Sometimes We Need To Lose The Small Battles…

Serena Williams once said: “I’ve grown most not from victories, but setbacks. If winning is God’s reward, then losing is how He teaches us.” No matter what faith you follow (or any lack thereof), those words should make sense.

We don’t learn anything from winning. Look at any sport celebrity who has managed to win their way into being “undefeated”. They end up spending the majority of their days trying to find something to fill the void that the challenge has left behind. More often than not, and not in every case, this leads to scandal or criminal charges. I use this as an example because they are usually the most prominent, and the public are generally the most aware of them, but this can also apply to all of us.

But so long as a person is hungry and willing to work hard, setbacks and challenges can lend the spice to life that is required to keep on growing. These are the thoughts that have been floating through my head in recent months. How much farther do I need to push in order to win against an opponent who should have never BEEN an opponent in the first place? So, does this mean I’m destined to lose?

I believe that at some point, every person should evaluate what they are doing with their lives, what contributions they are making and what the end result for themselves and their families might be. Change is good. There’s nothing wrong with change; it shows us that progress is happening. And sometimes that change comes in ways we would have never expected. After all, all things happen for a reason…

I’m not used to losing. It’s not something I’ve had to deal with. Maybe it’s my hard-headed nature or my stubbornness, but my track record for winning against any challenge I’ve faced so far is pretty decent. I have lived into my 40’s despite being told in my youth that I wouldn’t live past my teens. I obtained a black belt in karate after being told that I couldn’t train in the martial arts due to my Diabetes and my health. I also pursued my chosen career and obtained promotion sooner than most of my colleagues based on my own sheer force of will. But I am tired…

When I say I’m tired, I don’t mean I need a better night’s rest or a nap and I’ll be good to go. I mean my soul is tired. I wake most days feeling as though the weight of the world is resting on my shoulders and with every step that I take in my current battle, two more take its place as the next step.

Sun Tzu wrote: “The supreme Art of War is subduing the enemy without ever fighting.” Maybe that’s what I need to do in this instance. Winning may mean no longer fighting. Perhaps I need to lose in order to win. And there’s no shame in that. Ultimately, other challenges and other opportunities in life await. And I simply wouldn’t be me if I didn’t continue on the journey. ☯

What’s Right…

The Buddhist system follows something called the Noble Eightfold Path. This includes Right View, Right Resolve, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration.

These things are important as they help a person find a balanced middle ground through the turmoil that is life. This becomes especially important to someone who seeks to cause harm to others.

First and foremost, Right View teaches us that actions have consequences, even after death. One needs to consider these consequences before committing oneself to action against another person.

Right Speech tells us that we should avoid lying or being intentionally dishonest. One would tend to think that this is pretty straight forward, but you’d be surprised how often we omit details or lie, despite the knowledge of what it could do to others.

Right Actions is the last one I’ll touch on in this post as it becomes important because what you do goes hand in hand with what you say and how you think.

As a people, humanity has grown to strive for personal gain, even at the cost of others. This is a false way to live and can cause damage to others. And that damage will have repercussions that can never be taken back. It’s important to treat others the way you want to be treated. This means being respectful at all times and accepting your fate instead of blaming it on others.

The Dharma Wheel

Those who know me personally know to what I am specifically talking about, but the jist of it is that what goes around, comes around. The damage you cause will eventually come back to bite you in an appendage and there may be no fighting your way out of it. So it becomes important to do things RIGHT.

And to those of you who may be suffering through a struggle of your own, perhaps brought on by the injustices caused by another, remember not to let the outcome alter who you are. The goodness that makes you who you are should not be corrupted by others. Keanu Reeves has been pretty popular these days, so I’ll close out with one of his quotes: “If you have been brutally broken, but still have the courage to be gentle to other living beings, then you’re a badass with the heart of an angel.”

The Nation’s Capital

I’m a little late on the ball with providing a post today. This is because I’ve been travelling across the country. Specifically, I travelled to the City of Ottawa.

For any of my friendly readers from abroad, Ottawa is Canada’s National Capital. The population sits at just over 1 million people and boasts a number of tourist attractions, as well as being all around beautiful.

At Regina Internal Airport, waiting to leave for Ottawa.

I’d like to say that this was a pleasure trip, but I came in order to deal with some work-related matters.

Riding the public bus to the downtown area in Ottawa.

In fact, with the exception of these few quick photos, I didn’t have time for much of anything. I arrived yesterday afternoon, spent the night and attended meetings all day today. At the conclusion of my meetings, I was ushered back to the airport where I started the trip back home.

The lovely Ottawa International Airport. It’s quite spacious!

I wish I would have had time to see a bit more while I was here, but what are you gonna do, right?

Hustling through Toronto Pearson Airport, looking for something to eat between flights.

As I write this, I’m waiting for the next leg of my flight to board. It’s been delayed by over an hour and I feel like I’ll never get home. At least not tonight. By the time I reach Regina, it will likely be past midnight and a new day will have begun.

Found a small deli that serves delicious Reuben sandwiches. Expensive, but good!

So there you have it, folks. It’s short and sweet and I’m aware that it doesn’t carry the usual content, but they can’t all be winners, right? Sometimes it’s worth it just to share in the journey. Hopefully after a day’s rest, I can get back on track tomorrow. ☯

Respect, It’s Not Just A Seven Letter Word…

Yesterday, I had an unfortunate discussion with a total stranger. What made it unfortunate is the fact that it started out as a simple comment on one of my posts and quickly escalated into a heated back and forth. Something that, given my beliefs, I do not enjoy. Although I can admit to my contribution to the situation, I feel that the words used on me fell within the realm of disrespectful, especially when one considers that I am a total stranger to this person.

I have only been blogging for seven months. In the grand scope of things, that is an extremely small window of time. But in that small window of time, I have published 137 posts (including this one). I post daily and I try to post information that is useful within the realm of Buddhism, Martial Arts and Diabetes.

I’ve made it clear that I am not a doctor. I am not a nutritionist nor am I a specialist (at least in anything other than the martial arts). What I am, however, is a philosopher, Buddhist, martial artist and an eternal student. I dedicate countless hours to reading and research, and use this time to contribute that same information to my posts. So the information that I provide is normally from peer reviewed sources (that I often link) and I often include my opinion because, well… it’s my blog! Although I have no piece of paper to the contrary on my wall, it does not make me uneducated (as I have studied in a number of fields and subjects), nor does it make me unable to discuss and share a wide variety of information.

From the very beginning, I have made it clear that I am always open for good discussion. I enjoy a good conversation and I enjoy sharing differing points of view even more. But we need to be cognizant of the fine line between difference of opinion and just flat out rudeness and disrespect. To have a person, who is not even a follower of my blog by the way, tell me that my posts “make no sense”, that I am “flat out wrong” and “uneducated”, that I am “incredibly ignorant” and should “really do your research” as well as “spreading misinformation encouraging people to contribute to their own poor health and to immoral practices”… Seriously, folks? Is this what we’ve become?

It breaks my heart because I pride myself on treating others with respect and it makes it all the harder when someone goes over the line like this. If I post something that differs from your opinion, please feel free to speak to me about it. but it can be done in a respectful manner. Maybe I’m being overly sensitive. After all, this is the first time I’ve had an encounter like this on my own blog.

I believe we are all entitled to our opinion. We are entitled to our chosen way of life. Why has it become necessary in today’s world to belittle and put down another person you don’t even know, simply because their views don’t match your own? Especially when it would be so easy to simply keep on scrolling rather than comment.

Negativity breeds negativity, dear readers. We only get out of this world the kind of energy we put into it. So if you are willing to spill negativity against another person, eventually that energy will come back on you. Be good to each other. Respect each other. Be open to others’ opinions without belittling BECAUSE of them. The only way the world can keep on turning is if we turn the crank together. ☯

Save It For A Rainy Day…

Sometimes it’s nice to just sit back and do something for yourself. Especially on days like today… This afternoon, we had heavy rains and thunder for the better part of two hours. In fact, there’s still a touch of raining falling as we speak!

One of the best things to do on such a rainy day is brew a nice hot cup of coffee or tea, and curl up somewhere comfortable with a good book. Reading for leisure is something I don’t get to do a great deal of, these days. Between work, exercise and dealing with the whirlwind that is my child, finding a quiet hour to myself has become almost impossible.

I usually always have a few books on the go. As much as I adore reading, I tend to get bored before I manage to complete one, so I leap frog from one book to another. At the moment, I’m reading Robert Jordan’s “The Path of Daggers”, which is Book 8 of a 14 book series called The Wheel of Time. This will be my third time reading through the series. It’s an amazing series, with a rich storyline and characters. I definitely recommend it, if you have several years to contribute to reading a series. I started reading it for the first time in the mid-90’s.

I’m also reading Sean Williams’ “Star Wars: Fatal Alliance”. For my fellow Star Wars fans, this is a novel of the Old Republic. It’s an interest read, although I’ll admit to having a difficult time getting through it.

It’s important to have a variety when reading, but the main focus of my attention right now is a book by Yamamoto Tsunetomo entitled “Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai”.

What makes this book so interesting is that it was written by an actual Buddhist monk. Well, to clarify… It was written by a scribe named Tashiro Tsuramoto in the early 1700’s, and contains the conversations between Tsuramoto and Tsunetomo.

It wouldn’t be published until quite some time later, but the book contains thoughts on the issues surrounding Japan after the battle of Seki Ga Hara, when Japan’s society began to change and the samurai faced difficulties maintaining a warrior class during an evolving period of peace.

Tsunetomo spent three decades as a samurai warrior. When his master died, he was forbidden from following his master into death by law of the current shogunate. Instead, he chose to renounce the world and become a monk.

It was during those years as a Buddhist monk that Tsunemoto shared the thoughts and sayings that Tsuramoto would scribe into the manuscript that would become Hagakure. It actually covers a number of subjects and makes for quite an interesting read.

I started writing this post almost two hours ago and it’s still pouring out there! I think it’s time to put this puppy to bed and get back to reading. So pick up a book and let that imagination run wild. As I like to say:When you aren’t exercising the body, you should be exercising the mind!

There’s Light At The End, Even When The Tunnel Is Dark…

A very wise (and fictional) person once said: “It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness; that is life.” I’ve always prided myself on being a good person; helping and protecting others and always trying to do the right thing.

In recent days, I’ve come to question what it takes to win a hopeless fight. True battles seem to linger on forever, and one can feel as though it will never end. Sometimes you can feel as though you’ve been fighting forever and you just don’t have any strength left…

I think it was Thomas Fuller who said: “It’s always darkest before the dawn.” This is quite accurate. No matter what obstacles you may be facing, it’s important to keep on fighting. Don’t let the battle force your eyes away from the finale. Keep going. You’ll be surprised how those who matter will surface to offer support right when it’s needed the most. ☯

What Makes You Stronger Can Also Hurt You…

One of the obvious treatments for Type 1 Diabetes is insulin therapy. For those who may not have read my previous posts, (I’m being silly, of course you have!) insulin is a hormone produced by the body’s beta cells in the pancreas. Type 1 Diabetes occurs when your body’s immune system attacks and destroys these beta cells, leading to the pancreas no longer producing insulin.

Dr. Frederick Banting blessed us all with the gift that is insulin in the Spring of 1921 with the help of his trusty lab assistant, Charles Best. And since then, insulin has remained the top dog in the proper treatment and control of insulin-dependant Diabetes.

Although there are several different brand names and sub-types, insulin can be described within five main categories:

Rapid-Acting: This insulin hits the system quickly and is usually taken in conjunction with a meal or to prevent spikes in blood sugar. That being said, I currently use a rapid-acting insulin (Humalog) in my insulin pump to control basal and bosul rates (Examples: Humalog and NovoLog);

Short-Acting: This insulin is similar to the rapid-acting, but it takes a little more time to kick in and peaks a little bit later. (Examples: Humilin R, Novolin R);

Intermediate-Acting: These insulins start kicking in within about an hour, but will provide basal coverage for about 12 hours in total. They are generally used for overall control, need to be taken twice a day and are used in conjunction with a rapid or short-acting insulin (Examples: Humilin N and Novolin N);

Long-Acting: This type of insulin is generally taken at bedtime and kicks in within an hour. The advantage is that it will last anywhere between 20 to 26 hours, with no peak. So it is normally used to maintain proper blood sugar levels throughout the day. This one would also need to be used in combination with a fast or short-acting insulin as it will not compensate for the carbs you take in at mealtimes (Examples: Lantus and Levemir);

Pre-mixed Insulin: This one is a bit of an issue. Each of these insulins are a combination of short and intermediate-acting insulins and can problematically take effect anywhere within 5 minutes to an hour. This is a significant problem since no two people are alike and no two insulin requirements are alike. This insulin is usually taken twice a day in conjunction with a meal (Examples: Humilin 70/30, Novolin 70/30, Humilin and Humalog 50/50).

There’s another type that is sometimes referred to as Ultra-Long Acting, but it’s basically the same thing as Long-Acting with a 36 hour window instead of 20 to 26 hours. As I look back on this list, I realize that at one point or another I have used every type of insulin on this list with the exception of Levemir and the pre-mixes. Crazy.

The American Diabetes Association webpage has a great article that explains all of these in greater detail: http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/medication/insulin/insulin-basics.html

Humalog is what I currently use in my pump. It’s used for its rapid-acting properties at mealtimes, and intermittent basal rate to maintain levels throughout the day.

Although life saving, insulin comes with a range of possible side effects. Much like any other medication, these side effects can range from mild to severe, depending on the person and the type of insulin therapy used.

Some of the most common side effects include, but are not limited to weight fluctuations, erratic blood sugar levels, skin issues from repeated injection sites, heart attack, stroke, eye and kidney complications and in some cases, anxiety or depression.

All of these symptoms can be discussed and dealt with through your family practitioner. The reality is that at the present time, there is no cure for Type-1 Diabetes (contrary to what many conspiracy theorists and naturopaths may believe).

Insulin is not a cure, but simply a treatment that allows those with Diabetes to extend their life expectancy and live full, active lives. As usual, my go-to is to suggest maintaining a healthy lifestyle with plenty of exercise and proper diet. Monitor your blood sugars regularly and keep fighting the good fight! ☯

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! ☯