Let Time Be The Judge…

If you walked into a karate dojo today, it would be pretty fair to say that you wouldn’t be proficient the following week. If you joined ballet or dance today, you wouldn’t be able to stand on point or start competing the following week, either. Important things take time and this is especially important as it relates to one’s health.

People these days are all about the right here, right now. Immediate gratification is often the expectation, and we live in a society where everyone is plugged in and always looking for something that will help them melt fat, slim down or build muscle. But like endeavour, the results won’t appear quickly. And even when do appear, it’s important to keep at it.

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of getting home after a long day and flopping down on the couch with a cold drink and binge-watching something on television. It’s easy, right? Humans as a whole will usually prefer to take the path of least resistance, much like the course of a river. But health and fitness REQUIRES that you step off the path of least resistance and persevere on the harsher path.

Recently, I started to dislike the way I looked. This can be attributed to a number of things, including indulging in a less-than-favourable diet, consuming beer and alcohol and allowing my fitness trends to slide off the rails, where I would go full weeks without working out. It’s okay to take the occasional break, but not when it’s to the detriment of your overall health and fitness. And not least of all, is the constant adjustment to my system from exercising consistently to being more sedentary and vice versa…. It plays hell on the blood sugars!

My point is, I took a few very simple steps to start doing something to slim down a bit. I don’t think I need to explain that as I get older, weight becomes harder to shed and Diabetes control becomes more important. But all I’ve done is chit back on my carbohydrate intake and alcohol consumption, increase my intake of fluids and have started working a few small fitness challenges. It’s taken a while, but I’ve managed to shed almost ten pounds over the past couple of months, the results of which I’m starting to see (in small doses).

A pair of pants I purchased four months ago that fit decently are now loose enough that the waist band folds over when I cinch my belt. A golf shirt that six months ago pretty much drew the eye directly to my gut now fits comfortably and I’m wearing it right now, as I type. It’s small difference that come from persevering and not giving up. There will always be days when the couch is calling, but if you push through and get that workout in to maintain your consistency, you’ll eventually start to see the difference. Slow and steady wins the race on this one…☯️

Shared Responsibility…

I found something while cruising through Facebook, something I do very rarely nowadays as it seems to have become a forum for people to argue about their respective opinions. But one of my long-time friends posted an image that I know has been circulating, and it felt important enough to warrant my sharing it here. Here it is…

It’s a pretty short read, only a few paragraphs, but it illustrates an important point. The past year and a half has created a rift in society. Not that there hasn’t always been rifts, but this is something special because it’s world-wide. I’ve seen people first-hand, who have refused to wear masks when REQUIRED, not requested but required by law to do so. The constant debate from anti-vaxxers is becoming real old, especially when paired with the fact that a certain level of the overall population needs to be vaccinated in order to stem the spread of the virus.

And yes, we can debate the issue of whether it prevents you from catching the virus and how it works in relation to the variants and all that good stuff until we’re blue in the face. But ultimately, it doesn’t change the fact that as responsible, civilized people, we have a duty to not only ensure our own safety and well-being, but doing what we can to ensure the safety and well-being of others, as well. This reminds me of this other image I found, posted by one of my other friends on Facebook…

I’m ashamed to admit that my personal view has led me to unfollow people online that I’ve been friends with for a decade or more. Sometimes, the negativity, conspiracy theories and arguments simply get to be too much. And obviously, the choice to get vaccinated and wear protective equipment, masks or otherwise, is a personal choice. But when the the choice of whether you do or don’t affects the people and world around you, can you ever, truly say that it’s ONLY personal? And can you live with the choice if you know you’re affecting the rest of the world? I don’t have an answer; I’m just one voice among billions. But it’s definitely food for thought…☯️

Let The Energy Flow Through You…

There’s no denying that keeping your energy levels up throughout the day can be challenging. Diabetes makes that challenge even greater, since uncontrolled blood sugars and Diabetes complications can lead to sleepiness, grogginess and apathy. But Diabetes aside, there are a number of things that one can do to boost and improve their energy levels throughout the day. And just to be clear… I don’t mean “energy” as it relates to what makes you a person and keeps you alive. I mean one’s ability to keep on trucking when the afternoon slump gets to you.

In order to gather an appropriate list, i consulted articles from two of my favourite websites: HealthLine.com and WebMD. After consulting these articles, I picked out my top five as it relates to what’s easiest and manageable in what I consider to be a typical day-to-day existence. These are subjective of course, so take these with grain of salt. Alright, here we go…

  1. Drink More Water And Cut Out Booze: Considering I’m a guy who likes his wine… In fact, I enjoy my “adult beverages” a fair bit after a long day at the office and after my workouts. But the reality is that hydration plays a key role in keeping one’s energy levels up. Dehydration can leave you feeling tired and lethargic. In fact, drinking cold water has shown some promise in helping with weight loss, since the body has to work to warm itself if you drink cold water;
  2. Sleep More Or Improve The Sleep You Do Get: If you’re anything like me, your 8 hours of sleep can often leave you feeling drained and that fuckin’ alarm seems to go off right about the time I manage to fall into a deep sleep. Some common practices include avoiding screens and doing something relaxing as part of a good pre-bed routine. And don’t be afraid to take a nap. Naps are underrated. Just remember not to let it linger too long, as it can interfere with your actual sleep patterns;
  3. Eat Healthy: This one is pretty subjective, since every person is different in terms of how their body responds and functions based on diet. I’m not a big believer in fad diets. They work for some and not for others; same as any other diet. The problem is that you only typically hear about the positive outcomes. The bottom line is if you include plenty of vegetables, of different varieties and lean proteins, you’re good to go. Keep your total carbs down (not eliminated, just reduced) and you’re off to the races. Ever feel exhausted after having a plate of pasta? Those carbohydrates are absolutely horrible…
  4. Exercise More: If you’re exhausted, get up and do something. It probably seems counterintuitive, but doing something physical will increase blood circulation, which will absolutely pull you out of your funk. Exercise will also help with your blood sugar levels and overall well-being. As I’ve written about on previous occasions, living things move. Movement brings energy. Energy promotes life. Wash, rinse and repeat. You can’t live without movement. Sedentary people who sit on the couch all day with always seem lethargic, and for different reasons. Anything is something more than nothing. Start by stepping away from your desk and taking a ten-minute walk. Have a routine where you work out for 20 to 30 minutes of intensive exercise, every day; and
  5. Calm The Hell Down: This one should be pretty obvious, but reducing or eliminating stress will go a long way towards helping you boost your energy levels. Experiencing constant stress will usually sap your energy and leave you feeling drained at the end of the day. This is where the other side of my life kicks in… meditation, exercise and martial arts can go a long way. But whatever works for you in reducing your stress is gravy! Work out on a punching bag. Cross-stitch. Whatever.

All of this goes hand-in-hand with monitoring and maintaining good blood sugar levels. Even if my intention was to provide a list outside of the Diabetic realm, I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention that high blood sugars will usually leave you feeling exhausted and sleepy. And suffering a low will have you craving a nap once you correct it. Especially if you over correct. But whether you have Diabetes or not, the above list is guaranteed to help you maintain or boost your energy levels and help you get through the day without needing that second cup of coffee. or in my case, the fifth or sixth… ☯

I Regret Nothing…

Oh, yes. I regret nothing. I’ve written several posts on this topic because I feel that it’s important. And it keeps coming up in some way, shape or form. The most prominent question I get asked is if I ever wish I hadn’t been diagnosed with Diabetes. Really? One would think that asking me if I would have preferred to grow up without a dangerous and difficult to manage auto-immune condition would be redundant. But the question has been posed more times than I can remember. Sometimes, I think people lack content to discuss and ask questions just for the sake of asking them. But I digress…

It’s okay to wish for something. Do I wish I never developed Type-1 Diabetes? Of course. Do I wish my brother hadn’t passed away at the age of 18? Obviously. Would I have preferred not to go through the personal and professional difficulties I’ve dealt with in the past three years? Oh, you damn right! But as I’ve often said before, it’s important not to live a life of regret. One can easily spend all of one’s time looking towards the past and regretting some of the choices and situations that have happened to them. The problem one faces when doing this, is that they fail to live in the now; and there’s a lot of life you can miss when you’re busy dwelling on the past.

Another important aspect to bear in mind, is that every situation one has been through, good or bad, has ultimately contributed to the person one has become. And there’s really no negative aspect to this. If you believe in who you’ve become and trust that you’re a good person, then those events that you may otherwise regret have likely helped forge you into the strong, capable person you are. If you’ve become a bad person, there’s always the ability to make a change, going forward (unless you’re totally fuckin’ evil and don’t care. I know a few people like that).

“ I Am The Master Of My Fate, I Am The Captain Of My Soul”

– William Ernest Henley, Invictus

I’ve been an admirer of William Ernest Henley’s poem, “Invictus” for years…. Poetry is always open to the reader’s interpretation (unless you have a pretentious art teacher who feels she needs to force her perspective on you) but I always felt that this poem demonstrates how no matter how difficult or rough life gets, one needs to persevere and push through, keeping a firm control of one’s destiny. As romantic and hopeful a thought that may be, that’s rarely the case. As I’ve often said before, life rarely cares about one’s plan.

We may be the masters of our fate, but fate deals us the hand and we’re usually stuck playing the hand we’re dealt. That may seem a bit of a negative perspective and it certainly isn’t meant to be. But it all comes down to the old saying about sometimes you just got to roll with the punches. This is often the only way to be the “master of my fate.”

Do I ever look back and wonder how life would have been for me, had I not been diagnosed with Diabetes? Absolutely. Not a week goes by where it doesn’t cross my mind. And I would be lying if I said I didn’t tear up while reading about the medical researcher in Alberta who has found a promising treatment that could reverse Type-1. I’ll believe THAT when I see it, but I can’t help but feel that I may have grown up to be a significantly different person if I had never had Diabetes. After all, Diabetes forces one to develop perseverance, tenacity, an unwillingness to quit and a will (and need) to keep fighting.

I sincerely believe that those qualities would be lacking, if my life hadn’t turned out the way it has. Maybe with the ability to eat anything I chose as a child, I would have become obese. Maybe I would have developed an affinity for sports and become a jock, potentially bullying people much in the same fashion as the hated hockey players I had to deal with in high school. There’s no telling how different things might have turned out. This is why one can’t allow oneself to regret. You gotta learn from it all and keep going. ☯️

The Universe Owes You Nothing…

I’ve always worked very hard at trying to help others and make a difference in my small corner of the world. This has come in different forms; volunteering, helping random strangers and even my chosen careers have all gone towards trying to eliminate my own suffering as well as the suffering of others in the world. It hasn’t always been easy, and sometimes I’ve had to be selfish in that I can’t help others if I don’t myself myself, first and foremost. This is a concept I’ve often tried to instil in others, usually with very little success.

“I Think The Galaxy Owes Me One…”

– Captain James T. Kirk, Star Trek: Generations

Karma is based on one’s intent. You can’t perform good deeds with the hope or the intention that life will provide a positive or easy outcome. That isn’t how karma works. If you seek to help or ease suffering in a positive way, with only the best intentions in your soul, then karma will do the rest. But it isn’t intended on being a cosmic judge, jury and executioner. People make mistakes. This doesn’t mean your karma will be bad. People will make bad decisions. That doesn’t mean you’re destined to spend your next life as a dung beetle. But you need to do what’s right for the right reasons. THAT’s where karma plays an important role.

I’m guilty of having misinterpreted karma on more than one occasion. There have been times in my life where I’ve spoken the words, “I think the universe owes me a few…”. This has usually been associated to the fact that I’ve saved lives, located missing persons and prevented or solved crimes in different ways. On some fundamental level, I have no doubt that at certain points in my life I felt as though the universe owed me one, given the sacrifices and efforts I’ve put into life. But the reality is that the universe owes me nothing.

I think it was Mark Twain who said, “Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.” The same can be said of the universe. It owes you nothing. And it was here first. DO good for the sake of doing good. Work to eliminate suffering in the world. It’s not about owing. It’s about why you’re doing it. If you do good in the hopes of getting something back, then you aren’t really doing good. I’ve learned a lot since the last time I assumed the universe owed me one. And boy, was it quick to show me the error of my thinking. Maybe take it from me as opposed to trying it for yourself; the universe owes you nothing. But you owe it to yourself to do good in the world. Food for thought…☯️

Vacation, Why Not? Day 3

The day started out pretty nicely; waking up in a cozy hotel room with “Just For Laughs Gags” playing in the background on the television. The day is especially chilled, with a combination of smoke hanging in the air and a light rain falling. We had the choice of a complimentary breakfast or $8 off a full breakfast. Considering the size of me and the fact I’m on vacation, which do YOU think I chose? If you think I would be satisfied with a muffin for breakfast, you haven’t been paying attention…

I had a work commitment that I couldn’t skip, despite being on vacation, but as soon as it was done we were off to do some light shopping. We had a watch belonging to my mother-in-law to repair and a couple of clothing items I needed, as well. (And wanted). After those few shops, we opted for an easy snack-based lunch of a soft-baked pretzel. Yes, it’s high carb but this is a vacation, damn it! And I have a fresh infusion set in.

Look at that fat bastard!

Our afternoon turned out to be a tribute to the level of relaxation that should come with being on vacation: we took a 2-hour nap. And it was glorious. Now, if you’ve read some of my posts from way back, you know that I’m a huge fan of naps and consider them to be integral to good health. And this one was no exception. I woke myself from the occasional snore, but slept pretty solidly before my wife’s alarm went off.

We had supper with my wife’s sister and her new husband. And in keeping with my personal policy on not photographing or naming people without asking first (for various reasons), I’ll limit this paragraph to saying we had a fantastic meal and some good conversation and were all carb-loaded and exhausted by the time we left the restaurant.

Then, we capped off our night with some cable television in the hotel room, coupled with some gaming on our devices and reading. Wild couple, right? To be honest, a vacation is only as fun as the company you keep. And I think I can speak for both of us when I say that my wife and I have had a great few days. Tomorrow, we head back to Kindersley to see how much of grandma’s house our boys destroyed. We’ve missed them, but it was definitely good to get away for a few days and recharge our batteries.

We still have a few days of vacation left, which will be used to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday and kick back a bit before travelling back to Regina. I promise that the days that follow will go back to some regular content. But it was nice to have a few days to relax and to chronicle those few days. Everyone needs a bit of time to rest and recharge. ☯️

Vacation, Why Not? Day 2

The morning started the way one would expect when not sleeping in ones own bed; with children waking in a strange environment and seeking out mom and dad. My wife and the baby shared a bed in one room, while I used another. Nathan has his own room at grandma’s. The baby woke early but might have almost gone back to sleep, if not for Nathan’s insistence to come “help” the baby off the big bed and off they went.

After a much-needed infusion of caffeine, my wife and I hit the road for the almost three-hour trip to reach Saskatoon where I would be getting my bimonthly eye injections. Not exactly the ideal couples getaway, but we got to do a fair bit of stuff when we hit the city. The ride up was uneventful, with some good conversation and the mandatory road trip stop at Tim Hortons for coffee. The Smokey air was a bit of a grim reminder of the wildfires burning in the north.

We enjoyed a wonderful lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant before walking the central area of the city prior to my eye appointment. It was a welcome change with only silence and calm guiding our actions. A far cry from the usual “I’m hungry” and “I need a potty” that usually accompanies our two little rug rats. Although we missed them, we were quite certain they were having fun with grandma and grandpa on the farm. Plus, my wife’s mother hadn’t texted or called in a panic yet, so that was a good sign.

My eye appointment went as well as one could expect it. You know, for having steel needles jammed into ones eyes. My wife took advantage of my appointment to enjoy a brief nap. Then we had supper at my favourite watering hole: Finn’s Irish Pub. We shared an appetizer platter and some fried and I had my customary burger and pint (I may or may not have enjoyed a highball as well, since they were on special).

We capped off the evening with a soak in the hotels whirlpool, where we met some interesting people and got hear their story. Every once in a while, some random person feels compelled to chat with me. It’s kind of neat. Then we curled up in the room for some Big Bang Theory and a horror movie. This is actually starting to feel like an actual vacation…☯️

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. ☯

Love It…

I’m keeping it simple today. Happy Friday and enjoy your weekend, everybody! Blogging Buddhist, out!