Be Who You Are, You Aren’t Designed To Be Anyone Else…

Here’s the thing, and you may as well buckle up because this one will be a bit of a rant. I am who I am. I spent a good portion of my youth being someone I wasn’t meant to be. And that’s a horrible way to live, even as a child. As we grow into adulthood, there’s always this great expectation that we’ll conform to certain societal norms and kowtow to the masses. But realistically, we don’t live in that kind of world anymore. And with the advent of social media and the internet, it doesn’t take long for anyone who tries to suppress any individual’s thoughts, beliefs or lifestyle to be swiftly and sometimes radically, put in their place.

I take stock of who I was in my youth (my youth includes both childhood and my teens) and I recognize that I had a lot of work to do. Sure, I studied the martial arts and I worked on my health. But there were a lot of hiccups along the way. I was quiet and withdrawn. I didn’t associate with the world very much, which I’ve come to feel has damaged opportunities and taken away certain options I COULD have had in life. I made myself content with staying in my small corner of the world and ignoring the rest of it, all while doing karate and enjoying my few, small pleasures.

It wasn’t until I reached adulthood and took ownership of certain personal choices that I finally began to open up. Most people who know me now would likely be taken aback by the quiet, pliable and compliant individual I was throughout my youth. Considering how loud and larger than life I tend to be now, all thanks to my specific heritage, no doubt, I think it would come as a shock to most people who knew me “back then.”

What got me here? Honestly, I’ve screwed up during my life. A lot. I’ve made mistakes and errors in judgement that I’ll never be able to take back and that have had real and measurable consequences on the way my life has turned out. I’ve made poor and even bad choices. and have lost friends and loved ones due to my inability to say or do the right thing at the right time. Although some of them are dearly missed, their chosen absence tells me that they weren’t meant to be a part of my overall journey.

I’ve done a lot of good in my life. I’ve done charity, made donations and given away possessions and time. I’ve solved crimes and saved lives and tried to make the world a better place in whatever way I could. I have also done some bad in my life. I’ve failed to be there for people who needed me. I’ve ignored the needs of others and have ended friendships because walking away was often easier than fighting it out. Sometimes in the pursuit of eliminating suffering; sometimes not.

Among all of my direct and indirect actions, my words and choices comes one ultimate result: I am me. For better or for worse, here I am. Some people like me. Some people don’t. Hell, some people hate me. And I KNOW that some people love me. And therein lies the secret to life: it doesn’t care about your plan. And by that very fact, it’s important to recognize that one should never live with regret. Regret is insidious and can only lead to suffering. And it gets you absolutely nothing.

Learn to live with the life you have and you’ll never be without happiness. This isn’t to mean that you won’t ever feel sadness. Or loss. It simply means that your life as a whole will be far happier. Once you let go of hate (and the haters), eliminate the suffering in your own life and do what makes you happy, especially with THOSE who make you happy, you’ll always be on the straight and narrow path to a happier, more enlightened life.

I am me. I am who I am. I may be weird, although I prefer to think unique. I’ll always say exactly what I think and what you see will always be what you get. I find myself incapable of ever being otherwise. Those who know me, know this for a fact. I don’t make friends easily and keep them even less easily, especially once folks get to know the real me. But if you happen to be one of the select few in my life who stick around through the good AND the bad, my love and loyalty will be yours. Without question.

The only down side to being open and always saying what I think, is that it works both ways. If I don’t like you or you bring harm to me or my lobbed ones, you’ll discover that little fact quickly. I make no apologies for turning the page on the story that is my life. As the line from hamlet says, “To thine own self be true.” Life will throw you a lot of curve balls. Some good and some bad will always be inevitable. Such is the balance of life. But so long as you remain true to yourself in all aspects of life, you’ll navigate the good and bad without issue. Food for thought…. ☯️

Your Helmet Won’t Stop A Speeding Car…

I grew up during as time when the wearing of bicycle helmets wasn’t really a thing. And how could it be? I couldn’t wear a helmet while wearing earphones to my walkman, now could I? This was long before the advent of earbuds but honestly, as long as I was wearing a ball cap to protect my scalp from the sun and I was home before dark, my parents never imposed the wearing of a bike helmet. These days? Depending on the community you live in, the requirement of a bike helmet may be law. But there isn’t a day where I don’t see multiple people cycling in heavy traffic areas without a helmet.

It is what it is. Some people are more apt to follow rules and best practices than others. But the curious thing is, what purpose does a bike helmet serve? If you’re a young child and you happen to topple sideways on your bike, a helmet may save your skull from cracking on the edge of a sidewalk; no question. But whether you’re a child or an adult, you’re helmet won’t save you from any significant incident, such as getting struck by a moving car. This makes one wonder why it’s considered so necessary on most cases. And this post is about all of those little “rules,” not just bicycle helmets.

The reason behind certain rules and regulations isn’t always clear. And more often than not, it can seem unnecessary and perhaps even excessive. Especially if you find yourself on the receiving end of a penalty in relation to any of it. One good example is last week, when I was issued a traffic ticket for performing an “illegal” turn. I won’t get into the specifics of the ticket, other than to say that I definitely performed the alleged action, and the section of legislation does render it unlawful. So I really can’t argue the traffic ticket. But I couldn’t help but feel that I had done nothing wrong or unsafe and that being issued a ticket because of it was rather ridiculous.

The point behind today’s particular rant, is that even though it seemed perfectly safe and acceptable to me, doesn’t mean that it would be to everyone. In most cases, an incident likely occurred that led to that action becoming unlawful. By that logic, it becomes important for people to observe those laws and abide by them. Not only for their own safety, but the safety of others. At the risk of opening my comments section up to a plethora of argumentative points of view, this concept applies to a lot of rules, regulations and laws that are being enacted in response to the current state of the world. Some of them may seem unfair or excessive, but they all have the aim to protect and safeguard the population as a whole.

Most people can’t discern the difference between their “rights” and doing “what’s right.” The two often don’t go hand-in-hand and don’t always apply to one another. And sometimes, we need to abide by certain rules in order for society to continue to function normally. This is the cost of living in a modern society where we live in mass gathering of populated towns and cities. I’m quite certain that if a vehicle clips me while I’m out cycling, my helmet likely won’t do a damn thing to save me. Just like wearing a face mask “may” do nothing for me or the people around me. But I acknowledge two things: the first is that I can still observe my rights as a person while abiding by the rules. The second is that it costs me nothing, which tends to make peoples’ theatrics over most of these issues more than a bit ridiculous. this is why you’ll always see me do both those things, so long as it’s required of me. Food for thought… ☯️

The Cost Of Karate

I once wrote a post about the cost of Diabetes supplies and how financially devastating it would be to someone who isn’t lucky enough to have medical coverage. I won’t get into the specifics, since I’ve posted on it before and it can be read here. But there’s no denying that there’s been a noticeable increase in the cost of things, even in JUST the past twenty years. I remember buying my first car when I was 16 years old (that’s the reward of working at a young age, I was able to purchase my own first car) and gasoline prices were in the 50 or 60 cents/litre. When I got fuel for my SUV yesterday, the current cost was 132 cents/litre. Crazy, right?

This increase in cost has affected everything, from food to commodities and leisure products. But it wasn’t until recently that I discovered that it had affected the martial arts world, as well. And why wouldn’t it, right? The costs associated with running a dojo have undoubtedly increased with the years, same as everything else. I’ve just been fortunate enough that it’s never affected me. Between time and circumstances, I was always in a position where inflation never came to my attention, at least not where karate or martial arts was concerned. Until recently.

When I joined karate in 1989, I was paying a monthly tuition of $20/month. That’s it. I bought a GeneSport cotton karate gi for $40 and there was nothing else associated. Of course, Sensei was always the kind of instructor who never charged for anything. He basically charged JUST enough tuition to keep the lights on. That’s it. There was no entry fee, membership dues besides monthly tuition and no charge for sport insurance or any of those things. Obviously, I’m not hear to argue the necessity of those costs in a modern dojo; I’m simply pointing out that they didn’t apply to our dojo.

During the last ten years that I trained in Norther New Brunswick, Sensei announced that due to the school board increasing rental costs for the gym we used, he would have to increase our tuition cost. The irony is most of us were wondering how we would afford a more expensive monthly tuition to keep training. Sensei announced he would be increasing tuition to $25/month. I remember thinking, “Wow, that’s it?” He even asked us if that was okay with us, and we were all fine with it, but I can’t help but wonder what he would have done if we’d all said we weren’t fine with the increase.

Besides that 5-dollar increase in monthly tuition, I’ve never had to worry about increase cost of studying karate. That is to say, besides my own indulgences, such as purchasing a Tokaido or Shureido gi, or purchasing a custom belt with my name on it, when I graduated Shodan. But those are not necessities to studying martial arts. Otherwise, Sensei never charged us for belt tests, certificates or even his time. On reflection, I have to say that I got really lucky in finding him, as the character of one’s Sensei dictates how the pupil will grow or even whether they stick it out.

In 2009, I moved out to Saskatchewan where I joined the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and attended training for six months in Regina. When I completed my training, I was posted to the Province of Saskatchewan and have been here ever since. I was posted in multiple places within the Province but as I was never anywhere for longer than a few years, it made it difficult to commit myself to a local dojo or even open one of my own, which would have been my preference. But in 2016, I transferred to Regina and ultimately retired from the RCMP. We’ve been living in Regina ever since, and the city actually has better than a dozen martial arts schools of varying styles.

For the first time in almost ten years, I found myself searching for a place to train. I had gotten so used to training on my own that it was a bit surreal. I visited a number of dojos, but joining a martial arts school is a very personal and individualized process. Most people don’t understand that different people will be suited only by certain styles. But after visiting some schools, I settled on one and was taken aback at the prospect that monthly tuition was $60/month. This was almost triple what I had been paying a decade earlier. Despite that concern, I joined the club.

I trained with this club for almost two years when issues at work and with the house caused some financial hardship to the extent that I could no longer justify using $60/month for something that I could rightfully be teaching on my own. I made the difficult decision to step away, since I had made friends in this dojo. Luckily, the head instructor’s perspective was in keeping with Sensei’s and he agreed to allow me to train without tuition, given my rank and contribution to the club. It was extremely generous and I accepted.

Then, the pandemic hit and we tried some different things. We used to have training over Zoom, which allowed us to have group exercises and such. But i don’t think I need to explain that martial arts requires contact. I was looking forward to the dojo re-opening with the conditions lessened in our Province. But it doesn’t seem to have happened. The club’s website still indicates it’s closed with no indication of when it may open and no correspondence has been received. Which is odd, but it is what it is.

So I once again started looking for a dojo in which to train. Interestingly, I found a school of traditional karate, which would have been alright. Then I got roundhouse kicked in the face with the reality of inflation. monthly tuition was listed for adult pupils at $95/month! Are you fuckin’ kidding me??? That’s almost $1200/year JUST on tuition, not including the fees for sport insurance and the “mandatory” memberships to certain karate associations. And we all know how I feel about THOSE. Needless to say, it appears as though I’ll be training on my own for the foreseeable future. ☯

The Politics Of Karate…

This coming April (2022) will mark 33 years that I’ve been studying and training in Okinawan karate. It’s been even longer than that that I’ve been studying martial arts in general, so it stands to reason that over the last three decades, I’ve seen and done a lot while wearing what my son once referred to as “daddy’s magic kicking pyjamas.” And there’s one thing that I have unfortunately seen and been a victim to, over those years that I feel has no place in martial arts: politics.

I know what you may be thinking…. Hasn’t there always been a political side to the martial arts? Especially in Japan? Yes, you would be correct. Most people associate the term “politics” with the government,a new rightfully so. But it can be loosely defined as the activities associated with the governance of a specific activity, as well. In this circumstance, the politics behind the practice and governance of karate dojos and clubs. And this is something that’s been in place since the time when karate gained popularity at the end of the 19th century/start of the 20th century.

Originally, karate founders brought their teachings back from China, where they studied Kung fu in certain monasteries while trying to escape the military draft in Japan. This somewhat depends on what history book you’re reading, of course and it really doesn’t change the topic of today’s discussion. But these founders brought the martial arts to Okinawa, where interested pupils decided they wanted to learn. Okinawan karate was born!

These founders didn’t have associations, organizations and in most cases, they didn’t even name themselves as a style, per se. In most cases, karate styles were named and discerned from one another after the founder’s death, when students would name it after the founders, in their honour. It isn’t until all these styles began mingling with one another and spreading to the mainland that certain vested parties began imposing rules, restrictions and governance on karate schools, and the ability to do certain things or train in certain ways became difficult, if not outright forbidden.

Why am I bringing this up? Well, I was lucky enough to be taught by a Sensei who had no interest in politics. Sensei was never one for joining associations or organizations and taught karate plainly for the purpose of karate itself. And to pass on the knowledge, which should be an ambition of every committed practitioner. But I was never exposed to anything that required further membership to practice and study karate, nor were there any conditions to being taught or tested. Decisions and choices ultimately fell to the relationship between Sensei and myself. As it should be.

I bring this up, because I recently had the good fortune to find a school of my style within a day’s drive from my current location. This is important, as Sensei lives on the opposite end of the country and visiting for even just a few days costs thousands of dollars in flights and travel expenses. Not least of which is the fact that putting myself inside a contained, metal tube with a batch of people who could potentially be carrying the COVID-19 virus doesn’t appeal to me. So I was excited at the prospect of having found some of the “brotherhood/sisterhood” I had hoped to visit and train with, albeit on a contingency basis.

I excitedly opened up my email and reached out to the dojo, which brought me into contact with the dojo’s secretary. First red flag. Although it’s 2021 and I can easily understand that many if not most dojos have started to carry an online presence, knowing that a dojo has a secretary to manage day-to-day affairs tells me that this dojo is likely very commercialized. I’m viewing this through the lens of someone who has trained his entire life in storage rooms and rented gyms, after all. I received a response from the dojo lead instructor. Out of respect for his privacy, I won’t name him here.

Our conversation was short and to the point. I explained that I was about 3,400 kilometres from my Sensei and would be, for the foreseeable future. I explained that I wanted a place to train where I could connect and grow with my style of karate (since there are dozens of martial arts schools in Regina,m but none are Uechi). I humbly asked permission to travel to the Sensei’s dojo to participate in a couple of classes on a contingency basis, and we could see where things would take us.

I should make a point of mentioning that the Sensei was completely polite, respectful and friendly. There was no animosity or rudeness in his reply. But the content of his reply took me aback. I had a phone call with this Sensei in order to introduce myself and discuss the matter further. Basically, I was a black belt but I wasn’t a black belt by “their standards.” In order for me to train and have my rank be recognized, I would need to be tested against their standards. I’m sorry…. I thought we were studying the same style. Perhaps I was wrong.

Once I took their equivalency testing, my rank would be recognized but I would need to join their karate organization, which of course involves fees and membership requirements. Then, I would be required to alter my training to accommodate the “right way of doing things,” based on the specific lineage of their school as their master had branched off from Uechi-Sensei some time ago. So, things I’ve learned and have been practicing for over three decades would need to be changed. Yeah, because THAT sounds like something reasonable…

But here was the last straw that broke the camel’s back…. He wanted me to get my Sensei’s permission, in writing and signed, allowing me to train in his dojo. Well. Last time I checked, I was an adult and free to come and go as I choose, but maybe I missed something in the fine print. Oh, wait! Sensei never HAD any fine print! I ended that phone call with a feeling of loss. I thought I had found like-minded individuals who trained in my style with whom I could connect and occasionally visit. This apparently wasn’t the case. Despite Sensei’s best efforts to prevent it, I had now been exposed to the political side of karate.

Maybe I’m being too sensitive on this one. Who’s to say? Well, I’m to say, and I don’t I am. The martial arts is something steeped in deep tradition, history and discipline. The political side of things should never touch karate. This who teach, should teach for the sake of passing on that knowledge and avoid the trappings of bureaucratic nonsense. But that’s just me. I’m old school. But it appears that at least for the moment, I will continue my martial arts journey on my own. ☯️

When It’s So Lacking…

Where does inspiration come from? I mean, in all seriousness, I could go on a long-winded rant about how one becomes inspired and where thoughts, ideas and shit comes from. But the reality is that even the most inspired of people eventually tap the bottom of their proverbial inspiration keg. My keg’s dry, at the moment. Usually, I can’t find enough lines to write out everything floating about in my brain. But today…. I don’t know, maybe it’s the rainy weather.

But that doesn’t apply to kids. You ever notice that? Kids have the darnedest way of finding inspiration in the weirdest stuff. My son Nathan is a prime example of this. We recently had our air conditioner replaced and the contractors had a cardboard spool they were using for the piping. They left it behind for Nathan to play with. Once he removed the wooden plates on either end, this is what he ended up with: two Captain America shields and a tunnel. I shit you not.

Nathan and I, enjoying an ice cream.

I can’t say that I ever find myself being jealous of Nathan since, as an adult, I can do some pretty cool shit like drive a car, buy stuff and have sex and he can only do two of those things. But if there’s one aspect that I definitely wish I could get back from when I was his age, or even emulate now, is his imagination. Sometimes he’ll come to me with the oddest combination of LEGO pieces but will have an intricate and expansive explanation of what he’s built, what it does and how he came to build it.

I think that as we get older and we lose our sense of child-like wonder and as a result, our creativity and inspiration is affected. Imagine if we could maintain our creativity to the same extreme as adults as we did as children? The responsibilities of life and constantly having our parents harp on us to “grow up” and be responsible affects those parts of us that let our minds freely explore. of course I say that, but when one considers shit like SpongeBob Squarepants, there are at least SOME adults who are still functioning with the mind of a child. No judgement.

Inspiration can be fleeting, so it’s important to strike when the iron’s hot. I’ve learned the hard way that consistent good ideas don’t always flow freely. And when you’re trying to post a daily blog, dry spells can suck, big time. Of course, I’m always open to guest writers or blog post ideas. I have a comments section… cough, cough! ☯️

The Conqueror Challenges: A Subjective And Objective Review

Alright, so as I’ve often written, I usually don’t make a potion to endorsing specific products or brands. My blog isn’t the place for that sort of thing but on occasion, I’ll get into something or use something that I just can’t help writing about and spreading the news, as it were. One of these cases is The Conqueror Challenges.

I had been seeing these marathon medals advertised on Facebook for months, and it looked pretty solid, so I decided to check it out. I even had people on my pretty limited friends’ list who liked the pages and supported the Conqueror Challenges, so I thought, “Why not try it?” It’s basically the way of the new world, right? Almost ANYTHING can be done virtually, now.

I’m always the first one to be a bit leery about the prospect of trying anything online. The internet is a sketchy place at the best of times, with peoples’ identities and the authenticity of whatever one might be dealing with while taking advantage of things online. With my usual amount of caution and doubt, I dipped my toes in and I have to say that I’m reasonably pleased with the results. Here’s what I found…

First, you start by installing The Conqueror Challenges app. The app is free to download and honestly doesn’t ask for much of anything in terms of information. Then, you pick your challenge. This is where it gets interesting, because you can choose from challenges as short as 30-some kilometres, all the way up to 4,000 kilometres. You can do anything that calculates distance, cycling, running, walking and even swimming.

The only thing I don’t like, is picking out a challenge brings you to The Conqueror Challenges website for sign-up. Then you purchase an entry fee (which is typical for any marathon one participates in, I’ll point out) and they email you a “sign up code.” Once you get the code and enter it into the app, you’re good to go. You can set your own timeframe and arrange for reminders and alarms to keep you on track. I started a 42-kilometre one and set it for 8 weeks because I had no clue how long it would tale me, or how available I would be to work on it. I finished it in two days.

Next, I signed up for one called the “English Channel,” and finished it in one day. Then I slowed my roll and decided to wait and see if they’d actually ship me the medals I earned. It took a while, and good ol’ COVID-19 got its sticky fingers in the pot and caused delays, but I got the medal from my second challenge first, of all things. It’s solid metal, got a nice heft to it and they look pretty sharp. See the photo below…

I used the reverse function on my camera. The medal doesn’t ACTUALLY read like that…

I got my “Marathon to Athens” medal the following week and my “Mount Everest” medal is currently on route. These marathons were 42, 34 and 62 kilometres, respectively. I’ve been motivated enough that I signed up for a 500-kilometre challenge called “St. Francis Way.” I only have 10% of this challenge completed, which is why I cycled like a douche and burned myself out, yesterday by punching out 51 kilometres in one sitting. But i wanted something challenging that would take more than one outing or two, and that would push the envelope a bit. That, and my wife and I agree that the medal is pretty.

There you have it, slime subjective and objective thoughts on The Conqueror Challenges. Some highlights I neglected to mention is that the organization that runs the challenges will allegedly plant a tree for every 20% of a challenge you complete, so it helps in a positive way. AND you can sync your fitness apps with the Conqueror Challenges app, which means I can measure my distance using Runkeeper and it’ll add the mileage automatically to my marathon challenge. All in all, I highly recommend this app, if you want the challenge of a marathon without the stress of running alongside others. Plus, you get to set your own timeline and get some trees planted. I believe that’s what’s referred to as a win-win… ☯️

The Conqueror Challenges: A Subjective And Objective Review

Alright, so as I’ve often written, I usually don’t make a potion to endorsing specific products or brands. My blog isn’t the place for that sort of thing but on occasion, I’ll get into something or use something that I just can’t help writing about and spreading the news, as it were. One of these cases is The Conqueror Challenges.

I had been seeing these marathon medals advertised on Facebook for months, and it looked pretty solid, so I decided to check it out. I even had people on my pretty limited friends’ list who liked the pages and supported the Conqueror Challenges, so I thought, “Why not try it?” It’s basically the way of the new world, right? Almost ANYTHING can be done virtually, now.

I’m always the first one to be a bit leery about the prospect of trying anything online. The internet is a sketchy place at the best of times, with peoples’ identities and the authenticity of whatever one might be dealing with while taking advantage of things online. With my usual amount of caution and doubt, I dipped my toes in and I have to say that I’m reasonably pleased with the results. Here’s what I found…

First, you start by installing The Conqueror Challenges app. The app is free to download and honestly doesn’t ask for much of anything in terms of information. Then, you pick your challenge. This is where it gets interesting, because you can choose from challenges as short as 30-some kilometres, all the way up to 4,000 kilometres. You can do anything that calculates distance, cycling, running, walking and even swimming.

The only thing I don’t like, is picking out a challenge brings you to The Conqueror Challenges website for sign-up. Then you purchase an entry fee (which is typical for any marathon one participates in, I’ll point out) and they email you a “sign up code.” Once you get the code and enter it into the app, you’re good to go. You can set your own timeframe and arrange for reminders and alarms to keep you on track. I started a 42-kilometre one and set it for 8 weeks because I had no clue how long it would tale me, or how available I would be to work on it. I finished it in two days.

Next, I signed up for one called the “English Channel,” and finished it in one day. Then I slowed my roll and decided to wait and see if they’d actually ship me the medals I earned. It took a while, and good ol’ COVID-19 got its sticky fingers in the pot and caused delays, but I got the medal from my second challenge first, of all things. It’s solid metal, got a nice heft to it and they look pretty sharp. See the photo below…

I used the reverse function on my camera. The medal doesn’t ACTUALLY read like that…

I got my “Marathon to Athens” medal the following week and my “Mount Everest” medal is currently on route. These marathons were 42, 34 and 62 kilometres, respectively. I’ve been motivated enough that I signed up for a 500-kilometre challenge called “St. Francis Way.” I only have 10% of this challenge completed, which is why I cycled like a douche and burned myself out, yesterday by punching out 51 kilometres in one sitting. But i wanted something challenging that would take more than one outing or two, and that would push the envelope a bit. That, and my wife and I agree that the medal is pretty.

There you have it, slime subjective and objective thoughts on The Conqueror Challenges. Some highlights I neglected to mention is that the organization that runs the challenges will allegedly plant a tree for every 20% of a challenge you complete, so it helps in a positive way. AND you can sync your fitness apps with the Conqueror Challenges app, which means I can measure my distance using Runkeeper and it’ll add the mileage automatically to my marathon challenge. All in all, I highly recommend this app, if you want the challenge of a marathon without the stress of running alongside others. Plus, you get to set your own timeline and get some trees planted. I believe that’s what’s referred to as a win-win… ☯️

Save Your Words, Unless You Don’t Care…

I heard a great line on a television show that said, “If you don’t know who that ONE crazy person on the bus is, it’s probably you.” Great line and quite accurate. But I’m not here to talk about being crazy (that would be the kettle calling the pot black), I’m here to vent about opinions. Although it may sound a bit crude, opinions are often a lot like having bad gas. Everyone occasionally has it; very few people welcome or want it. And more often than not, those who have an opinion don’t take the time to read the room to see if an opinion would be welcomed. It can make for some awkward situations.

It might seem moot to lend an opinion on opinions. Especially since I write a blog, which is essentially a daily dose of just that. But opinions can be important. They become important in cases where one feels that the person they’re lending it to may be headed down a path that one considers inappropriate or dangerous. I say when one “feels,” as just because I may think your path is inappropriate, it doesn’t mean it is. Subjectivity is a bitch.

Where the quote in the opening paragraph comes into play, is when a friend or colleague seem to be consistently getting into hot water but yet always fail to recognize they may be the common denominator in those issues. More often than not, one may try to be helpful by providing an opinion in order to help stem those issues and alleviate problems. But it usually falls on deaf ears. When one is consistently causing issues within their own lives and fail to recognize they may have been the cause, an opinion very rarely has an impact on them.

Again, perhaps the belief that the person in question is the cause of their own suffering is subjective. Everyone sees things through a different lens, not always to the benefit of those around them. And even though you may care about the person you’re providing your opinion to, there’s an important aspect you need to remember in order to reduce your own suffering: you can’t care about your opinion.

You’re probably thinking, “Of course I care about my opinion! I’m entitled to it, it’s mine and I believe in what I’m saying…”. Although that may be true, hear me out for a moment. I’m sure everyone has had an instance in their lives where they’ve tried their best to have someone listen to the voice of reason, only to have them put their foot in their mouths anyway. How strong was that impulse to say “I told you so?” If you said anything other than irresistible, I don’t believe you. But if lending your opinion and having it ignored bothers you, that increases YOUR suffering. And you certainly don’t want to do that.

The thing of it is, if you’re in a position to provide your opinion and your certain it won’t be badly received (hopefully you know your friends and family well enough to KNOW if your opinion is welcomed or not), all you can do is provide it. It’s up to them to do the rest, which includes accepting the opinion but also whether or not they choose to act on it. If you allow yourself to be detached from the outcome, it allows you to avoid that impulse to say “I told you so” and will likely prevent an unnecessary emotional response on your part. I’m definitely not saying you shouldn’t CARE…. By definition, if you’re giving your opinion, it likely means you care. But once the opinion is given, what the recipient does with it is entirely up to them. Food for thought… ☯️

The Little Things Add Up…

There’s plenty of reading out there that speaks to the fact that your day will play out based on how you start it. For example, if you wake up, walk to the washroom and proceed to throw up, the safe bet is you’ll likely have a rough day. Your stomach may be sore and cramped, you’ll have little to no appetite and you’ll feel like crap, thereby affecting your overall day. This is just one physical example, but the concept is the same for the emotional or mood-related side of things.

Sometimes it’s as simple as having a morning routine. Wake up, stretch, use the washroom and get coffee going. It’s a structured way to ensure that your body awakes and is receptive to the fact that sleep time is over and the day is beginning. But doing a couple of little things at the start of a day can go a long way towards ensuring that the day will have a more positive energy.

One good example is saying good morning. As the decades have passed and people have fallen a bit deeper into the digital frontier, taking a simple moment to say good morning to the people around has taken the wayside. I can guarantee that a good number of people make a point of posting on social media, first thing in the morning. So why not take the moment to actually do that in person? This is one of the first things I do when I get to work, every morning. I stop by every member of staff’s office and simply stick my head in for a quick “Good morning.” Sometimes it evokes a brief conversation about how things are going, sometimes it simply results in a smile and my greeting is returned. But the result is ALWAYS positive.

It may seem like a little thing but as we all know, little things eventually add up. A dripping tap will eventually fill the sink, if left long enough. By the same token, a little touch of positive energy in your day will lead to another and another, until your sink is overflowing with positive energy. And the funny thing about positive energy is that it will influence you. Kind of like being in a horrible mood when that catchy song comes on. You may have been in a funk but then you realize that you’re crooning along with the song and moving your head, while the folks in the car next to you giggle and point at you… But that’s a story for another time. Stay positive, friends! ☯️

You Can’t Walk A Mile In My Shoes, They’re Too Worn Out…

Most people who know me would agree that I can have a stubborn streak. And while dealing with someone stubborn can be tedious and even exhausting at times, there’s a lot to be said for stubbornness. I consider it to be one of the deterring factors that’s kept me alive for as long as I have been. If I were never this stubborn, I never would have overcome Diabetes complications as was child. I never would have reached the level of martial arts training that I have. And I definitely wouldn’t have made my way through basic training and enjoyed a reasonable foray into law enforcement over the past decade and a half.

But there were a lot of nay-sayers along the way. People who didn’t believe that any of those things could be accomplished and that I shouldn’t have been attempting them. In some cases, a lot of cases, I wish those people could be here to SEE what’s been accomplished. But such pride-filled fantasies are not only unnecessary, they accomplish nothing. But it’s always difficult when you have people who seem to want nothing more than to watch you fail. And I’ve seen this happen a lot.

The most classic scenario involves being at the gym. You walk in, change and start working up a sweat. Public gyms have a lot of positives and negatives, as I’ve often written about. But at one point, you look up and see a heavy-set person on a treadmill or elliptical machine. You can see that they’re soaked with sweat, breathing heavily and are doing their damndest to push through the inevitable fatigue that comes with moving a vessel that large. But they’re doing it. And then the inevitable happens: a couple of snooty bitches (male or female) will come by and “subtly” say something about the person on the treadmill. Maybe something to the tune of, “Wow, you can tell that they sure don’t belong here..” or “Why would they let someone like THAT in here? I didn’t come here to see someone fat in my gym.”

I wish I were making those sentences up. But these are ones I’ve personally heard while USING a public gym. It ties into my whole concept about how some people just want to watch the world burn. Folks, obesity and excess weight is no joke. But setting aside the whole concept of body-positivity and loving yourself as you are, excesses weight can have serious health repercussions and shortens your life in a plethora of ways. So, it would make sense that a person in that position would WANT to work towards getting into shape. And last time I checked, wasn’t the POINT of a gym to GET in shape? By that logic, it stands to reason that everyone in the locale isn’t going to look like a bad scene out of Baywatch.

That’s only one example of such a scenario and it’s a classic one. One I dealt with was actually from my parents. Yes, you read that right; the first people I had to deal with being negative about a choice I made was my mother and father. During my childhood, complications resulting from insulin resistance didn’t provide much of a positive outlook on the possibility of living to see my teens. When I took my health into my own hands and decided to join the martial arts, I was told that I was too weak, too frail, to join karate. They’d hit me and hurt me, and I’d never make it through a class without my blood sugars bottoming out. Ultimately, my parents and family at large were of the opinion that it would be contributing to my early death to join karate.

As a result, I wound up doing what a number of people have done through the centuries, in my situation. I joined in secret and did it anyway. The result was not only improved health, reduced insulin sensitivity and a lifestyle I never would have been exposed to otherwise but I went on to excel and teach others. Not too shabby, for someone who was told they could never do it. And that’s something that unfortunately happens far too much. This example involved my family, but I’ve faced this sort of negativity from friends and associates through the decades, as well.

Folks, one of the worst things you can do in this life, is knock down someone who‘a trying to climb. Everyone has a story, everyone has a journey and it’s far better and easier to help lift these folks up than try and knock them down. Imagine if I’d actually listened to my nay-sayers (parents notwithstanding) and stepped aside from martial arts? Maybe I wouldn’t be here today. Or if I was, maybe I’d be in much worse health and unable to enjoy life to the level that I do. I was lucky enough to have people who pushed me and encouraged me. So when you see someone working towards something amazing, be one of those people. ☯️