We Can’t All Be Mr. Spock …

Meditation offers a wide variety of benefits that the average person doesn’t know about or understand.  In fact, I’ve used meditation in a variety of ways, including but not limited to blocking out pain, maintaining composure and helping with sleep.  There’s nothing mystical or mysterious about it; meditation simply allows one to control certain aspects of their outward emotions and reactions.  Despite the fact that it can take years to achieve that level of skill, it’s quite possible.

For example, I’ve dealt with a significant number of situations in my field of work that would easily elicit fear or extreme levels of stress in a person. But some outward reactions would not only be inappropriate in those situations, they could potentially cost me my life.  This is why maintaining one’s composure and controlling one’s emotions can play an important role in everyday life.

As a friend of mine so eloquently asked, “Am I cold or emotionally disciplined?”

Let’s examine that question in depth, shall we?  For the most part, someone who is referred to as “cold” is someone who is potentially shut down, repressed and/or out of touch with their inner feelings.

According to a post by Psychology Today, this is what’s referred to as an avoidant attachment pattern.  And some of the actual symptoms of a person with this pattern include being aloof, standoffish, impersonal, disengaged and uninvolved.  There are many more, and the article can be read here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/evolution-the-self/201105/cold-people-what-makes-them-way-part-1

There are causes and reasons behind this sort of behavior, but we won’t delve too deeply into those aspects, as they aren’t the point of this post.  Let’s examine the practice of being emotionally disciplined…

Listen, every person is different.  And because of this, we all deal with specific situations in different ways. Let’s take death as an example. When we lose a loved one, there is an expectation as to how we will react to it.  But the reality is that some people deal with it and “bounce back” far easier than others.

Self-discipline and training can allow one to develop this ability and react with a level of control that often seems “cold” or “stand-offish” to others.  So, when some people seem like they don’t care, they may simply be coping in their own way.

I use the example of death because it is such a common one.  It’s something that EVERYBODY will have to deal with, at some given point and time in his or her lives.  But realistically, as long as one IS coping, the mechanism through which they do so really doesn’t matter (unless they turn to alcoholism or drugs, of course).

I can easily attest to the fact that in my youth, I was often accused of being cold or emotionless, which is often a stark contrast to the temper I occasionally carry today.  Even when the death of my brother occurred, I dealt with it with a stoic front, barely ever letting my emotions show.  It caused enough of a concern that my parents thought I should be speaking to someone about it.  But the reality is that my coping mechanisms simply didn’t involve bawling my eyes out as some are inclined to do.  And even at such a young age, my personal self-discipline was already developing.

The point is, even if the person you’re speaking to may seem detached or impersonal, if someone is dealing with a traumatic event or grief in a quiet and reserved way, or if someone has injured themselves but isn’t clutching the limb and crying bloody murder, it may simply be that their mental discipline is developed enough to allow them to control their emotions and outward reactions. And these are all things that can be developed through meditation.  Although not physically a muscle, there is the potential to develop it and strengthen it as you would with muscle tissue.  It’s simply done in a different way.  As I’ve often said, when one isn’t exercising the body, one should be exercising the mind.

There should be no judgement against those who have their own level of emotional discipline. It doesn’t mean they’re cold, it may simply mean they have their own way of coping. A personal shout out, to the friend who gave me the idea for this post.  It was a great question and great topic for discussion. ☯

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Jeff Goldblum Was Right…

I still remember watching the original Jurassic Park in 1993, where Jeff Goldblum uses one of his most quoted lines: “Life finds a way.” I was in my mid-teens and I was staring ahead at what I hoped would be a long and satisfying life.

As I got older, I started looking ahead at the adult aspects of life and some of the issues that I may face being a Type 1 Diabetic. One of the most prominent ones that got thrown at me repeatedly through my twenties, was that I was unlikely to have children. My childhood doctor (may he rest in peace) used to always say that 1 out of 3 male Type 1 Diabetics could not conceive children due to sterility. Although that statistic wasn’t entirely correct, even then, it was a cause for concern that I may have to live my life without ever conceiving a child of my own. Although I was well aware that there are other venues that can be pursued, such as adoption (my father is adopted, in fact) it still weighed heavily on me and I made attempts to clarify the issue and seek out medical help.

Remarkably, most doctors were unwilling to do something as simple as perform a sperm count. In my twenties, most doctors had asked me if I was in a permanent relationship and looking to have a child. When I would respond that I wasn’t, they would often refuse to perform the tests. I simply wanted to know IF I could conceive children as this can often be a relationship-defining characteristic when getting involved with someone. But unless I was part of a couple who had been actively trying to get pregnant, they declined to test me. Granted, this was decades ago and perhaps things have changed.

Just to clarify on what potentially CAN happen, I did some digging and spoke to some medical practitioners and discovered some interesting information. According to an article posted to WebMD written in 2007, “Men with type 1 Diabetes may have more DNA damage in their sperm,” and “men with Diabetes had lower semen volume than the men without Diabetes.” Both these aspects can contribute to infertility in these men. The article is pretty short and indicates that none of these aspects proved that Diabetes caused infertility, but the article can be read here: https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/news/20070502/diabetes-may-affect-mens-fertility

In consulting with a medical doctor, it was explained that certain effects of Diabetes such as decreased blood circulation, would make it difficult to conceive, and erectile dysfunction would be a very real possibility as well. Bad control of blood sugars, insufficient diet and any combination of other Diabetic side-effects could cause the secondary effect of infertility. Last but not least, increased use of alcohol or drugs (illicit and prescribed) can also cause some issues in the ‘ol bedroom.

I spoke to a psychiatrist in New Brunswick last week, who explained that certain conditions could also affect the possibility of conception. Don’t get any ideas, folks. I was just asking for the sake of knowledge!

But I should probably get to my point, since I’ve been typing quite a bit already and I haven’t gotten to the focus of this post. I spent the majority of my twenties and well into my thirties believing I would never conceive a child of my own. In the past few days, I mentioned that my trip required a significant amount of sacrifice. Well…

My son, Alexander, born on Saturday, September 28th

I was unfortunately running around New Brunswick when my wife went into labour for this little guy. Her due date wasn’t until a week later and I didn’t really have an option of rescheduling my New Brunswick appointments, so we rolled the dice. Evidently, the dice had other ideas in mind…

Eyes open for one of Alex’s first looks at the world

I’ve mentioned my son Nathan in previous posts. He’ll be five years old, next month. After many trials and heartbreaks, we got pregnant with Alex. And now he’s here, with his Daddy’s attitude and all! But I missed out on being there for his birth. Given the recent work-related issues I’ve been facing, it’s just one more thing that’s been taken away from me. But I’ll take a healthy child over being there for his birth. Sometimes, life doesn’t let us choose.

So, here I was, thinking for so many years that I would never have children of my own. And now I have two sons. My life and my world changed overnight, and in the words of Jeff Goldblum, Life Finds A Way…

A Furry Farewell…

Sometimes on the path of life, we make sacrifices that cause an unseen wound we never truly recover from. Just such a wound was sustained today.

Although life doesn’t care about my plan, you would think that at some point, fate would stop trying to kick me when I’m down. Apparently, life intends on stripping me down to my bare elements before it allows me to start waking up happy again.

Five years ago, my wife and I were in a position where we were able to help out with a scenario that happens all too often… We found a post on FaceBook advertising that a local woman was moving out of her home to get a smaller apartment that didn’t allow pets. It seems the woman had recently gotten divorced and the ex-husband left a golden retriever/poodle mix dog behind.

As the woman could no longer afford to keep the house she was in, she had no choice but to move to a small rental. As the dog wasn’t technically hers, she posted that she was offering the dog for free for the next couple of weeks, otherwise she would have to drop her off at the SPCA.

I never had a dog in my youth. My parents never allowed it, as my brother was deathly afraid and my mother claimed allergies (I still think that was one of those parental tricks, but I’ll never know). My wife made the mistake of showing me the post and my heart went out to this dog.

Molly and I back in 2014

My wife and I agreed to take her in, although I thought she was much smaller than she actually was, based on the photo I saw. I couldn’t have been more surprised at the 65-pound fur ball that came bounding over to me. That first day, I brought her with me to work as I didn’t have the day off. Her quiet, timid nature spoke of a shadowed past to which I wasn’t privy, but I knew that my wife and I could give her a home and make her future better.

Cuddly right from the start

It took not even a day before she was responding and coming to me, meeting me at the door, cuddling with me at every opportunity and occasionally stealing my wife’s slippers. She became an expected and enjoyed presence within our home and grew to be part of our family.

In the grand scheme of things, she’s been the world’s best doggy! Barely ever barking, and never making a mess in the house (with the exception of when she’s gotten sick).

With recent events that have happened in my work, and with the possibility of having to move on and sell our home, we had to make the difficult decision to send Molly to another home. Luckily, my wife’s mother stepped up and agreed to take Molly in so that she could stay in the family.

Molly’s last cuddle with Daddy

It breaks my heart because it seems to be just one more thing among many that I’ve been forced to lose because of someone else’s rumours. I’m hoping that eventually I can stop having everything taken away from me and life can stop being about constant sacrifice. Karma has to work in my favour eventually, right? In the meantime, Molly will be missed. Hopefully, I get to see her again someday before her time comes…☯

Something’s In The Air…

Winter is coming! What’s sad about that, is I just made a pop culture reference to a show I haven’t even seen yet! But realistically, the winter season is upon us (characterized by the sudden snow fall the Prairies received last week) and this causes some issues with the immune system and in turn, Diabetes.

As I’ve written before, just about everything affects blood sugar and Diabetes. The changing of seasons is no exception. First and foremost, cold weather is often associated with increased illness. One of the reasons is because some studies have shown certain virulent strains thrive better in colder temperatures. And if your Diabetes affects you the way it affects me, you catch EVERY little bug that comes your way.

That means that certain steps need to be taken to ensure proper care while dealing with these winter bugs. Drinking plenty of water, eating at regular intervals and testing your blood sugar more frequently than you often would.

There are certain vitamin supplements on the market that advertise being able to prevent sicknesses such as colds and flus, but unless they’ve been recommended or prescribed by your medical practitioner, they haven’t been proven to do anything that eating a healthy, balanced diet won’t provide.

Keep warm and well-dressed during the winter months, test your blood regularly and if you catch anything that persists for more than 3 to 5 days, be sure to speak to your doctor. Preventative steps will help to get you through the harsh season ahead. ☯

A Strange Odyssey, The Final Day…

Well, here we are; the final day of my strange odyssey.  What started out as a five-day stint turned into over a week and a half.  I have big surprises waiting for me at home and they couldn’t possibly be making this flight any longer!

I’d like to say my week was productive, but I unfortunately had a large amount of down time.  Luckily, I was able to visit with family and friends and revisit some of my old haunts while I was home.  Hopefully in the next week or two, I’ll be able to share some of the outcome related to this trip and why I travelled back east.  For the moment, suffice it to say that it’s high time I get myself home.

Last night was good times; I had drinks and pizza with an old friend and we watched some martial arts shows on Netflix.  It was basically like going back to my twenties (I never drank in my teens).  The following morning I travelled back to Fredericton, where I was able to enjoy a quick breakfast with an old co-worker before turning in my rental car and sitting at the Fredericton airport to start the trip home.

As I write this, I’m currently sitting at 32,000 feet and jetting towards Calgary. Once there, I’ll have a brief layover before getting on a short flight that will bring me back to Regina.  Its been a long day.  I’m exhausted, hungry and itching to get home.  My trip was important, and will hopefully yield some promising results, but I actually sacrificed something very important in order to travel.  Perhaps I’ll explain what that sacrifice was, once I get home. ☯

A Strange Odyssey, Day 10…

Alright, let’s get back to it… I’ve had a few days of down time since it didn’t directly relate to my trip. But today, I got back on the road.

This morning I woke up at 7:00 am to continue next leg of the odyssey I’ve been on since a week and a half ago. I had a customary blast of caffeine, since I barely got any sleep as usual. I was on the road by 9:10 am, since my family insisted behind reason that it would take me two and half hours to reach my destination. Since I had an appointment at 1:00 pm, that would give me an hour to locate the building I needed.

Once I found the building in question, I grabbed a light bite to eat then attended my appointment. Everything went well, and now I’m sitting in a local coffee shop trying once again to remember how I got here.

Tonight, I have the extreme pleasure of spending the evening with an old friend that I haven’t seen in quite some time. Tomorrow I will make the last leg of the New Brunswick portion of my journey to an airport that will bring me back to Saskatchewan. It’s been a weird week and a half and I can’t wait to get home. ☯

A Strange Odyssey, Day 5…

Today, I chose to exercise a personal demon… I visited my old high school. Although I generally don’t talk about it a great deal, I was badly bullied during my school years. I mean the kind of bullying that goes beyond the current, modern-day snowflake definition that everyone wears slogans on their shirts and take to social media about.

I often lived in a lonely shadow, hurriedly sneaking out of school at the end of the day to avoid contact with anyone who may try to hurt me. One of the worst incidents I ever had, involved three guys taking their turns beating on me. The VERY worst incident involved a case where I had another student stab me in the forearm with a pocket knife…

High school and school in general, never held any affection for me. Although I’ve always been a student of all knowledge, there was no love lost when I finally received my diploma and walked away. In fact, I very nearly declined to attend my own graduation and I certainly didn’t attend my prom. The painful memories and dislike I felt went as far as having me refuse to attend my 20-year high school reunion.

One of the perks of being home… Access to the ocean!

I think the subject of bullying has been covered often enough in recent years that I don’t need to climb up onto my soapbox, and I certainly don’t need to explain the reasons why bullying is bad. Suffice it to say that once my martial arts skills progressed significantly, the bullying magically stopped. Imagine that.

All jokes aside, I took a step towards personal healing today as I stepped into that long-hated institution and walked the very halls that were the place of my subjugation. I walked straight to the administration office and introduced myself to the secretary. A very kind woman, she invited me to walk through the main area and look at the graduation mosaics, which would certainly yield a photo of me from twenty three years ago!

I would have loved taking a few photographs, but I thought I would avoid the complications of a random adult male snapping photos inside a high school’s hallways! It did spark an idea, though. I asked the secretary if she knew who I could contact in regards to obtaining a copy of my graduation yearbook. I never got one; in fact, I’ve never even seen it.

The good news is that she believed that there would be spares in the school library and that any extras could certainly be sold. She took my name and contact number and promised to look into it and get back to me. I left the school property with a renewed sense of healing as though I had found a way to bridge a gap that has existed in my personal timeline for the past two decades.

I’ve always said that it’s an important thing to remember where you came from. This helps guide you to where you may be going and your development as the person you’re meant to become. I have a lot of bad memories from my school years; some medically-related, some bullying-related. And some of this has made it difficult for me to recall the good times I actually had through school.

And although I hadn’t planned on being home in northern New Brunswick, the unexpected change in travel plans may have yielded something positive. Even if life doesn’t care about your plan, it doesn’t mean it intends something bad. Sometimes it’s just a matter of perspective. ☯