Give Us A Smile…

There’s a lot of suffering and negativity in the world. This is aggravated by the fact that most people stagger through their day without interacting with the world around them. in an unfortunate society where technology reigns, people often tend to smile at their smart device far more easily than they would for the person who serves them their morning coffee or thank the bus driver who dropped you at the destination you needed. There are a lot of little things one can do to improve the overall tone of one’s day and body language means everything. Here are some of my favourites…

1. Smile. That probably seems pretty basic and hopefully you haven’t decided to scroll past this post because of it but a smile is the most basic of positive actions. It’s universally known, bound by no language or culture. Hell, even someone blind who has never set eyes on an actual smile will know how to do it and it will mean the same thing to them despite this lack of visual knowledge. Smiling at someone in any circumstance will not only make YOU feel better, it may just add some positivity to someone else’s day. Even when out in public and you happen to be looking around and lock eyes with someone for a moment, a small smile (maybe not a sustained, toothy, creepy smile) will let that person know that their existence is acknowledged and will add a positive twist on their day.

2. Say Thank You. This seems like such a small thing and many people would argue that if they go to their favourite drive thru in the morning to pick up coffee, it’s the employee’s job to hand you your coffee AND you’re paying for it. What’s the thank you for and why is it necessary? Those questions and that line of thinking tell me you need a nap because you’re cranky. Saying thank you to someone, anyone, for something they do, whether it’s serving you coffee, holding a door open or helping you with your transaction in a store, not only validated what they do for them and shows them you acknowledge their existence, it will make you feel good and keep you humble. After all, I’ve bought Tim Hortons coffee for brewing at home but it still doesn’t taste as good as getting it directly from the source.

3 Make Eye Contact. This is something that seems to have gone the wayside in recent years. People seem uncomfortable with basic eye contact but it’s SO important in proper communication and body language. Something I’ve started to do when I’m out somewhere and I have sunglasses on, is I’ll lofty or remove the sunglasses to allow for proper eye contact. This allows me to show the person I’m interacting with that they have my undivided attention. It also allows them to see that the smile I mentioned in the first point is genuine as opposed to forced or faked.

Even if technology rules today’s modern society and we’re all lost in our own little digital world, we’re still human and there’s still a need to interact with each other and try and keep the world as positive a place as we can. A little smile or a thank you can go a long way. Without even realizing it, you may inadvertently alter the course of someone’s life, just by looking them in the eye, smiling and saying “thank you.” Food for thought… ☯️

Let’s Get Some “Cycles” In…

I always get a kick out of the term “putting some cycles in.” It’s a term my boss uses as a unit of time measurement when referring to projects and things, rather than just saying how much time it takes. “I’ve spent a lot of cycles working on this…” Love it! But my title mostly refers to an actual cycle, or bicycle. With the warmer weather kicking it into high gear and the snow having apparently made a disappearing act for the season in Saskatchewan, getting my bike out and prepped for as many kilometres as my body will permit has become my seasonal challenge.

Since my trips out on the bike can often reach the hundreds of kilometres in one sitting (I only achieved 100kms on one occasion, it’s usually closer to 60-80 kms), I’ve many people Diabetic or not, ask me how I manage such distances, in the heat, without severely low blood sugar levels and avoiding dehydration. I did this last year but I thought I would provide the list of things I ensure I carry with me when going out on the bike.

First, I should point out that I have a couple of attachable bags on my bike frame; one that sits up beneath the seat and one that sits on the top bar of the frame in front of me. The one underneath the seat carries a small, basic travel first aid kits with gauze, disinfectant and bandages (and band-aids) because you never quite know when you’ll fall off the bike and cause minor injuries that shouldn’t sit untreated, especially if you’re far from home. this small pouch also carries at least one version of fast-acting carbs, which for me, means jellybeans or Swedish berries. If I have room after all that, I’ll also jam a couple of granola bars and some protein. This location is great for all of that because being under the seat keeps it all out of the sun so it stays cooler, for the most part (it also keeps the chocolate chips in my granola bars from melting).

The pouch on the top bar has a windowed cover, which is supposed to allow me to display my iPhone. this is so that I can watch the mounting mileage counting on the screen. The two issues I’ve found with this, is the summer heat will often cause the phone to overheat and stop functioning until it cools or will outright kill the battery. The issue with the former is that I’m stuck either sitting still in the summer heat until my phone cools down or I keep peddling, all the while not logging the right amount of distance due to the phone cancelling out. So now, I just keep the phone blanked and hidden inside the pouch.

I also keep my wallet or at minimum, SOME form of identification in the event I’m in an accident or get lost, etc. I usually bring my debit card in the event I need to purchase further food or transportation home if I get sick or something of the sort. If I’m using a source of music that can’t be clipped on my clothing, it also sits inside this top pouch. Last but not least, I carry a bottle of water on a bottle rack on the frame as well as a bottle of water on a belt pouch around my waist, equally to roughly a litre of liquids to stay hydrated.

Some people don’t find this to be a lot but the reality is that even on a long-distance ride, you need to find that sweet spot between staying hydrated, not filling your gut to the point it starts sloshing around in your belly and preventing the intake of TOO much water while simultaneously losing mineral salts through excess sweating. This causes a condition known as hyponatramia. This is where you have too much hydration versus the amount of mineral salts in your body. That’s why electrolyte drinks can be useful. I generally keep a bottle of water and a bottle of sugar-free Gatorade and alternate between the two.

Spending the nicer seasons out on a bike can be liberating and it’s great exercise. But whether you have Type-1 Diabetes or not, it’s important to be prepared, especially if you plan on being out for a significant distance. proper preparation (say THAT three times fast) can mean the difference between a fun ride in the sun or a potentially harmful medical situation. Happy cycling! ☯️

Weekend Family Chronicles, Volume 1

My son Alexander was born just a short period of time before the world shut down due to the pandemic. In fact, he was sadly born during the few days that I was in southern New Brunswick for a job interview. Not only did I miss his birth, I also didn’t get the job. Life, eh? My point is, the majority of Alexander’s existence has been contained within the confines of our house and back yard. We’ve brought him to a couple of parks and to my place of work on a couple of occasions, but he hasn’t been out to experience the outside world, despite pandemic conditions being recently lifted.

We recently started picking out one activity every weekend to do with our two sons. Last weekend, we brought them to an indoor play structure in a local mall. It was good times; we were able to get coffees and sit while the boys played and socialized with other children. They were quite happy and made a bunch of friends. The best part is Alexander passes right out for an excellent nap that mommy and daddy end up partaking in… But I digress… This weekend, we thought we would shake things up by bringing the boys to a restaurant. Not a fast-food restaurant, mind you; an actual, sit-down and eat restaurant with a menu that didn’t includes toys or a play structure.

Besides getting the boys out of the house and being out in the world, they had the option of choosing their own meal, including drink, main, side and a free sundae. Nathan absolutely loved the option of choosing his own meal. Much to our surprise, both boys were extremely well behaved and ate their meals with gusto. I enjoyed a deli sandwich with fries and my wife had a chicken burger with bacon and dill sauce. It looked amazing.

There were some mild leftovers to be brought with us but that’s okay! They both enjoyed their mutual mini-sundaes and we left the restaurant with a calm feeling of success as we introduced our toddler to a restaurant without any behaviour issues or having to raise our voices. It went so well, that we decided to reward them by bringing them to a local outdoor park. Despite the wind, they were pretty game to play and there were some kids there for them to socialize with.

Despite all the other kids to play with, Nathan and Alexander couldn’t help but cling to each other and stick to each other’s hip as they played. Nathan filled his role as big brother with aplomb and helped Alexander make his way up the obstacles and joined him down the slides. It was fun to just sit and watch them play. My wife and I stayed off our smart phones (except to take these photos, of course) and just soaked in the fresh air and watch the kids have fun. It was incredibly soothing.

After about half an hour, the looming clouds chose that moment to join in unison against humanity and start drizzling their unnecessary dampness on everyone’s head. We loaded the kids back into the family vehicle, which Alexander chose to voice his displeasure by pouring a torrent of verbal diarrhea and screaming combined with hot tears. By the time we got home, it became quite clear that we were overdue for a nap time. Alexander was put in his crib and passed out within minutes. My wife and I joined and found some enjoyment in a small, two-hour nap. Unexpected sleep is the best.

Despite my current torso injury, I napped quite nicely and awoke with renewed energy. Once our naps were over, Nathan was allowed to go outside and join one of his neighbourhood friends at the park contained in his school yard, which is only five minutes around the corner. Last night involved mommy and daddy time of watching “Bad Boys For Life,” so I could relive some of the glory days (policing is NOTHING like what’s seen in those movies, but it’s fun nonetheless). We also binged a few Grey’s Anatomy episodes. Looking forward to what today may bring. Weekends with family are best. ☯️

Paying It Forward…

Considering the bitch-fest I’ve been writing about in recent weeks, I thought I would write about how nice yesterday kicked off after I posted about my doctor’s visit. When I got ready for work, I suddenly realized that not only was it Friday but the sun was shining and he weather was great. It was geared up to be a great day and I had actually gotten some actual sleep by virtue of the stronger muscle relaxants I had been prescribed the previous day after that shitty doctor’s appointment.

Since I wanted to keep the positivity going, I was crooning along to some music as I headed south towards the office when I decided I should get some donuts for my staff. There were a few of them sill working from home, but I knew there would at least be a handful that could take advantage. So I popped by my local retail coffee chain (y’all know where Im talking about). I ordered a dozen donuts but got myself a medium coffee as well. My usual habit is to make a Keurig coffee at work but I thought, what the hell? May as well treat myself as well, right?

I pull up to the drive thru window and had something happen that I had, until that moment, only read about… Someone “paid it forward” and paid for my coffee and donuts! I was floored! I often read stories about people paying it forward in drive thrus like that but I had never had it happen to me. I was elated and was asked if I wanted to keep it going by paying it forward to the next customer behind me. I agreed and pulled my debit card out. Then, a thought hit me… What if the person behind me was ordering breakfast foods for his entire crew or something like that? I assumed the risk that comes with paying it forward and kept my mouth shut.

The person behind me only ordered a coffee and I drove off feeling happy and satisfied. I got to work and sent out an internal email to the staff I assumed would be working on site that day. Then, I ironically sat down and ate the two hard-boiled eggs I brought, since I couldn’t justify the increased amount of carbohydrates that early in the morning. It only took a few minutes for me to recognize that at least four of the ten people I assumed would be working at the office were either working from home or had the day off. brutal. I offered some donuts to the on site staff. I still had seven or eight donuts left.

I walked the other two floors of office and offered the remainders up to all the other staff. I got to make a few people’s day and met some of the staff that I’ve somehow managed NOT to meet over the past year due to working from home as a result of the pandemic and some who have been recently hired. Besides the fact that I got to do some wicked networking within my own organization, I created some positivity not only in my own day but for others, as well. It was a great way to cap off the week, especially in light of how rough it’s been with the pain and the lack of sleep. Next week has a lot to do to make up for yesterday. ☯️

Get A KICK Out Of This Story…

Sometimes I look back on my younger years and I become nostalgic for the past. During my youth, I never travelled much or wandered far from the comforting confines of Northern New Brunswick but it continues to surprise me how full a life one can have, even living in such a small environment. And no environment could have given me as much as my home. Here’s one of the memories drifting to the surface of my psych. Buckle up…

This story takes me all the way back to 1989. I was 11-years old and my older brother had another two years of life ahead of him. My health was waning and life wasn’t going so well for me. Increased insulin-resistance and the development of ulcers in my stomach saw me hospitalized almost as much as my brother. in fact, we often shared a hospital room together. I’ll let you decide whether that’s cool or just a little bit sad. But I digress…

I was in 7th grade and we had oral presentation to give in class on a topic of our choosing. As was usually my choice, I spoke about Type-1 Diabetes, its causes and how it’s treated. Because of the number of students, we had two separate 7th grade classes; 7A and 7B. I was in 7A. Didn’t mean I was smarter or further ahead. I think it went by alphabetical order. Anyway, on the third day of presentations when we were all done, the teacher announced that someone from 7B would be sharing his presentation with us.

In walked my friend Guillaume. My Sensei’s son. Friend and adoptive brother. He was asked by the teacher to share the same presentation as he had to his class in exchange for bonus points. Considering she found the presentation worthy enough to share with another class, I had difficulty grasping WHY he would need bonus points, but whatever kept me from doing actual work was fine by me, back then.

Guillaume went on to give a presentation about Uechi Ryu karate, how long he had been practicing it and the benefits it provided him in life, thus far. He capped off his presentation with a demonstration of a form, or kata, which I now know as well. While the rest of the class was busy snickering at the movement and making fun of him, I was captivated by what I was seeing. The flow, the movement, the gracefulness… My eyes were open to the potential of what I was seeing.

It was at this point that I had called Guillaume at home and asked about class times and location. I joined the same month. I had tried other styles and attempted different things, but none struck quite as deep in my soul as Uechi Ryu did. I would go on to study Uechi for the next 33 years. It would ultimately save my life and help forge me into the person I am today. All of that from a simple ten-minute presentation in class. Nice.

Our instincts provide for more than we usually assume. And as the old saying goes, we often find our destiny on the road we least thought to travel. All things happen for a reason. If the teacher hadn’t asked Guillaume to share his presentation with out class, I might have never been exposed to Uechi Ryu. I likely never would have joined. And my health may have continued to deteriorate to an uncorrectable level. Who knows? I certainly don’t. I just know to appreciate life as it’s been offered and continue to live life with no regrets. ☯️

You Shouldn’t Drink Poison Just Because You’re Thirsty…

Anyone who’s read any number of my posts already know that the reduction/elimination of suffering is kinda my jam. Not only for myself but for others, as well. Life doesn’t make this easy, although some might argue that this simply represents a balance to life. After all, we wouldn’t recognize the light if not for the darkness, right?

Trying to navigate our way in life can be made all the more difficult when there are toxic people in our environment. I’ve dealt with more than my fair during my younger years. It never helped that I was significantly more timid in the years leading up to becoming a peace officer and before karate instilled a sense of self in me that I didn’t have before.

My point is that when someone is toxic and to be clear, this toxicity can be subjective to you, it takes away your positive energy, drags you down and makes you feel as though life is all that much harder. When I say it’s subjective, I mean that what’s toxic for one person may be perfectly fine for another. I believe an example is in order…

I once dated a girl that was a frequent drug user. Nothing out of this world and nothing with the level of seriousness that would require Will Smith and Martin Lawrence to suddenly jump on the scene. But serious enough that it bothered me. The worst part was when I brought it this person’s attention, only to have them snub me and disregard my thoughts and feelings.

Although that may sound a bit like modern snowflake thinking, the negativity and toxicity that person exuded affected all aspects of my life and worked towards dragging me down. But to someone like-minded and who also does it, her occasional recreational use of drugs would have seemed perfectly normal and the other person would likely have joined in. See? Subjective. Ultimately, I broke up with her when I walked into her house the one day and caught her in bed with another dude. Toxic, indeed.

This is but one example of different times in my life where I’ve had associations, either friendships or jobs, that imposed a negative energy on me and made life difficult. When it comes to. A job, it can be hard to walk away from a toxic environment, especially if it’s your only means of income. But believe me when I say that it isn’t worth it.

In the same way that you shouldn’t drink poison just because you’re thirsty, you shouldn’t maintain friendships that bring a negative element or toxicity into your life. It can be difficult, but learning to walk away will have you faring SO much better. Life is short. Ain’t no time for all that bullshit. Take care of yourselves first, and surround yourselves with people and an environment conducive to a positive existence. Food for thought… ☯️

Happy Easter

I’m going to keep things simple this morning and simply wish everyone a safe and happy Easter. It’s been a rough few years and I hope y’all get the opportunity to have some chocolate, spend time with family and do something fun. Happy Easter! ☯️

The World May Burn While It Continues To Turn…

Life is tough. I don’t think I’m providing any enlightened insight, there. It’s even tougher when you’re alone. And that solitude is all the more difficult when it comes as no fault of one’s own. Throughout my youth, I spent many an hour by myself. Always a bit of an outcast, I didn’t have many friends during my childhood and the ones I did have were quick to leave me behind when they found someone better. By “better,” I mean better from THEIR perspective; not realistically better.

In fact, I remember a kid I used to spend time with that I considered to be my best friend, whatever that means at such a young age. He quickly started spending time with another kid who had more money, better gadgets and toys and access to a car when we reached our teens. It didn’t matter that the other guy was an absolute asshat who used people until he grew tired of them and then tossed them aside. I was left in the weeds despite all of that. Things don’t get much better into adulthood, with self-proclaimed “friends” often leaving you behind in favour of what they consider to be greener pastures.

You only get out of life what you choose to put into it. If life serves you lemons and all you do is stare at them, you’ll never get to taste the lemonade. It’s only through the effort of cutting, squeezing and zesting those lemons, then adding sugar and water to the mix that it will become the tasty accomplishment that we know as lemonade. Maybe that’s a bit of a cheesy comparison but it’s accurate. People will often use you and toss you aside when they’re done with you. In some cases, this doesn’t mean that they’re inherently bad people; it simply means they were never taught any better.

When life gets you down and you feel like you’re all alone, use that time to your advantage. Spend some time getting to know yourself and discovering who you are and what you want out of life. Read that book you’ve left sitting on your shelf for the past few years. Spend some time outside watching the world. Sit in on a movie at a theatre that you’ve wanted to see. Take a trip. Some time alone can be important in order to help one reflect and truly allow themselves to become who they are.

Take it from someone who spent most of his youth by himself; being a loner doesn’t mean that you ARE a loner. It simply means that you’re unique and outside the confines of the expected social norm. And there’s nothing wrong with that. If the people within your scope of existence don’t like who you are and don’t want to stick around, so be it. That means that they weren’t meant to be part of your inner circle. Eventually, people will come into your life that are worth keeping around. And at that point, you’ll discover that they not only appreciate you for who you are and HOW you are; they’ll also become an integral part of that journey and may help you discover a few things along the way. Food for thought… ☯️

Warmer Weather Brings Warmer Muscles

With the warmer weather becoming more of the norm than the exception, my mind has been turning to all the fun, outdoor activities that I usually enjoy doing in order to supplement my martial arts training. Some of those activities include long-distance cycling and using the punching bag in my garage. Last Sunday, the weather reached 7 degrees Celsius in Regina. As such, I decided to spend some time outdoors. Nathan spent the afternoon with a neighbour boy his own age. Alexander and my wife decided to come outside and enjoy some of the warm weather and fresh air.

They also came outside to watch me break a sweat as I chose to have my first punching bag workout of the season. I’ve been waiting on pins and needles to get outside to use my bag and getting some kilometres on the bike. It was a good burn; I only pounded the bag for about 30 minutes but that was all I needed to get my heart rate up and break a solid sweat. By the time I was done, I was sore and tired but I felt good. It was a bit like shaking the cobwebs off and coming up for air. I love training in a dojo but it’s important to do some stuff on the side in order to maintain one’s cardio and weight management.

I didn’t get out on the bike like I had intended, given that I had no grease for my chain and my can of WD-40 was empty. I would have enjoyed throwing a few clicks under my belt as well, but I’m more than happy to save that for another day. In the meantime, I had a “training partner” who decided to pick up the gloves and take a shot. As you can see from the video below, he’s a bit rusty as well. But the effort was still there. Check it out…

He definitely shows potential and always wants to punch or kick something. Wonder who he gets THAT from? I’m definitely happy with the better weather and the opportunity to start training outdoors again. I can’t wait to get out on the bike. There’s nothing quite like having fresh air in your lungs, music in your ears and a heavy sweat as you peddle your way to better health. ☯️

A Little Positivity Never Hurt Anyone…

Some of my posts in recent weeks have been pretty negative and morose, considering some personal matters that have been happening in my life. That’s why I felt that when there was something positive I could write about (including my post about the Batman from last Tuesday) I should make a point of seeing it happen. This is where my story about last weekend comes in…

My wife and I are typically homebodies, preferring to stay at home and watch a streaming service or game on our devices than venture out into the outside world. Most of this is by virtue of the colder weather keeping us indoors as neither of us is a fan of the cold. But the recent milder weather and temperatures reaching into the positive has seen us walk outside into the sunshine more than usual.

Last Friday was a bit of a crap shoot, considering you may have read about what happened to my son Nathan in yesterday’s post. I left work on Friday morning and brought him to the doctor’s office for an eye infection. By the time I got home and actually sat in front of my computer, my work day was almost done. My evening saw me playing with my kids and sitting to watch some television with my wife. Not a bad way to spend the evening and pretty typical of what we do.

That’s when my wife suggested we go to the movies. This was pretty exciting for me, because I had been wanting to see the Batman. We chose a 4 pm viewing, since it was a 3-hour movie and we didn’t want to get home at a ridiculously late hour. We spent the morning cleaning the house as a family with all the windows open, allowing the cool air to circulate through the house. Once the house was all clean, I pre-ordered a pizza for the boys and the babysitter, which would arrived around 4:30 pm while we were gone.

We made our way to the theatre and enjoyed some Chucky Cheese style games, including shooting hoops and playing air hockey. Turns out my wife is a little hellcat at air hockey and kicked my ass twice. We watched the movie, which I reviewed in a previous post. So I won’t get into it. After the movie, we went to an eatery that specializes in poutines and ordered a couple of large bad boys, which we brought home to consume in front of the television.

The boys in bed and our poutines in front of us, we ate until we were ready to fall into a carb-induced Conan and went to bed. It was a fantastic night and loads of fun. So much fun that we decided that we would bring the boys to the theatre to use our remaining game tokens the following day. We had a good handful but I brought an extra 10-dollar bill in order to ensure everyone got to try some of the games.

On Sunday morning, I checked for the theatres hours of operation, which were erroneously shown as being 11:30 am. We left the house and ran a couple of errands before making our way to the theatre and parking about ten minutes before the time they were SUPPOSED to open. It was only then that we found out that they don’t open until noon. Thanks a bunch, fuckers! You know how easy it is to get a screaming toddler back into his car seat when he’s finally been released? Not easy at all…

We took a drive and came back at noon and everyone had a blast. Some mild issues with losing tokens in one of the air hockey tables was quickly rectified by a staff member who compensated us with some extra tokens. Nathan and Alex had a blast. You know a toddler has had some fun when he breaks down crying at the prospect of leaving. We got home and enjoyed some family nap time before having supper. Then, since it was Sunday night and our week was about to begin anew, it was baths and showers all around before getting the boys to bed.

My wife and I capped off our night by watching Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure of all things. Definitely a fantastic weekend and loads of fun was had. I know that with everything going on in the world right now, it can sometimes be hard to remember that happiness still exists. But our household definitely recognized that fact, this weekend. I don’t have any photos or documentation of our excursions. Wanna know why? Because I was too damned busy having fun to take photos. Now if only this mild weather could hold and keep melting the snow, I might be able to get my bike out… ☯️