A Shovel Full Of Common Sense

I don’t know about the rest of you, but winter is in full swing in Saskatchewan, and the snow is falling heavily today. As I look out my window, there’s a flurry of heavy flakes falling, with a decent wind pushing it all about. Some Provincial highways have been closed due to snow and ice. Winter wonderland, indeed…

One of the activities associated with winter (besides pelting my son with snowballs) is shovelling. Let’s be honest: shovelling snow is a major pain in the a$$! I don’t recall ever hearing someone say, “Oh, I LOVE shovelling snow! It’s so much fun…” Yeah, no, it sucks.

But it’s a necessity of winter. Whether you rent, own or otherwise, you’ll likely be required to clear away snow in some capacity, at some point. I currently own my home, and one of my biggest pet peeves is the fact that I even have to clear the sidewalk in front of my home, despite it belonging to the city.

Most people forget that this necessity is also a major workout! Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a workout I willingly include but shovelling out one’s driveway or front sidewalks gets the heart rate up, increases blood flow and works several muscle groups.

Unfortunately, it’s also incredibly taxing on your heart, increases blood pressure and leaves you at risk for blood clots. A decent article article posted by Harvard Health Blog outlines some of the factors to be mindful of (https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/protect-your-heart-when-shoveling-snow-201101151153)

Some little tips I can provide in order to prevent issues include keeping yourself in good physical condition, maintaining your hydration and taking frequent breaks. Consider stretching before you begin shovelling, same as you would with any other workout, and remember to lift with your legs.

Jumping out in the freezing cold and moving hundreds of pounds of snow after being sedentary for months is dangerous and ill advised. We already know that people with Diabetes are at a higher risk for heart disease and heart failure. So it becomes all the more important to remember to test your blood before heading outdoors and keep some fast-acting ready, just in case. ☯

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You Gotta Break In The Sneakers

Last night, I had a special opportunity during karate class that hasn’t happened in years.  I had the chance to train with a new student on his very first night of karate.  You would likely ask, “What’s the big deal?”

There’s something special about training with someone when they’ve walked into a karate class for the first time.  Everyone has a different reason for joining the martial arts.  Some do it for exercise, some are looking to learn the art and some have a seriously deluded idea about what martial arts actually is!

But regardless of the reason, there’s a palpable anxiety that people have when they train in karate for the first time.  The mysterious movements, the unknown techniques and the awkward attempts at trying to follow along.  I got to train with a young man tonight who came in with the hopeful gaze of someone looking to learn the martial arts.

He struggled throughout the stretching and the warm-up portion.  Once we started working in pairs, he got some pointers from a few different students and we eventually got to working together.  As his frustration grew while trying to learn some techniques we were working on, I compared his training to buying a new pair of sneakers:

“At some point, you’ve chosen new sneakers, right? Well, even when you find a pair that fit you just right and look good, you have to break them in.  They’re brand new, and the first number of times you wear them, your feet will adjust and shape them to your specific steps and the needs of your feet.  Karate is very much the same.  You have to break it in.  The first few times you do it, it’ll be a bit awkward and it’ll take some time to adjust. But once you do, it’ll feel comfortable. Just like a decent pair of sneakers…”

The class ended with the young man ready to come back the following week.  It’s just one of those things…  When you start learning something new, you have to be prepared to work at it and get used to it before you decide whether it’s for you or not.  You gotta break in the sneakers… ☯

We’re Only Human

We all get old, eventually.  It’s one of those few uncontrollable aspects of life that none of us can escape.  We can, however help to alleviate what happens as we age.  Most of this involves having good eating and fitness habits and staying away from the nasty things that can potentially bring our existence to an end.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no illusions of being “old” per se, but some age is often felt rather than gained.  I have to admit that in recent years, my blocks have gotten a bit slower, my techniques a little sloppier and my ability to get up and go has got up and gone (Yes, I just referenced an earlier blog post of mine!)

The shirt I just got yesterday

It really doesn’t take a great deal…  A few too many break days, skipping meals or lack of sleep and your health can easily start to fall off the rails as you get older.  This is especially true for Type 1 Diabetics who depend on a proper balance to keep things in check.  And balance really is the key!

Start by getting proper rest.  The average adult requires between 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night.  As long as you’re getting it all at once (unlike me, who occasionally cluster naps) it should go a long way to helping you rejuvenate yourself.  Many of your body’s systems are working at resetting and/or resting while you do. This is one of the reasons why you shouldn’t eat heavily before bed.

And while we’re talking about food, make sure you’re getting your three meals a day and that they’re properly balanced with vegetables and proteins to help with muscle repair and growth.  It’s okay to have some cheat days now and again, as long as you don’t go overboard.

Last but not least, get some damn exercise.  Even when you’re sore, tired and just plain fed up… it gets exponentially worse if you just sit back and do nothing.  You have to keep moving.  Movement is life.  Even if you just start by doing some light stretches first thing in the morning, it’ll help to get the blood flowing, make you more alert and start your day off properly.

All of these points become increasingly important as you collect more birthdays. Muscles become less flexible, joints are less limber and if you don’t keep up with everything, you may find yourself seizing up. ☯

You Chose Poorly…

Free will is a hell of a thing.  By its very definition, we misinterpret free will as something we have complete control over.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  In fact, our free will allows us to make choices, discern right from wrong and choose the path on which we walk.  But that doesn’t mean that these choices are always in our best favor.

Over the years, one of the things I’ve noticed is that people usually don’t acknowledge the destructive nature they have on their own lives.  Often causing their own suffering, they make choices and do things that anyone watching from a distance can easily see as wrong or improper. But we rarely ever realize that on our own.

Free will allows us to act at our own discretion.  However, our discretion is not always in our own best interest or the interest of those around us.  That’s something I’ve learned the hard way, especially in my line of work.

Choice can be difficult, especially when you leave yourself without options

I’ve often written that opinion and advice are simply that, and a person is free to accept or reject that opinion and advice at their leisure.  But as intelligent beings, we must acknowledge that opinion and advice must be at the very least heard if not accepted.  This is because it’s often the only way to genuinely realize that we may be on the wrong path.

Then again, someone else’s opinion or advice may be incorrect as well.  After all, we’re all different and one person’s perspective may not be the same as ours.  The important thing to remember is simply this: if the choice you make causing damage or suffering in another, it’s wrong.  If the choice you make causes damage or suffering within your own life, it’s wrong.  And last but certainly not least, if you make a choice or cause an action that you KNOW to be wrong and you do it anyway, it’s definitely wrong.

It’s often difficult to see beyond our own immediate wants and needs, and sometimes the prospect of screwing someone else over (for lack of a better term) to meet our goals may seem appealing and even ideal.  But I can promise that all things eventually come out in the wash.  And if you’ve done wrong, that wrong will be exposed. So do right.  Be honest.  Be true. You’ll be amazed at the feeling of freedom you get from always being honest and doing right.  And you’ll come to find how much easier and less complicated it is.  Choice is never easy.  Hey, it’s not meant to be.  But knowing what the end results will be should be a no brainer. ☯

“Sight” Is More Than Just What You See…

The room is dark, impossibly dark.  The only light comes from a small 40-Watt black light that almost causes my white karate gi to glow in the gloom…  My eyes can’t adjust and I can’t see a thing.  There are audible creaks in the floorboards, telling me that I am not alone in the room.  I sit still, trying to let my ears, nose and skin “feel” the room.  My legs are braced and my hands are posted. I close my eyes, since I can’t see anything anyway.

Then I feel it: an almost imperceptible movement of air against my skin…  I instinctively block, but I’ve miscalculated.  Something strikes at my calves and I fall to the floor.  I roll out of the way before the strike I know is coming drops down on my chest.  I turn and post in the direction of the attack but nothing reaches my ears but silence. Then, something strikes my head. Suddenly there is too much light as all I can see are stars fluttering in the darkness.  I can feel my body twist around as my head snaps from the punch…

Once again, my other senses try to fill in the gaps of information caused by the darkness; a light movement of the air and a rustling of sanforized cotton coming towards me.  I block and feel the strike of another person’s limb against my arm. Without through, I grip the opposing limb and throw out a focused front kick that impacts against something that feels like concrete.

“Enough.”  The lights come on and I’m temporarily blinded by the sudden change.  I see my Sensei standing there in a dark, black gi, removing a black face mask that covers everything but his eyes.  My head is ringing from the punch he delivered and I’m grateful that the lesson is over, despite the impression it left…

That was a sparring match I had with Sensei almost twenty years ago.  Most of us are limited by the visible light we see around us. We rarely consider that the world exists, whether the light bounces off of it or not.  This means that the world can still be perceived if we’re willing to open our other senses to it.

No, I’m not gifted with some mystical skill and I wouldn’t bet sure money I’d win a fight, fought in total darkness.  But because of the light that surrounds us, we often take our other senses for granted. There is so much of the world that can be opened to us if we acknowledge our other senses; our hearing, sense of touch, sense of smell…

Don’t forget that the world doesn’t exist because of the physical light that allows us to see it.  If you open yourselves up to the other possibilities, you’ll be surprised at what you may have been missing. ☯

Liquid Courage Or Stupidity? It’s A Fine Line, People!

Although Homer Simpson is definitely not a source of what one may consider to be a source of salient wisdom, he is definitely quotable in Season 8 Episode 18 where he says, “To alcohol!  The cause of… and solution to… all of life’s problems.”

The consumption of alcohol poses a distinct societal issue in modern times, as we have the world’s information and communication at our fingertips… even when we’re drunk!  That’s not a good thing.  How often have you heard of a friend drunk-texting, messaging or contacting an ex-partner?  Or someone who has shopped and made frivolous and even ridiculous purchases online?  It happens more than we care to think about, and most of us only realize our mistake and check our phones the morning after, while in the throws of a hang-over, questioning our life choices.

For someone with Type-1 Diabetes, there’s definitely more to think about when consuming alcohol than declaring one’s undying love for the one you left behind. There’s a great checklist available at Diabetes.ca (https://www.diabetes.ca/DiabetesCanadaWebsite/media/Managing-My-Diabetes/Tools%20and%20Resources/alcohol-and-diabetes.pdf?ext=.pdf) that will help you ascertain whether or not it would be safe for you to enjoy a drink or not.  Further into the article, there a table that provides a general guideline to the number of carbs you may be ingesting, depending on what you drink.

The problem with alcohol is that one can never be certain what effect it will have on one’s blood sugars.  While some drinks may cause your levels to rise, excess alcohol may actually cause your levels to drop dramatically since, you know, your liver is otherwise occupied…

If you’re going to consume alcohol, first and foremost, do it in moderation.  This isn’t always an easy thing if you’re out for a weekend bender with your friends or you happen to be at Burning Man, but it can be helpful.  Further, avoid using mixes that are full of sugar, such as fruit juices or regular pop.

Alcohol (depending on the drink) usually contains a lot of empty calories and can lead to weight gain.  And if you’re anything like me, losing weight around the gut is difficult enough without the added obstacle.  Alcohol may increase blood pressure, triglyceride levels and heart rate, all of which are big no-nos for someone with Type-1 Diabetes.  Last but certainly not least, booze will often trigger your hunger reflex and make you want to eat, and our impaired judgment will often have you making less than healthy food choices while intoxicated.

If you’re going to consume, be sure that you do it with friends who are aware of your condition and some of the accompanying effects.  Have a safe way home (which should apply to everyone, really), which could include a designated driver.  Although I hate them, medical alert jewelry identifying you as a Type-1 is very important as well.  Especially since some effects of alcohol consumption can mimic the effects of low blood sugar or worse; they may hide them.

Look, I enjoy the occasional alcoholic beverage, especially when it can be enjoyed with others.  In fact, I had the opportunity to sit and enjoy beers with a good friend of mine just last week.  Like everything else related to Diabetes, the key is proper control and moderation. And stay off your phone, unless it’s to call for a ride home! ☯

Money Won’t Make You Happy, But It May Buy What Will…

Bruce Lee has been quoted as saying, “Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”  Life certainly presents it fair set of challenges and the cost of modern living doesn’t alleviate those challenges.

I’ve been hearing people quote the first part of my title, all my life.  I’ve heard it from my entire family, in sources of entertainment, from friends…  The worst one is hearing it from some celebrity who is like worth several hundred million dollars who goes on a talk show of some sort and says, “Money won’t make you happy!”  I think that’s an easy statement to make when money is certainly not your issue.  And while I agree it may not make me happy, I’d like to find out for myself haha.

To be honest, if I won the lottery today there would be so many things I would do tomorrow.  I would likely work harder than I’m working now, because I’d be doing SOMETHING with that money.  Retire? Are you kidding me?  I’m the kind of person who’s unable to sit still for very long.

I would invest, purchase property and likely start a business.  I would participate in charity initiatives.  Life would become busy in a significantly different way.  And one NEEDS to stay busy.  As a wise friend said to me today, “I’m not afraid of hard work.  That’s how hopes and dreams are made.”

Am I going to win the lottery tomorrow?  Statistically not, but should the statistical unlikely occur, I would concede that the money wouldn’t make me happy.  But the change I could instill in the world possibly might.  It’s not about what you’ve earned or what you own that defines life, but what you do with the life you have that defines you. ☯