The End Of A Hairy Month…

I’m extremely proud of what I’ll be writing about today but not so proud of how much of a struggle it was to get here, so there may be a bit of a rant component built in. Buckle up! At the beginning of November, I decided to participate in “Movember,” which is a month intended to raise funds for prostate cancer, testicular cancer, men’s health and suicide prevention. It’s a solid initiative and I’ve been participating for years. For the most part, I’ve usually been a participant in someone else’s group. So I would donate my money, grow out my moustache in exchange for donations then shave on December 1st.

This year, I decided to play it a bit differently since I manage an actual staff. In response to this, I got a feel for everyone’s interest and it was decided I would lead the group in raising money and participating. We made our donations and started to eagerly grow our moustaches. In my zeal, I set our group’s goal to $500, which was a few hundred higher than what we had all contributed but quite modest when compared to how much others usually start GoFund Me’s and donation pages for. But to ensure my group’s success, I reached out on my social media platforms (here included) for help in reaching this goal. The results were disappointing…

Tom Selleck, eat your heart out! After photo, taken yesterday (I don’t have the before one available)

I’ve always believed that if one is able to help others, then one has a responsibility to do so. Although I totally understand that times are tough, I’ve never been one to ask for donations or help with fundraising. I give often, to different charitable organizations, even when I can only spares a few dollars. I’ve helped many, and despite the fact I’m writing the words now, I have always done so without the expectation of recognition or reciprocation. After all, why do something good if it’s just for some form of reward? At that point, it’s simply quid pro quo and not ACTUALLY doing something good…

So, why does it bother me so much that I had to ask repeatedly and often, across three different platforms containing hundreds of known associates, friends and family? The world has taken a significant hit below the belt in the past two years, but am I wrong to think that many if not most, could have contributed $10? $5? A dollar, even? If most of the people on my social media had done that, we would have no doubt reached and even exceeded our goal within the first couple of weeks.

At the end of the day, I can’t fault those who ignored my request for help… A big part of charitable giving is that it needs to come from the donor of their own choice. There can’t be an expectation. And I did have a number of people who provided donations and for that, I thank them sincerely from the bottom of my heart. My team and I are grateful and thanks to these donations, we reach $505 and I was able to shave this light-awful soup strainer off my face.

The experience has taught me a few things, including the fact that I believe next year, I’ll go back to simply being a participant instead of an organizer. I had deep thoughts about raising donations for Diabetes by cycling, but I think my place is to donate, not raise. Since I’ve never really done this before, I was somehow of the impression that more people would step up to lend a hand. Lesson learned. Rant over. ☯️

Screaming At A Brick Wall…

Communication is hard. One wouldn’t think so, given that we live in an age where we have so many different ways to do it. With electronic communications and social media becoming all the rage in the past two decades, one would be inclined to think our ability to communication would have increased and improved. But it continues to amaze me how many if not most people have difficulty communicating effectively. And I’ve observed a number fo reasons for that. Let’s explore this line of thinking a little bit…

I remember an instance years ago when I was texting my wife about supper. She was at work and nearing the end of her day and was no doubt tired and looking forward to coming home. She asked if I had eaten yet, to which I replied “no why did you want to eat with me?” Read that poorly crafted sentence once more time… Do you notice what’s missing? I didn’t, until my wife came home and appeared to be upset with me. What I SHOULD have replied with is, “No, why? Did you want to eat with me?” This would have been a correct sentence structure and would have posed the question as whether my wife wanted to have supper with me. The lack of punctuation in the first one basically makes it look like I’m an asshole questioning WHY she wants to eat with me.

This is a pretty simple example, but a pretty accurate one as it relates to written communication. We live in a society where text messaging and messaging apps have become the primary means of communication. There are plenty of jokes floating around about one’s phone ringing and the the recipient thinking, why aren’t they just texting me? before ignoring the call. I’ll admit that I’ve been guilty of doing that very thing on more than one occasion. Much to the chagrin of the people trying to call. I make exceptions for the folks I know who don’t use text messaging, like my mother. But otherwise, come on! That totally could have been a text!

All jokes aside, grammar and punctuation play an important role in how one’s message is relayed. In a world of emojis and abbreviations over text-written communication, it can be difficult to discern the sender’s intended message. It can be EASY to misinterpret it and assume a different message than what the sender meant. Plus, communicating through a device or by text takes away all those little aspects of communication that humans have spent their entire existence using, such as hand movements, body language and facial expressions. If you’re on a date and the girl says, “You’re an idiot!” but laughs and gently places her hand on your shoulder, you’ll likely be inclined to be relaxed and assume it has an affectionate meaning. If she looks at you with a frown or screams it at you, she may genuinely think you’re an idiot. But I digress…

The point is that body language plays a bit part in how effective one’s communication can be and how the message is interpreted. But even bigger than that, is the fact that communicating effectively requires a minimum of two parties. there’s nothing worse than trying to communicate with someone who’s shut down, distracted or not listening. Sensei always used to tell me that I have two ears and only one mouth, so I should listen twice as much as I talk. I always thought that was so clever of him. It wouldn’t be until years later that I would find out the expression was coined by the greek philosopher Epictetus. But regardless of the source, they’re wise words, nonetheless.

Communication is a core aspect of socialization. In a world where the average person spends their day with their neck craned over a smart device, two-way communication with another person in good conversation is also part of a person’s mental wellbeing. Even people who “prefer to be alone” eventually get lonely. Although some people can sit together in comfortable silence, this usually isn’t achieved with the average pairing of people in everyday situations. Communication must be a two-way street, with both parties actively listening AND hearing and both parties contributing. This can mean the difference between effective communication or being misunderstood, whether type-written or in person. Food for thought… ☯️

Important Choices Are Never Smooth…

I’ve often said that choosing a martial art to study and practice is an extremely subjective thing. And it is! Not only does one have different types of martial arts to choose from (striking, grappling, weapons-based, etc) each of those types have different schools and styles to choose from, often differing from one another on some very key levels. For example, although I study Okinawan karate, not all Okinawan karate dojos will offer the same aspects I may be looking for.

The thing is, there really isn’t a BAD reason to join a martial arts school, unless you or reason is because you want to actively bring harm to someone else. Notice that I didn’t say it was bad to defend yourself, but I would be lying if I hadn’t encountered a bully or two walking into my dojo over the decades. If your goal is to learn how to fight so you can bully, intimidate or harm others, good luck finding a good instructor who will be willing to teach you.

A few years ago, when I started the challenging task to find a new dojo to train in by virtue of being 3,400 kilometres away from Sensei, I coined the term “Coffee Club Dojo.” This refers to a dojo or martial arts school where the students and/or practitioners spend the majority of the class joking around, chatting slit about non-dojo-related matters and waste their time. This grates on my last nerve, and can make it difficult for a prospective student to positively identify whether the style in question may be suited to them.,

What’s the difference, you ask? The difference between a McDojo and a Coffee Shop Dojo is that a McDojo teaches a watered-down version of a specific art in the interest of maintaining the highest student count possible and making the most money. Students will often climb in rank quickly, provided their cheques clear and they’re willing to pay any associated fees. A Coffee Shop Dojo is one where financial gain may not be a priority and may not even be a consideration, but the student body treat the dojo as a social club rather than a place to learn. The instructor in these schools will often be complacent about this behaviour and may even take part in it.

I know what some of you may be thinking…. If these folks are treating their dojo as their own personal social club and use it to socialize, who are they hurting? there’s no bad reason to be in martial arts, right? Well, the problem I have with this type of environment is that it may sway or provide a wrong impression to a prospective student. Although most individuals should know what they want out of their training, it’s very possible that some wouldn’t. Further, some youths who may be brought in by their parents may not have the inherent knowledge to recognize that this may not be the place to get the best training.

Ultimately, preference is key and knowing what you want is important. that’s why it’s critical that you allow yourself the opportunity to observe a class before participating. you need to have the opportunity to ask some questions and get a feel for how those questions will be answered. If your goal is to LEARN the martial arts and get in shape, learn to defend and protect yourself and better yourself, a casual, laid back atmosphere may not be for you. But if you’ve never set foot in a martial arts dojo before, how will you know? And THAT is the question that begs answering…

When you practice an art that’s suited to you and your needs, there will be struggle. But it should be smooth-flowing. there will be difficulty, but you’ll be energized and have a hunger that will make you want to train harder, faster and stronger. there may be blood, sweat and tears but as I shared in a previous post some time ago, he who sweats more in training, bleeds less in battle. Martial arts is a subjective thing. Be sure you exercise that choice and find something suited to you. Food for thought… ☯️

The Beetles Were Wrong…

Falling in love is one of the great gifts of life. When you finally find that special someone that completes your life, it can be overwhelming and all-encompassing. It can also bring a level of happiness and joy that’s rarely matched by anything else you may experience in life. In fact, the good things in life become better when you have that special someone to share it with. Ultimately, love heals and the world could certainly use a little more love than most of what’s spewed out in society, even at the present moment.

But love is also conditional on one’s ability to understand that unlike the Beetles’ song, you do, in fact, need much more than love. This is one of those times where I should throw up a quick sentence or two explaining that I’m not an expert in relationships and my advice should be taken with grain of salt. Especially since I’ve had enough failed relationships in my younger years to write a digest. But failure in name isn’t always failure in fact. And these failed relationships have taught what’s necessary in order to make a relationship work. But since this post has been flagged as my “opinion,” we should be good to go.

A good, strong relationship takes much more than love. It takes patience, communication, understanding and just enough similarities to mesh well, together while having enough difference to challenge and help each other grow. There are a bunch of other things that are necessary, as well. But what am I, a couple’s therapist? Definitely not. Like many people in modern society, I’ve been married more than once. It’s not something that I talk about much, but that failed marriage taught me the important aspects that I carried over into future relationships and ultimately into the relationship that will last me well into my next life. Let’s examine a few of these aspects in greater detail…

Patience is the biggest one and the first in my list. Without patience, there can be nothing else. The reasoning behind this is quite simple. No matter how much you love someone and how much you may or may not have in common, patience is needed in order to pave the way for the other relationship virtues I named above. If one is not patient with one’s partner, it can leave the relationship open to unnecessary conflict and hostility, which is never healthy for any relationship. I know many sources will say that it’s good to occasionally open the spigot and let the pent-up aggression out and that it can actually help make the relationship stronger. Maybe. But that’s a BIG maybe. I prefer to think that if one communicates properly, one can avoid the trappings of aggression and conflict, which leads me to the next virtuous aspect…

Communication is an integral part of living among a population of people, whether you happen to be involved with them intimately or not. Those who find themselves unable or unwilling to communicate effectively will usually face a host of issues with the other parties involved and this is no different with personal and intimate relationships. You need to be able to talk things out, discuss important topics and be willing to compromise and concede the point. You can love the other person with every fibre in your soul but if you can’t communicate, the relationship will inevitably falter.

And to be clear, good communication doesn’t just mean telling the other party what you want/feel and expecting them to accommodate you. It also involves hearing what the other person is saying and be willing to compromise on key points. For example, what’s their stance on finances? Do they want children? Even political positions can have a bearing and consequences on how well and how long the relationship may last. But if you have open and willing communication between two people and they’re willing to compromise and meet in the middle on key issues, it will make life and love all the easier and smoother.

Lastly, understanding is the result of patience and good communication. Sensei used to tell me that I was born with two ears and only one mouth, which means I should listen twice as much as I talk. granted, I think that saying was coined elsewhere but the lesson is sound. Understanding is part of the foundation of a solid relationship. It isn’t enough to listen and HEAR something from your partner. you need to understand the message they’re trying to impart, bearing in mind that you deserve all these same things, as well.

Loving someone is an important part of a relationship. You should never tether yourself to another person is love isn’t there. But love isn’t enough. You need to be able to communicate with that person effectively. You need to be understanding and not make demands of that person, nor should they be demanding things of you. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “Love is patient, love is kind…” But you and your partner are the ones who need to be patient with each other. Don’t be afraid to be brutally honest with each other, talk to each other and compromise on key points. Contrary to what you may have read, don’t be afraid to go to bed angry. If nothing else, you’ll both have the opportunity to cool off and think things through before saying something that you’ll both regret. There’s my two cents on relationships. Food for thought… ☯️

Dojos Shouldn’t Be Built In Glass Houses…

Those who know me well are aware that in some ways, a lot of ways, I’m a bit of an old dog. And we all know what they say about the aching us new tricks. I’ve been studying Okinawan karate for over 30 years and as such, I’m a bit set in my ways as it relates to adaptability. This sucks, because variety is the spice of life and one should never be bogged down or restricted by only one style.

With that in mind, I started training with a local karate dojo located in Regina, back in 2016. Although it’s a different style with significantly different techniques and ways of doing things than I’m used to, the camaraderie and ambiance have been just what the doctor ordered to keep me motivated and practicing. What’s nice is that there’s been some exchange of knowledge between our respective styles, so everyone learns.

However, as with most things nowadays, COVID-19 stuck a needle in my eye by closing down the dojo. We were having virtual classes for a while and then even those stopped. When conditions lifted in Saskatchewan last September, everyone was overjoyed to return to the dojo in person and get some training in. Then conditions and health regulations changed once again at the end of September, leading the dojo to close its doors again. this was mostly due to the requirements imposed by the martial arts association it’s a part of. but I digress…

With nowhere to train and my martial arts muscles twitching, I sought out different schools in order to find someplace new to get my kicks (pun fully intended). Last Monday, I visited a local school, here in Regina. Since perspective is extremely important in the martial arts and all of this is strictly my opinion, I won’t name the school or even the style. Suffice it to say it would have been something completely new for me.

Considering how long I’ve been doing this, i have a particular set of expectations when it comes to dojos and martial arts schools. Not everyone agrees with them and it often restricts me in the sense that I’m viewing this place with that narrow lens instead of considering what I could learn. This is the issue I faced last Monday evening when I attended this new school.

Class was scheduled for 7:00 pm and was only for an hour. This is my first red flag. Class minimum was always two hours when I trained back home and even then, we had difficulties walking out without showering Sensei with questions and asking about techniques for at least twenty minutes afterwards. It’s pretty hard to truly get into in-depth training with only an hour to work with. But in the interest of having an open mind, I reserved my opinion in favour of seeing what they’d offer in only sixty minutes.

I walked in at 6:45 and was greeted at the entrance by a few students who were standing there waiting. This took me aback a bit, as it’s important to stretch and warm up before training. Everyone was very friendly, introduced themselves and asked me what I knew about their style. I was told that the lead instructor was providing a private session and that class would start promptly at 7. Prior to class start, the students as well as the instructor tried their best to have me join in as opposed to watching. I politely declined, stating I wanted to observe a class first.

I couldn’t help but notice that the lead instructor was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and a baseball cap. I thought maybe this was just for the private session and he’d change into something appropriate before class started, but that didn’t happen. He was also wearing rings and a metal bracelet, which is frowned upon in most martial arts schools as you can injure yourself or others while training.

The class started and one of the students led the class in about 20 to 30 minutes worth of stretches and warm-up, which should have been done independently by the students prior to start of class. But again, this is simply an opinion. At the halfway point, everyone paired off and started practicing techniques. It should be noted that the instructor has done nothing at this point, other than walking around the group. Techniques were practiced in a cursory manner, with no precision or correction and EVERYONE was chatting while they trained. Not about the material, moons you. They were chatting about personal matters.

At the end of the hour, everyone bowed out and immediately started exiting. No follow up, no questions and most importantly, no one had broken a sweat and the instructor had not participated. He was extremely polite and invited me back to start taking lessons. I thanked him for his time and said some goodbyes to the students I had met and made my way home. I haven’t returned.

This is where my opening comment about being an old dog comes in. Where I was trained, the student was responsible for arriving a minimum of 15 minutes before start of class and stretching appropriately so that everyone was ready to jump into it once class started. There’s also an expectation that everyone works hard and everyone sweats. The expression is “blood, sweat and tears,” not “tea time and socializing.” There’s a time and place for students to come together and chat, but during class time is not it.

Another issue is the instructor’s lack of involvement. This is a red flag, as the instructor SHOULD be involved in training, as much if not more than the students. I’ve heard of some styles that believe that “black belts don’t sweat,” but that’s utter bullshit. A true martial artist’s training never ends, so there needs to be an active involvement.

I left the school that night a little sad and disappointed. As I said earlier, I haven’t returned. But on the other hand, the school may have great value to its students for what THEY need. The takeaway is that it simply wasn’t for me. And this is an important lesson. Martial arts is very subjective thing and the style and habits of the school are integral to ensuring the student and/or practitioners are getting what they seek from their training.

As it stands, the search for a place to train continues. And that’s fine. Considering how much I train on my own and the fact there are over three dozen schools in Regina alone, I’m sure I’ll find something. Persistence is key. But for all of you trying to find a place to train, make sure you know what you want to get out of your training. Be honest with yourself and with the instructor about what you want and what you expect. This will save significant amount of unwanted difficulty later on. ☯️

All The Colours Of The Alphabet, Part 2

Alright, so this is a continuation of yesterday’s post. If you haven’t read that one, I highly recommend that you do before reading this one. Should you choose not to, it can easily stand on its own as an individual post. But just to provide some context, in the past thirty years I’ve been diagnosed with ADD, OCD and PTSD. The difficulties and complications I’ve faced as a result of these letters attached to my name have been plentiful. When combined with Type-1 Diabetes, it pretty much means I won the bullshit lottery of life. But as most would agree, there are worse things in life.

I’ve often written about some of the worst things that you can say to someone with Type-1 and even type-2 Diabetes about their condition. And trust me, there a lot of things you shouldn’t ask or tell someone with Diabetes, although educating these folks is the key. But it recently dawned on me that there are a number of things that people have told me over the years that absolutely grates on my nerves, as it relates to ADD, OCD and PTSD. I thought it would be productive to provide the top five things you should never say or ask to someone with ANY of the conditions I’ve named herein:

  1. Can’t You Just Sit Still? No, asshole! I can’t! Next question… Seriously though, this one is the top of the list because it drives me absolutely nuts. If I could sit still, don’t you think I could? If I could sit without constantly clicking my nails, playing with the hem of my jeans or constantly surveying the room I’m in and needing to have my back against a wall, I would. But I can’t, by virtue of ADD and OCD but forced upon me by PTSD. Moving on…
  2. It’s All In your Head… Umm, yeah. No shit! This one is actually correct, although not in the context that it’s intended. All of my acronyms are part of who I am and are, in fact, in my head. PTSD has been proven to alter one’s brain activity and causes a measurable injury to one’s brain. ADD and OCD can cause severe anxiety in the involved person, as well it feeling as though it’s beyond our physical capability to stop doing certain things that we do, including but not limited to trying to live in a clean and neat environment, compulsively repeating certain behaviours as well as dealing with the recurring trauma by inadvertent triggers in the general public. These things aren’t anyone’s fault but still cause damage and makes a sufferer’s life all the more difficult.
  3. Maybe You Should Just Let It Go… Oh, this one is like the shit that has nuts in it! Picture holding someone in your arms as they die and you’re the last thing they see as the light of light extinguishes from their eyes. Picture spending HOURS searching for a victim’s leg on the snowy highway before a coroner will allow the body to be removed. Picture staying by a man in his 20’s bedside for several hours because he attempted suicide and failed, leaving him with no face, no ears and no mouth and you’re the only one at his bedside as he faces death with no contact to the outside world. It took him over six hours to finally die… These are not things one can let go. And they are NOT something one can forget. And they are NOT things that any human should have to suffer through or witness.
  4. It’s Just Their Excuse To Drink… Mmmm, no! Unfortunately, since there’s no cure for PTSD, it’s left a lot of sufferers trying to find solace in things like alcohol or elicit drugs. Although these aren’t ideal, they’re often the only recourses for someone stuck in a serious funk because of their condition. War veterans who have historically and recently found themselves without work, seeming to suffer from mental health disorders and alcoholism suffer from PTSD and are usually misjudged by the public. They aren’t lazy, unwilling to work or trying to live a hobo life. They’re simply so deep into their condition that they can’t find a way out. At least not on their own.
  5. It’s No Excuse… Maybe not. And this one hits close to home for me, because I’ve always made a point of trying NOT to use my conditions as an excuse for anything I do. But for some people, a lot of people, they can’t help the compulsions they feel and have to act one. When someone suffers from extreme PTSD and succumbs to it, they can harm not only themselves but others. This is where it becomes important to recognize those signs and be able to remove themselves from that scenario, especially for family members.

ADD, OCD and PTSD are still widely misunderstood and often misdiagnosed conditions, even in modern times. The latter is probably the most prominent in my life and causes me issues and challenges t overcome on a daily basis. It’s at times like this that I’m grateful for martial arts as well as Buddhist and meditative training. they’ve gone a long way towards helping me to maintain myself and prevent issues within my own life. But it isn’t without challenge. Loud and constant noise, such as that created by my children for example, tend to create a static inside my head that I can’t fight off.

If you question or doubt someone’s personal situation on the basis of some mental health related, be sure you know what you’re talking about before you comment. Even though you may be commenting from a place of concern or maybe even exasperation, your comments can have damaging repercussions. Asking why they AREN’T doing something can be far worse than asking what YOU can do. Sometimes it can mean just leaving the person be. Sometimes, they may actually need help with something. Everyone is facing a battle others won’t know about. At the end of the day, helping and healing should take precedence over questions and judgments. Food for thought… ☯

All The Colours Of the Alphabet, Part 1

To say that my childhood had an interesting variety of bullshit would be an understatement. On the one side, I got to spend the majority of my childhood in various hospitals for both myself and my brother. Being there for myself was better. When I was there for my brother, I got to face the potential that we were there because he would die. I learned from a young age to sit still, be quiet and wait for the storm to pass. Having learned to sit still is a bit of an irony…

From a young age I seemed to find myself unable to sit still for extended periods of time, my mind would drift away from the matter at hand and I was always living life with my head in the clouds and preferred not to pay attention to the realities of life. This made sense when you factored in my health complications and my brothers. A world of make-believe was obviously better than dealing with the multiple comas I suffered through due to Diabetes or the constant threat of death my brother faced due to the multiple health conditions he faced.

But soon after my seventh birthday, I attended a doctor’s appointment that changed my life. I thought I was getting a check-up because of my Diabetes, which I had learned to zone out and let the adults talk. Turns out that was part of the problem; this appointment was the day I was diagnosed with ADD. ADD or Attention Deficit Disorder, is usually diagnosed when a child’s school work begins to suffer as a result of lack of attention, impulsive behaviour and hyperactivity. That last one never really applied to me but I found myself frequently unable to sit still for longer than a few seconds at a time (a problem I still face as an adult).

Being the stubborn French-Acadian woman that she is, my mother refused to allow the doctor to prescribe any mood-altering medications often associated with ADD by virtu of the fact she had to watch my older brother shovel a dozen different prescriptions down his throat every day. She felt the risk of how new meds would affect my blood sugars far outweighed the benefit of “calming me down.” I’m grateful to her for that, but it still made for a difficult childhood and even my teens years. It would get WORSE once I hit my teens…

Worse, you say? How could it possibly get worse? Well, my attention issues became compounded by certain compulsive behaviours. On their own, one wouldn’t think much of them. As a combined totality, I was soon diagnosed with OCD, or Obsessive-Compulsive Behaviour. Contrary to what most people believe, OCD doesn’t just involve a compulsive need to clean things. It can involve annoying and intrusive obsessions, repetitive behaviours and strict routines that can cause wicked anxiety if they aren’t adhered to.

One good example is my inability to purchase only ONE of something, when the special indicates that you can get two for the price of something. The urge is stronger than I can overcome. I do have some cleaning and neatness compulsions that piggy-back on my many ticks and compulsions. That doesn’t make it better. I’m jus’ sayin’… Even though OCD isn’t genetically inherent, it’s a good time to point out that my mother has full-blown signs of OCD, cleaning and neatness compulsions. My grandmother was so bad that she’d walk by sliding on two squares of paper towel for a full week after cleaning her floor.

Then I decided I need to do my part for the world and train to protect others. As a result, I spent thirteen years working as a police officer. The population as a whole have a love/hate relationship with the police. Some see them as an important part of keeping our society safe. Others see them as part of the problem. No matter which side of the balance you happen to find yourself, I shouldn’t need to explain that we’re often subjected to situations that can cause severe damage to a person’s psych. that’s where the next acronym comes in: PTSD.

PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, is defined differently depending on the source you read. For the most part, it involves having a person exposed to traumatic events, sustained violence or threats of injury or death. Although a bit biased, I would say that policing puts one in this context, easily. I won’t get into some of the situations I’ve lived through during my policing career, as reminding myself of them is problematic. But some of the things I’ve seen and experienced haunt me years later, cause nightmares and trigger me at the worse possible times. Like the way being in a crowded restaurant sets my brain on fire. But I digress…

Over the years, I’ve been “blessed” with having all these acronyms attached to who I am as a person. They’ve provided significant challenge and combining the three has made a fantastic milkshake of difficulty and complications that I struggle with from week to week. It makes it difficult to sleep, difficult to deal with large public masses of people and exceptionally difficult to want to do anything outside the house (with some exceptions).

Before I get too maudlin here and spoil the mood (if I haven’t already), the reason I bring all of these up is that the last ten years or so have seen some fantastic strides in recognizing these conditions as something genuine and not just “all in one’s head.” ADHD, OCD and PTSD have come to be acknowledged as actual conditions and not just something that one needs to treat by self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. Despite these strides, there’s still a lot of stigma and misunderstanding associated with these acronyms. It makes one’s life difficult, in work, leisure and home life. How it’s perceived by public carries a lot of weight to how society chooses to understand these conditions. Food for thought and more to come… ☯

My Suit Won’t Stop Me From Changing The Trash…

After about thirteen years of wearing a uniform, it’s been a blessed change to go to work in a suit every day. A number of my colleagues and coworkers don’t adopt this practice, preferring to spend their work days in more casual attire, including khakis and polo shirts. But I don’t know, I kind of love wearing a suit. When one considers the broad selection of shirts and ties one can choose from, it allows for a certain level of creativity in one’s daily look that can’t be achieved when wearing an issued uniform.

That being said, I’ve noticed an interesting trend in the months that I’ve been in public while wearing a suit. Perception is everything to the average person (if there truly is such a thing as “average”), and I’ve noticed that people’s behaviour and reactions are different around me when I’m walking in public in a suit. People will be quicker to move out of my way, hold doors open for me and address me as “sir.” In some respects, it’s rather nice. In others, it speaks to a blind perception that society has about status and misinterpretation.

I can walk through the same environment wearing faded jeans and my favourite karate jacket and the responses I’ll get will be radically different. This blind perception is interesting, since I was raised that holding the door for someone is a sign of respect and politeness as opposed to being done as a result of believing the person you’re doing it for is of a “higher status” than you.

I call it a blind perception because that person wearing a suit may be on their way to a wedding, funeral or a job interview. Maybe they just like wearing suits. It doesn’t speak to status, wealth or social level like it used to in previous generations. you can still refer to someone as “sir” or “ma’am” as a show of respect and politeness without necessarily thinking they’re “entitled” to it.

I’m not sure where I’m going with today’s post. I think it’s mostly just dumping out my thoughts since it’s something I’ve noticed over recent months. Keep in mind that politeness and general respect for others should be the standard, not the exception. And certainly not dependent on what someone may be wearing or one’s biased perspective. Food for thought…☯️

Take A Break And Relax With This Post

Given the hectic demands of modern family life, it can be pretty easy to forget that it’s important to take time for yourself. In most cases, we get so tangled up in the requirements of our daily grind that we tend to overlook our own self-care and care of our home. I can relate to how easy that can be. For example, one of the few “benefits,” if they can really be called that, of the pandemic quarantine when everyone was pretty much sequestered to their home, is that I had far more time to do some reading, writing, playing the daily challenges on some games and playing with my kids. With some aspects of society slowly returning to normal, that extra time has disappeared and my ability to self-care seems to have disappeared with it.

Taking breaks and finding the time to relax is important. Because as they say, you can’t help or take care of others until you’ve taken care of yourself. Don’t ask me who “they” are, I have no clue. But this is a very true fact and it applies to work, leisure and family life. If one doesn’t take the time to let one’s head cool, it gets difficult if not altogether impossible to properly manage one’s daily grind and responsibilities.

Work is a great example. Any productive job will be a roller coaster of busy-ness. one week may be pretty tame and you have plenty of time to catch up on things and the next week will feel like the job is literally trying to drive you to drink from all the added pressure. And that’s why, even when it’s busy, you can and SHOULD take time for coffee breaks and step away from the computer. Whether you actually get coffee or not is irrelevant. The act of walking away from your computer or work for even fifteen minutes gives you the opportunity to recharge, get some fresh air and will actually increase one’s productivity.

Some there are and those are they, who are often inclined to believe that taking a break when they’re busy will cause the work to grind to a halt or make things worse. But let’s be realistic, here…. The work will still be there whether you take the break or not. Fifteen minutes won’t make a measurable amount of difference in the workload BUT it may make a measurable difference in your productivity. And that’s where the important difference lies.

The same applies to your home life. Maybe you have work to do at home. Maybe you have a spouse who needs your attention. Maybe you’re a parent and have to help your kids with homework and play with them. It can seem pretty daunting, especially if you work long hours, do shift work or usually end up needing to bring some work home with you. By the time the family meal is done and everything is cleaned up and you’ve squared away the kids, you’re likely too tired to commit yourself to work.

It can be all the more difficult if your life includes anything extra. Let’s use an example like, oh, I don’t know…karate! Although an experienced practitioner can train at home, it stands to reason that most students need to attend class. Finding time to do so with everything I’ve described can be a bit difficult, especially if you know that stuff is piling up and waiting for you. Not to mention that despite the fact that those activities are important to you, your family may not understand and often resent your absence.

That’s why communication is important and integral, in both personal and work circumstances. Most of the time, unless you’re being radically unreasonable, communicating and explaining your needs will go a long way towards helping others understand what you need to take better care of yourself. Once that communication has been achieved, you can work on some self-care, which in turn will help you to better help others.

Although I totally understand that it’s often easier said than done, take your breaks. Indulge in some self care. No matter the time constraints, the workload or the home responsibilities, you owe it not only to yourself but to everyone in your entourage to ensure that you’re refreshed, relaxed and can give them your best you. Working or stressing yourself into an early grave is pointless. After all, you only live once. That we know of…😉 Food for thought…☯️

A Little Motivation…

This is one of those instances where I’m keeping the post short in the interest of simply sharing a little motivation. I found this little paragraph online somewhere and as per usual, I can’t seem to recall where I did. I’m sure one could find it, if one chose to Google and search a bit but I’m more interested in the thought behind it than the source. Here it is…

“You Can Rise Up From Anything.
You Can Completely Recreate Yourself.
Nothing Is Permanent.
You’re Not Stuck. You Have Choices.
You Can Think New Thoughts.
You Can Learn Something New.
You Can Create New Habits.
All That Matters Is That You Decide Today
And You Never Look Back.”

I like this. It’s simple and concise, straight to the point. It’s shown as “anonymous,” so I honestly don’t know the source, but I think it speaks to the fact that it’s important to remember that life rarely cares about one’s plan. Despite that fact, one can fight and get through just about anything, so long as you give it the effort it deserves. When faced with suffering and adversity, people often give up, throw in the towel and curl into a little ball and cry. Some may even choose to lose themselves in some rather unfortunate indulgences. But these are usually only a temporary escape and never a solution.

We all have it within us to reinvent ourselves. This is not to say that you shouldn’t stick to your guns if you’re happy with who and where you are. But if you’re NOT happy, then you owe it to yourself and to those you love to fight through and make a change. It may be rough waters to navigate, but once you clear it and see the shore, it’ll be a better life. A happier life. Food for thought… ☯️