All Things Considered…

What’s been happening in the world in recent weeks is certainly stressful and I think I can comfortably speak for everyone when I say that the hope is that this pandemic will pass quickly. With all non-essential services being shut down and the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada having doubled since I posted about it two days ago, things are looking bleak.

With families self-isolating and people gathering two-week supplies of everything and staying inside their homes, schools and businesses closing and little to do outside of the routine many of us get so used to, it can be easy to go a little stir crazy. Far be it from me to intentionally break the rules, but certain necessities still need to be accommodated. I’m talking about groceries…

I stepped out of the house to gather some required groceries, and there were a number of things that I noticed along the way. There was a sort of hush over the city. This is saying quite a bit, considering the fact that we live in a suburban area of the city. There are always sounds of car horns, people moving about and the continuous pulse of the city. But not yesterday morning.

There was an eery yet calming silence as I walked to my vehicle. I could even hear birds chirping, which is usually not the norm. As I drove to the local grocery outlet, traffic was light and things felt calm. I didn’t have the typical stress and anxiety I usually experience while running errands, which was kind of nice. Despite the reason behind it, less vehicles in motion, less hustle and bustle and a quieter environment certainly was nice.

Then I walked out of the retail location I was shopping in, and found something I didn’t expect: a rock! More of a stone, really. But it was painted and polished and left sitting on top of one of the concrete pillars outside the building. It caught my eye, and as I looked closely I noticed that it had the words “donut worry” painted on it.

It was kind of nice to know that amidst all the chaos, some people were still trying to encourage calm and peace. I snapped the photos attached to this post, but left the stone where it sat, so that others could enjoy it as they stepped out of the store.

A close-up of the stone

Despite everything happening in the world right now, there are always little rays of light that shine through. We need only to be receptive to them in order to see them. Stay safe and stay the course. ☯

Love Yourself, And All Your 2000 Parts!

Life is never without difficulty. It seems as though no matter how hard you work at it, there is always a new bump in the road, a new obstacle to overcome and another problem to solve. Sometimes, carrying the weight of the world is more of a burden than the toned shoulders are worth!

We all have aspects of ourselves that we’d rather live without. Some of these aspects are internal; a personality trait or emotional state. Some of those aspects may be something physical, like my love handles. There’s nothing to love about them, really! I joke, but the honest truth is that no matter what aspects of ourselves we don’t like, we really need to learn to love ourselves, flaws and all. If you can do that, then your flaws become strengths. Allow me to provide you with a vague, yet fitting example…

Let’s say you’ve cooked your specialty for dinner. Maybe it’s a meatloaf or a shepherd’s pie; something you’re really good at making (speaking from experience). It’s absolutely delicious and the whole family enjoys it. Unfortunately, there is some left (or fortunately, depending on your perspective). You scoop the leftovers into a tupperware container, intent on enjoying it the following day.

Now, if you forget that the meal is still hot, seal the lid and place your leftovers in the fridge, the heat and cold contrast will create a heavy amount of condensation. When you remove the lid the following day, all that wet condensation will fall onto the leftover food, making it wet and soggy. Do you still eat it? Or do you get grossed out by the prospect and toss it in the trash?

If you chose to toss your leftovers on the trash, you have much to learn. After all, that condensation is actually part of the meal you prepared. The moisture is a byproduct of the heat from the food and the cold from the fridge. The gaseous vapour from the food fall into solid form and collects on the container. Regardless of how you look at it, that moisture is part of the leftovers and shouldn’t be simply tossed aside, even if your perspective of its effect may not be favourable.

The same can be said about yourself. No matter what you feel your flaws or weak points may be, you owe it to yourself to love yourself despite these things. If it happens to be something you can work on and improve, then go to it! If it’s something that you may need to simply accept and learn to live with, this can be a tad more difficult but you can do it. Even if it means you may have to adjust or learn to focus on the positive. After all, you’re worth it. Don’t let the world tell you otherwise. ☯

You’re Not An Exhaust Pipe, Quit Venting!

There is suffering in the world. More than we often choose to acknowledge or discuss, but some of this suffering comes at a personal cost and in our personal lives. Because of this, we are usually want to complain. After all, most people feel it’s easier to complain or “vent” then it is to spread positivity.

Depending on what school of thought you adhere to, venting can be beneficial. It allows you to get things “off your chest”, which in turn is meant to make you feel better. Normally, this can be a good practice as long as it doesn’t become your modus operandi. If you make complaining your normal habit, it can also have a number of detrimental effects on you and the people you’re complaining to.

First and foremost, long term complaining can lead to quite a few physiological problems. Increased stress, increased cortisol levels, lack of sleep and weight gain can all be long-term effects of constant complaining. Not to mention that if you’re a constant source of negative, verbal diarrhea, you’ll start to notice your friends, acquaintances and family start to avoid you or make excuses not to be in touch with you. Couple that with the psychological effects of constant negativity, and you’ve got yourself some real problems.

I was reading an article posted by Inc.com that covers the topic of complaining too much. I was entertained by what Dr. Jeffrey Lohr, a psychologist who studied venting, mentioned in the article, “People don’t break wind in elevators more than they have to. Venting anger is… similar to emotional farting in an closed area. It sounds like a good idea, but it’s dead wrong.” Funny and entertaining, but he makes a good point.

The article goes on to explain that our brains are wired in such a way that the more we express negative thoughts, the easier it becomes to do so. More than that, it becomes habit. Further to that, it has the same effect on people who are around you while you vent. Here’s the article: https://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/complaining-rewires-your-brain-for-negativity-science-says.html

I’m still of the firm belief that the occasional venting is important. Sometimes, you just need to get things off your chest. The important thing to remember is that the recipient of your venting should understand what’s happening and why. And even if they’re a trusted family, spouse or friend, it shouldn’t be a constant thing. Otherwise, you could find yourself becoming the subject of THEIR venting as opposed to the recipient of yours. ☯

Imperfection Is Beautiful

I have these two porcelain statues that I’ve owned for almost twenty years. The statues are quite nice, and I’ve had them for what seems like forever. My parents purchased them for me way back then, thinking that both of the statues depicted Buddha. They can’t be faulted for that, of course. I’ve kept them with me for years, never quite knowing where to put them or how to store them. Since they’re reasonably delicate, I’ve decided that it may be time to part with and sell them to someone who can make use of them.

The two statues as they are currently advertised

I took half a dozen photographs of the statues and posted them to a buy-and-sell site that I am a member of. As is the case with most second hand merchandise, I expected very little payment for these, and posted them at $5 for both. They were without a doubt purchased for more than that, but considering the amount of time that I’ve held them, I felt that passing them on to someone else for such low price was justified.

Almost immediately, someone expressed interest. The way this site works, is someone will “express interest” and then message the buyer. We went through the typical back-and-forth involved with a second hand sale. I indicated what area of the city I lived in and the condition of the statues. The buyer seemed as though she was somewhat interested, but then asked if either of the statues had any chips on them. One of them does.

The statue containing a small chip. Can you see it?

I explained that the statue expressing happiness had a small chip on the left hand. The chip happened a long time ago and unless you know it’s there, you won’t see it. This ended the interaction as she stated she was no longer interested. I felt a pang of intense frustration at the fact that this random person would pass on the opportunity for something as trivial as a chip in the porcelain.

Once I allowed my frustration to pass, this interaction got me to thinking about how people deal with things that are different. It is the nature of life that no thing can ever be identical to one another. Life does not believe in straight lines or perfection, and there are inherent flaws in every aspect of life and all it contains.

Bob Ross once said, “It’s the imperfections that make something beautiful. That’s what makes it different and unique from everything else.” This is why we should embrace those flaws when faced with something that would otherwise be considered imperfect. I’m not saying that this concept applies to something critical. I wouldn’t suggest buying a new car that has all its windows busted out, or eating food that has a bite missing out of it because of a stranger. But when something has a harmless flaw, it should be easy to acknowledge the beauty in such uniqueness. ☯

Don’t Try To Walk In Others’ Footsteps

Life is pretty dynamic. If you don’t wake up in the morning wondering what the day will bring, you’re not facing it head-on the way you should. Life also doesn’t care about your plan. I’ve said that more times than I can count, to more people than I can remember. No matter how well you plan, life will usually find a way to throw a wrench into your gears. Although it’s important to have goals, plans aren’t always ideal.

“You Don’t Always Need A Plan. Sometimes You Just Need To Breathe, Trust, Let Go, And See What Happens.”

– Mandy Hale

I was talking to an old friend of mine, some time ago. He was in his 30’s, single, still had debt and hadn’t met any of his goals. He was pretty disappointed and hard on himself, and he was of the opinion that he was “behind in life” because of these things. He had a good career-level job and was saving up nicely, but the missing aspects that he considered societal expectations weighed on him.

I tried explaining to him that his life was exactly that: his life. And there was no expectation to follow any kind of set expectations where life was concerned. Every person is different and so is the manner in which their lives will play out. All the so-called rules that say you should be married and settled down by a certain age are made up.

“Although No One Can Go Back And Make A Brand New Start, Anyone Can Start From Now And Make A Brand New Ending.”

– Carl Bard

My friend is now about to get married, owns a house and is building a family. It took him longer than he PLANNED, but he’s still reaching his goals. And that’s what’s important. There’s no need to be so hard on ourselves. As long as we keep trucking forward and working towards goals, life will keep you exactly where you need to be. ☯

Quit Bitching About It If You Won’t Fix It!

There is an undeniable truth in modern society that it’s far easier to whine and complain about things than it is to put in a genuine effort to try and fix whatever may be bothering you. This is not a generality, you understand. But for most people, it is much, much easier to complain about not getting that raise you wanted, or were overlooked for a promotion, than it is to constructively sit down with your boss and say, “I recognize that I wasn’t chosen for the promotional opportunity. Can we discuss what I can do to make myself a competitive candidate for the next one?”

This concept applies to most areas of life. Part of the reason is because it is, for the most part, much easier to complain than it is to do something about it. Diabetes and general health is no exception. I’ve had a lot of friends through the years with Type-1 who have often complained about their blood sugar levels, A1C levels and their weight or condition of their body. To these people, I’ve always asked the same question: What are you doing about it?

“Gardens Are Not Made By Singing ‘Oh, How Beautiful’, And Sitting In The Shade.”

– Rudyard Kipling

There needs to be a recognized acknowledgement that if you’re overweight and are not comfortable, healthy or happy with your body, then you need to do something about it. Start working out. Work on your health. Work on your diet. Consult a professional and get some help. There’s no shame in that. Some people feel they’ve become so far gone that they no longer believe it’s worth the effort. What are you doing about it?

If your blood sugars are running rampant and you’re suffering all sorts of complications with your eyes, kidneys and nervous system, then you need to start taking better control of your Diabetes management. If you only test your blood sugar once a month and indulge in every baked good that passes by, you’ve chosen an extremely slow and torturous form of suicide! There are nutritionists, dietitians, Endocrinologists and family physicians that can help bring you up to a healthier standard and get you to where you need to be. What are you doing about it?

If your fitness has gone to shit and you get winded walking from your couch to your kitchen, there’s a distinct problem. Humanity may have become sedentary, but staying in good physical condition is still an important aspect of a healthy life, whether you have Diabetes or not. Go for a walk, ride a bike, join a fitness club or go for a run. And if you’re uncertain how to go about any of it, there are plenty of resources both online and off that can help get you started and help you along. What are you doing about it?

“The Only Mistake You Can Make Is Not Asking For Help.”

– Sandeep Jauhar

There are obvious exceptions to every rule. It can be hard to get yourself going and there are people who have genuine conditions that make weight-loss difficult. Medical conditions can make it hard to achieve certain goals. For example, if you’ve gone blind, one would not expect that you’ll take up competitive archery! But the lesson here, is that if you find yourself capable of making a start but refuse to do so then you shouldn’t (as my title so eloquently put it) be bitching about it if you won’t fix it.

I think it was Confucius who said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a first step.” So take that step! Get off the couch and move a little. Test your blood sugar a few times a day instead of once a week. Opt for something healthier for your next meal instead of grabbing take-out or popping in a frozen tv dinner. Make a start. Improve yourself. Improve your life. And throughout all the progress, when faced with obstacles or adversity, keep asking yourself: What are you doing about it?

A Blast From The Past

I had the opportunity to visit with an old friend, two days ago. We hadn’t seen each other in over ten years and it was a good time. We parted ways, all the way back in 2009 and although we’ve managed to stay in touch to a certain degree, being scattered across the country makes it a bit difficult to get together for Sunday tea!

My friend and I, back in 2009

My friend was in town for only a few days and reached out to me unexpectedly. We agreed to meet for dinner, had some beers and reminisced about the “good ‘ol days.” We both commented about the fact that despite the amount of time that’s passed, it almost felt as though it was ten years ago and we had never left. It brought up a conversation about brotherhood, and what it truly means.

We often go through life looking straight ahead and pushing towards building our future. This isn’t a bad thing, but for most of us, we tend to forget the people we’ve met along the way. Time and distance plays a hell of a role on who we stay in touch with, and how connected we stay with them. Sometimes it’s nice to stop for a moment and reconnect.

My friend and I, two nights ago!

Although we were both amazed at the effect that ten years has had on both of us, we were able to recognize that we were still the same guys, inside.

In light of the life-altering difficulties I’ve been going through for the past two years, I’ve been blessed with some great people who have lent their support and belief in me. On the home front, I’ve been lucky enough to have my wife who supports and believes in me. My two sons who, despite being a destructive force to be reckoned with in our household, lend an aspect of pride (and entertainment) to my life. Last but not least, my friends. And since you’ll likely be reading this, you know who you are!

You can’t live in the past. This, I’ve said before. But it’s always a good thing to occasionally take a look back to remember where you come from. And to remember who you are. In the right circumstances, it just may give you the added little boost you need to fight your way through your difficulties. ☯