Anger Isn’t JUST For The Sith…

The title is a Star Wars reference, for my followers who don’t find themselves quite as immersed as I am in science fiction and reading. To frame the reference, the Sith are the antagonists of the Star Wars series. They are the polar opposites (in most respects) to the Jedi and typically use intense emotion and anger as a means of amplifying their powers. The series focuses on the Jedi being the good guys and how anger is a bad thing…. Although I agree that HATE is a bad thing, as is also premised in the series, anger has its place and can even be a useful tool when applied in the proper context.

Let’s start by examining what anger truly is…. Simply defined, it means having strong, intense feelings of annoyance or hostility towards a person or thing that can often result in a violent or negatively-emotional response. This can be caused by something emotionally significant or perhaps something as simple as being cut off in traffic. That aspect that many people tend to lose sight of, is that a feeling of anger isn’t always necessarily related to the immediate instance that we believe prompted the emotion and may be a symptom of something bigger and/or previous. The immediate moment may simply be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back. But I digress…

Anger is an emotion. An normal emotion that everyone experiences throughout the course of their lives. If you’ve ever heard someone say, “I don’t get angry” they’re either lying to you or themselves. Maybe they feel anger but simply have coping mechanisms that allow them to keep from externalizing it. That may be a good thing. It can also be a recipe for disaster, depending on one’s specific ability to handle their anger.

Anger can be a great motivator, especially in fitness circles or in making and accomplishing one’s goals. If you use your anger as a source of fuel, it can help push you beyond what you might have done, otherwise. A good example I can provide is when one is using a punching bag. There’s no arguing the fact that you’ll punch harder and longer on the bag if you’re absolutely fuming about something. This is kind of the scenario I’m referring to.

The other side of the coin is dealing with a level of anger that can result in a violent result. This is something that must avoided, fo the obvious reasons. The punching bag is another great example as it can be a fantastic outlet for venting that angry energy. Meditation can work for some, but i know people who hit that “point of no return” and simply lack the means to control their anger. And that’s an important aspect to discern; the difference between controlling and finding an outlet for one’s anger or trying to suppress it or ignore it. The former can be constructive and healthy. The latter eventually becomes a problem. ☯️

Just A Little Something…

Once in a while, I like to throw out a little something that isn’t long-winded and requires a whole bunch of researching and discussion. I can pretty wordy at the best of times (I can hear the grinding of everyone’s eyes rolling at once), so it’s nice to just take a day to let one’s head cool and post something simple. In that light, I found this image online a few nights ago and it resonated with me. So I thought I’d share it. Enjoy!

I can’t remember where I found the image; I’m certain if you Google Morgan Harper Nichols, you’ll find it. She’s a musician and writer and the words in this quote resonate with me on a particular level. One of my biggest pet-peeves with life, is when someone says, “It could be worse…”. If I use my Diabetes as an example, I’ve frequently had people comment that it could be worse as I could have something immediately terminal.

Although this thought is accurate, it COULD be worse, it doesn’t mean that my particular condition isn’t BAD and that my journey isn’t made all the more difficult as a result. This is where empathy comes in. We don’t always know or understand how another person will deal with the situation they’re in. After all, a splinter in your finger may be trifling in nature. But I can guarantee that to a small child, it can be the worst pain of their life. It’s all about perspective. Not strength. Food for thought… ☯️

Music Is My Life, The Lyrics Are My Story…

Louis Armstrong once said, “Music is life itself.” I don’t know if I would go THAT far, especially since if I had to choose between music and karate, I’d still go with karate. That being said, music has always played a big role in my life. I’m one of those folks who can be influenced by a song simply by hearing it. An upbeat song will have me bopping along and singing at the top of my voice while passing drivers look on in awe at the crazy guy in the suit whose cheese appears to be sliding off his cracker. On the other hand, hearing certain ballads will remind me of sad memories, make me maudlin or even tear up, if the song is right.

I’ve owned at least one guitar since I was sixteen (at one point, I had four) but I’ve never put the amount of effort into it that I could have or should have. Once again, this came down to a choice between focusing on music or karate. Since karate was keeping me healthy and well… alive, I opted for karate. But believe it or not, there was a time when music was a pivotal part of my daily life, where I would listen to music, try to strum along and singing became common place for me. In high school, I tried doing the whole “band” thing, but the able participants weren’t willing ones and we never really got it off the ground.

When I went away to college, I actually had the opportunity to sing for a few guys that played at college events and a few venues. I actually performed in front of several hundred people, making the introvert inside scream in fear, but it definitely contributed to why I can speak in public with relative ease and comfort. I currently own two guitars; an acoustic that my late aunt left me, which she autographed for me before her passing and an electric Les Paul style guitar that my wife bought me as an engagement gift.

“Music And Rhythm Find Their Way Into The Secret Places Of The Soul…”

– Plato

I bring up the subject of music because, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I had the opportunity to have a Zoom meeting with the group of friends I hung out with during my formative years. It was an amazing feeling but I was reminded of some amazing music, as well. That’s why I’ve decided to share the playlist we came up with in this post. This will seem like a long post, but it relatively short in terms of reading. Whether or not you watch the YouTube videos is up to you. Let’s take a nostalgic journey…

“Too Much Love Will Kill You” – Queen

Who doesn’t recognize and appreciate the incredible vocals of Freddy Mercury? I only discovered Queen by virtue of having watched “Wayne’s World,” which came out in 1992. But this song holds a special place in my heart as, after purchasing the cassette tape (yes, you read that right, it was on tape) my friend Leon and I crooned along to that one song to the point that we basically burned out the tape. We even recorded ourselves singing it, using the lyrics sheet inside the cassette case. We didn’t have Google to supply us with such things, back then.

“In The Meantime” – Spacehog

I owe the discovery of this song to my friend Leon. This was a tape of his that he brought along and slapped into my shitty car’s tape deck. I always felt the opening riffs stirred something in the soul. My Sensei’s son and I actually tried learning this on the guitar, back when we were young and stupid. Moving on…

“Tonite Is A Wonderful Time” – April Wine

Where do I even start with this group? April Wine holds a special place in my heart, for a variety of reasons. Other than the fact that they’re from the Maritimes like I am, I was introduced to their music as a child by my father. I grew up listening to them in every iteration; on the radio, on 8-tracks, cassette tapes and later on CD’s. I’ve even seen them perform in concert on three separate occasions. Although none of their songs are bad, this one has been singled out as reminding some of my high school friends of me.

“The Sign” – Ace of Base

Ahh, Ace of Base… If this doesn’t scream 90’s teen years, I don’t know what does. They have a pretty pure and simple sound and although many of their songs start to sound the same after a few listens, you can’t help but nod your head and croon along. This song, along with “It’s A Beautiful Life,” definitely graced the inside of my Toyota Tercel on more occasions than I can recall.

“No Rain” – Blind Melon

This one is particular because I actually learned how to play this one on the guitar. I had a fellow blogger suggest that I film myself playing and upload it on The Blogging Buddhist’s YouTube page, but the amount of rust on my fingers could put a derelict ship to shame. But I may get there.

“Saturday Night” – Whigfield

I have no shame in admitting that this one was a guilty pleasure that was often indulged in, especially on the weekends when there was nothing to do but cruise up and down the main drag in my shitty car with the windows down, waving at all the girls that somehow knew from a distance that I simply wasn’t cool. Que sera… It’s catchy, it’s feel-good and it holds up. I regret nothing!

“Bohemian Rhapsody” – Queen

Anyone who doesn’t understand why this song is on here is lying to themselves. Fight me! Seriously though, I drove a 1987 Toyota Tercel hatchback that struck an eery resemblance to Garth’s hatchback in Wayne’s World (except in color). Ergo, we nicknamed my Tercel “The Mirth Mobile.” And what would a cruise in the Mirth mobile be, without a batch of people head banging the way they did in the movie.

“I’d Do Anything For Love” – Meatloaf

This album came out while I was in high school and I grew to have an appreciation for Meatloaf’s theatrical efforts for his videos. The song was quite popular, but I was already into Meatloaf, thanks to “Bat Out Of Hell.” I remember thinking how foolish everyone was to “suddenly” discover this artist, but as I look back, I don’t think there’s ever really a bad time to discover great music. Same on teenage me…

“Wonderwall” – Oasis

Oasis is a great band with a great sound to them, some of which are feel-good tracks and some kinda have you reflecting on life. I drove some of my friends crazy with this one, because the opening strum is what I originally tried learning the guitar with. And I. Was. Not. Good. I improved with time, and the song totally stands up. Which leads to the next one…

“Don’t Look Back In Anger” – Oasis

From the same album, this one is a direct reminder of my childhood and teen years and the tone makes me a little sad, despite being a fantastic song. The old gang didn’t include this one in our exchanges, I simply love it.

“Hands In My Pocket” – Alanis Morissette

Alanis Morissette’s album “Jagged Little Pill” pretty much oozes 1990’s teen years. I always found that people always either really enjoyed her music or absolutely hated it. I had the album on CD and still have it now as part of my iTunes library/

“What’s Up?” – 4 Non Blondes

This is an absolutely wonderful song, and is only a few simple chords, making it fun and easy to strum along to. Although I can’t quite hit the high notes of the artist, I’ve played it on couple of occasions recently. Even my son Nathan croons along with it when it comes on in the car, proving that it totally stands up, even decades later.

“Tubthumping” – Chumbawumba

If someone can tell me what the hell the term “Tubthumping” is supposed to mean, I’d greatly appreciate it. My autocorrect is losing it’s shit, right now. On the flip side, the band calls itself Chumbawumba, so what am I expecting? this song is pure, unadulterated joy. That is all. Simple, repetitive lyrics, I’ve yet to meet a person who’s able to resist singing along at the top of their lungs to this tune, and I’m no exception.

“Crash” – The Primitives

I know that not everyone is a Jim Carey fan, but I loved “Dumb and Dumber” and can still get a laugh from watching it. this song was part of its soundtrack and still totally stands up. I know I’m saying that about a lot of these songs, but I’m pretty biased. It’s upbeat and fun, and usually results in my using the gas peddle a little more than I should.

“Summer of ’69” – Bryan Adams

Everyone in the world knows this song. Prove me wrong. And you can’t, because if you didn’t recognize it and played the video, now you know it! See what I did, there? Bryan Adams was a household name all throughout my childhood, teens and into my adulthood. This song always elicited happy feelings and had me purchase every Bryan Adams album I could get my hands on. I’ve learned some of his songs on the guitar. I had my first real slow dance to one of his songs. He’s timeless.

“Iris” – Goo Goo Dolls

Last but certainly not in any way least, is this song. Featured as part of the soundtrack for the movie “City of Angels,” (one of Nicholas Cage’s only good movies) Goo Goo Dolls have a very unique sound, especially with the fact that their songs always have some strange tunings that i can never seem to match. But most of their songs are equally as good. I currently own their greatest hits album, and listen to it often.

There you have it! The soundtrack of my youth. There’s plenty more, but I can only spend so much time linking YouTube videos in a single post. As I said in the beginning, this post seems long, but if you’ve just read the paragraphs because you already know the songs, it’s no longer than any of my usual posts. Hopefully, this will have helped remind some of you of a simpler time in your youth, as well. ☯

Summer Lovin’, Having A Blast… 🎶

July 1st starts out nicely; a quiet breakfast of hash and bacon at he table, kids are watching some froo-froo nonsensical bullshit on Netflix and my wife and I are getting some caffeine into our systems before making any attempt at dealing with the day. After a brief round of dishes and cleaning up, everyone dons their Canada Day t-shirts and steps outside to enjoy some of the sunshine before temperatures reach an unsafe and/or intolerable level.

That doesn’t take long… Temperatures are already on the high 20’s and climbing with a completely clear sky offering no respite from the direct light of the Sun. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not the type to complain about summer weather. Especially since I hate the freezing cold and especially the snow. Winter wonderland, my ass! But the summer, although enjoyable, brings it own set of difficulties as it relates to proper health and fitness. Especially if you’re part of a family primarily composed of people with the redheaded gene, fair skin and all.

My fam-jam, in all our UV-absorbing glory!

I could spout the usual rhetoric about needing to cover up, wear a proper amount of sunscreen and stay hydrated. You know, the stuff all of you have had shoved down your throats since childhood. This is a good reminder though, as the summer heat can catch up to you quickly. Even SPF30 will do, even if it means slathering some on more often. Keep a reusable water bottle around and sip from it consistently. And no, beer or other alcoholic beverages don’t count towards your hydration (as much as I occasionally like to think so.

If you have Type-1 Diabetes, you should be aware that the summer heat will cause unexpected increases in blood sugars. If “A” leads to “B” and “B” leads to “C,” then by the transitive property, “A” eventually leads to “C.” What this means is, the extreme heat will cause dehydration. Dehydration leads to higher blood sugars. Ergo, extreme summer heat leads to higher blood sugars. Did I just make that way more complicated than it needed to be? Meinh, who cares! I understand myself, which is what’s important. Not everyone can say as much…

The summer rays will cause all sorts of other issues, such as affecting blood pressure, flushing, dizziness and the potential for heat stroke. Anything and everything affects a Type-1 Diabetic’s blood sugar levels, so it’s important to be prepared for summer conditions. If you’re travelling, camping or performing outdoor sports or exercise, be sure to keep your testing equipment nearby, drink/have plenty of fluids available (including electrolytes) and keep in mind that your Diabetes equipment won’t like extreme temperatures, so you may deal with malfunctioning equipment.

If you’ve Diabetes for any length of time measured in years, you’ll have survived through some summers and will likely already be aware of all this stuff. The important thing to remember is that having Diabetes doesn’t prevent you from enjoying the summer. One need only be prepared and deal with the potential issues that will accompany your condition. Our Canada Day was pretty quiet. We had mushroom burgers, spend a short period of time outside and did some work. The boys lost their minds over the plethora of bubbles created by their bubble machine, followed by naps and watching Spiderman: Into The Spider-verse. Definitely worse ways to spend a day off…☯

Happy Canada Day

July 1st, 1867 marks the date that my country was founded as Canada. Less than a decade after that, Sir John A. McDonald, Prime Minister of Canada would create the North-West Mounted Police. Our country would grow and progress in the century that followed, including some positive and some negative. As with all things in life. There’s been a lot of negative press about our country in recent weeks and I won’t get into any of that, since I think the press, mainstream media and certain groups have done an adequate job of providing the negative side of our country’s history.

No matter what side of the equation you fall on or what aspect of the propaganda you believe, there’s no denying that Canada is the best fucking country in the world. And yes, I’m totally biased because this is MY home and native land. Although there have been dark stains on our history, show me a country where that hasn’t been the case. I could list what each and every modern country did to establish itself. But I’m not here to start I fight. I just felt that today would be a good day to express what my country means to me. Maybe you’ll agree with some of it.

I first learned our country’s national anthem when I was 4 years old. I didn’t need Shazam to tell me what it was and I didn’t have to Google the lyrics. I learned the fucking lyrics myself and was proud of them. I grew up understanding and appreciating the fact that I had liberties and freedoms that brave men like my grandfather left their families to ensure. We have health care and and resources that most countries don’t. We’re viewed as progressive and peaceful.

Our landscape is unlike any other in the world. We have the Arctic Ocean to the North, which touches the top of the world. We have the Pacific Ocean to the West and the Atlantic Ocean to the East. We have the longest existing border with our neighbouring country, in the world. We also have the longest natural sandbar in the world, which is ironically located outside my hometown of Dalhousie, New Brunswick. We have Appalachians, Rockies and the Great Lakes. We have some of the most beautiful landscapes and scenic attractions in the world.

Canada gave birth to the man who created insulin, Sir Frederick Banting. If not for that very fact, I wouldn’t be alive today. Nor would the 463 million people, worldwide. Canada is responsible for the invention of basketball, hockey and Tim Hortons. This country has made more contributions to the world that can be measured. This is what should be recognized today. The rest of the year can be for everything else. But let today be about pride in our country and how far we’ve come. I thought I’d close out this post by sharing a YouTube clip of the CBC end-of-day clip that used to play when I’d fall asleep in front of the television as a child. ☯

Set Adrift On Memory Bliss…

Growing up, I felt truly miserable. Even based on current memory, I felt like my life was off the rails. I had Type-1 Diabetes, which resulted in many days spent in a hospital bed, all throughout my childhood. I had a sick brother who I lost his illnesses when I was only a child and didn’t understand why such a thing could happen to someone so young. I was also bullied beyond reason. And I don’t mean the kind of modern, snowflake version of bullying where you can do something about it; I frequently found myself in situations where I had several guys beating the living shit out of me, purely for the indignity of being available to them.

It’s not like I didn’t have a life. In fact, between karate, work and personal interests and hobbies, I was lucky enough to have something that not all people get the benefit of enjoying: friends. In fact, I had the best fuckin’ group of friends that a guy could ask for. So good were the friends I had, we could spend countless nights doing very little but still absolutely LOVE the time we spent together. We used to do random things, like sitting on a beach with a fire burning or hanging out in one of our group’s basements, listening to music and laughing at each other.

It was a simpler time; a time when we did next to nothing, it cost us nothing but we still loved every minute of it. So much so, that we spent all our free time together and had the sort of closeness that compares to the boys from the 1986 movie, Stand By Me. If you’ve never seen the movie, it’s based on the tale of four boys who take off for a weekend to find a missing kid. The kind of closeness and bonding that takes place during that trek is heartwarming and can be easily identified with. THAT’s the kind of gang we had. And I took it all for granted…

You see, I was like most teenagers. I was angst-filled and angry. My Diabetes was uncontrolled and I was often prone to mood swings and violent tendencies. This caused a lot of issues for me, especially in my personal relationships. Looking back, I know for a fact that there were no doubt times when the gang thought I was just being an asshole. And to an extent, they were right. But the most important aspect is that I took my friendships for granted. When I look back at the friends I have, I know that I should have recognized and appreciated what I had, when i had it. As that old 80’s Cinderella song says, “Don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone.”

Although I was always passively aware of this fact, I was definitely reminded of it a week ago, when I had a video meeting with members from my high school gang. Although most of them were still located in New Brunswick, one member was in the United Kingdom and of course, I found myself here, in Regina, Saskatchewan. For some of us, it was our first contact with each other in over twenty years. It was heart-warming and emotional. What was beautiful about it, is we laughed, joked and bantered with the same enthusiasm and sarcasm as we did in the 1990’s. It was a thing of beauty.

Somehow, we chatted easily for over two hours and could have continued on ad nauseam if not for the fact that it was midnight in the UK and supper time for me. We bid each other farewell, with the promise of getting together again in the near future. When we discussed where life had taken us, we all agreed that we hadn’t managed to repeat the friendships we experienced on our teens since we parted ways. I made the comparison that once you’ve had steak, it’s pretty hard to eat baloney and have it compare. My high school friends were my steak.

Seeing the old gang again awoke something special in me. I pulled out my acoustic guitar and started playing again. In the days that followed, we continued to communicate on a group chat and started gathering music from our formative years. We accumulated 14 songs in total, all of which I put together into a playlist and haven’t been able to stop listening to since. The sense of nostalgia I experienced was amazing. And I owe it all to them. We promised we’d make an effort to get together in Northern New Brunswick, once the world returned to normal.

Appreciate what you have. The value of the friendships you maintain may not always be evident to you, in the moment. But as long as sincere efforts are made on both sides, the rewards will be carried inside of you for all your days. We don’t always understand how we come to cross paths with some of the folks we meet. But they all play an integral part in who we become. Not to mention the fact that sometimes it’s nice to be reminded of where you came from in order to acknowledge where you’re headed. Food for thought… ☯

Always An Uphill Battle, Until You Reach The Top…

The daily struggles of life can often catch up with you and it doesn’t take much or very long for it to become overwhelming. Sometimes, we don’t even recognize that there’s a problem until someone is “helpful” enough to point it out. I put the word “helpful” in quotations, because we don’t always want the help or advice that’s provided or feel that it’s warranted. When it’s in your personal life, it can come in the form of unsolicited advice. If it’s in your professional life, it may sometimes come in the form of an obligation as it isn’t exactly ideal to ignore the requests of one’s employer.

But regardless of where the advice or requests are coming from, your day and in fact even your week can quickly get away from you. Time flies, not only when you’re having fun but when you remain consistent and steadfast in what you do. I’m reminded of yesterday, and how I was so immersed in the project I was working on at my job that I was a half hour late into the end of my day before I realized what time it was. I messaged my wife and explained I would be coming home shortly and that I had lost track of time. The bigger joke is that I could have easily kept working without skipping a beat. Tempus fugit, and all that…

I recently described the daily grind of life to someone, and I found the thought came to me, well… without thinking! I explained that life is a little bit like trying to roll a boulder uphill. You already know the boulder is heavy. You already know it’ll be hard. You’re also acutely aware that if you give up and let go, you’ll be crushed under the weight of that boulder; in other words, everything that life will spill on top of you if you let your guard down.

Life in its generalities is very much the same way. We know it can be hard and we know it forces us to carry a weight on our bodies and souls. Such is life. It was never meant to be easy. Without difficulty and challenge, we would finds ourselves unable to grow and prosper. Humanity would never progress in its evolution. But if you give up and let go, there’s a very real chance that life will dump a whole bunch of consequences on you that one typically won’t want to deal with.

All that being said, when one is pushing their boulder up the hill, it’s important to recognize that the only way to reach the top is to remain consistent. It won’t happen by simply giving the boulder one solid shove and hope it reaches the apex. Only through steady and consistent pushing and rolling will you manage to get the boulder to the top. Once on the top, you may find yourself surprised by the fact that it only takes minimal effort to support the boulder and keep it in place.

If we apply this concept to life, you may struggle and have difficulties. But only by staying consistent and steadfast will you overcome your struggles and reach your desired outcome. Once there, you’ll find it’s much easier to sustain and maintain the standard of life you’ve created for yourself. As long as you don’t take the fact that the boulder is at the top for granted, you won’t risk having it roll back down, likely crushing you as it passes. Such as it is, with life.

Last but not least, never forget that the boulder will be easier to push to the top of the hill if someone is helping you do it. Much like sharing the weight of the boulder, the problems of life become easier when faced with someone by your side. As the proverb says, “A problem shared is a problem halved.” And best of all, once you get your boulder to the top, having someone to share the burden means you can even let your guard down, once in a while. And rest from the rigours of life. ☯️

Something Is Anything More Than Nothing…

A couple of weeks ago, a good friend of mine from back home posted a meme-style poster with Dwayne Johnson’s face shadowed behind the words, on his Facebook timeline. It read, “I want to see what happens if I don’t give up.” My friend shared the post with the caption “A legend will be born, if so.” An interesting but truthful perspective and one that more people should acknowledge. There’s a great deal to be said for pushing on when it feels like you should give up.

His post sent my mind back in time, all the way to 1995. I was a year away from graduating from high school, I had my own car and I spent my weekends playing Star Trek RPG in my buddy’s basement. But I was also training at karate, full time. By full time, I mean I would wake in the morning and do a half hour of forms before school. Then it would either be a karate night or not. We had three classes a week, and not just an hour or an hour and a half; I’m talking two hours of blood, sweat and tears wrung out of us by traditional Okinawa karate. Then we’d usually go 30 minutes over time, asking questions and trying techniques. If it wasn’t a karate night, I’d spend an hour training at home, followed by wandering around town on my bike or running on the beach.

It was a different time of my life and all I did was eat, sleep and breathe karate. I loved it, and it was all that was me. And yet, right around that period in 1995, I hit a slump. I just didn’t seem to have the energy and the get-up-and-go that I usually did. I started to find that I was struggling in class, was always tired and didn’t seem to have any motivation. It all came to a head one night, when we were doing drills involving crescent kicks and I just couldn’t get my damn legs to go fast enough to keep up.

I bowed out, left the class and headed to the locker room where I proceeded to sit on the bench and openly weep into my hands. I felt as though the entire reason for my health and well-being, both mental and physical, was coming to an end and I was powerless to stop it. Was I in a slump because of my Diabetes? I had conditioned myself NEVER to use that as an excuse for not accomplishing something. But the consideration was there. Had I simply peaked and had nothing left to give? My heart said no, but my body and mind didn’t seem inclined to agree.

Sensei was used to having me excuse myself during class, as I would occasionally need to wolf down some fast-acting carbs in order to keep going. But I had been gone for much longer than usual, which was enough to have him come check on me. I was still sobbing when he walked in, which in and of itself was embarrassing enough. But when I explained why I was upset and how I felt that maybe it was time to give up and call it a day, he sat next to me and fed me the words that were burned into my memory and that I’ve carried with me, ever since:

SENSEI: “Want to know what happens if you give up?”
ME: “What?”
SENSEI: “Nothing. Nothing happens. And nothing is always worse than anything. So keep going, even when it hurts, even when it’s hard and even when it feels like you aren’t moving forward.”

Even now, almost thirty years after he spoke those words to me, it gives me chills and makes my eyes well up. I turned a corner after that night. My energy and motivation came back and I found myself renewed. Maybe I just needed the encouragement. We all need a little pep talk sometimes.

That brings me to my point. I may not be your Sensei. And I don’t know who may need to hear this. But you matter. And no matter how slow you move, you’re still getting farther ahead than the person who’s standing still. Don’t give up. Don’t EVER give up. Even when things seem hard or impossible, you can always make some headway, as long as you’re willing to fight. And I believe you can.

Anytime I’m reminded of that night, I feel a pang of guilt at how close I came to walking away from such a huge part of my life. And I know others who have. Where would I be today, without my martial training? I would definitely not be the same person. But I can’t help but feel that I would also be potentially worse off, health-wise. Karate has done far more for me than simply teaching me to defend myself.

A huge shout-out to my friend Ricky for this post. Unintended consequences, brother. Even when you don’t mean to, one’s actions can have them and this post is a prime example. And despite the importance of this story, I should provide some levity and tell you how that night played out. It ended with Sensei clapping me on the shoulder (nearly hard enough to dislocate it) followed by the words, “Now get the fuck back upstairs and back to training or you’ll owe me a hundred knuckle push-ups!” And I did. Go back upstairs, not owe him the push-ups…. ☯️

A Lighter Update…

Sometimes I forget that this is a blog and I can write posts without getting too “in-depth” on the topics I cover, or writing ad nauseam to the point where readers will lose interest halfway and stop reading. But that’s me…. I have a tendency to ramble, even when it’s in written form. Just look at right now…. Instead of getting to the point of my post, I’m rambling about NOT getting to the point of my post. But I digress…

I recently wrote about a change in diet where I started to reduce the amount of carbohydrates that I consume. I haven’t been trying to eliminate them, mind you. That would be bad. Carbohydrates are the body’s source of fuel, and trying to eliminate them completely can have some detrimental effects on the body. But in an effort to spur along some weight-loss efforts on my part, I’ve made some gentle changes to my overall diet.

For the most part, I’m not the worst eater in the world. Hell, I’m not even the worst eater in the circle of people that I know. I’m aware of some people that I know that eat like a trash can (their words, not mine) and consume pretty much whatever they want. While some people may have the metabolism to do that and still look stunning, I do not. And I recently took stock of my body, age, weight and overall health and I recognized that I ain’t getting any younger and change to the body becomes harder as you age, for a variety of reasons.

I’m by no means obese. I don’t believe I’m even overweight, insofar as I can tell but I’m no doctor. But I have developed a rather significant case of “dad bod” in the past couple of years, which I attribute to a combination of stress from recent events combined with good ol’ COVID-19. But those excuses will only stand on their own for so long, especially for someone who doesn’t believe in excuses. So, what have I been doing? Well, let me share that with you…

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve cut down on the total amount of carbohydrates that I consume in the course of a day. This has been pretty easy to do and is actually far simpler than people think. When someone tells you, “Cut down on carbs” it suddenly feels like you may starve. After all, what is one to do without potatoes, bread and snack foods on the weekends? They key word here is “reduce,” not eliminate.

My mornings start with caffeine. I think that should be obvious and if it’s not, you don’t know me at all and haven’t been reading my blog for long. Breakfast, whenI have time to consume one, will usually consist of eggs and/or bacon and on the rare occasion, an English muffin that weighs in at about 10 grams of carbs. Any or all of those individual components will do. I typically ensure my lunch, which is eaten at work is entirely carb-free. This is the main area where I make up the difference. It will include a lean protein, such as chicken, as well as some salad and perhaps cheese and a handful of nuts. I’ve recently taken to enjoying the occasional small cup of yogurt for it’s benefits, as well.

Do nuts have carbs? Why, yes! Yes, they do! But they happen to be filled with a bunch of shit that’s good for you, like the healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. And 100 grams of mixed nuts comes in at only about 20 grams of carbs, so I limit myself to an extremely small clutch of them, usually pecans. They’re excellent for adding some crunch to your salad or just eating them on their own. If I DON’T include a few nuts (and I don’t mean my coworkers) then my lunch is typically carb-free. Even if I do, I’m looking at 30 grams of carbs to my day, thus far. Not so bad when you consider that I would typically consume more than that in a single meal before I started limiting my total intake. Hell, the average sandwich will come in at about 30 grams of carbs when one considers the two slices of bread.

At supper, I will allow myself to indulge in whatever meal my lovely wife has prepared, carbs or not. That being said, I’ll limit my portion. So if there are mashed potatoes, I’ll have half the scoop I usually would. Same for pastas, rice or noodle dishes. But dinner is usually where I will allow the MOST carbs of my three meals, bearing in mind that one needs fuel to keep going. Last but not least, I’ve all but eliminated evening snacking. This doesn’t mean I won’t allow myself to indulge during movie nights on the weekend or there won’t be the occasional exception if hunger strikes. But I for the most part, I’ve eliminated snacking, which most people should do since eating late at night is horrible for your body.

So, have there been any results? I’m glad you asked that question (if you’re still reading by this point) because there have! I’ve been at this “mild” change for approximately a month, now. I started out at just below 220 pounds. That’s right, folks! It ain’t ALL muscle…. My wife and I recently bought a new scale and my habit has been to wake in the morning, deal with my morning ablutions (look that up, if you don’t know what it is!) remove my pump and step on the scale.

As of last week, I was down to about 210-213 pounds. Okay, okay, not so bad…. I’m burning some off…. Two days ago, I decided I was hungry enough and my wife had made some shredded chicken, so I made a plate of nachos. I was in the linen closet for something and decided to step on the scale, just for the hell of it. Lo and behold, I was down to 203 pounds! Without removing my pump and cell phone. After a full plate of nachos. I’m considering that I may have been even a pound lighter.

This post ran on for far longer than I expected. If you’ve read all the way to this point, the lesson here is that a small change can make a noticeable difference. And since the warmer weather has kicked in, I’ve started to include some 10k bike rides and outside workouts, which have no doubt helped. Will I ever get back to my 165-pound weight I had after basic training? I’m willing to say not a chance in hell. Besides, I have more muscle mass now than I did, back then. Yes, I’m bragging. But it’s truthful bragging. But to be able to break that 200-pound threshold and maintain it, is my goal.

Last but not least, it’s been a lot smoother on my blood sugars. Less carbohydrates mean less insulin bolusing, less miscalculations on how many grams of carbs I’m actually consuming and less high’s and low’s. So much so, that my pump consistently asks for added BG readings because it hasn’t had to micro-bolus as much. Better blood sugars mean better overall A1C’s and better overall health. I’m not going hungry, I allow the occasional indulgence and I’m losing weight and getting healthier. It’s a win-win. As with all things, even if this works for me, it may not work for you. Be sure to consult your doctor or a dietitian before making any serious change in diet or lifestyle.☯️

Just For Laughs…

I’m nothing if not able to laugh at myself… I think that laughter is the best ingredient for a happy life. SO much so, that sometimes I make my wife question my sanity while reading and/or watching comedy to the point where I have tears coming down while she looks at me wondering what the hell she got herself into… IT’S TOO LATE NOW, HONEY!!!

As a good example, did you hear the one about me getting a coffee at my local Tim Horton’s and trying to sip it while on the way back to the office, forgetting I was wearing a fuckin’ mask? Yeah… That wasn’t COMPLETELY embarrassing to pull off while walking along a busy Regina street… Or the day when I was filling my water bottle at the fountain and when I leaned in to check if the bottle was full, I managed to spray water all over my crotch… Luckily, I was the only one in the office. Nothing like a wet crotch to convince your coworkers that you’re incontinent. But I digress…

Once in a while I manage to find something related to my faith that makes me grin and laugh. Unlike a lot of other people, I can see the comedy in some of those things and enjoy sharing them. Knowing its funny MAKES it funny. Anyway, without further ado… Here’s a funny Buddhist meme I found online:

This makes me laugh, because my son Nathan has said, “Come at me, bro” on a few occasions. So this serves two purposes: making me laugh and reminding me of my son. Both are ultimately important in my life, so I hope you enjoy it, as well. A pleasant laugh on “hump day.” ☯