Go With The Flow

Energy is a strange thing.  We can’t see it, under most circumstances.  We fail to acknowledge its presence and some even doubt its existence. But everything is made of energy. From the eraser on your pencil to the very core of your physical being, it’s all energy!

George Mattson, a karate practitioner from the United States, once wrote, “A workout should be like a painting.  Each one has a characteristic of its own.”  The meaning behind this is that a classroom workout is much like a painting as well.  Each and every student is a separate characteristic of the class as a whole and lends one more piece to the workout.

Each and every student in the class affects the overall tone of the workout.  Think about it; have you ever participated in a class where the instructor was less than motivated?  Maybe he or she had a low, baritone voice with no enthusiasm behind it…  You can easily guess how motivating THAT would be to the students.

The same can be said about the students themselves.  If every student doesn’t put forth their best effort, they drag on the overall energy of the class.  The top students will no doubt put forth their best effort and potentially raise the bar, if you will.  But it’s up to each and every student to put in his or her maximum effort.

We all have bad days.  Some days we may be feeling ill, tired or simply lack the motivation to give it our all. This leaves us with two options: dig deep to find the energy needed to get through the night’s training, or take a break and stay home.  There’s no shame in that.  Everyone needs a break on occasion, so long as it doesn’t become extended or start interfering with your overall progress. ☯


Power Of The Printed Word.

Books! Books are awesome.  And they’ve been around for a hell of a long time. Books can contain anything: information, stories, reference materials and more.  But little by little, books are becoming somewhat obsolete in favor of the digital frontier.  This makes me sad on levels I can’t even express.

Books have been around for longer than recorded time.  Although there are some articles out there that cover this very subject, the exact time that the printed word became a “thing” is mostly unknown.  And when it did become a “thing”, it may not have been in any form we would readily recognize as an actual book.  I’m talking printed tablets, scrolls and such.

It might seem counterintuitive for me to be bringing this subject up, considering your reading a digital blog as opposed to an actual book, but there are a number of benefits to picking up a musty stack of pages and reading a physical book:

  1. It exercises your brain.  I’m a big fan of saying that when you aren’t exercising your body, you should be exercising your mind.  Books do that very thing.  And through that development and sharpening of the mind, you help yourself to focus when doing others things that are important.
  2. You’ll learn new words.  Believe it or not, there are a s&*t ton of words out there that we don’t know the meaning of, or have never even heard of.  Reading helps you to expand your vocabulary and may even help you to learn new things in general, depending on the style of book you’re reading.
  3. It relaxes you.  Believe it or not, reading a book will help reduce stress and calm you.  Stories help transport you to a different world and take you out of the immediate moment; a step which can help people deal with the hectic routine of daily life.
  4. It helps make you a better writer.  Think about it: if you learn new words and are often reading sentence structures and seeing proper grammar (at least you hope it is!) then those aspects become routine and you transfer them to your writing. So for all you bloggers reading this, it can be a great help!
  5. It will help you sleep better.  Remember the reduced stress it provides?  Well, less stress means better sleep.  And if you choose to read for a short period before bed instead of staring at your phone or other devices, it guaranteed to help you get to sleep easier than having the bright back-lit screen messing with your body.

This is just some of the benefits of reading.  Don’t even get me started on how much information and learning one can do by reading about a specific topic.  Look, we live in a world where technology is progressing at a lightning-fast pace.  But we can still take time to slow the world down and pick up a good book.  

Whether it’s to learn something new, let your imagination run wild or simply to relax, nothing but good can come of it.  I always have at least three different books on the go at once. Usually a story of some sort, a martial arts book for study and something educational. you can’t go wrong! So kick back, grab your favourite beverage and lose yourself within some pages. ☯

A Decade Of Blood, Sweat and Literal Tears…

Yesterday was an important milestone for me:  I celebrated ten years in my chosen career.  I chose to celebrate the same way as I have for the past ten years.  I did one shot of Fireball for every year of service!  The burning sensation reminds me of the pain I’ve endured.  The warmth of the alcohol reminds me of the benefits of peace.  The headache I get the next day generally reminds me of the occasional cost of that peace and the existence of suffering in this world!

And yes, before anyone gets in on me about the amount of alcohol that involves, I’m quite aware.  And in my defense, it wasn’t a big deal for the first few years!  But now that I’ve reached ten years, I’ll admit that it’s becoming a bit more difficult to keep up the tradition and I may soon need to find a different way of celebrating.  Especially since Fireball has a fair amount of carbohydrates per shot, so blood sugar control becomes a bit convoluted throughout the evening.

What made yesterday all the more difficult is that I celebrated by myself.  Since the birth of my son Alexander, my wife can’t partake since she’s nursing him.  I guess the only silver lining is that I likely won’t have to take eleven shots next year as this may likely be the last year I will have such a celebration…

I remember when I started this career.  I had a lot of hopes and aspirations for the future and the good that I could do.  I woke up every morning grateful for the work I did and went to bed every night grateful that I had survived another day. I can say with firm honesty that I’ve met some amazing people and seen some incredible (and sometimes ridiculous) things.  It’s been quite a ride.

As I nurse the headache I woke up with and take my first steps in my eleventh year of service, I consider it all bittersweet.  The career I committed my life to may be coming to an end because of someone else’s lies and destructive nature.  But the mindset, the mentality and the hard lessons I’ve learned over the past decade will stay with me for the rest of my life.  The values and discipline I developed will remain and hopefully be passed on to my sons.  It will be difficult to let go.

I have no regrets.  I can’t. Every event that has come to pass has brought me to the here and now.  And I would not be the person I am today without each and every single one of those events, good or bad.  And even if it sounds like a conceit, I like the person I’ve become.  I’m pretty awesome.  Since starting on this journey, I’ve become a role model, teacher, mentor, husband and father.  I have already gained a lifetime of wealth in only a decade.  Imagine if I could continue for another decade?  Who knows what good I might accomplish. Unfortunately, this won’t be so. Such is life.

I guess if someone were sitting next to me as I toasted last night, they would hear me toast the lives I’ve saved, regret the lives I couldn’t reach in time and weep for the lives I won’t be there to help in the future.  Such is the way of the protector and one such as I.  

I will begin another chapter.  Life won’t allow me to do otherwise.  Perhaps the next chapter will be filled with as much as this one has been.  Who knows?  Only time will tell, but I promise that I will continue to share the adventures as they come.  There are always stories to tell… ☯

The Fitness Buff’s Supplement…

Everyone occasionally tries to make their workouts easier, or find a way to get the most of out their exercise.  This often includes the use of supplements and training aids.  One of the most popular among these supplements is whey protein, which I’ve written about in previous posts.  But another supplement that is often used by fitness buffs is something that has been the subject of argument over the past decades: Creatine.

Creatine is a substance produced naturally by the human body.  Found in muscle cells, it helps your muscles to produce the energy required for heavy lifting, exercise and fitness.  The reason one would take a supplement of Creatine, is that it is purported to enhance your performance during fitness and can help gain muscle mass and strength.

There are tons of studies that have shown that Creatine can help improve certain outlying conditions.  In fact, Creatine has been shown to help lower blood sugars and fight Diabetes, although the jury is still out on that one.  According to an article posted on Healthline.com, “a 12-week study examined how creatine affects blood sugar levels after a high-carb meal.  People who combined creatine and exercise were better at controlling blood sugar levels than those who only exercised.” (https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-benefits-of-creatine#section7)

Some studies (which I can’t seem to locate) have reported that using high levels of Creatine can have adverse effects on the liver and kidneys, but the majority of studies (including the one quoted in the above-noted article) indicate that the use of Creatine in five-year clinical trials showed no adverse effects in healthy individuals.

That being said, there are a number of normal warnings that go along with the use of Creatine.  According to WebMD, one of my favorite sites, Creatine will cause muscle tissue to draw on more water, meaning you’ll need to drink a lot more fluids.  I don’t need to tell you that this already an issue for Diabetics, so you gotta keep up with that water intake!  If you’re pregnant or breast-feeding, you shouldn’t take Creatine. It should also not be given to children. (https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-873/creatine)

From what I’ve been told by trainers, Creatine should be taken immediately after a workout or first thing in the morning on rest days.  Like most supplements, there’s some good and bad, but it’s one of those things you don’t really NEED, per se.  If you have a full, healthy diet and exercise regularly, you’re body should be producing the amount of Creatine you need.  But should you want to give your workouts and added touch of “oomph”, Creatine may be the way to go.  As usual, don’t be afraid to consult a medical practitioner before starting any supplementation or change to your workout routine.  ☯

Lying Potentially Makes A Fool Of You Both…

What causes a person to be dishonest? Potentially it provides them with some advantage; the dishonesty or the lie allows them to obtain financial gain or possession of something they otherwise wouldn’t have had.  Often, fear of the repercussions that come with the truth will cause someone to lie and/or omit the truth.  Whatever the reason may be, lying always causes issues down the road; for the liar and the victim of the lie.

Lying is hard!  For the most part, the people I’ve dealt with that have been caught in their dishonesty have seemed relieved at the fact they no longer had to carry the lie and could finally breath freely again.  Maintaining a lie takes an immense amount of effort and the pressure it puts on a person just isn’t worth the repercussions of providing the truth.

In some scenarios, lying will cause serious, irreparable damage to others.  I can easily use myself as an example of this, since someone else’s lie is currently hampering the harmony of my work and home life.  It’s a damage that could have easily been avoided by simply having the liar admit to their mistake and move on with their lives rather than being deceitful.

Let’s be clear on something:  it is IMPOSSIBLE to lie without the intent to do so. Don’t believe me?  If someone tells you something untruthful and you pass on that information, not knowing the deceit, does that make YOU the liar or the person who told you?  This is an important discernation.  So if you are lying, being deceitful or dishonest you are doing it because you intend to.  No if, ands or buts…

Lying and dishonesty is generally a staple of writings within theological circles, but lying is also covered quite often in Buddhism.  According to the Noble Eightfold Path, lying goes against a number of precepts including Right SpeechRight Action and depending on your perspective, Right View.

Keeping things honest is SO simple.  It keeps you from having to maintain an illusion and prevents damage to yourself and others.  The amount of stress it eliminates is phenomenal.  At the end of the day, it also makes you a better person. ☯

“Love” Is More Than A Four-Letter Word…

Life is short.  Although the days often feel long, and the years can occasionally drag on, one has to acknowledge that in the grand scheme of things, a single life is but a flicker of the candle in humanity’s existence.  And that flicker can come and go without notice, often without warning, and we are left carrying the flame of life without those who mean the world to us.

We live in a world where complaining has not only become easier than praising and encouraging, but it has almost become a world-based pastime.  I would challenge any of my readers to go on their Facebook and post a status about their political, religious or social views and see what happens.  I can almost guarantee that if you leave the post there, someone will start commenting to the negative about it.  I got proof of this, months ago when someone who isn’t even a follower of my blog was able to comment and verbally attack me for the views I was writing about.

My point is that in a world where negative energy seems to be the norm, it becomes all that much more important to tell our loved ones how important they are to us and how much we love them.  Telling your family, friends and loved ones “I love you” can have a deeper effect on both you and the receiver than you can possibly realize.  But as a society, it seems to have become less and less of a habit than it should be and people seem to have difficulty speaking the words.

In our household, I’ve tried to instill the importance of following everyone to the door and seeing them off.  When I leave the house, my wife and my two children all gets hugs, kisses and told that I love them.  I think this is important.

Allow me to paint a morbid, albeit realistic portrait for you:  Your significant other is occupied in the house and perhaps your children are busy playing.  Instead of disturbing anyone, you decide to throw on your shoes and head off to work. While on route, you get into a deadly collision with another vehicle and you never make it to your destination. Yes, it IS a morbid image.  But it’s one I’ve dealt with all too many times through my work.

Ask yourself, what would your last words to your loved ones have been?  Were you correcting or punishing your children?  Were you arguing with your spouse over bills?  Were they words of affection of argument?  One of the most common things that family members have told me during deaths in their family is how badly they regret not telling them that they loved them one last time before their loved one died.

So, why not prevent this issue?  At the end of all things, the best words we can speak to anyone important to us is to tell them you love them.  After all, you never know if these could be the last words you tell them.  Don’t be afraid to say it.  Make sure you tell your family and those who are important to you how much you love them. Not only will it enrich your life and theirs, they are the best potential last words you could ever speak.  ☯

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. ☯