Please Use Other Door…

I was running errands this morning and when I tried to exit a retail location with my cart, I came face-to-face with a woman who was trying to walk in. We shared a confused look. She was confused because I wasn’t getting out of her way. I was confused because there are large, blue signs that read “please use other doors” on both glass doors that should’ve signalled the woman that she was entering by the wrong entrance and I couldn’t grasp why she’d foolishly walk into the wrong doors. Although I shouldn’t automatically assume that this woman could read, one would think she could have taken a hint from everyone else entering by the other door…

This is a common trend that has become more prevalent these days. It seems that most people are so rooted in their own “little world” that they disregard basic instruction from outside sources. And you can see it almost everywhere; from people who park in handicap spaces without a permit, folks who leave their shopping carts in the middle of parking lots or take up two spaces for their car, people using their cell phones while walking and almost barrel into someone ahead of them (and then keep right on going without any regard or apology)… One of the worst ones is travelling along a high speed roadway and having someone pull into the space I’ve left as a safety pocket between myself and the vehicle ahead of me. That gap was there so I could brake safely in the event of an emergency, not so you could squeeze your jacked-up Chevy pick-up truck in front of me, causing me to brake suddenly. Douche.

But before I allow my temper to compromise my self-control, let’s examine this phenomenon a little deeper. As a martial artist, and given my chosen career path, I consider being firmly aware of my surroundings to be of the utmost importance. But even to someone who doesn’t have this experience or similar training, awareness of one’s surroundings is kind of important. Especially if you consider that most people will walk out into traffic without looking both ways, simply because they believe they have the right of way. They don’t stop to consider that the driver may not see them in time to respect their right of way. This is why we teach our children to “look both ways”, but that’s a lesson that doesn’t seem to carry into adulthood.

According to an article by the Association for Talent Development, “we can take in thousands of bits of sensory data in seconds, cross-reference that data against the information stored in 140 billion brain cells in a micro-second, and retrieve memories of everything from a recipe, to our first date, to our current project plan from the same group of stimuli. And that’s just what we are thinking about on the conscious level.”

Pretty impressive, right? So why the hell can’t the average person just follow simple instructions and courtesy while out in public. A part of the above-noted article seems to be of the opinion that with everything happening on the conscious and sub-conscious level, it’s no wonder that some people don’t quite seem to be paying attention.

Part of the issue may be that we now live in a world where our digital devices provide our conscious mind with all the stimuli we can handle and the simple tasks in the real world depend on our body’s automated functions instead. This is similar to walking into a street sign while your eyes were lowered, reading a book. Not that I’m speaking from experience, of course…

A serious part of our survival depends on our ability to pay attention. This has always been true, throughout the evolution of humanity. And that truth is no less a reality now.

We live in a world of faster machines, increased crime rates and constant hazards and dangers, but our minds have stayed just as fluttery as they always have been. We need to pay attention. We need to keep our eyes up and watch what we’re doing. Our very survival may depend on it. ☯

Are Your Pants On Fire???

Lies. We all use them. Constantly. Don’t believe me? Think back in recent months when you may have declined to attend a social gathering due to other plans, only to be heading home to binge watch Netflix by yourself. Or perhaps you’ve told a loved one that their meal was your absolute favourite, even if it wasn’t all that great.

Sometimes we tell what are referred to as “white lies”, which are small, trivial lies that are mostly meant to spare someone else’s feelings. These are not so bad when they’re done to spare someone’s feelings. The problem comes when we start telling lies to further our own personal agenda or goals and we gain from lying.

First and foremost, I should explain the Buddhist aspect to all this. The Noble Eightfold Path describes one our most important aspects as practicing Right Speech, which essentially explains that you shouldn’t lie. There’s more to it than that, such as refraining from gossip and being rude. Depending on your interpretation, lying will eventually cause suffering, which then leads into The Four Noble Truths.

Let’s talk about what lying does to the body. Believe it or not, telling a lie is not as straightforward as speaking words that are untrue and moving on. Lying has a measured physiological and psychological effect on the body and mind.

According to an article posted by Medical Daily, lying causes a part of the brain to produce negative feelings that help limit the extent to which we are willing to lie. The article goes on to say that we become desensitized to this response the more we lie. As a result, the more you lie the more you get used to it and start lying more often. That’s why you often hear people say “tell a lie once and all your truths become questionable.” Here’s the article: https://www.medicaldaily.com/how-lying-affects-human-brain-telling-lies-desensitizes-amygdala-dishonesty-402310

As far as the body goes, I didn’t manage to find a great deal of studies on it but the ones I found describe that lies cause the body to release stress hormones, affects the heart rate and blood pressure. Over the long term, this can cause a whole bunch of secondary symptoms such as body pains and headaches, to name a few.

I once heard a television character say (I forget what show) that lying is like applying a band-aid to a leaky pipe. The similarity is that in the same way that the band-aid won’t be able to hold back the leaking water, lies will eventually catch up to you and overtake the harmony of your life. The worst problem with lying is that it’s not only about you. It always ends up affecting someone else, and normally in a negative way. I know this to be true, since some of the most difficult problems I am dealing with in my life these days is predicated on someone else’s lies.

Be honest and seek honesty whenever and wherever possible. Not only will it make your life easier, but the amount of energy it takes to maintain the lies in your life is brutal. Karma, “What Goes Around Comes Around”, “You Reap What You Sow”… Whatever your life perspective or your personal beliefs, the message is pretty clear. Eventually, the lies we tell will bite us in the a$$… ☯

The Whole Is Greater Than The Sum Of Its Parts

Aristotle is believed to have coined this saying, although many dispute that it belongs to him. It describes the synergy that can occur between two or more parts that can lead to a greater whole.

Collaboration within a society is a good example of this. Although one person may be good at gathering and building shelter, a group of people will certainly provide more resources, skills and protection than the one would get alone.

So what does this mean in modern society? Certainly, this can apply to the family dynamic. But this has unfortunately shifted drastically with the advent of Millennials and Generation Z. More and more, some believe that a life on their own is more promising and alluring than building a family.

What are your thoughts on this? Although most of the statistics I’ve been able to find are based out of the United States, it appears that there has been a measurable decline in the purchase of homes and having children. There are a number of reasons behind this, from rising housing costs and increasing student loan debts. Psychology Today has a great article that goes into some of the details (https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/singletons/201804/should-we-worry-about-millennials-not-having-babies)

I’m sure many of you have heard about “power in numbers”. I know that I would personally be at a loss without the support of my family and friends. It would certainly be impossible to face and deal with the issues of life without my wife at my side. Even my son adds a certain je ne sais quoi… despite how destructive he tends to get. Four-year olds, am I right?

Although the nature of the world may be changing, the benefits and advantages of having people in your life has not. Don’t be afraid to reach out and be with people. You may come to find that the end result will certainly be greater than the sum of your parts. ☯

Well, Isn’t That Sweet…?

Blood sugar testing is one of the most rudimentary steps towards preventing complications when dealing with Type 1 Diabetes. Unless you’re on some sort of continuous glucose monitoring, most health practitioners would recommend testing at least five to ten times a day to ensure that you stay as consistent as possible.

I was first diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 1982 (I know, I know… no need to point out how I’m aging myself…) and at that time, the belief was simply “don’t eat sugar.” Although that’s pretty accurate in some respects, there is far more to controlling Diabetes than JUST sugar.

As a child, I did everything I could to avoid sugary foods (with my parents’ support, of course). Staying away from desserts, juices and sugared products was all I assumed was needed. My parents knew no better either. If I were hungry, bread, crackers, milk… These were acceptable foods that weren’t “sugary” and were therefore safe for me to eat.

From the age 4 until about the age of 10, I suffered through a number of Diabetic comas resulting from extreme blood sugar levels. The worst of these comas lasted for a number of days. I can’t begin to explain how disorienting it is to go to sleep on one day, only to wake up several days later in a hospital bed. I often thank my lucky stars for having shared a bedroom with my older brother, as he was the one who ran to get my parents when he’d wake to find me frothing at the mouth. Without his intervention, I’m quite certain I wouldn’t be here today…

My point is, my family and I didn’t really have a firm understanding many of my Diabetic symptoms throughout my childhood. And the terminology of the time, “avoid sugar”, didn’t help. It wouldn’t be until twenty five years later that I would learn about carbohydrates and how they relate to Diabetes.

An example of a typical Nutrition Label found on most commercially sold food items.

Carb counting is not an OLD concept, per se… But it’s one I didn’t learn about until I started on my insulin pump in 2015. When I started consulting with my pump educators and dieticians, they began asking me about how I was carb counting. I was at a loss. I had become one of those people who focused so much on avoiding sugar and exercising, that I had never really bothered to learn anything new. That meant I had no idea what they were talking about.

Blood glucose levels are affected based on the consumption of carbohydrates. This includes sugar of course, but encompasses so much more. If you look at the nutritional label I included above, you’ll notice the portion I’ve encircled.

The Total Carbohydrate line includes all carbs, sugars and fibers included in the food. That being said, dietary fiber does not affect blood sugar. So if we look at the numbers on this label, you would need to subtract 4 grams of fiber from 37 grams of total carbs. This means you would need to take an insulin dose for 33 grams of carbs, not 37.

A 4 gram difference isn’t extreme, the difference over time can result in serious blood sugar fluctuations and all the symptoms and side effects that follow.

Although the medical definition of Type 1 Diabetes doesn’t change, treatment and proper care is a constantly evolving creature. It becomes important to continue learning and studying, and don’t be afraid to do some research of your own.

I know that doctors absolutely hate knowing we check Google and WebMD, but no information is bad information. Don’t be afraid to do whatever is necessary to ensure your proper health. And keep checking those blood sugar levels… ☯

Peace And Quiet Often Becomes Peace OR Quiet…

Years ago, I had an image in my mind of the ideal scenery. A string of rocky mountains, surrounded by greenery and a crystal clear lake sitting at its base. A crisp, spring morning where there is still dew on the grass and some wildlife running to and fro.

I would emerge from a small wood cabin onto a plain deck, coffee in hand and the vapour of my breath misting away in the morning air. Perhaps a small wood fire crackling in a small fire pit just off the deck, no other sound can be heard except the occasional hawk swooping down to catch a fish from the lake.

No noise, no interruptions and simply the silence of nature… Sounds nice, right? Considering the landscape and setting, the odds are good that there would be no internet and maybe even no electricity. Nothing but the peace of nature and the quiet of solitude.

This is often the image I’ve used while meditating. I find the image and the thought of this description has lent a certain level of focus. Some folks are fortunate enough to visit this image as a reality. Certainly, one can go camping or rent a cabin and this would allow you to experience the peace I’m describing.

This is one of the factors often missing from modern life. You don’t need to become a monk and live in a monastery to get this level of peace and quiet. But if you stop to think about it, even when things are “quiet”, there’s still a great deal of noise happening around you. The sound of your home (furnace, A/C, electronics or machinery), children, vehicles travelling in the distance, the sound of airplanes… Most of these are common background noise, especially if you live in a city.

Take some time to find your quiet place. If you aren’t in a position to go somewhere that allows it to happen naturally, train and develop yourself accordingly so that your mind and meditation allows you some sanctuary from the daily grind of constant white noise. A little peace and quiet goes a long way towards improving one’s health. ☯

Sometimes, Laziness Is A Good Thing…

You know, it’s been a long week. I painted and renovated our upstairs bathroom, laid flooring in the downstairs bathroom, eliminated a bunch of stuff we were no longer using and loads of weeds pulled in the yard and laundry.

I usually have a great deal of difficulty sitting still, and any of my coworkers and my family would concur with that. Between my annoying need to keep moving and always be doing SOMETHING and my compulsive need to clean, a day where I simply sit back and relax is usually quite rare.

I had just such a day today. Today is a civic holiday in Saskatchewan, meaning that most people had the day off. I started my day the way I usually do; with a healthy dose of caffeine to supplement the fact that my son woke me up far earlier than I planned on getting up.

A light breakfast and a few dishes later, I found myself sitting in a comfortable rocker watching some television. No chores, no errands… Then, the whole family partook of a short nap. After a short respite, we decided to take our son Nathan to a splash park to get some fun in the sun and play in the water.

We spent the better part of almost two hours playing in the sun. It was quite warm out today, and Nathan had an absolute blast until he managed to hurt himself and decided he wanted to go home.

Once we got home and were shielded from the sun, we all cooled down and had another bite to eat. This was followed by another nap. Now that we’re all fed and refreshed, I’m currently typing and my son is playing with a Uno deck on the floor. Although “playing” may be a very loose term; he’s mostly scattering the cards all over the floor.

Not exactly an exciting day, right? Was this a lazy day? A wasted day? What do you think? Realistically, in today’s busy world of non-stop hustle and bustle, a lazy day where one does nothing is often needed in order to reset your clock and get proper rest. This is almost as important as getting a full night’s sleep or meditating regularly. ☯

Let’s Lighten The Mood, Shall We?

Think back to a time when you’ve dealt with someone exhibiting a bad mood or a temper. How did you deal with what person? How did their mood affect your interaction with them? Did you do the typical thing and tell them to calm down?

That’s usually the worst thing you can do. Never, in the history of humanity has that ever worked. If anything, telling a person to calm down usually just fuels the fire and makes things worse.

Anger, frustration and rage are symptoms that are all too common to someone suffering from type 1 Diabetes. Fluctuating blood sugar levels can cause sudden and violent mood swings, which can often be misunderstood by those around you.

I can remember times when I was a teenager, that I was a real a$$hole. Those who know me personally who are reading this may wonder, What’s changed? Don’t get me started…

But seriously, there were times in my youth where my anger outweighed my ability to control it. And this is one of the lesser knowns symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes.

Depending on what source you look into, low and/or high blood sugar will affect different people in different ways. For example, most medical sources will say that low blood sugar will lead to aggression and irritability. For me, high blood sugar has always led to my bad tempers. In fact, I’ve damaged and even ended relationships in my youth because of my temper. In hindsight, I wish I had been aware of these symptoms back then.

According to an article posted by HealthyPlace.com, severe drops or spikes in blood sugar levels can cause several emotional responses including but not limited to, increased doses of cortisol within the brain, which affects the level of adrenaline in the body as well as a number of systems in the brain that affect things like fight-or-flight and self-control.

This is an effect known as “Diabetic Rage“. As most people would agree, feeling anxious, depressed or angry are normal human responses. Things get a little dicey when that anger intensifies and starts being projected on others. Here’s the article, if you wish to peruse: https://www.healthyplace.com/diabetes/mental-health/diabetic-rage-can-diabetes-cause-aggressive-behavior

The first and most obvious step in preventing such mood swings is the proper and frequent checking of your blood glucose levels. Preventing severe highs and lows will help to stem the symptoms. The deeper issue is learning the difference between what’s caused by Diabetes and what’s caused by normal mood and emotion.

Needless to say, it may be difficult to control oneself in the face of these mood swings but if you feel a sudden fit of rage, it may be in your best interest to test your blood glucose and adjusting your levels as needed. Barring Diabetic symptoms, deep breathing exercises and meditation often works for me although having someone tell me to calm down usually sets me off… ☯