Happy Birthday, Laura!

Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe that I’ve been with this beautiful woman for nine years. She continues to amaze me with her smile, her temperament and the way she always manages to make me smile and be happy to come home. She’s put up with more of my shit than any combination of people, living or otherwise and continues to maintain that smile despite everything we’ve been through together. truly, all my accomplishments are hers, since I never would have made it this far without her.

I’ve always hated my own birthday. It often serves as a grim reminder of one of the worst instances of terrorism reported to the world in one day. But birthdays are important as one needs to know where one has come from in order to know where they’re going. They become even more important once you have children. I have the benefit of seeing that one more added digit is one more year I’ve loved my wife. Tonight, I get to spoil her. Happy birthday, Laura!

Weekend Family Chronicles, Volume 3.

It was quite a busy weekend for my little baby Buddhas and I… Friday night was reasonably uneventful, with not a lot going on besides getting some yard work accomplished and playing with the kids. We made plans to go to a local indoor swimming pool on the Saturday, which is always an enjoyable thing for me. I’ve spent the majority of my life in water, having been born and raised on the shores of an open bay, It al started at the tender age of 2, when my grandmother dropped me into a body of water my father was snorkelling in… The look on his face when I waddled my way down to find him would have been priceless, had he not been wearing a scuba mask and I wasn’t a toddler. But I digress…

My boys, so far, haven’t shown much interest in the water. We tried putting Nathan into swim lessons, but they never took. He’s only just recently started to wander into deeper waters with the use of a life jacket. Alexander however, is already starting to kick and swim and take to the water like the son of a water baby that he is. So on Saturday, we joined my friend Jayden and his wife Tori at the pool, where everyone had a reasonable time, splashing and playing. I say reasonable, because Nathan tends ot become a sensitive little pill when we don’t play the way he wants. But I think he still had a good time.

Brothers of Mayhem

Sunday morning was a strange change for our household. Both boys actually allowed for a bit of sleeping in (sleeping in when you have children means no later than 9 am) followed by a breakfast of cheerios and cheesy bread. Sundays are usually our grocery and laundry day in order to get the household ready for the week to come. Although Saturdays are the usual go-to for outings, we decided to make a different plan and I took the boys to one of their favourite playgrounds while my wife made a grocery run without having to contend with the boys IN the grocery store.

They had a lot of fun, with Nathan finding some random boys to play with and Alexander raising hell all over the playground. In true toddler style and much like a domesticated cat who prefers the box than his cat bed, Alex couldn’t help but be fascinated by the trees, bushes and twigs as opposed to all the colourful play structures that sat on the property. In fact, as you’ll see from the photo below, his favourite play structure turned out to be a bike rack…

I’ve had a few people ask me why I choose to write about my time out with the boys on weekends. That’s a valid question, considering this is a Diabetes/Buddhism/Health&Fitness blog. A valid question, and here are the reasons… many people do things like open an email account for their children and send photos, videos and memos to it with the intention of providing the username and password to their children when they turn 18. In some ways, many ways, my hope is that my boys will someday read my blog and soak in my experiences and everything that was done for them, even when they didn’t assume they were getting as much as they THOUGHT they were.

The other reason is because although some may say that they didn’t choose the path they’re on, there’s no better way of finding peace than in the eyes of your children. It’s important to recognize that these experiences are JUST as important to the father as they are to the son. Or in my case, the sons. And with everything going on in the world, it’s al the more important to have something positive to read, in any forum and through any media. Food for thought… ☯️

The Funny Thing About Fear, Is Everyone Is Afraid Of It…

Fear is a natural thing. People don’t usually think it is but it is. Fear is a natural reaction to something that could bring harm or is considered dangerous against oneself or others. Most people spend the majority of their lives trying to avoid fear, as though it expresses some level of weakness to be afraid. It starts quite early in life, with parents trying to convince children not to be afraid of the dark, what may be under the bed or in the closet. As adults, we acknowledge that these fears are pointless because we’ve grown and come to learn that there’s nothing to fear. Children haven’t had this benefit at so early an age.

None of this stops us from trying to rationalize and dismiss one’s fears, children or otherwise. And while it may seem normal to get frustrated with a child who may be afraid of the dark, what happens when some fears penetrate into adulthood? Worse yet, what happens when an adult develops a new fear based on experience? Should it still be rationalized and dismissed? What if it disrupts or damages something within your adult life? Sometimes it can be easier to ignore a problem than to deal with it. But as adults, we need to use that logic to figure out an intelligent solution to our fears, as opposed to ignoring them.

As some of you may have recently read, I suffered an injury back in early April. This injury included damage to my rib cage as well as the muscle wall covering said ribs. It happened in karate class while training through a weekend seminar and as much as I’d like to say that I should recognize that it isn’t a fuckin’ knitting circle, it’s a combat art, I have to admit that getting hurt IN karate is something that I’ve not only never experienced before, it’s caused me some apprehension in going back.

I really didn’t think it would, at first. I spent weeks on muscle relaxants and pain killers, trying to heal and get over the injury. I lost several nights’ sleep and spent most of those nights curled up in a cold sweat, crying out the pain. Despite having trained for several decades, I have NEVER been injured to this extent while training in karate. Oh, I’ve been injured and required recovery but never anything like this. And never as a result of a karate class.

As the weeks have trickled past, I’ve recovered slowly, able to move easier, breathe easier and finally able to get some sleep without crying. I made a point of acting tough at work but it had a profound effect. I kept telling myself that I would soon be ready to return. But recently, I came to realize that despite being completely healed, I felt an intense level of anxiety and stress at the thought of returning to class. It’s been debilitating and has had me finding every excuse in the book NOT to go to class. I have no fear of facing the other black belts; we understand the risks and potential injuries that come with training. This is all me. This is all in my head.

Considering I was badly injured and needed almost two months to recover, my fear is not irrational. I know that. But my anxiety over reintroducing myself into the dojo is. And eventually, I’ll run out of excuses. When that time comes, I’ll need to decide whether I hang up my belt and move on to a different chapter of life or if I stick to my plan of continuing my martial arts journey and continue to learn. As a family man, I have an obligation, now more than ever, to maintain the ability to defend myself and my family. I also need to continue working towards maintaining my health, especially if I expect to live long enough to see my grandchildren. Food for self-thought… ☯️

Anything Is Always Something More Than Nothing

The title is something I came up with years ago, usually referring to one’s personal health & fitness goals. The reasoning behind it, is that many people will assume that because all one can do is take a light walk or use extremely light weights, that it isn’t making a difference in their health and fitness. But nothing could be further from the truth. Even the lightest weights will offer more than sitting on the couch. Taking a walk may not be going for a 10-kilometre run but it will still give you more than snacking on a bowl of chips while binging a streaming service.

This concept also includes meditation. Although there are various forms of meditation and different ways of doing it, for some proper meditation means clearing their minds and thinking of nothing. Although this is a great concept, having completely nothing on one’s mind is more difficult than the average person is inclined to believe. Even with decades of experience in meditation, sitting in a quiet room and focusing on absolutely nothing is almost as elusive as trying to catch a glimpse of an eye floaty that always strays right out of your immediate view.

Speaking from personal experience, when I manage to meditate to the point where I clear my mind, I always find myself drifting and my mind will idly stray to random thoughts, memories and ideas. Although not an inherently bad thing, if one is genuinely trying to focus on nothing and allow their conscious mind to cool, this can lead to some frustration and cause the practitioner to consciously move their mind back to nothingness. This is where the connection to the first paragraph comes back into play because focusing on nothing is still something. And anything is ALWAYS something more than nothing.

Unless you’ve committed yourself to a monastic lifestyle or discipline that requires it, it’s critically important to remember that the meditative experience can be different for everyone. You shouldn’t be too hard on yourself if the type and manner of meditation that you’re pursuing tends to be elusive for you and quite difficult. For those who aren’t simply going through the motions of making it look like they’re meditating for the gimmick of it, it can take years of study, practice and in some cases even guidance from others, before you can successfully achieve one’s goals.

What’s important to remember is that if meditation allows you to relax, lets your mind cool and reflect as opposed to dwell on any particular thing, you’re still doing something beneficial for your body. And don’t be afraid to reach out to various sources for help. After all, you wouldn’t try to bench press 300 pounds if it’s your first time in the gym, right? Why try to carry the full weight of one’s mind on the first time out? Be patient. Be consistent. Work towards what YOU want to get out of meditation. You’ll be all the better for it. Food for thought… ☯️

It’s Easier To Hate But More Powerful To Forgive…

I’ve spent the better part of my life living on the presumption that I’ve been doing everything I can to alleviate suffering in the world. From healing, training and developing myself and others to becoming a law enforcement officer to protect those who can’t protect themselves, I like to think that I’ve done more than my fair share and my tour of duty should be recognized.

Speaking strictly in general terms, an outside party looking in may agree that my tour of duty is over and that I’ve done my part. However, the elimination of suffering is a never-ending endeavour and one shouldn’t do it simply for the purposes of “doing one’s part” but rather as a part of the bigger picture that life continues on and so should one’s efforts. This has gotten me thinking about some of the unfortunate weight I’ve been carrying with me for the past number of years and what I can do about it.

The only thing worse than someone who does you wrong is someone who does you wrong that you trusted. Having caused damage in any form against you, it causes a heavy weight of negative emotion and suffering to bear down on your shoulders. It drags you down, slows you down and saps your energy and motivation. Sometimes, without even noticing it, we allow it to affect important aspects of our lives. It holds a negative energy in life, against you and against the person whom you may foster negative feelings against.

I recently took stock of my life and recognized that I have such a person; a person I trusted, someone I valued and even looked up to… Only to have them perform actions and say words that brought the very fabric of the life I was living crashing down. It took a long time to recognize that the situation was initiated by this individual, and once the initial shock of that realization had passed, I found myself experience a deep, burning emotion that I can only recall having felt a few rare times in my life: hate.

Hate is among the most insidious of emotions as it isn’t just directed towards the person in question but eats up the originating person inside, as well. It festers and can eventually lead to physical health issues, if allowed to grow and run rampant. Although one could argue that there are certain levels of hate that would be considered normal, such as hating war, famine or discrimination, hating any other individual will cause unnecessary suffering in all parties concerned.

Although I don’t consciously acknowledge it, I’ve been carrying a hatred for this one person for years. The words and actions he used that caused the difficulties in my life are not slight, by any means. But carrying this hate has caused a level of damage within me that I need to repair and heal from. And ultimately, there is really only one way to heal and move on from such a thing. I need to forgive him. This may not be an easy task, one that my instincts may even tell me I shouldn’t pursue. But only by forgiving this individual and moving forward can I hope to release this weight that’s been holding me down.

I recently reached out to a mutual acquaintance to ask if he would be willing to bridge the communication between myself and this person of interest. He has agreed to do so and in the interest of closure and moving on, I believe it will be a great step to speak with this person face-to-face, discuss what happened and finally, let him know I forgive him. Maybe he won’t care. Maybe it’ll change nothing for him. And that’s okay. Forgiveness can be helpful and healing but at the end, it’s just as much for me as it could potentially be for him. Moving on will be a great steps towards eliminating suffering within my own life. ☯️

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…☯️