The Matrix Has You…

There’s no denying that modern life has led to the here and now; a world where everyone (or almost everyone) is plugged in. Computers, laptops, cell phone and tablets are seen and used everywhere with a very small demographic remaining who have either never laid hands on one of those or never will. Our children are no different, with modern life making it almost impossible for someone to raise a child without the use of electronic devices. One good example I can provide is when my son start second grade and his school demanded that we provide him with a device to do his homework on. This blew my mind and I immediately opposed it, as it’s one thing to pay for supplies that are needed but entirely another when you’re expected to buy them an expensive electronic device just to do homework.

My opposition was not well-received, as I was told that any device could be used, including my own cell phone. I don’t know about y’all, but I’m not a fan of providing my personal cell to anyone. Beyond the fact that I use it myself as my personal phone line, there’s also my email access, games, alarm, scheduler and social media. My phone is my phone, purchased with my own money for my own purposes. The presumption of being told I can simply hand it off to anyone else is ludicrous to me. But here we are. I ended up giving my son one of the older version cell phones I had, since I never turn them in. He now uses this not only for his school apps but for a few simple games and some streaming services as well. This is combination with the Nintendo Switch we bought him last summer to keep him occupied on our trip out East.

The issue is that my children are fast-becoming people who can’t live without these devices. As a result, my 8-year old, who should be outside, running, playing, climbing and riding a bike, spends his down time on his back or lying on his stomach, watching Netflix Kids and Disney+, playing Minecraft and unfortunately binge-watching Minecraft videos on YouTube. The unfortunate byproduct of this standard is that Nathan is becoming a bit of a lazy shit. Gets home from school, drops his shit and grabs his devices. Wakes up in the morning, walks himself out of the bedroom and grabs his devices. All weekend, stays on his devices. Drives me absolutely batty!

I grew up on the Northern shores of New Brunswick, where I spent my down time in the forests, swimming in brooks and playing outside. I put so many kilometres on my bike that I usually ended up needing a new one every couple of years. Maybe that had something to do with my growth, though. My point is, we’ve been trying to get Nathan more physically involved with the everyday life outside the house. Considering we have some pretty nice weather on occasion, our new standard has been that if he wants his device, he needs to spend an hour outdoors, first. Not if there’s a snow storm or bad weather, obviously. But in general and overall.

Our idea has also been poorly received. Considering that yesterday morning, I was able to sleep in quite late (pretty bad that between 9 and 10 am is now considered late) before my toddler woke me by scaring the living shit out of me, I didn’t start out my Saturday on the best note. But I made it clear to Nathan that he was getting no screens until he spent an hour outdoors. In true, teenage form, he decided it was a better and easier option to curl up in a blanket and sulk than just go outside. It was -3 degrees. That’s almost cut-off jean shorts weather. Never mind the fact that the time he used to sulk about not getting his screens, he could have easily burned through an hour outside.

Look, I get it… It’s 2023 and everyone and everything is tethered to the electronic frontier. There’s no living completely device-free because no matter how you live, you’ll eventually need technology in some given way, shape or form. I just don’t want technology being the only way my children experience life. Ultimately, he conceded and went outside. Although I don’t like that it turned into a negotiation, at least I got him outside. I think it’s one of those scenarios where the parent gets to say, “Someday you’ll thank me…” ☯️

Taking Some Time…

I was never much of one to be out until all hours of the night, when I was younger. While most of my counterparts were out at parties, drinking booze and getting into trouble, I was usually in the dojo, studying at home or watching movies and spending time with my dad. Even once I hit my teenage years and got my own car, my time out was reasonably limited of my own accord, often choosing to bid good evening to my friends and head home rather than stay out for the sake of staying out. This didn’t always work out in my favour and may have contributed to my becoming something of a loner or outcast. Que sera…

“I didn’t disappear, I traded;
Nights out for knowledge seeking.
Parties for intimate gatherings.
Chasing money for chasing purpose.
Meaningless work for my passion.
Being busy for protecting time.
Soul extortion for soul searching.
Living for others for living my life.”

– Lewis Howes

I found the quote above some weeks ago and it kind of stuck with. I look back on my time as a youth and I recognize that I wasn’t popular, wasn’t part of any sports teams or major groups and I’m reasonably sure that almost no one that I graduated from school remembers me or gives two shits about where I ended up. But I have no regrets about how I’ve spent my youth. I made some god friends, the best a man could ask for. And ironically, I still have contact with all of them, almost thirty years later. That says something. It tells me I made some good choices that led me to the here and now and I did it while involving people who made a positive impact.

This is what’s important to remember; how you chose to live your life will ultimately impact the person you become. Does that mean that hitting the clubs and being popular automatically make you an asshole? I wouldn’t make THAT generalization but I can confirm that I was never bullied or beaten up by any of the academics in my school. This also says something. The message to any of my young readers, assuming I HAVE young readers, is no matter what you may be dealing with or facing in your life, it’s up to you to forge the path that will lead you to where you need to be. So make sure it’s a positive path. Although some things may gratify you in the moment, the long term is what you should be looking at. Food for thought…☯️

It’s Not Them, It’s You…

It continues to boggle my mind how so many people seem to be of the opinion that they always entitled to certain things. None will argue that we live in the age of the snowflake, with people demanding apologies, special accommodations and everything under the stars, simply because they feel that they’re entitled to it. Nothing could be farther from the truth but the unfortunate reality is that those who understand what hill they choose to die on usually end up rolling over for these individuals.

This is an unfortunate phenomenon that has been going on for years and likely decades. But I’ve never been more aware of it then now. I’ve often see people make poor decisions, purchase things and try to return them without a receipt, demand things of other individuals and even involve themselves in other peoples’ matters that have nothing to do with them. Just Google “entitled” or “Karen” and you can see plenty of examples of this phenomenon. I’m certainly part of the denomination who genuinely feels sorry for all the kindhearted and pleasant people named Karen. I’m not even sure how this name came to be associated with entitlement… Maybe that would do for another post. Moving on…

The concept that the world owes you any damn thing is an inaccurate one and one that will almost always end up making things worse for you. Although the Buddhist side of me believes it’s important not to cause further suffering and that apologizing and making amends are important tools in order to achieve that aspect, one needs to recognize that we are ultimately entitled to nothing and demanding things or wanting apologies and recompense based on principle will not only get you nowhere, it’ll actually lead to further suffering.

I don’t think I have much of a point to make here and maybe I’m just venting. Most of this is simply observation and I recognize that when’s one thing comes up, I have more of a tendency to simply let it go. Not because I’m lazy or don’t feel that I’m entitled to be treated properly but because one needs to choose what hill to die on. Some things just aren’t worth the overall effort. There are more important things in life than trying to prove you’re entitled. Food for thought… ☯️

You Don’t NEED That…

The accumulation of material things sucks! I know that many if not most won’t agree with that opinion, but there it is. Maybe that’s why the monastic life has always appealed to me. Having nothing carries a sort of peace that most people don’t seem to recognize. There’s a sort of prevailing societal beliefs that life has to involve the accumulation of personal wealth and the accumulation of crap within one’s environment. This is a perspective that developed over a longer period than I care to think about.

The reality is that people have forgotten that money is not the goal in life. We get jobs and earn money so that we can get by in life, obtain lodging, clothe and feed ourselves and maintain the basic amenities we need to stay alive. If you’re working with the goal of becoming rich, you should be looking inward and asking what that wealth is expected to provide. People often say that money can’t buy happiness and I’ve often said that I’d prefer to find out for myself. But the monument I make the earning and accumulation of money my goal in life, I’m confident in the thought that the aforementioned happiness won’t come.

That being said, money isn’t the only issue but what people do with it. Having the biggest house or the newest car, owning a cabin at the lake or having a huge flat screen television… People associate property with success instead of considering success to be a sign of success. In its own little way, it’s kind of sad. As long as I have my clothes. My books and some ability to write and workout, I’m happier than a proverbial swine in its own expelled fecal matter.

There’s also a significant weight that one carries when possessing all of these things. When you consider aspects such as how much harder it is to gather and move all of those belongings if you change residence, or the significantly increased loss one suffers if those belongings go up in flames or get stolen, owning less stuff or being something of a minimalist doesn’t sound like such a bad idea. Plus, one must consider that any added monies you may gain by not purchasing all the crap can be used to have experiences, instead.

Lastly, I’ve observed that people will try to conform with this societal expectation of ownership and wealth by living beyond their means. This means using credit or leaning on future monies they don’t have in order to get that bigger house or buy the big camper trailer. Although credit and the ability to use it is an important part of Canada’s economy, the accumulation of debt can happen quickly and without warning, with most people unfortunately unaware that those monthly payments they’re positive they can make can trip up one’s finances faster than one thinks. This can lead to a poorer quality of life and loss of home and livelihood. Certainly not worth owning that motorcycle, even if you’ve dreamed of it for years.

The lesson here is to live within your means. If you want your means to increase, that can be something to work on. But living beyond one’s means will not only prevent the betterment and advancement of one’s life but will also hinder it in ways that can be difficult to get out from. Having less stuff won’t make you unhappy. If nothing else, it will offer up a freedom that you may not have allowed yourself to consider. Food for thought… ☯️

Who Says You Can’t Go Home…

Once in a while I get wistful for the beauty and landscape of the Northern shores of New Brunswick. I’ve always fancied it as something of a shame that one never truly comes to appreciate the beauty and splendid of one’s own home until they’ve been gone from there for a period of time. For myself, I left New Brunswick in my late 20’s with my intent being to build a future elsewhere. When I consider New Brunswick, I recognize that there is very little prosperous economy there and the medical system is quickly becoming one of the worst in the country.

But that doesn’t take away from the fact that, every time I go home, I’m taken by the open water, rolling Appalachian mountains and temperate climate. It’s something I don’t seem to remember noticing when I lived there. And that’s where the shame comes in. I’ve had plenty of opportunity to recognize that I should repeat the mistakes of others. After all, four out of seven of my mother’s siblings have spent their lives away from the Maritimes, only to return upon retirement because they could no longer stand to be away. I should have spotted and learned from that. But I didn’t.

Every time I travel back home, it takes my breath away. This always seems to be counter balanced with the fact that I’ve been spoiled by living in larger centres. Living in an area where I have almost immediate access to anything that I immediately require or want, at the drop of a hat. When I travelled to New Brunswick with my family last September, I quickly discovered this wasn’t the case there. In fact, we had evenings where we had difficulty arranging for dinner for all of us. It cast a bit of a shadow on an otherwise pleasant trip. That and, you know, NO one acknowledging we came home and no one coming out to visit. But that’s a different story.

My point is, when i lived there, I never noticed such shortcomings. I was happy with where I lived and where I was. Since life only moves forward, it makes sense that I would have sought out a career and life path that would give me the best possible opportunities. But doing so has skewed my perspective on what’s important in making a home. And that’s something I need to recognize and adjust within myself. It may be an important lesson to consider that it’s important to appreciate what we have and where we are in life. Doing so may lead to better happiness. Food for thought… ☯️

Just Because You’re Not On The Path Alone, Doesn’t Mean You Surrender The Wheel…

I’ve always found it interesting how it’s often the ones who have no stake, experience or actual knowledge of something that will be the first to comment or question choices that one makes. This is especially true if you have Type-1 Diabetes. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had someone comment on something related to my condition or its treatment without also having it, being a doctor or having some firsthand knowledge of what they’re talking about.

I’ve never had a problem with people who ask questions because they’re genuinely curious or they want to know more about Diabetes. There’s nothing wrong with that and in some instances, it’s an important aspect to my overall health and safety. For example, one of the first things I’ve always done when starting a new job is to let everyone know that I have Type-1 Diabetes and what to do if they find me in a compromising situation because of it. I find this takes the awkwardness out and gives them important information that could potentially save my life.

Ironically and despite anything you may have heard to the contrary, there’s really only two scenarios when dealing with someone with Diabetes who may be experiencing an extreme low or high. If they’re conscious and able to speak, they’ll either administer treatment themselves or let you know what they need. If they’re unconscious, call 911! I know there are some who would say the opposite but you should never try to feed something to an unconscious person. There’s a believe out there that if you give them sugared juice while waiting for an ambulance, they can treat the high rather than the other way around. That’s fuckin’ bullshit! Unless you’re able to test my blood glucose and confirm I’m suffering a low, don’t feed me shit! But that’s just me…

But it can be really hard in general when dealing with people who believe they know better than you. Little quips, such as “Should you really be eating that?” Or “I thought Diabetics couldn’t have sugar…” really grind my gears. And I swear to the light, if I have one more person suggest this book they saw at their local pharmacy that boasts a diet that can reverse Diabetes, my Zen calm will shatter! Although there could be dietary applications for folks with Type-2, that shit just doesn’t apply to me.

in these situations, I’m always reminded of one of my favourite quotes by Theodore Roosevelt, where he says, “It’s not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.” The quote goes on to say that it’s the person in the arena, facing the adversity, who is owed the credit. The same concept can be applied here. Just because you can’t see certain aspects of my condition or even for the aspects you can, I’m the one in the fight. I’m the one in the arena. The critics can check their opinions at the door. ☯️

What’s Next?

I started this blog quite some time ago. It’s been a few years now and I’ve accumulated well over 1,300 posts and built up over 500 followers, which in the social media world means nothing but for the guy who started a small private blog, it’s pretty significant. I started writing here for a number of reasons. One of the main reasons is because during my law enforcement career, I was sent home for a time and found myself with idle hands. Sitting idle, even for a short period of time is a bad thing for a police officer, since all of our skills are kept skills and need to be maintained. Enter: this blog.

Since I was no longer writing reports, briefing notes and memos on a daily basis, I wanted to do something that would allow me to maintain and develop my writing skills. Also, I found myself in a bit of a unique position where I had decades of experience in martial arts, Buddhist study and Type-1 Diabetes and felt it would be a good thing to share that knowledge, in whatever way that I could. To be honest, I have absolutely no idea if that information is getting to anyone or serving any purpose but I like to think that someone is making use of it.

Because it’s important to have goals and because anyone who knows me will admit that I’m stubborn, I started to make a game out of certain aspects of my blog. First, I wanted to see if I could post for a full year straight without missing a day. This actually wasn’t as hard as it sounds, from a content perspective; I appeared to have plenty to post about and only occasionally found myself lacking for ideas, which I overcame thanks to ideas from my wife and some very good and important friends. The hard part was finding the time to write between work, kids and other responsibilities. I actually got into the high 300’s, nearing the end of my year and suddenly missed a day and had to start from scratch.

But once I reached a full year’s worth of posts, I found myself asking what my next goal should be. I was happy writing and that aspect wasn’t a problem but I had enjoyed the challenge of reaching that year mark. Ultimately, I decided to try for 1,000 posts in a row without missing a day. Guess what, readers… Yesterday’s post was my 1,000th post. I have officially posted for one-freaking-thousand days in a row. I could have written about this yesterday, on the ACTUAL day of 1,000 but I wouldn’t have been able to screenshot the notice that proves it. And I like me some proof…

So this raises an important question now: What’s next? Certainly, I have no interest in stopping. But my reasons for writing and posting on a personal blog site have changed from they were three years ago. I think I still have some knowledge to share and experiences to write about. But given the current rigours of life and the responsibilities I carry, perhaps it’s time for me to take a step back and write LESS. Maybe I need to spend a bit more time on my YouTube channel, instead. Or maybe, just maybe, I need to finally sit down and start writing my book. Some food for my own thoughts… ☯️

George Michael Was Right…

Sometimes, you gotta have faith… Ah, that song brings me back. released in the late 80’s, it used to come on the radio in the mornings when I’d be on my way to school. Gets my foot tapping, even now. But I haven’t even gotten into today’s topic and I’m already slipping off the rails, so I’m going to rein myself in. As I said in the opener, sometimes, you gotta have faith. This is especially true when. You make the conscious decision to join a dojo or a sports club.

In general, people who walk into a dojo for the first time are likely to be inexperienced and unaware of the art they’re choosing to undertake. This makes it so very important that one be able to trust and have faith in what they’re being taught and who is teaching it. I remember when i first walked into a dojo, all the way back when I was a kid… Ironically not long after George Michael’s “Faith” was released, I had a head full of karate movie scenes and high expectations. I never could have imagined the journey I was about to embark on, or how it would ultimately change my life.

But imagine how that journey would have been different if I didn’t trust Sensei and the other senior students? Imagine if I questioned and doubted everything I was being shown and taught? I’d say it’s hard to fill a cup that’s already full but the joke is that if you’re walking into a dojo for the first time, your cup should be fuckin’ empty. Unless you’re one of these black belts who move to a different Province and end up having to train with a different style… *cough, cough* Moving on!

That trust and ability to have faith in the teachings you receive is a two-way door. You need to trust the people teaching you but they also have to be able to trust your. The dojo will only be as traditional and strong as its weakest student but it’s everybody’s responsibility to raise that weakest student up in order to ensure the strength and effectiveness of the curriculum and the reputation of the style. I recently had an associate who told me about a dojo he trained in, where he was put through hell for years on end to reach black belt.

Although he’s found himself moving on from there due to other obligations and responsibilities, he’s occasionally visited and has been disheartened by how the curriculum has weakened and become watered down to accommodate those who prefer not to get hurt or don’t want to put in as much effort. This is a sad and dangerous path for a dojo to follow. Not only will it dilute the style and make it less effective, those who grow in rank will be nowhere near as effective and skilled as their rank suggests and could put them in danger, should they ever be in a situation where they need to defend themselves.

Sensei saw this trend start to take shape about six or seven years ago, which ultimately led to him closing his dojo doors permanently. As sad as I am about that, I’m comforted in the fact that I trained hard, learned well and have confidence in my skills, which have been time-tested and proven. I rather that than have my beloved school turned into a cookie-cutter producer of people who don’t put their full effort into it or train the right way for the right reasons.

It’s important to trust in your dojo. If you have doubts or question what’s being taught, maybe that means that the school isn’t for you and you should likely move on. This doesn’t mean you should never question ANYTHING. But how can a dojo be strong if its students don’t trust each other, raise each other up and you don’t believe in what the sensei is teaching? Not only does this make it hard on you but on the dojo as a whole, as well. Always remember that choosing a style or a school to train with is a subjective thing. There’s nothing wrong with a school being wrong for you and moving on. Food for thought… ☯️

Even The Finest Armour Can Rust…

There’s a consistent truth to life that eventually, we all get older. I never got it or understood it when I was younger. My parents felt old to me when they were almost twenty years younger than I am now. I never understood all the jokes and memes about how waking up in the morning was like the sound of a thousand mouse traps. But I swear that my joints are the reason why mice stay the fuck away from our house in the winter. A little touch of cold and all of a sudden I have to rock back and forth a dozen times to roll myself out of bed. But I digress…

I’ve always prided myself on maintaining my health as best I could. Getting the basic equivalent of a death sentence from my doctors at the tender age of 10-years old woke me up in a way that most adults wouldn’t appreciate, at the time. I started training in the martial arts, taking control of my food and make conscious choices about my health and my future. Having been educated on all the complications Type-1 Diabetes can bring, I refused to become part of the overall statistic. There was no fuckin’ way in hell anyone was going to amputate one of my limbs. losing my eyesight or having a heart attack also didn’t sound too appealing.

I’ve had the benefit of navigating the rough seas of Diabetes with a certain amount of pride. And zeal, I guess. Given my increased level of fitness, proper diet and attention to my condition has allowed me the benefit of reaching my current age with all my limbs and organs intact, a clean nervous system and essentially no complications after over four decades of dealing with Type-1. In my early twenties, I travelled to Japan and subsequently, Okinawa. I soon after passed my first degree black belt. I became a teacher of others. I excelled in every job I ever held. Despite all odds and opposition, I graduated from the RCMP Training Academy in Regina, Saskatchewan and became a Mountie. Despite what some may say and mistakes I’ve made, I have a story to tell…

Despite how hard I’ve worked and how many obstacles I’ve faced, time is beginning to show me that I need to slow down. I don’t move quite as quickly as I did years ago, which was premised by the broken rib I suffered last April from a punch I should have easily blocked. Getting out of bed, even after a full eight hours of sleep, has become more difficult. Getting through the day without increased amounts of caffeine (or a nap, if its the weekend) is becoming more and more difficult. I worry about things like cholesterol and blood pressure now, and have prescribed “preventative” pills for both. Apparently, that’s a good idea if you’re above the age of 30 and have Type-1 Diabetes.

If you would have told me, twenty years ago, that I would have to constantly check and worry about my blood pressure, I would have told you to, as the French would say, go fuck yourself. But believe it or not, here I am! Taking preventative measures for my health and slowing down, as time is wont to do. But slowing down doesn’t mean stopping. As I’ve always said, life brings movement. Movement brings energy. Energy brings life. If there’s one thing I can guarantee, it’s that I’ve never done anything less than 100% and I don’t intend to stop, creaky joints and all… ☯️

Zen And The Art Of Blood Sugars…

I had something interesting happen to me yesterday. I took a workshop to practice speaking on camera. Something required by virtue of my current job. Now, I consider myself something of a reasonably well-controlled individual who can compose and control himself at the best or worst of times. But there’s something about dealing with the media and being questioned on camera that causes me a great deal of stress and anxiety, more than I care to admit. So it came as a surprise to most people in my inner circle when I revealed I was taking media training.

The workshop included a short lecture on media and press interviews in general, followed by some short videos that illustrated what NOT to do while being interviewed. It was valuable information and I learned a lot. The workshop concluded by having all of the participants provide a brief, five-minute on-camera interview. I watched a number of people go before me and learned a great deal about that, as well. When it came time for me to go up and provide my interview, I was reasonably surprised by how stressed I was over it. Considering it was only for a small group of my work associates and not the actual press, I’d hate to see how I would have actually done on air.

Anyway, I leaned on my training and allowed myself to control my breathing and slip into a meditative state, something I hadn’t actively done in years. Most people believe that meditation has to involve sitting cross-legged on the floor with your eyes closed, breathing deeply and doing nothing else. The reality is that meditation is something one can do while in motion, while performing other actions or on the fly. With practice, one can learn to be in a meditative state throughout one’s day. It’s actually SUPER handy, allowing you to reduce stress, fatigue and clearing the mind. It’s also SUPER handy at taking you out of the stressful moment and find peace.

I gave my interview with a level of cool-headedness and calm that shocked and impressed the others around me. I barely realized the interview was over until the facilitator told me it was. I was pleased at how calm I was and how I had used skills I trained for decades to de-escalate my stress. But this is where the “something interesting” kicked in. My blood sugars bottomed out. Badly. It made me recognize how deep a physical effect meditation can actually have on a body. It kind of struck me out of the blue. But it worked. Meditation works. It’s unfortunate it took something actually stressful to make me remember that… ☯️