Vacation, Why Not? Day 1

Vacations take on a significantly different tone, once children are in the mix. And of course they do; as opposed to laying on white sand with a cocktail, you need to see to the enjoyment of little ones as opposed to focusing on rest. Granted, I’ve never really had much of a vacation that didn’t involve training or working.

It didn’t take long after we arrived at grandma’s house to want to rush out the door and go to the park. There happens to be one located about 30 seconds down the sidewalk from my mother-in-law’s house. After over three hours cooped up in a car seat, he needed to blow off some steam.

Yes, the boys need to be entertained, but hopefully we get a bit of respite over the next couple of days. Despite the bimonthly requirement for eye injections, my wife and I will be enjoying a couple of nights away while grandma looks after the boys. She may need more of a rest than we do, by the time we get back. ☯️

Letting It Go To Be Happier…

Life is a fleeting thing. In my younger days, I foolishly joined an MLM company and used to attend local conferences where successful directors would give speeches. No offence intended to those who are participants of MLM companies and especially those who are doing well; it simply wasn’t for me. But my philosophy of life includes that there’s always something to be learned in any environment. As such, I remember the words of the one of the speakers, “Life is a flicker. And in the snap of a moment, it’s over…”

It is true that in the grand scheme of things, we’re only in this life for a very brief moment in existence. Sometimes life can FEEL long. And from an outside perspective, you’ll hear people say, “they had a good, long life” but as it relates to the nature of the universe, we’re here for but a mere spec of time. It makes you think about the importance of how one chooses to use that time and how they behave themselves around others.

In my previous career, I walked the line between light and darkness. I got to help a lot of people and prevent a lot of bad within my small corner of the world. But I was exposed and would see both sides of the equation. Sometimes I would be forced to see some pretty dark and disturbing things, which I still carry with me to this day. But I always had the benefit of going home at the end of the day and knowing I was happy and safe within my little haven and that I was doing my part to reduce suffering in the world.

When I say I’ve seen some dark things, it doesn’t even have to be something horribly traumatic. I’ve seen the folly of people who turn on each other for some of the most trivial things. Spouses, friends, brothers and family…. There is a slice of society that doesn’t care what bonds or relationships exist when they feel an entitlement to their cause. And sometimes it’s justified. I’m not here to judge. I wasn’t THERE to judge. But the suffering that results from these encounters is long-lasting. It’s gone a long way towards showing me that some people just want to watch the world burn.

This brings me to my own life. Despite my personal beliefs, I can concede that no one TRULY knows what happens when we leave this life. In that light, I’ve always fought hard to maintain and preserve myself while trying to live as happy a life as possible. When one stops to consider that goal, it’s a really simple one. Living a happy life is easy. Manage your affairs responsibly and pay attention, live in the moment and work on doing the things that make you happy versus what everyone else expects you to do and you’ll be pretty happy. I make it sound pretty easy and in truth, it is. But I understand that some obstacles can get in the way and make happiness difficult to achieve.

And I say “pretty” happy because there will always be things that will be out of one’s control. For example, I don’t think I need to explain that life would be simpler if I didn’t have Type-1 Diabetes. That being said, I also wouldn’t be the person I am today if I had never been diagnosed as such. Maybe I wouldn’t have the drive, ambition and focus on health and martial arts that I do, if I’d grown up without the challenges that Diabetes has thrown at me. This is where you’d hear me say that all things happen for a reason.

It would be contrary to Buddhist belief that suggesting that some levels of suffering in life are necessary in order to grow and evolve. And this may be so. Saying that all things happen for a reason would indicate that possibility. After all, if some form of suffering you’re going through is happening for a reason, doesn’t that mean it’s an essential aspect of life? It’s one of the more important philosophical conflicts I’ve always had with myself. And I’m pretty certain I’ll carry it with me into my next life, since there’s no clear answer.

If there’s one thing I know for certain, it’s that you should never intentionally do something that will cause suffering in others. I’ve also experienced this phenomenon first hand in recent years, where certain individuals have taken action that would have altered my life in a seriously detrimental way. Now that the smoke has cleared, I’ve often considered speaking with these people and confronting them, if only to learn what their motivations were and why they did the things they did. But ultimately, what further growth will that provide me? It likely won’t do anything but re-open old wounds and cause more suffering. I choose to be better than that. I choose to be happy. ☯️

To New Beginnings, And The Steps In Between…

You know what’s weird? Like many people, I sat at home for months on end while the pandemic dragged the world to a standstill. Day in and day out, I occupied myself with household chores, playing with my kids and working out. In a way, a strange way, it was nice… It’s the kind of life that one could imagine enjoying, if only it didn’t require a pandemic in order to get there. I can only imagine that if I won the lottery or happened to be independently wealthy, I might consider spending my days the way I did during the pandemic, without the stress and worry of what life would bring or how the world would look once I emerged from my safe haven.

I’m looking at all this in retrospect. I’ve been back to work and pushing hard for almost four months. As of today, I’m officially on vacation. It should be a good time. A pleasant combination of visiting family with a sprinkling of leaving the boys with grandma while my wife and I run off to the neighbouring city for a couple of nights. I’m looking forward to it; I love my job and I enjoy the work. It’s as much a part of me as breathing. But there’s no denying that taking a bit of time to ourselves will do a world of good. As the world slowly starts trying to return to normal, it’s nice to take the time to stop and smell the roses.

I’m sure my posts for the next week will involve updates on what we’ve been doing and where we’ve been going. I totally plan on being “one of those folks” who posts photos of what we’re eating and where we are. It might be cliche, but I can promise that I’ll enjoy it. Maybe my joy will spark a little joy in some of you. Either way, I’ll still have fun. Stay tuned. ☯

Carry The Torch For Too Long And You Could Get Burned…

We all get older. There’s no getting away from it. And as we get older, our muscle tissues become less flexible, our joints a little less loose and our energy levels can deplete. This is why it’s so important to maintain one’s fitness throughout one’s entire life in order to ensure that we can maintain our best form throughout our later years. This includes proper diet, regular exercise based on one’s capabilities and in my case, proper Diabetes control and frequent blood sugar testing. Staying abreast of newer therapies and exercise routines definitely helps.

Most people with Type-1 Diabetes have difficulty keeping their energy levels above nap time at the BEST of times. But once we get older, we tend to have a little less get-up-and-go. So long as one has a strong sense of determination, one can push through the apathy. But so long as you keep moving and pushing yourself forward, there’s no shame in altering your fitness routines and lifestyle to accommodate one’s life, despite energy levels.

I can admit that in recent years, my motivation towards daily workouts, pushing myself to the point of exhaustion and cycling for 100 kilometres in one sitting seems to have taken a back seat to taking care of writing, doing forms, yoga and light calisthenics mixed with the occasional venting of negative energy on the punching bag. Where the cheese has definitely slid off my cracker is my diet. Battered proteins and starchy foods have become a little too common, lately. And although I’ve enjoyed the benefit of shedding a few pounds in recent months, my diet could certainly use some tweaking. this doesn’t mean you can’t indulge or allow yourself something enjoyable on occasion. But moderation is key.

The extreme heat that we’ve experienced over the past month has definitely put a damper on my ability to push through. I always like to think that my ability to push forward and push through will always be there. But the fervent zeal I experienced in my teens and my twenties no longer exists (I’m well beyond that point, in case I haven’t dated myself enough in previous posts). Sometimes we need to evaluate where our motivation lies in order to be able to tap into it. In previous years, I was attempting to save my own life from the cruel ravages of Diabetes. Dramatic, I know. But accurate.

Throughout my twenties and thirties, I had a point to prove to myself as I continued and excelled in my martial arts studies. Then I had the benefit of my job requiring a certain level of physical fitness and a combat acumen. In case no one has guessed from my initial posts from years ago and some of the hints I’ve dropped, I used to be in law enforcement. And although I still have my overall health and fitness to maintain, I’m finding difficulty in keeping that momentum going. It’s been noticeable. I DON’T like it, haha.

I’m sure that I’m mostly in a slump and I’ll fight my way through it. I always do. And that’s the important thing; to keep fighting for what’s required to ensure your health and happy life. Everyone’s capable of it. One simply needs to do it. ☯

A Malfunctioning “Carb-uretor”…

Before you panic and scroll past, this isn’t another post about my car. Evidently, my car is functioning quite well since its last visit to the mechanic. Now I get to focus my “repair” attentions to my newly-purchased cell phone, which I’ve already ranted about here. So I won’t bother getting into THAT again (at least until I get the phone back and find out if it’s working or not). You all know that I like puns in my post titles, and this one is no exception. The carburetor I’m referring to is the pancreas.

A real carburetor promotes the internal combustion process of a vehicle by injecting a mist of fuel with air. This is done to allow for the internal combustion process to “make the car go.” Much in the same way, the pancreas injects insulin and helps control the level of fuel (carbs) in the body in order to also “make it go.” On a slightly different playing field, but the comparison is sound. In the case of someone with Type-1 Diabetes, injections of insulin are required since the pancreas no longer produces insulin after having one’s own immune system attack and destroy the body’s insulin-producing cells.

Now that I’ve explained that definition for what seems like the millionth time in my life, let’s proceed with the post, shall we? I’m a big, big fan of believing that someone with Diabetes can do ANYTHING that someone who isn’t afflicted with the condition can do. This is especially true of food, so long as one’s blood sugar levels are well controlled and you can dose your insulin in such a way to properly deal with the food you’re eating. For many years, I was mostly of the opinion that I should eliminate carbs as much as I can to inject as few units of insulin as possible. But modern therapies, including the insulin pump, have made it possible for me to enjoy a significantly more “normal” lifestyle and eat the way I see fit. Almost.

An example of a delicious but extremely high-carb meal I ate.

Therapies and technologies are only as good as the users who maintain them and even I make mistakes sometimes, despite many decades of dealing with my condition. Take a particular day for example, where things slipped off the rails, ever so slightly. I skipped breakfast. Alright, not deadly on it’s own but never a good thing. I don’t know if it’s age, Diabetes, my specific biology or an unhappy combination of the three usually leaves me waking up with no appetite for much of anything but dropping my head back to the pillow.

That first meal of the day serves a number of purposes, which I’ve written about in previous posts. So I won’t beat a dead horse on this one, but one key point is that eating regularly can actually help to maintain your blood sugars throughout the day and can help prevent highs and lows. So grabbing that quick bagel on the way out the door is never a bad idea (or yogurt, since bagels are pretty high-carb). Nevertheless, I skipped breakfast on this particular day, which meant that by the time lunch rolled around, I was extremely hungry and my blood sugars were slightly out of whack. Go, me (sarcasm)!

I ended up being a bit on the naughty side and ordered out for lunch. It was an extremely high-carb lunch, which should have been no problem. As long as I could bolus appropriately for the food I was consuming. Did I bolus appropriately? What do YOU think? I always like to think that I do, but sometimes bolusing does involve a level of guess work, especially when you’re eating food that’s been ordered and have no immediate way of verifying the total carb count. That’s what happened in this instance and as a result, I faced blood sugar levels in the teens for a number of hours leading into dinner (or supper, depending on where you’re reading this).

By the time supper rolled around, my blood sugars were reasonably back into normal range. My wife and I prepared the delicious supper you see picture above. Chicken balls with a homemade sweet & sour sauce with warm, buttered biscuits. Comparable to Thanksgiving, this meal practically put me into a coma. Between the heaviness of the meal and the high carbohydrate content, I was ready for sleep by 6 pm. And in truth, once the boys were in bed, I joined them and crashed as well. And that’s where I made my next mistake.

Like most people with Diabetes, I’ve dealt with many years where I had to pay for my supplies out-of-pocket. I’m lucky enough to have some solid medical coverage now, but it wasn’t always so. And Diabetes supplies and therapies are surprisingly expensive for something that absolutely necessary for keeping people alive. As a result, I’m pretty thrifty when it comes to insulin, since I’ve often had to make the most out of every unit. As a result, I decided to go to bed with only 12 units remaining in my pump. Normally, this wouldn’t be such a big deal and I could change it in the morning.

But my overnight basal rate is about 1.5 units/hour. Since I crashed at about 8 pm and awoke at 5 am, that’s nine hours of sleep. According to new math, 1.5 units/hour x 9 hours of sleep is 13.5 units. I fell short and had an empty pump for over an hour when I awoke. This left my blood sugar readings in the high teens. Not a great way to start the day. It’s all the little details that make a proper balance so critical. I know and understand the reasoning behind everything I’ve described in this post, but it doesn’t prevent the occasional bad day or a day where one is unable to find a proper balance.

The important thing to remember is that you should always be vigilant in your dealing with Diabetes, but you should also cut yourself a break when things don’t go well. As long as you keep fighting the good fight, you’ll always get ahead. I know a lot of people with Type-1 Diabetes who eat what they want, do what they want and completely ignore their blood sugars and proper insulin dosing. The sad truth is that for those people who just don’t seem to care, it doesn’t take long for Diabetes to completely overtake them. It also doesn’t help that Diabetes can be exhausting. But as much as this post may feel like I’m simply complaining about my condition, it’s mainly to illustrate how even a well-balanced and controlled case of Diabetes can easily have a bad day where things slip out of hand. Monitor your blood sugars regularly, eat well and include exercise into your weekly routine. And stay strong. ☯

If You Open The Floodgates…

Last night was an enjoyable evening. We had a couple of friends over, barbecued some hamburgers and hot dogs, followed by a haze of beer and cigars around the fire pit. It had a distinct feeling of normalcy to it and it was nice to have friends over “in person” as opposed to always chatting with them over text or social media. It was the perfect evening, other than my clumsiness leading to falling off of a chair and tearing open one of my toes. Let that sink in for a moment: I fell OFF of a chair… not fell out. And why is it always my toes??? I’m Diabetic, damn it! Foot injuries are the worst but any time I hurt myself that involves bleeding, it seems to be the feet. But I digress…

We also got to enjoy a wonderful buffalo chicken dip made by one our friends. The recipe for which should be forthcoming… Right, Tori? RIGHT??? The evening closed out with our friends departing, our children in bed and a quiet ten minutes of putting away chairs and coolers as I reflected on the calm, entertaining aspects of the evening. It had me looking forward to more evenings like this, perhaps with larger groups as the world slowly begins to TRY and return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy. At time of writing this, Saskatchewan is only one day away from initiating their “Phase 3” of the Province’s re-opening plan and removing most if not all of the Province’s restrictions.

With that in mind, I believe that we’re heading into a new level of challenge. Over the past year, It’s been interesting watching the evolution of how people have dealt with the pandemic and the actions they’ve taken. For example, my mother was a die hard advocate against the wearing of a mask, even claiming that her asthma made it impossible for her to wear one to any extent. Now, with conditions being lifted she refuses to go out without one, even when she no longer has to. She was absolutely of the opinion she didn’t need/want the COVID-19 vaccine and refused to get it. But now, she’s gotten her first dose and totally intends on getting her second dose.

People who initially fought against many aspects of the pandemic are now realizing that some steps need to be taken in order to try and nip this thing in the bud; just in time for numbers to reach the desired level to start re-opening everything. But with the floodgates about to be opened, there are a number of things that we will begin to see in different areas. The first issue includes all the variants that have emerged. The second is the wave of “precautions” that different places/businesses will start taking upon themselves to impose.

We’ve already started seeing this trend, with CBC News recently reporting on a local Yoga studio in Regina that will start requiring proof of vaccination from patrons before allowing them access to class. I’ve read a couple of different articles on this very yoga studio, with the comments including a variety of praise and criticism from people who read about it. It raises the question about whether or not this will become the new state of normal, with the world re-opening. Certainly, some methods of travel will start requiring proof of vaccination in order to cross borders and some retail locations may choose to continue to require the wearing of a face mask within their locations or even begin asking for proof of vaccination, as well.

It will lead to an increased rift within our populations, with the folks who have been vaccinated blaming the continued spread of COVID-19 to those who haven’t been and a not-so-silent social division is already beginning to take place. It’s rough waters to navigate and definitely unfortunate, considering how long we’ve all stayed away from one another and disconnected from the world as a whole. It would be nice if the world come together with a united front and share in overcoming this thing that’s plagued us for the past year and half. There are interesting times ahead. And that isn’t always necessarily a good thing. ☯

Anger Isn’t JUST For The Sith…

The title is a Star Wars reference, for my followers who don’t find themselves quite as immersed as I am in science fiction and reading. To frame the reference, the Sith are the antagonists of the Star Wars series. They are the polar opposites (in most respects) to the Jedi and typically use intense emotion and anger as a means of amplifying their powers. The series focuses on the Jedi being the good guys and how anger is a bad thing…. Although I agree that HATE is a bad thing, as is also premised in the series, anger has its place and can even be a useful tool when applied in the proper context.

Let’s start by examining what anger truly is…. Simply defined, it means having strong, intense feelings of annoyance or hostility towards a person or thing that can often result in a violent or negatively-emotional response. This can be caused by something emotionally significant or perhaps something as simple as being cut off in traffic. That aspect that many people tend to lose sight of, is that a feeling of anger isn’t always necessarily related to the immediate instance that we believe prompted the emotion and may be a symptom of something bigger and/or previous. The immediate moment may simply be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back. But I digress…

Anger is an emotion. An normal emotion that everyone experiences throughout the course of their lives. If you’ve ever heard someone say, “I don’t get angry” they’re either lying to you or themselves. Maybe they feel anger but simply have coping mechanisms that allow them to keep from externalizing it. That may be a good thing. It can also be a recipe for disaster, depending on one’s specific ability to handle their anger.

Anger can be a great motivator, especially in fitness circles or in making and accomplishing one’s goals. If you use your anger as a source of fuel, it can help push you beyond what you might have done, otherwise. A good example I can provide is when one is using a punching bag. There’s no arguing the fact that you’ll punch harder and longer on the bag if you’re absolutely fuming about something. This is kind of the scenario I’m referring to.

The other side of the coin is dealing with a level of anger that can result in a violent result. This is something that must avoided, fo the obvious reasons. The punching bag is another great example as it can be a fantastic outlet for venting that angry energy. Meditation can work for some, but i know people who hit that “point of no return” and simply lack the means to control their anger. And that’s an important aspect to discern; the difference between controlling and finding an outlet for one’s anger or trying to suppress it or ignore it. The former can be constructive and healthy. The latter eventually becomes a problem. ☯️

Music Is My Life, The Lyrics Are My Story…

Louis Armstrong once said, “Music is life itself.” I don’t know if I would go THAT far, especially since if I had to choose between music and karate, I’d still go with karate. That being said, music has always played a big role in my life. I’m one of those folks who can be influenced by a song simply by hearing it. An upbeat song will have me bopping along and singing at the top of my voice while passing drivers look on in awe at the crazy guy in the suit whose cheese appears to be sliding off his cracker. On the other hand, hearing certain ballads will remind me of sad memories, make me maudlin or even tear up, if the song is right.

I’ve owned at least one guitar since I was sixteen (at one point, I had four) but I’ve never put the amount of effort into it that I could have or should have. Once again, this came down to a choice between focusing on music or karate. Since karate was keeping me healthy and well… alive, I opted for karate. But believe it or not, there was a time when music was a pivotal part of my daily life, where I would listen to music, try to strum along and singing became common place for me. In high school, I tried doing the whole “band” thing, but the able participants weren’t willing ones and we never really got it off the ground.

When I went away to college, I actually had the opportunity to sing for a few guys that played at college events and a few venues. I actually performed in front of several hundred people, making the introvert inside scream in fear, but it definitely contributed to why I can speak in public with relative ease and comfort. I currently own two guitars; an acoustic that my late aunt left me, which she autographed for me before her passing and an electric Les Paul style guitar that my wife bought me as an engagement gift.

“Music And Rhythm Find Their Way Into The Secret Places Of The Soul…”

– Plato

I bring up the subject of music because, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I had the opportunity to have a Zoom meeting with the group of friends I hung out with during my formative years. It was an amazing feeling but I was reminded of some amazing music, as well. That’s why I’ve decided to share the playlist we came up with in this post. This will seem like a long post, but it relatively short in terms of reading. Whether or not you watch the YouTube videos is up to you. Let’s take a nostalgic journey…

“Too Much Love Will Kill You” – Queen

Who doesn’t recognize and appreciate the incredible vocals of Freddy Mercury? I only discovered Queen by virtue of having watched “Wayne’s World,” which came out in 1992. But this song holds a special place in my heart as, after purchasing the cassette tape (yes, you read that right, it was on tape) my friend Leon and I crooned along to that one song to the point that we basically burned out the tape. We even recorded ourselves singing it, using the lyrics sheet inside the cassette case. We didn’t have Google to supply us with such things, back then.

“In The Meantime” – Spacehog

I owe the discovery of this song to my friend Leon. This was a tape of his that he brought along and slapped into my shitty car’s tape deck. I always felt the opening riffs stirred something in the soul. My Sensei’s son and I actually tried learning this on the guitar, back when we were young and stupid. Moving on…

“Tonite Is A Wonderful Time” – April Wine

Where do I even start with this group? April Wine holds a special place in my heart, for a variety of reasons. Other than the fact that they’re from the Maritimes like I am, I was introduced to their music as a child by my father. I grew up listening to them in every iteration; on the radio, on 8-tracks, cassette tapes and later on CD’s. I’ve even seen them perform in concert on three separate occasions. Although none of their songs are bad, this one has been singled out as reminding some of my high school friends of me.

“The Sign” – Ace of Base

Ahh, Ace of Base… If this doesn’t scream 90’s teen years, I don’t know what does. They have a pretty pure and simple sound and although many of their songs start to sound the same after a few listens, you can’t help but nod your head and croon along. This song, along with “It’s A Beautiful Life,” definitely graced the inside of my Toyota Tercel on more occasions than I can recall.

“No Rain” – Blind Melon

This one is particular because I actually learned how to play this one on the guitar. I had a fellow blogger suggest that I film myself playing and upload it on The Blogging Buddhist’s YouTube page, but the amount of rust on my fingers could put a derelict ship to shame. But I may get there.

“Saturday Night” – Whigfield

I have no shame in admitting that this one was a guilty pleasure that was often indulged in, especially on the weekends when there was nothing to do but cruise up and down the main drag in my shitty car with the windows down, waving at all the girls that somehow knew from a distance that I simply wasn’t cool. Que sera… It’s catchy, it’s feel-good and it holds up. I regret nothing!

“Bohemian Rhapsody” – Queen

Anyone who doesn’t understand why this song is on here is lying to themselves. Fight me! Seriously though, I drove a 1987 Toyota Tercel hatchback that struck an eery resemblance to Garth’s hatchback in Wayne’s World (except in color). Ergo, we nicknamed my Tercel “The Mirth Mobile.” And what would a cruise in the Mirth mobile be, without a batch of people head banging the way they did in the movie.

“I’d Do Anything For Love” – Meatloaf

This album came out while I was in high school and I grew to have an appreciation for Meatloaf’s theatrical efforts for his videos. The song was quite popular, but I was already into Meatloaf, thanks to “Bat Out Of Hell.” I remember thinking how foolish everyone was to “suddenly” discover this artist, but as I look back, I don’t think there’s ever really a bad time to discover great music. Same on teenage me…

“Wonderwall” – Oasis

Oasis is a great band with a great sound to them, some of which are feel-good tracks and some kinda have you reflecting on life. I drove some of my friends crazy with this one, because the opening strum is what I originally tried learning the guitar with. And I. Was. Not. Good. I improved with time, and the song totally stands up. Which leads to the next one…

“Don’t Look Back In Anger” – Oasis

From the same album, this one is a direct reminder of my childhood and teen years and the tone makes me a little sad, despite being a fantastic song. The old gang didn’t include this one in our exchanges, I simply love it.

“Hands In My Pocket” – Alanis Morissette

Alanis Morissette’s album “Jagged Little Pill” pretty much oozes 1990’s teen years. I always found that people always either really enjoyed her music or absolutely hated it. I had the album on CD and still have it now as part of my iTunes library/

“What’s Up?” – 4 Non Blondes

This is an absolutely wonderful song, and is only a few simple chords, making it fun and easy to strum along to. Although I can’t quite hit the high notes of the artist, I’ve played it on couple of occasions recently. Even my son Nathan croons along with it when it comes on in the car, proving that it totally stands up, even decades later.

“Tubthumping” – Chumbawumba

If someone can tell me what the hell the term “Tubthumping” is supposed to mean, I’d greatly appreciate it. My autocorrect is losing it’s shit, right now. On the flip side, the band calls itself Chumbawumba, so what am I expecting? this song is pure, unadulterated joy. That is all. Simple, repetitive lyrics, I’ve yet to meet a person who’s able to resist singing along at the top of their lungs to this tune, and I’m no exception.

“Crash” – The Primitives

I know that not everyone is a Jim Carey fan, but I loved “Dumb and Dumber” and can still get a laugh from watching it. this song was part of its soundtrack and still totally stands up. I know I’m saying that about a lot of these songs, but I’m pretty biased. It’s upbeat and fun, and usually results in my using the gas peddle a little more than I should.

“Summer of ’69” – Bryan Adams

Everyone in the world knows this song. Prove me wrong. And you can’t, because if you didn’t recognize it and played the video, now you know it! See what I did, there? Bryan Adams was a household name all throughout my childhood, teens and into my adulthood. This song always elicited happy feelings and had me purchase every Bryan Adams album I could get my hands on. I’ve learned some of his songs on the guitar. I had my first real slow dance to one of his songs. He’s timeless.

“Iris” – Goo Goo Dolls

Last but certainly not in any way least, is this song. Featured as part of the soundtrack for the movie “City of Angels,” (one of Nicholas Cage’s only good movies) Goo Goo Dolls have a very unique sound, especially with the fact that their songs always have some strange tunings that i can never seem to match. But most of their songs are equally as good. I currently own their greatest hits album, and listen to it often.

There you have it! The soundtrack of my youth. There’s plenty more, but I can only spend so much time linking YouTube videos in a single post. As I said in the beginning, this post seems long, but if you’ve just read the paragraphs because you already know the songs, it’s no longer than any of my usual posts. Hopefully, this will have helped remind some of you of a simpler time in your youth, as well. ☯

Summer Lovin’, Having A Blast… 🎶

July 1st starts out nicely; a quiet breakfast of hash and bacon at he table, kids are watching some froo-froo nonsensical bullshit on Netflix and my wife and I are getting some caffeine into our systems before making any attempt at dealing with the day. After a brief round of dishes and cleaning up, everyone dons their Canada Day t-shirts and steps outside to enjoy some of the sunshine before temperatures reach an unsafe and/or intolerable level.

That doesn’t take long… Temperatures are already on the high 20’s and climbing with a completely clear sky offering no respite from the direct light of the Sun. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not the type to complain about summer weather. Especially since I hate the freezing cold and especially the snow. Winter wonderland, my ass! But the summer, although enjoyable, brings it own set of difficulties as it relates to proper health and fitness. Especially if you’re part of a family primarily composed of people with the redheaded gene, fair skin and all.

My fam-jam, in all our UV-absorbing glory!

I could spout the usual rhetoric about needing to cover up, wear a proper amount of sunscreen and stay hydrated. You know, the stuff all of you have had shoved down your throats since childhood. This is a good reminder though, as the summer heat can catch up to you quickly. Even SPF30 will do, even if it means slathering some on more often. Keep a reusable water bottle around and sip from it consistently. And no, beer or other alcoholic beverages don’t count towards your hydration (as much as I occasionally like to think so.

If you have Type-1 Diabetes, you should be aware that the summer heat will cause unexpected increases in blood sugars. If “A” leads to “B” and “B” leads to “C,” then by the transitive property, “A” eventually leads to “C.” What this means is, the extreme heat will cause dehydration. Dehydration leads to higher blood sugars. Ergo, extreme summer heat leads to higher blood sugars. Did I just make that way more complicated than it needed to be? Meinh, who cares! I understand myself, which is what’s important. Not everyone can say as much…

The summer rays will cause all sorts of other issues, such as affecting blood pressure, flushing, dizziness and the potential for heat stroke. Anything and everything affects a Type-1 Diabetic’s blood sugar levels, so it’s important to be prepared for summer conditions. If you’re travelling, camping or performing outdoor sports or exercise, be sure to keep your testing equipment nearby, drink/have plenty of fluids available (including electrolytes) and keep in mind that your Diabetes equipment won’t like extreme temperatures, so you may deal with malfunctioning equipment.

If you’ve Diabetes for any length of time measured in years, you’ll have survived through some summers and will likely already be aware of all this stuff. The important thing to remember is that having Diabetes doesn’t prevent you from enjoying the summer. One need only be prepared and deal with the potential issues that will accompany your condition. Our Canada Day was pretty quiet. We had mushroom burgers, spend a short period of time outside and did some work. The boys lost their minds over the plethora of bubbles created by their bubble machine, followed by naps and watching Spiderman: Into The Spider-verse. Definitely worse ways to spend a day off…☯

Set Adrift On Memory Bliss…

Growing up, I felt truly miserable. Even based on current memory, I felt like my life was off the rails. I had Type-1 Diabetes, which resulted in many days spent in a hospital bed, all throughout my childhood. I had a sick brother who I lost his illnesses when I was only a child and didn’t understand why such a thing could happen to someone so young. I was also bullied beyond reason. And I don’t mean the kind of modern, snowflake version of bullying where you can do something about it; I frequently found myself in situations where I had several guys beating the living shit out of me, purely for the indignity of being available to them.

It’s not like I didn’t have a life. In fact, between karate, work and personal interests and hobbies, I was lucky enough to have something that not all people get the benefit of enjoying: friends. In fact, I had the best fuckin’ group of friends that a guy could ask for. So good were the friends I had, we could spend countless nights doing very little but still absolutely LOVE the time we spent together. We used to do random things, like sitting on a beach with a fire burning or hanging out in one of our group’s basements, listening to music and laughing at each other.

It was a simpler time; a time when we did next to nothing, it cost us nothing but we still loved every minute of it. So much so, that we spent all our free time together and had the sort of closeness that compares to the boys from the 1986 movie, Stand By Me. If you’ve never seen the movie, it’s based on the tale of four boys who take off for a weekend to find a missing kid. The kind of closeness and bonding that takes place during that trek is heartwarming and can be easily identified with. THAT’s the kind of gang we had. And I took it all for granted…

You see, I was like most teenagers. I was angst-filled and angry. My Diabetes was uncontrolled and I was often prone to mood swings and violent tendencies. This caused a lot of issues for me, especially in my personal relationships. Looking back, I know for a fact that there were no doubt times when the gang thought I was just being an asshole. And to an extent, they were right. But the most important aspect is that I took my friendships for granted. When I look back at the friends I have, I know that I should have recognized and appreciated what I had, when i had it. As that old 80’s Cinderella song says, “Don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone.”

Although I was always passively aware of this fact, I was definitely reminded of it a week ago, when I had a video meeting with members from my high school gang. Although most of them were still located in New Brunswick, one member was in the United Kingdom and of course, I found myself here, in Regina, Saskatchewan. For some of us, it was our first contact with each other in over twenty years. It was heart-warming and emotional. What was beautiful about it, is we laughed, joked and bantered with the same enthusiasm and sarcasm as we did in the 1990’s. It was a thing of beauty.

Somehow, we chatted easily for over two hours and could have continued on ad nauseam if not for the fact that it was midnight in the UK and supper time for me. We bid each other farewell, with the promise of getting together again in the near future. When we discussed where life had taken us, we all agreed that we hadn’t managed to repeat the friendships we experienced on our teens since we parted ways. I made the comparison that once you’ve had steak, it’s pretty hard to eat baloney and have it compare. My high school friends were my steak.

Seeing the old gang again awoke something special in me. I pulled out my acoustic guitar and started playing again. In the days that followed, we continued to communicate on a group chat and started gathering music from our formative years. We accumulated 14 songs in total, all of which I put together into a playlist and haven’t been able to stop listening to since. The sense of nostalgia I experienced was amazing. And I owe it all to them. We promised we’d make an effort to get together in Northern New Brunswick, once the world returned to normal.

Appreciate what you have. The value of the friendships you maintain may not always be evident to you, in the moment. But as long as sincere efforts are made on both sides, the rewards will be carried inside of you for all your days. We don’t always understand how we come to cross paths with some of the folks we meet. But they all play an integral part in who we become. Not to mention the fact that sometimes it’s nice to be reminded of where you came from in order to acknowledge where you’re headed. Food for thought… ☯