An Interesting Perspective…

I found the above illustration a short while ago and it spoke to me. I like how the illustrations shows the giant carrying everything material on his back and is attempting to scoop up pieces of nature to keep “feeding the machine.” At least, that how I’M interpreting it… And if you look closely enough, you’ll see a person, presumably human, stand beneath the giant firing an arrow up at it, suggesting that not all people are the same as what this short message indicates.

I don’t believe myself to be perfect in any way, shape or form and I can honestly say that I see myself in some of the things I write about. But i see some of the truth in this illustration with how one need only to step out their front doors to see everyone who isn’t actively behind the wheel of a car (and a few who are) with their faces firmly buried in the screen of a smart device. People associate success with the accumulation of things, instead of the accumulation of memories and experiences, which is a shame since life has far more to contribute than how big your house is, or how expensive your car is. Food for thought… ☯️

An Empire State Of Mind

Despite the fact that I make a real effort to have something posted every day (I’m close to 700 consecutive posts), finding material to post about can sometimes be a bit challenging. I can only bitch about the pitfalls and difficulties surrounding Diabetes so much, otherwise y’all would likely be of the opinion that I’m only ever negative. Which is not the case, by the way.

So today, I thought I’d keep things simple and simply write about something fun. Telling stories is as much a part of blogging as providing information, after all. In 2001, I had the opportunity to o travel to Japan and Okinawa with Sensei and a few other members of our dojo. It was the trip of a lifetime and even though I make a point of never living with regrets, I can honestly admit that I always wished I could have gone back, considering Sensei has been back almost a dozen times in the past twenty years.

Although I could fill a book with all the little details surrounding that trip, I wanted to focus on the aspect of our first stop on the way to the land of the rising sun: New York. The trip started in the very wee hours of the morning, with a drive into Quebec where we took a short-term flight from Mont-Joli to Quebec City. From there, we travelled to Montreal and then New York. All the bunny-hopping apparently made the overall trip less expensive.

Despite how tired and sleepy I was, I couldn’t contain the absolute excitement I felt at landing in New York. Besides the locals boasting being the greatest city in the world, I had spent most of my life seeing the city featured in television, movies and just about everything else. I had to seriously convince myself that Japan was the destination and that I couldn’t STAY in New York. We booked into a nice hotel in Manhattan and took to the streets.

Never one to pay for anything he didn’t need to, Sensei had us walk to a local neighbourhood that served traditional Japanese food. It was absolutely delicious and Sensei’s thinking was that it would start getting us into the groove for where we were headed. Then, we walked to the Empire State Building. Considering that up to that point, I had spent the entirety of my life in Northern New Brunswick and never travelled much past the Province of Quebec, I was on sensory overload and about as giddy as a teen girl who just won the cheer competition.

We purchased tickets to access the building and took an elevator ride that felt like forever. When we stepped out onto the observation deck, I was taken aback at how high I was and the amazing view that was spread out before me. The sun had just about set, and there was just a thin sliver of light on the horizon. Then, another site caught my eyes… I looked southward and saw a massive cloud of dust, lit up by powerful spotlights.

It was mid-October of 2001 and what I was looking at was the former site of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers. Even a month after their collapse, a heavy cloud of dust was still hanging in the air and could be visibly seen from two dozen miles away. It snapped me back to reality in the sense that it was my first time witnessing something terrible that I had only heard about through the media.

But I was talking about how I’m not always negative in the opening paragraph, so let’s get back to the trip as a whole, shall we? I stepped up to the protective fencing around the edge of the building and looked down. Big mistake. I was hit by a sense of vertigo that I can’t really explain. I’m not afraid of heights, but the height I was standing at made it look like I was staring straight down ABOVE the street, which obviously doesn’t make sense. But the perspective was freaky,

Once I was done trying to induce vomiting, we left the building and decided to hop a bus to get back to our hotel. Like something out of a bad comedy movie, we somehow took a bus in the wrong direction and ended up in Harlem. Some friendly and helpful locals were nice enough to direct us to the correct bus line and we were on our way. Despite doing the lost tourist thing, we made it back to our hotel in one piece.

We spent the rest of the evening relaxing in the hotel’s pool area. It would have been nice to explore Manhattan a bit more, see the Statue of Liberty, Central Park or one of many world-renowned museums located within the district. But after along day of flights and our adventures throughout the earlier hours, it felt nice to kick back and relax. The next day would see us board a 14-hour flight to Japan. Sleep was welcomed, especially in light of the adventures to come. ☯️

Snowy Saturday Sliding…

I’m not a big fan of snow or the winter. Besides the pleasure of sitting in front of a window during a snowy episode with a hot drink or a stiff one, adult usually means that snow brings shovelling, trouble starting one’s car, difficulty getting into work or being cold while outside. That being said, there’s something to be said for being outside when the weather is mild, enjoying the crisp air and winter scenery. Last Saturday, Nathan and I had the opportunity to spend a couple of hours ripping down a small hill located in our neighbourhood.

Nathan was lucky to have this ski-based sled as a Christmas gift from his uncle Jayden. For almost a month, it’s been sitting in our newly-renovated basement space with Nathan sitting on it to eat and watch Netflix, dreaming of the day he would be able to rip down a slope with it. With recent temperatures getting as low as -50 degrees Celsius with the wind factor, it’s been difficult to get Nathan or even myself, outside for any extended period of time. But Saturday showed a cold of only -4 degrees with some sunny conditions. So we were good to go and not a day too soon.

We arrived at a site in northern Regina called Mount Pleasant, which has been groomed and is the location of dozens of people who were sledding as well. Nathan was a champ, dragging his sled up the hill himself with every run. I also brought along a crazy carpet that our neighbour donated to Nathan a couple of months ago. I took advantage of the opportunity to take a few rips down the slope but it was quite a different experience from what I recall in my youth. My added age and weight made it so that I essentially felt every lump and hole on the slope. It was actually a bit painful, although I enjoyed the experience.

After a few runs, I let Nathan have at it while I stayed at the top of the hill and chatted with some of the other parents. Despite the mild temperature, a cold wind started to whip through and make it difficult to stay warm. Nathan was having a blast, so I sucked it up. I also couldn’t help but enjoy the scenery, as the hill allowed for a very nice view of the city of Regina (pictured above). Some of the other parents were well prepared, having brought hot drinks, water bottles for the kids and sporting thermal snow pants and such. I had a pair of long underwear under cotton pants, since I have no snow pants.

As kids are usually inclined to, Nathan befriended a couple of young boys and they traded sleds back and forth so that everyone had the opportunity to try out different ways to go down the slope. Nathan also tried out the crazy carpet, which was entertaining since there’s no way to steer that thing so one is more inclined to wipe out while sliding. Nathan had a blast whipping down the hill and tumbling as he went.

Winter can be a challenge, since the cold and inclement weather can have the unfortunate effect of making people turn into hermits and stay indoors. It was definitely good to get outside and spend some time in the fresh air, even if I was shivering towards the end. It was also important to let Nathan run wild outside for a bit. Kids don’t do very well when they’re cooped up for too long. Although Nathan has the opportunity to spend every morning outside when he walks to school, it isn’t quite the same as getting outside to run and play.

Last but not least, since Diabetes is an ever-present consideration in everything I do, there had to be some blood sugar involvement. I’ve noticed that cold weather usually drops my blood sugar levels significantly. I did suffer a low while we were at the hill but I was prepared with some fast-acting carbohydrates, so it was a non-issue. It’s simply a reminder of the constant need to stay on my guard. We had a lot of fun and a huge thank you goes out to my friend Jayden, Nathan’s uncle, for such a wonderful gift. I know Nathan is looking forward to going back and using his sled further. ☯️

Motivation Or The Egg? Or Is It Chicken Or The Motivation…?

It’s important to recognize that motivation doesn’t happen on its own. Like a dynamo, it needs to be worked up to the point where it will make a difference in how you view things. Unfortunately, when one does not HAVE motivational energies within them, making, reaching and achieving goals can be difficult, if not altogether impossible.

What one needs to remember is that motivation won’t necessarily come first. Hell, if it did, I probably wouldn’t bother getting up in the morning. No, in order to build the motivation to accomplish any task or goal, you need to push yourself. You need to exercise your own strength of will and recognize your own self worth and acknowledge that it’s worth it, even if laying back down and closing your eyes feels like such a better option.

But if you can push yourself enough, just enough, to hit the ground running in the morning, you’ll discover that motivation comes on its own. If you’ve never run a mile before, making it across that first finish line may feel like hell and your lungs are on fire and your legs are about to give out. But if you have the fortitude to do it again… and again… and keep pushing yourself, you’ll notice that you’ll get stronger and faster. You’ll shave time off. That mile will feel less exhausting and eventually your body will start telling you that you can go farther and faster. And believe me when I tell you, very little motivates a person like getting stronger and faster, as well as reaching your goals.

Motivation can also come from outside sources. perhaps family or loved ones will have encouraging words or thoughts to push you through the hard parts of life. This can be a God-send but one needs to ensure that one does not become dependent on this type of motivation. It has a tendency of disappearing when one needs it most. Motivation can also be found in the lives of strangers. Perhaps you’ve seen someone go through hell and it pushes you to do better and be better. Maybe a celebrity or an athlete inspires you to go farther. But ultimately, these sources of motivation come and go.

At the end of the day, it will always be up to you to be your own primary source of motivation. you have an untapped well of energy and strength. you simply need to allow yourself to see it. Once you do, you may even surprise yourself at how far you can. And that, in and of itself, is the best kind of motivation there is. Food for thought… ☯️

Starting With A Burn

Yesterday was the first day of 2022, and how did I start the New Year? With a workout, of course. New Year’s resolutions are spotty at best, usually leading to people lacking, lagging or altogether give up by the month of March or April. This is through no fault of their own, usually. It’s simply human nature. As living creatures, we generally tend to favour the path of least resistance and when we impose conditions on ourselves that take away habits we enjoy, foods we like to eat or vices we want to give up, our body has this tendency of fighting us.

That’s why this year, I’ve chosen to simply work on improving upon myself in a generalized manner as opposed to making a resolution that aims at specific habits or things. So yesterday, I kicked things off with a military workout I found a few years ago. It can be a brutal circuit, using only one’s own bodyweight. The workout is typically supposed to take about half an hour, but doing it correctly with a healthy speed usually takes between 20 to 25 minutes. It’s an extremely handy workout and can be done anywhere. I’ve done it in my office, bedroom, hotel rooms, anywhere. I thought I would take the time to share the circuit. Here we go:

15 Squats – 10 Close-grip Push-Ups – 10 Lunges – 15 Push-ups
14 Squats – 9 Close-grip Push-Ups – 9 Lunges – 14 Push-ups
13 Squats – 8 Close-grip Push-Ups – 8 Lunges – 13 Push-ups
12 Squats – 7 Close-grip Push-Ups – 7 Lunges – 12 Push-ups
11 Squats – 6 Close-grip Push-Ups – 6 Lunges – 11 Push-ups
10 Squats – 5 Close-grip Push-Ups – 5 Lunges – 10 Push-ups
9 Squats – 4 Close-grip Push-Ups – 4 Lunges – 9 Push-ups
8 Squats – 3 Close-grip Push-Ups – 3 Lunges – 8 Push-ups
7 Squats – 2 Close-grip Push-Ups – 2 Lunges – 7 Push-ups
6 Squats – 1 Close-grip Push-Ups – 1 Lunges – 6 Push-ups
5 Squats – 5 Push-ups
4 Squats – 4 Push-ups
3 Squats – 3 Push-ups
2 Squats – 2 Push-ups
1 Squat – 1 Push-up

Now, did I REALLY have to write out every line of repetitions? Not particularly, but on previous occasions, I’ve found that people don’t clearly understand the process as I explain it. Plus, writing it out this way makes it easier in the event anyone chooses to print it out. I found this workout a few years ago and I believe it was in an old edition of Men’s Health. The circuit is one half of a total workout that the military uses when confined in small spaces, such as on a submarine.

I hammered this circuit out prior to the lunch hour and needless to say, my legs are feeling it just a little bit, today. Not a bad way to start the year. Maybe today I’ll go run some cardio and fight off some of this extreme cold we’ve been having. But for those of you who are looking for a new, easy challenge, this circuit may be the one for you. It’s nice to try out some new things and see what results you can get. When it comes to fitness, variety can be the spice of life. ☯️

2022 May Get To You, Too…

Well, here we are! It’s 2022, a year that would have sounded like science fiction lore if brought up during my childhood. By the LIGHT, am I ever old… It’s been a hell of a year, with a number fo life-changing things that have taken place. Let’s take a tally, shall we? 2021 saw me retire from the Force and accept a new job that has made life better in scores. My oldest son turned 7, my youngest son turned 2 and my wife and I celebrated 7 years of wonderful marriage. Our basement got renovated, making it liveable once again and doubling our living space. We have effectively cleared most of our disposable debt and have built on the prospect of preparing for retirement, which is not as far as away as one might think.

As with all things in life, for every positive there is a negative. And 2021 certainly had no shortage of those. At some point during the height of the pandemic, my father was rushed to the hospital by ambulance for what appeared to be some sort of respiratory issue. given the lockdowns and restrictions in place at the time, not only was I unable to fly back to New Brunswick to support my family but my mother was even restricted from entering the hospital to see him, in the event that he had contracted COVID-19. Doctors didn’t expect him to survive the night and my mother could do nothing more than say goodbye over the telephone and I was stuck, 3,400 kilometres away. That definitely hammered the pandemic home, for me. Luckily, my father survived and they determined that it was only pneumonia.

I never imagined I would ever think “just a pneumonia,” but here we are. The point is, the last year has seen some good, some bad and some ugly. Such is life. And today is the day when most people are starting to establish resolutions for themselves with the hopes of accomplishing them throughout 2022. That’s great and all, and I admit to being on that bandwagon on more occasions than I can recall. Also as usual, we have the typical denomination of the population who enjoy using the slogan “this year’s gonna be my year.” Entertaining. Slightly naive, albeit it a little positive. But I think that this year, I’m going to try to do things a little different. And I’ll challenge all who are reading this, to do the same.

I won’t be trying to make any New Year’s resolutions, this year. Instead, I’m going to focus my efforts on simply being a better person and improving upon myself a little at a time, day after day. this will mean ensuring a healthier lifestyle, eating and sleeping better and getting back into a fitness routine that actually, well… a routine! I’m going to return to the martial arts, having found a karate school that is closely related to my original style. My goal will be to slim down, regain some lost skill and reflexes and hopefully get my children interested in the martial arts, as well. As I’ve written in some previous posts, my youngest son has shown some affinity to striking and using a punching bag. Maybe I can build on that.

Instead of trying to make 2022 “my year,” I’m going to work towards making every day “my day,” focusing on being present in the here and now. Not only is this far easier than claiming the entire year, it makes it all the easier to recover in the event that something goes wrong or poorly. After all, the loss of a single day is better than the loss of an entire year, wouldn’t you agree? And since we can agree that life doesn’t care about one’s plan and that the positive can’t exist without the negative, it’s far better to be prepared for some of that negative than to expect to expel it from one’s life completely.

I would challenge all of my readers to try and do the same. If there’s one thing that the past two years have taught us, it’s that it may be nice to make a resolution to lose weight, travel more, read X-number of books, learn a new skill or whatever else you may have in mind. But it’s even better (and easier) to make your overall life better in all areas, and work towards improving yourself FOR yourself, in all aspects. You’ll be happier and better for it. Happy New Year. Glad I started it with some food for thought… ☯️

On The Eve…

Here it is: the last day of 2021! I’ll save you the pain of reading something long and elaborate. I’ll save that for tomorrow, haha. Enjoy the transition into the New Year, revel in your accomplishments and look forward to the year to come. ☯

You Gotta Want It…

It’s a bit ironic that I’m writing this post on a Monday, since I took this week off. While most people tend to focus taking time off during the week of Christmas, my wife and I took this week off, keeping us at home during the week leading up to New Year’s. The reason I say it’s ironic, is because this post was prompted by a conversation I had at work. I was chatting with one of my employees about the fact that everyone is good at SOMETHING, but that the path they walk will ultimately be different. Even if two people train to master the martial arts, the environment, conditions and motivation behind doing so will differ.

This is important because in life, there will be things you will be good at and some things that you’ll basically suck at. And the latter part is okay. No one is meant to be absolutely fantastic at everything and the ones who say they are, are not only lying to themselves, they’re lying to everyone to whom they say it. I’m not saying that there won’t be some people who won’t have a natural tendency to be good at things in general. I’m referring mostly to achieving some mastery over a particular thing. For example, most people don’t know that I tried a variety of martial arts styles before I landed on karate.

Some of those styles were very good, in their own way. But if I based my decision to pursue the martial arts based on the results of those attempts, I never would have gotten to where I am now. I still remember my first visit to a Tae Kwon Do class and realizing that I had neither the skill, ability or motivation to go spinning through the air like a top to land a kick. Even at the young age I was, I couldn’t understand why they didn’t just kick in a more straightforward manner instead of trying for all the high-flying fanciness… but I digress…

One can’t be good at everything. And that’s okay but it’s something you have to make your peace with. You have to be okay with it. Because the time you spend pining over what you may have realized you’re not good at, could be time used to pursue and achieve things that you ARE good at. That would be a terrible waste and even the things that you may be good at, need to be pursued and strived for. None of it will ever happen on its own. So push hard and be okay with your failures; they’re al part of the journey. Food for thought… ☯️

I Feel Like I’m 19 Again!

Not literally… If I actually felt like I did when i was 19, I’d be out there taking on the world instead of sitting in front of a keyboard at this hour, typing a blog post. instead, I rather feel like a hundred mousetraps going off at once when I rise in the morning and I’m still trying to explain how gravity seems to pull harder at my body for the first ten minutes of my morning or until I get that first, sweet kiss of caffeine. But I digress…

I was never one for drinking in my teen years, having consumed my first beer at the tender age of 23. The legal drinking age in Canada is 19, for those who may be from another country. Always the steadfast designated driver, it was hilarious for me to watch friends and counterparts try to purchase alcohol without presenting valid ID or using a fake one. You see this in movies as well, with a protagonist awkwardly and nervously walking up and trying to sound older while showing a fake ID in the hopes of walking out with a prized case of beer. Classic.

In later years, you’ll usually start hearing people say they miss being “carded,” or asked to show ID for things. Just recently, I saw a younger person (younger than me) get carded for the purchase of cigarettes at my local convenience store and they were flattered by the fact that the cashier thought they looked young enough to require being carded. The person was apparently of legal age (or had a fake ID), but it struck me that most people often feel a sense of disappointment that they’ve reached a point in their lives where they no longer NEED to prove that they aren’t too young.

This is why I find it entertaining that proof of vaccination and valid ID are required for most non-essential locations one tries to enter, these days. I can’t speak for everywhere but here in Saskatchewan, one needs to show proof of vaccination and valid matching ID for liquor stores, restaurants and a host of other locations, much to the dismay of many who feel they shouldn’t be obligated to do so. To each their own, I guess. People forget that they don’t HAVE to shop at specific locations and they don’t HAVE to attend or participate in events that stick you in the middle of large crowds.

What’s unfortunate is seeing how some grown-ass people react in the face of being asked to present these things. Besides the fact that you can go online and find videos from just about every conceivable source of people losing their absolute minds over the matter, which is ridiculous for a grown adult, one should know to pick their battles and be aware of what hill is worth dying on. I know that for the most part, when I’ve been asked for proof of vaccination and valid ID, I usually joke about how I was never carded at an age where I should have been so life is making up for it, now.

Humans are special creatures, to say the least. In a world of immediate gratification and entitlement, it’s amazing to see how many people are willing not only to suffer for their choices but cause suffering in others. It’s genuinely unfortunate. Hopefully, the year that comes will be better than the previous two. ☯️

Safe & Happy Holidays…

No complicated narrative or explanations about anything in depth, today. Just a straight-up good old fashioned Merry Christmas. That’s right, I’ll be one of THOSE… I know the common practice in modern times is to wish folks “Happy Holidays,” but today is Christmas so I’m saying Merry Christmas. With that in mind, I’ll also wish everybody Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah and all the best in the New Year to come.

Have safe and comfortable holidays. I wish nothing but comfort and happiness to all my readers and their families. With any luck, the previous year’s woes will evaporate as the New Year unfolds and there will be better things waiting, just around the corner. Take care of each other and keep reading. ☯️