, of all people, that says, “If it doesn’t seem insurmountable, how is it going to be a life purpose?” An interesting quote and deep meaning behind it, confirming my opinion that knowledge and wisdom can come from any source. Of course, as some of my readers would and have pointed out, a quote is only as good as the confirmation of its source. Realistically, unless one is in a position to actually speak to the source to confirm the quote’s accuracy, it’s up in the air. However, that makes the words no less true. But I digress…

The point and purpose is to speak about those “insurmountable” goals and life purposes and how you can get past the BELIEF that they’re insurmountable. When I look back at my life, I recognize that some of the goals and purposes I planned for myself seemed impossible at the time. Considering I’ve achieved almost everything I set out to do in life, it almost seems laughable that I was as concerned as I was that I would REACH those goals. But Everest always looks insurmountable until you’re touching the flags at the top, right?

When I was younger and I stepped into a dojo for the first time, my health was waning, I had no support from the outside on my choice to start training and I believed my life would end before I reached my late teens. That first class was among one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, considering my blood sugars dropped, I had no physical constitution and the workout was gruelling for those who had been there for a while so you can probably imagine how difficult it was for me. But like taking that first step up the mountain, completing that first class paved the way for me to push froward and reach my goals. The same can be said of most things in life.

It’s important that goals and purposes be difficult. Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight. If you can simply coast through to the finish line, it technically isn’t a race, right? But while contemplating that thought, it’s important to bear in mind that difficulty is a subjective thing. Maybe walking ten minutes to the corner store is a fuckin’ joke to me and I don’t consider it exercise, despite walking for twenty minutes, round trip. But someone else may have difficulties in mobility, health issues and other problems that make walking for twenty minutes a significant challenge. This means that it’s important never to judge someone else on their chosen goals, even if they may seem like less to you.

Another important quote that I like, in case y’all haven’t noticed that I love quotes, is attributed to Muhammed Ali who said, “Often it isn’t the mountains ahead that wear you out, it’s the little pebble in your shoe.” Getting started and building one’s momentum is what will usually get you there and accomplishing your goals. Just remember that when it gets hard, and it will, that’s normal. If it isn’t hard, it isn’t worth doing. The easy path isn’t challenging. Food for thought… ☯️

Quit Apologizing…

Society is very much divided into two parts; those who seem compelled to apologize for everything they do and those who seem to feel they are entitled to the moon and all its sand without any thought or care of others. This is a pretty broad generalization, I admit, and many people fall somewhere in between of those two extremes. But for the most part, it’s pretty accurate, based on my observations.

Some people feel compelled to apologize for every day things, even if they’ve done nothing wrong. This can be a problem, bordering on the annoying, especially when it hinders conversation or required actions on the apologizer’s behalf. I recently read a really good post about things we should all stop apologizing for. They made some really good points and some of them were even funny. I thought I would share my list of top things I feel people should stop apologizing for…

Saying No: This is a big one for me, because people have a tendency to want to avoid awkwardness and try and please others. Not always, minds you but in most cases. More often than not, people will be afraid of saying no to something, either at work or in their personal lives, in order to avoid confrontation or having to explain themselves. It’s important to remember that it’s okay to say no. If you’re unable or even simply in wanting to do a particular thing, you have every right to say no and it isn’t something you should be apologizing for.

Being Sick/Ill: Another big one in my life, given how I grew up. There’s nothing worse than calling in sick or being absent due to illness and feeling you need to apologize for it. Recovering from any illness isn’t something you need to say you’re sorry about and you shouldn’t feel bad about taking the time you need to recover. I know many employers will sometimes take issue when an employee calls in sick. And some family or friends may often feel slighted if you tell them you aren’t meeting them because you’re feeling unwell. But self-care is importantly and these parties likely wouldn’t appreciate it if you spread your sickness among them.

Being Wrong: This is important because no matter what side of the argument you fall on, we’re all human and we’ll have times when we’ll be wrong about SOMETHING. It’s the height of ignorance to assume that one is always right. But even if you’re wrong about something, it’s okay to acknowledge that you were wrong, it’s important to recognize that you were wrong, if it has affected someone else. But you’re human; you shouldn’t have to apologize for making a mistake.

There are likely many more and I’m sure you can all think of some I haven’t named. These are just the top ones that grate on me when someone apologizes for it. The article I read (I wasn’t able to find it to link it, SORRY) had included passing gas… Effectively, people in a couple should stop apologizing when they pass gas in front of each other, since it’s GOING to happen as a natural function of the human body. There was more to it than that but I thought it was hilarious.

Don’t feel the need to apologize for every little thing you do. If you feel that something is a problem, then work to fix the problem. This will go much farther than saying you’re sorry for it. And if it’s something that relates to your health or self-care, you should never have to apologize for the choices you make. After all, how can you help or take care of others if you haven’t taken care of yourself, first? Food for thought… ☯️

“I Want More”

I learn more from my children that I often give them credit for. And that’s a pretty common parental mistake; we tend to think that we have all the knowledge and know-how and need to impart it on these blank slates so that they can learn and grow. But kids see everything and hear everything, even when we’re of the opinion that they don’t. And it amazes me how I often see a child’s behaviour in most of the adults that I associate with. I was reminded of just such a thing last Saturday, when I brought my oldest to an indoor play gym to blow off some steam.

The original plan was to go to a local shopping mall, which contains an inside play structure. What’s nice with this location is that there are always plenty of children for the boys to socialize and play with and it happens to be free. Although this may make me sound ridiculously cheap, any parent can easily understand the need to find inexpensive or cost-free ways of entertaining one’s children; especially when you have more than one of them.

As is usually the case, Nathan tends to change his mind more than an internet joke about asking your girlfriend where she wants to eat. We were only five minutes down the road when he decided he wanted to go to an inside trampoline gym called “Get Air.” Although I’ll be the first one to admit that it’s pretty awesome, it also costs a small fortune and requires constant yelling and correction to keep him from literally breaking his neck. I explained to him that we wouldn’t be going to this location, especially since they require specialized socks. He indignantly stated he wanted to return home and go nowhere but we had a purchase to return at the mall we were MEANT to, which is another reason we were headed there.

I calmly explained that we weren’t turning around simply because he was unhappy with the options he was being given and that we would go return the purchase I had with me and we could come back home, then. Once we were at the retail location, he stated he would be in the toy section and scuttled off. Once the return was done, I found him and told him it was time to go. He handed me a 10-dollar toy and expressed his want of it. I explained that we weren’t here to buy toys and that every outing didn’t indicate that something would be purchased for him. Any other parents relating to this story, yet?

He got visibly angry with me and explained that since I wasn’t taking him where he wanted to go, buying him this toy was the least I could. Setting aside for a moment that the least I could do is feed him, clothe him and essentially keep him alive, the degree of selfishness he was displaying was making me nauseous. And then, something unexpected happened; he Jedi mind-tricked me. Somehow, through our debate, I wound up being convinced that he had the choice of either choosing the toy and going straight home for the day or I would concede to take him to an indoor park called Klimerz, which required no special socks.

He chose Klimerz and I was somehow pleased with this as I felt that he would have the opportunity after all to burn off some steam and play with some other kids. It wasn’t until I had paid the entry and was sitting on a bench watching him run around that I realized the lack of logic I had used in my decision and the fact that my 7-year old had basically played me. I’m not proud of it but I stand by the fact that it was of some benefit to him. I let him play for over an hour and half before finally telling him we needed to go. He was soaked in sweat and had a blast, playing with several of the other children at the location. I felt my job was done.

It wasn’t until we were both in the car and buckled in, that he chose to say, “I wanna play some more…” Now, I have two problems with this; the first is that he just finished playing for over an hour and half and this should have been adequate to satisfy any reasonable person. The second is that rather than try and petition further time out of me while we were still inside, he chooses when I’m about to hit the accelerator to say something. I explain that we’re done and have to head home and he gets angry and yells, “I WANT MORE!!!”

This prompted a rather in-depth discussion (because we were in the car and rolling and couldn’t escape)about appreciating what one is giving and to avoid constantly wanting more. Although I was glad that he had had fun, we went from a cost-free afternoon at a public park to paying a fair amount of cash at a specialized play structure and he still wasn’t happy and “wanted more.” Alright, fair enough. He’s a kid and I get it. As a child, we all experience good things that we’d like to see and do more of. We don’t have the reflexes to understand that there need to be limits to such things and that we don’t always get what we want.

So, what about adults? The unfortunate reality is that adults are often as bad if not worse than kids. Modern society has been groomed to believe that the purpose to life is the acquisition of belongings and property. The harsh reality is that in the vast majority of cases, no matter how much one gets, one usually always ends up wanting more. And that’s unfortunate. Most people, at some point in their lives, have heard the expression, “You can’t take it with you.” And this is true. Wanting more in life will often find you achieving less and having an emptier life. And as for Nathan, he’ll eventually learn what’s important. It may take a few full-on sulk sessions before that happens but he’ll get there. ☯️

Friday The 13th

Friday the 13th was a pretty big deal when I was a kid. Either you used it as an excuse for all the bad luck you experienced that day, or you were a fan of the horror movie franchise and could usually find at least one of them playing late in the evening on local cable (when such a thing was the standard). I fell into the latter category, having snuck into the living room in the middle of the night and watched a VHS tape of Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason lives. My father had rented it for himself and I got curious so I did what any typical kid back then; I got up and watched it. It was 10-years old. It was all down hill from there…

The day in particular owes itself to a rather unfortunate history. Some view it as a back luck day while others actually see it as good day. It’s kind of like black cats; everyone seems to think that black cats are bad luck. Unless you’re stuck in the matrix and you view it as being a glitch in the system, there’s nothing that’s bad luck about black cats. The same can be said about Friday the 13th. It was especially horrendous during my law enforcement days when anyone in uniform would dread working it, thinking it would carry some excess of criminal complaints by virtue of the date.

There are many stories from different backgrounds surrounding this date. For myself, I was raised in a Catholic household and one of the stories was that the Last Supper had 13 guests (Christ and his apostles) and that the following day was Good Friday. Although that’s a good story, since the Gregorian calendar wasn’t invented until the late 1500’s, that first Good Friday couldn’t have been dated as such. Who knows, right? I wasn’t there…

There’s another thing I read somewhere in viking lore, where apparently 12 gods were having dinner in Valhalla when an unwanted 13th god snuck in, uninvited. That would be Loki, of course. Not the MCU Loki but the actual Norse god from mythology. While there, Loki killed one of the other gods, causing the world to fall into darkness, which is why the Vikings consider the number 13 to be unlucky. Don’t quote me on any of this, I’m going from memory based on stuff I read a long time ago.

There are similar instances of “unlucky” dates in other countries/societies. For example, the Greeks believe that Tuesday the 13th is an unlucky because it’s associated with their God of War. For the most part, I never noticed an increase in complaints or criminal activity when I was with law enforcement. And despite people’s propensity for thinking there’s some correlation between the date and bad luck, it’s just another day. And as we get older, some superstitions tend to fade away. That’s why it’s Sunday morning and I only JUST realized that we passed a Friday the 13th, the day before yesterday. Go figure…☯️

I Love A Rainy Night…

Having been born and raised in the Maritimes, I spent a good portion of my life exposed to some pretty wicked rain storms. Our bay opens up into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which means that some of those rain storms were practically hurricanes. I remember some rain storms that were so strong that we could barely see out the window of our apartment. My father LOVES the rain and would frequently have us jump into the car and chase the storm so we could enjoy it for as long as we could.

That probably sounds lame and dull to many, but there’s a reason why the sound of rain is so prominently featured in relaxation music and meditation sounds. The sound of falling rain has a calming effect and most people enjoy listening to it. I, personally, enjoy sitting in my garage while the rain pours down, letting the sound wash over me like a natural white noise machine. We’ve been having a lot of rain here in recent days, and it’s been reminding me of home.

We slept with our bedroom window open while the rain fell. Somehow, between the cool air and the hypnotic sound I almost seemed to sleep better than usual. Reminds me of days sitting in my car on the wharf while torrents of rain pounded the open bay. There’s nothing like it. And meditating with the sound of the rain? Fugedaboutit! Total bliss. Most people don’t like the rain; they see it as something negative that prevents comfortable navigation of the outside world and limits activities. But believe me when I say the benefits can far outweigh the negative perceptions. ☯️

“That Won’t Work…”

Hmm, how do you know? I hear people say this phrase a lot, especially as it relates to their goals, health, finances and careers. And I don’t necessarily mean the people who may say this because they have actually tried a similar thing and have a REASON for believing it won’t work; I mean the ones who say it won’t before even trying. Those are the dangerous scenarios and the ones that can set an otherwise capable person up for failure.

Fear of failure can be an insidious thing and can cause serious repercussions in a person’s life. Imagine if, all the way back in the late 80’s when my health was waning and there was a very real possibility that side effects of Type-1 Diabetes would end my young life, that I had looked at karate and said, “Mmm, that won’t work…” There’s a very real chance I wouldn’t be writing this post, right now, as I would be dead.

It’s right on par with my parents, who spoke almost those exact words when I finally revealed I was studying karate, despite the fact I had been doing it for a few years at that point and my health had improved ten-fold. I’ve often had students who have had this unfortunate belief, where they’d walk into the dojo and start training but as they saw what would eventually be expected of them, chose to give up rather than try and make something work.

The important thing to remember is that nothing is impossible. Does that mean that YOU will necessarily be capable of it? Maybe not. But there’s a big difference between something being impossible and something being beyond your capabilities. The key is recognizing that difference. And there’s nothing stopping you from actually trying to. Remember, there’s a huge, HUGE difference between “failing” and “being a failure.”

Failing at something means you tried. It means lessons have been learned, important lessons, that you can carry forward into the next thing you do or try. And although something may be out of your range or capabilities, this doesn’t make it impossible. It simply means you may have to examine other options. As the old saying goes, you’re not a failure unless you fail to try.

One of my favourite quotes, ironically, doesn’t come from a philosopher or teacher, not one of my instructors or a literary source (technically). No, one of my all-time favourite quotes about failure is from the character of Captain Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek, The Next Generation. In a certain episode, he says, “It is possible to commit no mistake and still lose. That is not a weakness; that is life.” Important words from the most unexpected source. ☯️

Get A Problem, Solve A Problem…

Life can be difficult to navigate, especially when you stack financial, familial and work-related responsibilities into the mix. Many people actually hit the pillow from exhaustion at night but can’t sleep. Even when the body is tired, the mind keeps churning and it can play hell on your health and one’s wellbeing. And I’m sure I don’t have to tell any of you how stress over long periods of time can cause all sorts of health-related issues, as well.

Stress and exhaustion will lead to poor performance and results, which stresses you out further, which leads to less rest and eventually trying to cope through some rather unhealthy means. The thing is, life will give you deadlines. It almost impossible to avoid; certain parts of your life will require results within a certain period of time. Makes sense, right? It would be great if one could make your way through life at your own pace but some things simply won’t wait. So way stress over it?

The obligations and deadlines won’t disappear but the stress can. I may be oversimplifying it and making it seem easy but it can be done. Once one acknowledges that work will continue to come and you simply need to remain consistent and committed, the stress will begin to melt away. The other important aspect is to recognize that there are periods of time where you simply CAN’T do anything about the tasks waiting for you the next morning. Thinking about it and stressing over it during your down hours does nothing for you. AND it takes away your down hours.

Work and responsibility won’t go away. So when you get home at night and have some time that isn’t work, take the time to relax and enjoy that time. Your health will thank you, your soul will thank you and it will go a long way towards reducing the suffering in your own life. And it’s much easier to help others once you’ve helped and healed yourself. Food for thought… ☯️

Just A Little Inspiration…

Once in a while, i find something that either inspires me, motivates me or that I just flat out like. I found this little paragraph online while casually surfing the web. I don’t know the source (hence why it’s quoted “Anon”) but I like it and I feel as though it can be a little pick-me-up for the middle of the week. Enjoy…☯️

You can rise up from anything.
You can completely recreate yourself.
Nothing is permanent.
You’re not stuck. You have choices.
You can think new thoughts.
You can learn something new.
You can create new habits.
All that matters is that you decide today and you never look back.

– Anon

Give Us A Smile…

There’s a lot of suffering and negativity in the world. This is aggravated by the fact that most people stagger through their day without interacting with the world around them. in an unfortunate society where technology reigns, people often tend to smile at their smart device far more easily than they would for the person who serves them their morning coffee or thank the bus driver who dropped you at the destination you needed. There are a lot of little things one can do to improve the overall tone of one’s day and body language means everything. Here are some of my favourites…

1. Smile. That probably seems pretty basic and hopefully you haven’t decided to scroll past this post because of it but a smile is the most basic of positive actions. It’s universally known, bound by no language or culture. Hell, even someone blind who has never set eyes on an actual smile will know how to do it and it will mean the same thing to them despite this lack of visual knowledge. Smiling at someone in any circumstance will not only make YOU feel better, it may just add some positivity to someone else’s day. Even when out in public and you happen to be looking around and lock eyes with someone for a moment, a small smile (maybe not a sustained, toothy, creepy smile) will let that person know that their existence is acknowledged and will add a positive twist on their day.

2. Say Thank You. This seems like such a small thing and many people would argue that if they go to their favourite drive thru in the morning to pick up coffee, it’s the employee’s job to hand you your coffee AND you’re paying for it. What’s the thank you for and why is it necessary? Those questions and that line of thinking tell me you need a nap because you’re cranky. Saying thank you to someone, anyone, for something they do, whether it’s serving you coffee, holding a door open or helping you with your transaction in a store, not only validated what they do for them and shows them you acknowledge their existence, it will make you feel good and keep you humble. After all, I’ve bought Tim Hortons coffee for brewing at home but it still doesn’t taste as good as getting it directly from the source.

3 Make Eye Contact. This is something that seems to have gone the wayside in recent years. People seem uncomfortable with basic eye contact but it’s SO important in proper communication and body language. Something I’ve started to do when I’m out somewhere and I have sunglasses on, is I’ll lofty or remove the sunglasses to allow for proper eye contact. This allows me to show the person I’m interacting with that they have my undivided attention. It also allows them to see that the smile I mentioned in the first point is genuine as opposed to forced or faked.

Even if technology rules today’s modern society and we’re all lost in our own little digital world, we’re still human and there’s still a need to interact with each other and try and keep the world as positive a place as we can. A little smile or a thank you can go a long way. Without even realizing it, you may inadvertently alter the course of someone’s life, just by looking them in the eye, smiling and saying “thank you.” Food for thought… ☯️