Slow And Steady Wins The Occasional Race

You know, they say that good things take time and that patience is a virtue. Yeah,… I’ve heard that on occasion. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m usually more of a proponent of hammering through at top speed. Going cycling for 60 kilometres? Nothing slower than 3 minutes per kilometre is acceptable. Practicing karate forms? Maximum strength and maximum speed! If I ain’t sweating, I ain’t happy!

But on occasion, going slowly can be a good thing. Whether you’re weightlifting, doing martial arts or learning a new fitness routine, there are a number of benefits that can be enjoyed if you just take your time and go slowly. According to an article I just read by Fitness Republic, lifting weights slowly can help you to prevent injury, help to maintain your form and people with minimal muscle mass or medical conditions can do it much easier than if they’d be expected to go at normal speed.

One of the key points is that it can also help you to build larger muscle mass. The thought behind this is “[…] lifting slowly forces your muscles to hold the weight longer. […] If you go faster, momentum will do a lot of the work for you, and your muscles will be active for a shorter amount of time.” In fact, the article goes on to explain that lifting slowly will also target your skeletal muscles, which are essential for everyday movement.

I’ve read a few articles where this is the focal point, and most of them agree that slow movements can be beneficial. I became curious about this after my latest MetaShred workout entitled Thermogenic Tempo Training. The workout had you do a set of six different exercises. During the first cycle, you’d lift slowly, hold and release. Then repeat. On the next cycle, you’d lift, hold and lower slowly over several seconds. The third set had me lifting and lowering slowly.

You wouldn’t think that doing exercise slowly would be challenging, but it was gruelling! I had sweat dripping off my forehead in no time. Now, I’ve begun incorporating this process with some of the more basic exercises I perform: squats, push-ups, etc… You ever try to do more than ten push-ups where it takes you several seconds to reach the floor and come back up? It’s painful as hell, and I’ve grown accustomed to doing dozens of push-ups at regular speed but I sure as hell can’t get past ten going slowly. At least not yet.

Without even realizing it, I’ve been training with slow movements all my life. From my very first day in the dojo, I’ve practiced forms and techniques slowly until I grew accustomed to them and could begin to perform them faster. And even to this day, I’ll perform katas slowly and methodically in order to ensure proper form and technique.

Hey, there’s nothing wrong with doing a fast-paced workout. But not every workout needs to be a spine crushing cross-fit style lightning round. Sometimes, as with many things in life, it’s better to slow it down and take your time. It doesn’t mean you aren’t still putting a maximum effort into it; it simply means you’re doing it a slightly slower pace. ☯

Don’t Answer Yourself!

I was doing dishes a week ago and thinking about a particularly difficult situation that a colleague is going through. While contemplating some of the associated policy and rules behind what he would be facing, my wife noticed my lips moving and realized that I was talking to myself. To be honest, I hadn’t even noticed I was doing it at the time. But I admit its a practice I’ve indulged in a lot. And so should you.

During our infant and childhood years, we indulge in self-talk a great deal. Whether it’s to act out whatever game we’re playing or simply to babble on (in my son’s case, he effectively never shuts up whether there’s a person in the room or not), it’s a part of who we are. Our brains don’t differentiate between actively thinking or speaking those thoughts out loud.

However, as we reach adulthood most of us tend to eliminate the practice from our lives or keep a tight lid on it. Maybe from embarrassment or negative correction from a parent or influential person in our lives, there’s a societal stigma against talking to yourself. For the most part, if we see someone talking to themselves we tend to associate it with mental health issues. But believe it or not, it’s perfectly normal to talk to oneself and can actually have some benefits.

According to an article posted by Big Think entitled, “5 reasons talking to yourself is good for you,” they touch on a few of these reasons and they seem to make a lot of sense. Especially when you consider that some of them were taught to me by teachers in high school and college. These reasons include the fact that self-talk can help augment your cognitive performance, helps you to encourage yourself and can be an effective means of talking yourself down.

The article also goes on to explain how self-talk can be a means of developing self-control, but the one that sticks in my mind the most is that it reinforces memory. Whenever I would have difficulty with something I was studying in college, my professors would encourage me to read the material out loud. This helps the reader to retain the information more effectively as it involves an active participation in the absorption of information.

One of my favourite perspectives comes from Dr. Jessica Nicolosi, a clinical psychologist who was quoted in an article by NBCNews.com as saying, “If we speak out loud, it forces us to slow down our thoughts and process them differently because we engage the language centers of our brain.” I’ve noticed this effect when I’m reading bedtime stories to my son. It always seems as though my mind is taking in the words and processing them WAY faster than my mouth can spit them out, and it often causes me to skip over entire paragraphs.

My son’s too clever to let me off the hook and usually has me back it up a notch, but sometimes we need to slow ourselves down and talking to oneself can be an effective way to do it. Just to be clear, we’re talking about an ACTIVE participation in talking to oneself, not the result of a mental health issues or hallucinations. If you decide it’s a good idea to have a conversation with your microwave at two in the morning after eating magic mushrooms, we’re in a different arena of discussion and you should probably re-evaluate your life’s choices.

Talking to yourself can also be an extremely effective way of preparing for something that causes you anxiety. Anytime I’ve had to do something that would involve speaking for long periods in front of people such as giving presentation, providing guided tours or teaching any kind of a session to someone, I’ll usually “present” to myself in order to be prepared to do it to others. This not only acts as a sort of rehearsal before speaking in front of others, it can also allow you top time yourself in real time, since our minds process faster than we speak.

The bottom line is that talking to yourself is not only normal, it’s healthy. It can lend a number of benefits and even though most people don’t admit to it, almost everybody does it. My grandfather always used to say that it’s perfectly fine to talk to yourself… as long as you don’t start answering yourself! ☯

Ohm, Excuse Me…

Do you have a personal mantra? Do you have ANY mantra? What the hell is a mantra, anyway? The term is used fairly often in modern society. Not a month goes by where I don’t hear someone say, “Oh, yes! It’s my personal mantra…” For the most part, they’re referring to some clever quip or saying that they feel has significant impact on their daily lives and/or their existence. But what is an actual mantra, and what purpose does it serve?

Simply and traditionally speaking, a mantra is defined as “a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation.” Typically originating from the Hindu or Buddhist faiths, the using of a mantra focuses your active mind’s attention in such a way that it allows your thoughts and mind to float freely. It can help with relaxation and does, in fact, focus your meditation. It can be extremely handy if you’re a newcomer to the meditation scene and are having difficulty sitting still or concentrating.

That being said, I should reiterate a point I’ve often made in the past that there are various forms of meditation, from the traditional image most people have as illustrated above, to moving meditations such as Tai Chi or even Yoga. Not every method and/or form will require a mantra, and not every mantra is a simple “ohm.” It can be pretty much anything you choose, so long as it works to help you focus and concentrate.

Personally, I don’t use a mantra when I meditate. I prefer silence or some soft background music with forest or ocean sounds. By focusing on these sounds, I’m focusing my mind. I’ve usually referred to this as an “external mantra.” Silence can also be an effective mantra, since focusing solely on the silence and concentrating on it will have most of the same benefits as an active, repetitive mantra.

Depending on what school of thought you prescribe to, the use of the mantra “ohm” causes a reverberation throughout the body that religious monks believe has spiritual or religious effects on the body. I couldn’t find a stock photo to demonstrate it and I’m too cheap to buy one, but there is a Hindu symbol that represents “ohm,” (also spelled aum or om) and you can hit up Wikipedia under “mantra” if you want to see it. It’s been made popular in such a way that the symbol is represented on yoga gear, jewellery and clothing apparel.

On a last note, a personal mantra is something a bit different. This usually involves a saying or quote that resonates with a person and has a direct impact on how they live their life. Something along the lines of, “Forgiveness is divine, but never pay full price for late pizza…” Anyone who recognizes that quote will understand how badly I just aged myself, but it’s usually something a person repeats or states to themselves or others often but has nothing to do with an actual mantra or meditation.

Although you don’t NEED a mantra in order to meditate, it can be a handy and useful practice to help you focus and concentration when doing so. Sometimes life makes it a bit difficult to find a quiet moment to meditate and a mantra can also help block the outside world. In fact, there are some YouTube videos with hours of mantra chanting, for those who want to have a listen at what it should sound like. ☯

Social Distancing Should Also Be Social Media Distancing

I know that anyone who’s read the majority of my posts will be aware that I’m not a big fan of social media. For those who are new here and may not be aware: I’m not a big fan of social media… In all seriousness, I consider social media to be somewhat harmful. Not because it’s inherently harmful in and of itself, but because some people choose to use it in harmful ways.

I’ve been off the social media scene for almost two years now, having done away with the likes of SnapChat and Facebook, due to issues they caused me in my professional life. I was partly responsible for these issues, since no person is ever ABSOLUTELY responsibility-free in any given issue, but after I learned the damage that having other people on social media caused, I chose to step away.

As the world continues to turn, the population continue to become more and more dependent on social media for even the smallest of social interactions. Everything from applying for jobs to dating, the more time passes, the more people are depending on their computers and their devices to do the talking for them. And as convenient as some of it may be (I’ve applied to a number of jobs online, it sure saves driving around and physically handing out resumes) there are some significant pitfalls, as well.

In some ways, a lot of ways, we’re slowly losing touch with our own humanity. No, I don’t mean that we’re all suddenly becoming robots. But we certainly are beginning to resemble automatons. I challenge any of you to walk through a public area, even one where a person should be paying attention to their surroundings such as the grocery store, and you’ll notice that the majority of the population have their faces buried in the screen of a smartphone.

I don’t know about you, but when I’m at the grocery store I pay attention to the aisle I’m in and the groceries I’m looking for. Weird concept, right? You would think that checking your Twitter or Facebook could wait until AFTER you’ve completed your errands. And no one really needs you to SnapChat the nachos you found at 20% off, regardless of how excited you may be.

In some ways, a lot of ways, I totally understand the compulsion. There’s an almost surreal addictive feeling behind some of the social media platforms that are out there. Up until late 2018, I would compulsively check my phone dozens of times throughout the work day, no matter what I had on the go. Nowadays I tend to limit myself quite a bit more, checking my phone only for phone calls and email purposes and occasionally searching for things that I’m curious or researching on.

A good example of how we’re stepping away from our humanity involves a story I’d like to share with you. I have a friend who used to be absolutely obsessed with online singles’ sites. In fact, over the course of a few very short years, he completely did away with meeting women in person, and depended solely on finding online profiles and attempting to meet people in this fashion. Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying there’s necessarily anything wrong with meeting someone new online. But if it causes you to lose the ability to approach someone in person, then it can be more harmful than good.

The digital frontier allows people to present themselves in any way they see fit. Occasionally, this won’t be in keeping with their realistic selves and people get some rather nasty surprises when they meet in person. That’s only one of the pitfalls. Don’t even get me started on meeting someone online who ends up being of an opposing gender than you thought they’d be, or a creeper who’s trying to meet with minors. But I digress…

My friend spent a few years trying to meet “the one” through many of these singles’ sites. He went on some dates and even started some semi-lasting relationships with them. But they never lasted. Not in the way he wanted. I used to encourage him to go out somewhere and do it the old fashion way. Go sit at a coffee shop with a book and a beverage. You spot someone from across the room, your eyes meet, you share a smile and you walk over and introduce yourself. Maybe you chat for a while. Then you work up the courage to ask if they’d like to meet for coffee again. Maybe they say yes and offer up their phone number.

Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, but I believe this kind of thing still happens. Although not quite as I described above, I met my wife the old-fashioned way; live and in person. My friend finally yielded to my persistence and attempted to meet someone in person. His experience was grand. He attended a local book store and introduced himself to a woman and asked her if she could recommend a good book she may have read (pretty smooth, I thought). They hit it off and even went out once or twice. They ultimately moved on from one another, but the experience changed his perspective of the online scene.

Dating is only one aspect, but it’s an easy one to write about. But for the most part, our dependence on the Internet and social media is slowly pulling us away from the actual world around us. Although the world is currently caught in the throes of social distancing, there’s still a big, beautiful world out there. And it would be a shame if people completely disconnected from it in exchange for the cold, pixelated screen of a smart device. ☯

Burn, Baby, Burn…

If you’re anything like me, you enjoy the smell of incense. I particularly enjoy the smell of an incense that’s available locally called “Ocean.” But there are number of more traditional scents, such as sage and sandalwood. And I once read somewhere that the word “incense” is based on the latin term meaning “to burn,” which is kinda cool.

Incense incense burning is usually done in order to produce a particular scent within the surrounding room, but it’s been long associated with the martial arts, religious practices and ceremonies and rituals. In fact, while growing up in the Catholic church I would often attend services with my family where the priest would walk around and “bless” the congregation by shaking a device called a “censer,” which contains burning powdered incense.

Some religions will use burning incense as a way of blessing things, warding off bad spirits or during ritual practices. Most convents and temples of varying faiths will usually have incense burning for one reason or another. Some people burn it within their home just for the pleasant scent (pleasant being a relative term, since my wife tolerates the incense I use but isn’t a huge fan if it).

Is incense a good idea? Like most things in life, there are good and bad aspects to incense burning, especially within one’s home. First of all, let’s agree that burning incense creates smoke. In all cases, breathing in smoke of any kind is never a good idea. This isn’t a new concept; the medical world has been talking about the dangers of smoke inhalation for decades. Ever sit too close to a camp fire? Once the breeze conveniently turns the smoke towards you, breathing easy is the last thing you get to do.

Depending on where you purchase/obtain your incense, they’re mostly made from natural ingredients. This doesn’t mean that it’s any better for you. After all, tobacco and marihuana are natural products but they’re no better for your lungs. But modern incense that you buy at your local retail chain can contain preservatives, chemicals and artificial products that can release carcinogens into the air.

You can Google some research initiatives that were done in the past twenty years. increased levels of incense burning has been linked to certain forms of lung cancer, asthma, tissue inflammation and even rashes. I have no idea how much incense you’d have to burn to be affected by these hazards and ideally, you should be burning incense in a well-ventilated area.

At the end of the day, incense has been around for way longer than we have. Make sure to light and burn it safely, since it is a fire hazard and try not to use it in confined spaces. I have a bad habit of lighting a stick of incense during my workouts in the basement of my home. It’s not so bad when I’m doing forms, but it gets a little hard to breathe when I’m doing something intense like a circuit workout or weights. Actually, that’s kinda what led me to write this post. Burn with care, folks! ☯

I Will Return To My Shadows

One of the great things about having my childhood (if it can be called as much) take place throughout the 80’s is all the great movies that started to come out. We got the Christopher Reeve Superman sequels (even if they weren’t well received), the last two original Star Wars trilogy chapters and a saturation of “Brat Pack” movies, including The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles and Pretty In Pink (I’m partial to Molly Ringwald, sue me!)

But there is a particular movie genre that also became popular during the 1980’s and it still holds a certain level of fascination to the public, even today. I’m talking about ninja movies. I’m sure you’ve seen at least SOME of these movies; stealthy assassins cloaked in mystery and garbed in black hoods, they seemed almost unstoppable and were usually trained in a variety of weaponry and were usually depicted in the movies as being exceptionally skilled in hand-to-hand combat.

But how accurate was that portrayal? To be honest, there is a common misconception that ninjas are martial artists. And although I’m no ninja myself, I can say for a fact that this isn’t true. The ninja were covert assassins, believed to have existed during the feudal era of Japan. They were basically mercenaries who could be bought by whomever could afford them.

Their preferred method of operation was to spy and assassinate through the use of disguises, deception and avoidance. They considered escape and living to see the conclusion of their mission to be paramount over active engagements or fighting. Because of this, the ninja were often considered dishonourable and the samurai considered the ninja beneath them.

When referring to martial arts circles, people usually tend to immediately associate a ninja with Ninjutsu (or ninjitsu) and consider it to be a martial art. The reality is that Ninjutsu is anything BUT… Ninjutsu, as it is, is classified as a system of espionage and assassination, normally including infiltrating locations, spying and accomplishing specific tasks that included but were not limited to capturing criminals and other individuals, obtaining private information and whatever other tasks that could not be accomplished through conventional means. This explanation clearly does not include the martial arts, which are defined as a means of self-defence.

A ninja would be trained in Ninjutsu and expected to develop some proficiency in a number of different weapons and offensive tools that would allow infiltration without notice, evasion and exfiltration. All of this would happen without the victim(s) even knowing that they are there. Ninjas would often originate from the samurai class and would already have some familiarity with an actual martial art. Since some of their tasks would often unavoidably include combat, ninjas would often train in some form of martial arts as well as the expected weapons and tools of the trade.

So the portrayal you see in the movies, where a ninja suddenly stands up out of a small shadow in the corner of a room to face off against an opponent is far from accurate, although it still makes for great cinema (if you haven’t seen 2009’s Ninja Assassin, I highly recommend it!) And if a martial arts practitioner tells you that he or she is a ninja, then by definition they are not. Especially since the ninja were not in the habit of revealing themselves to anyone outside of their clan. ☯

If You Don’t Like It, Then Split!

It should go without saying that if you train in the martial arts, you’re going to get hurt. It isn’t a knitting class, so you should expect that at some point in your martial arts career, you’ll take a hit. Even for people who have been training for decades, mistakes and accidents can happen. I’m reminded of last year, when one of the fellow black belts in my club cracked me in the nose with an elbow. It stunned me and my nose started bleeding, but I was lucky enough that he didn’t fracture or break it.

Whether by accident during drills or because you zigged when you should have zagged, getting hit is the LEAST of the injuries you could suffer while doing most traditional martial arts, such as karate. I’ve had pulled and torn muscles, damaged ligaments, bruising, hairline fractures and a score of other injuries too numerous for me to name or even remember after thirty-two years of Okinawan karate. But these injuries were sustained due to the necessary aspects of karate that I had to learn, and were mostly accidental.

This is where we discuss what is, in my opinion, one of the most WORTHLESS movements taught in the martial arts: the splits. Surprisingly, there are a number of styles that teach and train with middle splits. Just to be clear, a middle split is the one illustrated above, where you open the legs and hips and lower yourself down to the floor and come to rest on your inner thighs. Although this type of split is generally used in things like gymnastics, it’s also considered a staple in certain martial arts styles that use high kicks, such as Tae Kwon Do.

Don’t get me wrong, Tae Kwon Do is an excellent system (for those it suits) and is absolutely challenging. But I’m a realist and I believe in always examining how effective any technique would be in a real-world application. It’s always fun to learn fancy and flashy techniques that look god in the dojo, but why learn self-defence if the technique you’re practicing can’t be used to, well… defend yourself?

This is where the splits start to give me problems. There is, honestly speaking, no practical application for a full split in the martial arts. Right about now, I can almost hear the chairs of every martial artist reading this, creaking in protest as they hold up their hands and say, “Now, hold on just one damn minute…” But bear with me for a moment as I explain my logic behind this assertion.

We’ve all seen the splits done, either on television or in movies. Some action heroes have even contributed to the wow factor behind doing the splits (I’m looking at you, Van Damme!) and it’s almost exclusively for practitioners who perform high-flying or fancy spinning kicks. And even though we can all agree that receiving someone’s heel to your face after they’ve spun it around once or twice would be an effective deterrent against your continued consciousness, these high kicks come with a batch of problems of their own.

A traditional martial artist will tell you that the smart money is on keeping your kicks no higher than the waist or lower abdomen. the reason for this is pretty simple. If you kick any higher than that, you’re shifting your centre of gravity and putting all of your weight on one foot. For anyone who’s ever been in a fight, I don’t need to explain why this is a bad idea. It opens up a plethora of vulnerable spots EVERYWHERE on your body and leaves you open to getting your ass kicked. High and spinning kicks may be great for breaking boards in the dojo, but they serves very little purpose in actual self-defence.

Next, there’s the issue behind how this split is accomplished. You’re asking something of your body that it wasn’t designed to do. Our bodies aren’t designed to split open at the hips the way is required for a middle split. I mean, you have just about all the different tissues involved in that one movement: muscle, tendons, ligaments… You name it. Not to mention the hip joints and surrounding bones. And most students want to progress as fast as possible and often find themselves taxing their body before it’s ready.

Although some medical sources advise that doing the splits is generally okay, any medical source I’ve read has indicated that the most important aspect is to ensure that you work at it slowly and progressively, accepting that it may take weeks and even months to accomplish a middle split. If you ever do at all. I can split to about half way down to the floor and that’s it. But then, I enjoy and appreciate my groin and don’t want to cause it any damage.

If you’re new to the martial arts and the curriculum requires a full split prior to promoting to a certain belt, be sure to take your time. Stretch properly and work at it slowly. If you’re training for the actual purpose of defending yourself, maybe accept that this style isn’t the one for you and look elsewhere. There are already likely to be numerous injuries in your future without causing the intentional ones. No need to hurt yourself intentionally. ☯

Top 10 Comments That T1D’s Hate To Hear…

I think that like most conditions, Diabetes deals with a number of stigmas. For people who don’t have Diabetes or someone in their family or inner circle with Diabetes, they often have more questions than knowledge. This is rather surprising, considering 90% of the population in North America have the world’s information and knowledge at their fingertips, through smart phones, computers, tablets and social media.

The unfortunate reality is that a great deal of information online can be wrong. I think we can all admit that not EVERYTHING you read and/or see on the internet is accurate. This is one of the reasons I try very hard to cite my sources when I write about something (a practice that not every blogger follows). And every now and again, people tend to verbalize what they’ve heard, despite not knowing whether it’s actually correct or not.

I’ve always said, if you want to know, then just ask. I’ve always preferred sharing the information and being up front than having someone make an off-the-cuff comment about MY condition without knowing what they’re talking about. This is why I occasionally like to share some “Diabetes etiquette” so that anyone reading may learn a bit, direct from someone who’s living the condition as opposed to the good old internet.

Indulge me, for one moment as I step up on my soap box and present to you the top 10 comments a person with Diabetes hates to hear (from my perspective):

  1. “Did you eat too much sugar as a kid?” Shaddup! I’m not sure if this is a belief that came out in the 70’s and 80’s or what… In fact, I don’t recall EVER hearing anything about it when I was a kid. But I can tell you this much: modern research has proven that the consumption of sugar does NOT cause Diabetes. That applies to both Type-1 and Type-2. One interesting factoid though, is that the overconsumption of sugar may lead to weight gain. And some research has shown that excessive weight gain can be a component of Type-2 Diabetes;
  2. “Wow, I thought that folks with Diabetes were fat?” Seriously??? How would this be an okay comment whether I have Diabetes or not? Commenting on someone’s weight has been rude and inappropriate long before the advent of the snowflake, but this kind of piggybacks on point #1. Although weight gain can be a contributing factor for Type-2, it doesn’t mean that everyone with Diabetes will be overweight. And not everyone who’s overweight will have Diabetes. I’m no olympic swimmer and the light knows I’d enjoy a slimmer waist line, but I’ve enjoyed the benefit of never being overweight. So, there;
  3. “Should you really be eating that?” Sure, you could get between me and my much-beloved cinnamon roll from Greenspot Cafe, first thing in the morning… But that could be ALMOST as dangerous as getting between me and my coffee, first thing in the morning. Yes, Karen, I absolutely SHOULD be eating that! In all honesty, unless you have significant difficulty controlling your blood sugar levels, you can eat whatever you want. It’s a pretty simple equation: take the amount of insulin required to counter the carbohydrates you’re ingesting. That’s it. There’s no worse reason for ME to eat a powdered, jelly-filled donut than there is for you;
  4. “I think I’d die if I had to take so many needles…” Hmmm, that’s a really interesting comment because I would die if I DIDN’T take the many required injections, test my blood sugar often and have devices attached to my body. Yes, even though I may look healthy, I spend day in and day out combating a condition that WILL eventually be the cause of my death. There is no cure, there’s only treatment. And don’t get me wrong, that treatment extends my life from the two weeks I would likely have WITHOUT insulin to the decades I have from using it;
  5. “You know, I read a great book on how you could cure your Diabetes naturally.” No. Just, no. There is no cure for Diabetes. Let me repeat that, in case you didn’t read it straight: THERE IS NO CURE FOR DIABETES!!! There are a lot of books out there boasting cures, specifically for Type-2, but 99.9% of them are bogus. I say 99.9% because there is some correlation between diet and weight loss allowing a person to reverse the symptoms of Type-2, but there is no actual cure. Eating your bloody diet of quinoa, tofu and lawn clippings won’t suddenly heal my immune system and start my pancreas back up;
  6. “Oh, my aunt had Diabetes, and she did this or that…” I don’t need to hear it. I’m not sure why people feel the need to share stories about other folks who have Diabetes, but everyone I’ve ever met with Type-1 has been unique. Oh sure, our symptoms are mostly the same and insulin therapy is generally the treatment, but how we deal with our overall condition is ours and ours alone. Much like everything else in life;
  7. “Oh, it could be worse. You could have (insert horrible disease here)!” Yes, you’re right. I could have cancer. On the other hand, I don’t. But what I do have is a life-altering condition that I’ve been living with since early childhood and affects EVERY aspect of my life. I live with it and deal with it. I’m quite good at it. But I haven’t ever woken up thinking how lucky I am not to have something else. Such comments are comparable to someone who’s had an arm cut off and saying, “Hey, it could be worse! Your head could have been cut off instead”;
  8. “Oh, is yours the BAD Diabetes?” This one would almost make me laugh, if it weren’t so ridiculous. I’ve never been entirely certain what people are referring to, when they make this comment. And even today, I still have people ask. What the hell is the “BAD” Diabetes? Let me weigh in on this one since, you know, I have Diabetes… There is no GOOD Diabetes. Only good people fighting it;
  9. “You don’t look like you have Diabetes…” This is another laughable one! I’m always left speechless when someone cracks out with this little gem. If they spot my pump or see me testing my blood glucose, it almost never fails. I’m not sure what someone with Diabetes is SUPPOSED to look like, but I can tell you that it’s nothing you should expect. You don’t “LOOK” like anything out of the ordinary if you have Diabetes;
  10. “Are your blood sugars off?” Although this would be a reasonable question to ask someone with Diabetes, especially if they seem a bit off, this question has often been directed at me when I’m in a bad mood. And we all know how good of an idea it is to tell someone who’s in a bad mood that they’re IN a bad mood… Although fluctuating blood sugars can certainly contribute to my mood, it doesn’t automatically mean that’s why I’m cranky at that moment. Maybe you’re just being an asshole. But I digress…

I may come off sounding high and mighty in relation to some of this stuff, but when you’ve been dealing with comments like this for 37 years, you can pretty much custom-choose your soapbox. Diabetes is like anything else. If you’re curious about something, just ask. I’m always more than happy to share knowledge, especially about my condition. It’s a lot better than offering unsolicited advice, especially if you aren’t Diabetic yourself. ☯

It’s Your Job To Know The Job

The job market is a strange thing. Anyone who’s looked for employment can surely relate to that effect, and likely agree. I always get a kick out of the eternal paradox of requiring potential candidates to gain experience, but every place of employment requires five years’ experience in order to get hired. The chicken or the egg, that’s the paradox they’re throwing at you.

I bring this up because I applied for a job last year, right before I took my walkabout in New Brunswick. If memory serves correctly, it would have been sometime around September of 2019. I won’t get into the details but it was a pretty enticing position, with the promise of a peaceful existence for my family and I. I eagerly applied and even visited the community where the job would be, all in the hopes that they would hire me.

Considering my current state of life, I was pretty motivated. I provided more information than was required through the job posting and kept in contact with the community’s mayor repeatedly over a three month period (the job was posted through the community’s town office). When I had an unrelated medical appointment that saw me travel past the community, I stopped into the town office and introduced myself, met the staff and even examined some of the equipment I’d be using if I were hired.

There was a lull, of course. The Christmas holiday came and went, and there wasn’t much news during those weeks as everyone was on holidays and no one was really communicating. I was warned that the community moves slowly and that every decision they take is extremely painful in how long it takes. I took the comment at face value at the time, but man, were they NOT kidding.

I got back in contact with the mayor sometime in early January of 2020, after the holidays had passed. That was when I discovered that the position was not only a significantly lower pay rate than what I currently enjoyed, it was only part time. I was crushed. I got into some in-depth discussions with the mayor about finding the funding to increase the position to 40 hours a week, but it was all left in the air.

Honestly, I kind of put the whole thing on the back burner and forgot about it for a few months. COVID-19 came and changed the world, and most of the little details I had sitting on that back burner became insignificant. Then I got an interesting e-mail last week from a “hiring manager” for the community in question. He was reaching out to have me fill out and complete a shit-ton of documents for an “application package” to get hired for the position I had coveted, some months ago.

I know exactly what you’re probably thinking. “If you want the job that badly, suck it up and complete the paperwork they’re asking you for…” First of all, shaddup! But seriously, there’s a trend that seems to see employers asking for the moon when all they need is the shadow. I felt as though I was either being slighted or not taken seriously, especially considering that I was more than adequately qualified for the position I was applying for. That may sound like a vanity (and it probably is), but it’s no less correct.

I politely informed the hiring manager that I had already submitted a resume, cover letter and all the pertinent certification and training documents that constituted a complete application package and that some of the requirements he was proposing were top-heavy and not appropriate for someone experienced in the field of employment we were discussing. He confessed that the position was still going forward as part-time, which I felt meant I could speak freely since I wouldn’t be pursuing the job anyway (I can’t surrender a full time job for a part time one, especially at a lower salary).

I contacted the mayor and informed him of the issues I felt were of concern. I was surprised when he responded and thanked me for my input and told me he would be discussing it with his hiring board. But I felt slighted at the fact I was being put through the ringer for a job I was already qualified, trained and experienced to do. and I’ve been dealing with that obstacle for the past two years.

With the end of the quarantine on the horizon, there will be a vacuum in the working world. Some jobs will never come back to what they were; the absence of certain positions will have shown employers that those positions will no longer be required. More’s the pity. Some jobs will need to be filled, and only those who are able to swallow their pride and fight to gain employment will be able to find it. Perhaps I have a bit of pride I need to be rid of, myself.

My mother always said, there’s no shame in any job. Even the most menial of jobs need to be done by SOMEBODY, so if you happen to be that SOMEBODY, do the job to the best of your ability and with pride. Then, you’re guaranteed that you’re working for a reason, no matter what job you do. I had to pass on this job, but employers need to understand that they may need to swallow some pride as well. Long, convoluted application processes won’t be the status quo, especially since the applying populace won’t have any of it. ☯

Cause And Effect ⚖️

I used to love physics in high school. Yes, I was one of those freaks; I even took some of the advanced physics classes in my senior year for extra credit. A part of me gets a headache every time I even THINK about some of the concepts we studied in those classes, while another part of me absolutely immersed myself in it and considered it the highlight of my high school years. And no, before you ask I didn’t carry a pocket protector or have a little strip of tape holding my glasses together.

I had an interesting discussion over a week ago about the concept of karma. Much like most of us have at some point, some folks try to seek out some form of faith and are uncertain where to look. During this discussion, it was mentioned that the concept of karma was considered more as a result of cause and effect as opposed to some form of intervention from a divine presence. I think this was an interesting comment, especially since that’s basically what karma is; cause and effect.

Nature and the universe has a way of balancing itself out. Think about the course of your day and how things end up. If you walk up to a hornet’s nest and kick it, you’ll get stung. Cause and effect. And this happens in just about every aspect of our lives. Looking at it simply from a physics perspective, Isaac Newton once explained that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. He was mostly referring to the exercised forces on objects that counteract one another, but the concept is very much the same.

The so-called “Law of cause and Effect” states that every effect has a specific and predictable cause and every cause or action has a specific and predictable effect. The back and forth that takes place within this law is a result of the choices you make, the decisions you take and the path you choose to pursue in life. Sounds a bit like karma to me…🤷‍♂️

I could get into Einstein’s theory of special relativity and REALLY give everyone a nosebleed (myself included), but quantum physiques was never a specialty or forte of mine. If you want to seriously fall down the rabbit hole without the benefit of a net, feel free to Google “causality” and see how long it takes before you need several shots of Fireball to make the buzzing in your head come to a stop. But I digress…

Karma, such as it is, is defined as the effect on one’s life from accumulated causes they’ve generated. Yes, within Buddhist terminology, karma is considered as “the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.” I think that’s pretty spot on, and whether you buy into the concept of reincarnation or moving on to another form of existence, the message if pretty simple: live well and you’ll be well. Live badly and you may live badly.

Something from my Catholic upbringing is working its way up to the surface… Something about living by the sword means dying by the sword… Really, if you look closely enough at most schools of faith and even people who believe themselves to be Atheists (because believing in nothing is still believing in SOMETHING, but I’ll save that for another day), there’ll be something similar or identical to this concept.

So effectively, I’m sure you’ve noticed that those who intentionally do wrong, live a life of violence, commit crimes and harm others, usually don’t go on to retire at a ripe old age, hugging their grandchildren while sipping lemonade on the porch. There’s a lot to be said for living a “good” life and doing “good” things. No matter what your faith or your thoughts, living as pure and noble a life is what every person should aspire to. ☯