Happy Canada Day!

O, Canada! My home and native land… Alright, for those of you who know the anthem, that was pretty cheesy. But today is our National holiday, celebrated on July 1st because Canada became a country on July 1st 1867. For my fellow bloggers and loyal readers who may not be from the Great White North, here are some quick facts about Canada to help you understand what makes us awesome…

The common misconception is that Canada was first discovered in 1534 by French mariner Jacques Cartier. Although it is the accepted belief, the discover of an abandoned outpost in the Province of Newfoundland suggests that Vikings may have come to Canada as early as 500 years before Cartier.

Vikings aside, French and British settlers began colonizing in 1602. British colonies and territories joined together in 1867 through confederation to become a self-governing country that we know today as Canada.

Although self-governing, Canada continued to be ruled by the British Crown until as recently as 1982, when our Constitution was patriated. The British Monarchy is still considered our head of state.

Our the country has the second largest landmass of one country, in the world. Our borders touch three oceans (Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic) and our country has 10 Provinces and 3 Territories. As of today, Canada has a population of over 37 million people and we boast a unique multiculturalism unseen anywhere else in the world.

What else is Canadian? Well, I’m glad you asked… Five pin bowling, the wonder-bra, Trivial Pursuit, the vehicle Odometer, the egg carton, North American time zones, the electric wheelchair, the first plastic garbage bags, the paint roller, the first internet search engine, the first pacemaker, basketball, ringette and hockey, the world-renown Royal Canadian Mounted Police and of course, insulin! (You’re welcome world!)

We thoroughly enjoy our food. In fact, we’ve invented a mouthful of it (see what I did there?)… Poutine, Nanaimo bars, instant mashed potatoes, the California Roll, Chinese buffets, peanut butter and butter tarts, caesars (the drink), Hawaiian Pizza and Coffee Crisp bars!

Although contrary to popular belief, we didn’t invent donuts but Tim Horton’s donuts is Canadian and its coffee brand is world-renown. One of the fun and unique things about Canada is that you’ll find local cuisine and dialects specific to particular corners of our nation.

There’s so much more, but I’d need more than a blog post to cover it all. Suffice it to say that Canada has a lot more to it than beavers, moose and donuts. If you have the benefit of living here, hopefully you’re doing something to celebrate today.

If not, come pay us a visit! I’ll grab a two-four and some Timbits and I’ll tell you the rest of the story. Stop on in, eh? ☯

Finding A Friend Who Shares Your Weirdness Is Worth Everything!

A few days ago, I read a meme somewhere online that read: “Friendships are like pissing your pants. Most people won’t see it and only you will feel its warmth…” I guess that’s KIND of accurate, although I don’t know that I’d want to wet myself to make the comparison…

I was told a few years ago, by someone who had performed a study on friendship, that all friendships are inherently selfish. They tend to involve Person “A” getting something out of the friendship from Person “B”. This makes sense if you ever observe children in a group. Most kids will hover around the one who has the most “cool toys”, or the one whose parent brought a tasty treat.

Some believe this trait follows us into adulthood and that we generally only cultivate friendships that provide us with something we want. What do you think? Is this accurate? Think about the friendships you may currently have in your life and ask yourself how you came to be friends…

Human beings are selfish by nature. It’s not that we necessarily mean to be. We’ve been biologically designed to be this way so that we can survive. in prehistoric times, staying alive may have meant being selfish enough to eat THAT much more or hoarding the added pelt to keep you warm through a storm. It’s what’s known as “survival of the fittest”. Although evolution should have bred this particular selfishness out of us it still sits in the medulla, which is the part of the brain that controls instinct.

Instinct and selfishness are not my point today. As I contemplated that person’s statement about friendship, I felt that it was incorrect. My opinion was that friendships can simply be a result of liking that person enough to want to be in their company. Perhaps commonalities draw us to each other or it’s an entirely incidental friendship.

Upon closer examination however, I’ve often realized that even those motivations have their level of selfishness. I WANT their company, I ENJOY being around them or I WANT to be around someone with those commonalities…

Wants, needs and expectations are still present even when you feel as though you have no motivation behind befriending someone. The Second Noble Truth of Buddhism tells us that suffering is a result of selfishness. But the point is, as long as your motivation is pure and the friendship is pursued in good faith, that selfishness becomes moot. After all, it’s exceptionally difficult to combat one’s own inherent instincts.

And to those in my life who are like pissing my pants, know that you are appreciated. And I don’t mind being just a little bit selfish if it means I get to keep you as a friend! ☯

Being Blue Can Be Okay… 🥋

Last night I had the pleasure of watching a belt promotion ceremony. My title reflects the fact that the students graduated to their blue belts. it brought back many memories of my own belt promotions from decades ago.

It also caused me to note certain discrepancies in how people train today compared to decades ago. The difference between my home style and the style I train in currently were quite evident last night.

But watching them take their green belts off and tie on their blue… the emotion and the tears that the one student had from the experience… I remember those emotions and feelings well. The sense of accomplishment and the ambition to keep training and pushing forward is quite a feeling.

I think it’s important to fight for what you want in life. I’ve often said that if life had no challenge, then what would be the point? I think it was George S. Patton who said “Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.”

I guess I just got feeling a tad nostalgic. One gets that way when one reaches this point in life. Keep working at whatever goals you’ve set for yourself. Your drive and ambition will help you grow. And if by chance, life deems it appropriate to keep you from achieving your goals, I promise the memories you’ll make along the way will be worth the trip! ☯

Opportunity Knocks…☯

Alexander Graham Bell once wrote “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

Life has been difficult for me in the past couple of years. And that’s okay. I still believe that all things happen for a reason. We don’t always understand the reason behind things, but good things are often around the corner. We simply don’t have the ability to necessarily see that far ahead.

The basis of Buddhism explains a simple premise referred to as The Four Noble Truths. The first noble truth explains that suffering, pain and misery exist in life. This makes sense, right? I think it would be a fair assessment to say that all of us have suffered from time to time, in some way, shape or form. Most schools of faith teach this in some respect, since life is not meant to be easy. Otherwise, where would the challenge be?

The second noble truth teaches us that this suffering is caused by selfish craving and personal desire. I have difficulty with this, because I tend to believe that some suffering is inflicted upon us by others. Some actions and results are out of our control. Those who wish to do us harm will do so, regardless of our beliefs. This is part of the problem I am currently facing. But selfish cravings and desires are certainly a source of suffering.

However, the third noble truth does teach that this suffering and selfish craving can be overcome. I guess the big question becomes, when do we overcome it? I believe it can take a lifetime or more. Perhaps in the next life, if we’re lucky. But either way, we should never stop fighting and striving to better ourselves. This is the only way to climb the insurmountable mountain of suffering.

The fourth Noble truth path describes that the way to overcome this suffering is by practicing the “Eightfold Path”, which is another part of the doctrine taught by Buddhism. There’s plenty of articles online about what the eightfold path is, so I won’t go into it here as it gets kind of convoluted and moves away from the purpose of this post.

I’ve been reflecting firmly on my beliefs today (hence the deeply Buddhist teachings). This afternoon, I received a phone call that may alter the course of my life. Although nothing is certain about this call, it opened a door and exposed me to the possibilities beyond the suffering I am currently dealing with. And that brings me more joy than I can describe. It tells that I can and WILL overcome the difficulties plaguing my life.

We don’t always know what life has to offer, just around the corner. Keep working hard, training hard and learning hard. The end result can provide possibilities that you may never have imagined. ☯

Big Boned Leads To Big Problems…

I’ve often written about some of the complications that people with Diabetes face on a daily basis. certainly, the list is long and the complications are many. Today I will address one of the more common and misunderstood issues surrounding Diabetes. Weight gain and obesity.

This is a very sensitive topic in modern society, so I’m going to start this post by being very clear: This is not a slight against people with genuine weight issues or intended to body shame in any way, shape or form. Although I am a firm believer that we should all love ourselves for who we are, obesity and heavy weight-gain are serious medical issues and carry many consequences.

According to numbers provided by Statistics Canada, approximately 61.3% of Canadian adults were considered under the category of “obese” as of 2015. This is almost a 25% increase from 2004. Without including the rest of world, this is a small example of how serious an issue it is.

An important misconception is that obesity causes Diabetes. Although there is some evidence linking obesity to Type 2 Diabetes, there is no confirmed evidence of the same being the case for Type 1.

Type 1 Diabetes is an auto-immune deficiency and is NOT caused by obesity. That being said, once a Type 1 Diabetic starts insulin therapy weight gain can occur, usually in the stomach area. This is because insulin helps your body to absorb glucose into the blood stream. And as Diabetes can make you extra hungry once you’re on insulin therapy, well… Glucose absorption + extra hunger = weight gain.

A photograph of an MRI scan that has circulated on the web for years, illustrating the fact that “big boned” is a misnomer!

There is a significant difference between being obese and being overweight. Obesity is generally defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or higher. That being said, BMI is a fairly inaccurate way of measuring obesity. If you factor in my weight of 220 pounds coupled with a height of 5’7″, my BMI is sitting at 32.9, which is considered under the obese category. Anyone who has seen me in person knows that I’m a far cry from obese! Although it is a standardized form of measuring mass in the human body, it doesn’t take into account whether the weight is carried as fat or muscle. BMI is a subjective tool that has to be used in conjunction with all the other factors and assessed by your doctor.

According to a BMI calculator used on the Diabetes Canadawebsite, BMI also can’t be used for pregnant women, weight lifters, long distance runners, elderly or children. If you’re curious, the BMI calculator can be found here: https://www.diabetes.ca/managing-my-diabetes/tools—resources/body-mass-index-(bmi)-calculator

The purpose behind listing all of this is two-fold: to make people understand that being overweight is NOT what causes Type 1 Diabetes, as many television comedies or online jokes may make you believe, and that there are a number of complications that come with being overweight.

Weight gain and obesity have been linked to heart disease, stroke, gallbladder issues, some forms of cancer, osteoarthritis and gout as well as certain breathing issues and sleep apnea. The added weight one gains taxes and stresses most of the systems in the body and can lead to serious health complications. If you add that on top of having Diabetes, life becomes unnecessarily complicated. I mean, Diabetes makes it unnecessarily complicated anyway, but why make it worse?

All of these complications can be lessened and some may even be eliminated by losing some weight. The obvious steps involve a healthier diet and increased physical activity. Try to stick to foods that contain natural sugars as opposed to artificial additives and preservatives. Keep your workouts consistent, but throw in some variety of workouts to ensure you exercise all the areas of your body.

Remember, even though you should be happy with your body, health complications indicate that your body isn’t the way it should be. Consult your doctor and see what you can do to prevent these complications. ☯

Don’t Let Your Bucket List Tip Over…

Most people have dreams and goals. In fact, I have rarely ever met any person along my travels who hasn’t indicated that they have something in mind for the future or something they’d like to do. Even the folks who claim that they’re happy with the status quo and aren’t looking to accomplish anything will ultimately have that unspoken dream that haunts them every night.

Dreams and goals are important. They help us to develop focus and builds skills needed to survive in modern society. It can also help to give your life purpose. If one had a life of ease without any effort required, where would humanity find the drive for its advancement.

Although having goals can often make life harder, accomplishment can also help you to become prouder of yourself and help to build on your capabilities.

Like most things in life, the only way to have a silver lining is if there’s a dark cloud holding it. There are some disadvantages to setting goals. According to an article posted on LyveStrong.com, failing at any particular goal can cause some people to become discouraged from setting future goals, which can ultimately lead to losing out on important milestones.

The article goes on to explain that goals should be set using the SMART acronym. I’ve heard this acronym often in different business environments I’ve worked in and I will explain it briefly here:

Specific: No matter what goal you set, you should attempt to ensure that you are specific in what you want to accomplish. Perhaps your goal is to purchase a sports car. Great! What kind? What colour? Providing specifics will help to make the goal more real and leads into the next point.

Measurable: Let’s say your goal is to lose weight. How will you know when you’ve accomplished your goal? Let’s say your goal is to lose 5 pounds; this is how your goal becomes measurable. And it ensures that you’ll know once you’ve accomplished it.

Attainable: I’ll keep this one pretty simple… Make certain that your goal can actually be accomplished. Although I’m a firm believer that anything is possible, if your goal is to own a house on the surface of the moon you may be in for a little surprise!

Relevant: Your goals need to lead towards something. Having goals simply for the sake of having them can lead to a sort of stagnation unless you have them accomplish an end game.

Time-measurable: Set a period of time for when you want everything to happen. It’s one thing to say “I want to accomplish THIS or THAT”, but without a specific time frame to ensure its completion, you may never reach the completion of your goal.

Last but not least, work on one thing at a time. Most people have a “bucket list”, or a list of things they wish to accomplish before the end of their lives. But having too many things on that list that you’re working on at once will cause your bucket to tip over. ☯

Are You Down With The Thickness?

Time makes fools of us all. Not because we are fools, but because the ravages of time tend to catch us by surprise. Sometimes those ravages reveal changes we wouldn’t have expected.

It dawned on me a few days ago that we tend to photograph and document our accomplishments, but we rarely document and photograph the beginning. I have no photos of myself as a white belt.

I started karate in April of 1988. Despite my health, I was full of dreams and faith and I knew that my hard work would someday pay off. I could only speculate at how right I would become.

Three years ago, I was visiting a friend in the city whose parents were visiting. My friend’s mother made an off-the-cuff comment about how both of us had “thickened” and she would be curious to dig out a tape measure to see which one of us had gained the most weight over the decades.

Time and age catches up to us all. We don’t really have a choice; certain bodily functions tend to cause us to gain weight and our bodies to change. In fact, we tend to gain weight and lose about 8% of our muscle mass every deacde until we reach our 50’s as our metabolism slows. Fun, eh?

When I started karate in April of 1988, I weighed about 80 pounds, soaking wet. I was slight, I had very little muscle mass and my health wasn’t great.

My current stature, as of June of 2019

As of June of 2019, I weigh 220 pounds and have a significant amount of mass. This is a far cry from what started with in 1988. Sure, some of that is muscle. But some of it is a bit of the aging process.

Like I said before, we all get there. The important thing is to maintain your physical activity. This will help to maintain a healthy weight and proper physical stature as the years march on.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gained a lot of wisdom. If I had the physique I held in my 20’s mixed with my current physique, that would be a scary opponent to deal with. But given the current state of life, I’ll gladly accept the wisdom over the physical. ☯