Home Is Where You Hang Your Hat

What is a home? Oxford Dictionary defines it as “The place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.” But what does it mean, in a less clinical sense?

Humans were not originally sedentary creatures. Up until about 12000 BC, humans were nomadic creatures and roamed based on where food and resources were available. But as of that point, they started to realize that staying together in one place in larger groups made it easier to accumulate resources, develop agriculture and ensure better survival.

A Natufian dwelling, from the Paleolithic Era

What’s my point? That’s a good question, and I’ll be the first to admit that I tend to rant and carry on a bit. So here we go: As of today, the majority of the planet’s population has become sedentary. And that’s a basic expectation of modern life. Go to school, get a job, start a family and find a permanent home.

As a people, we tend to attach a lot of value to our homes. After all, our homes contain our family, and is usually our safe haven from the outside world. But is that safe haven truly the structure itself, or what we make of it? I’m inclined to believe it’s the latter.

Since my early childhood, I have had twelve different homes. I had to remember and count those out in my head to recall every place I’ve lived, but it’s factual. And I can promise that each and every place I’ve lived was filled with love and warmth. I know not every person is as fortunate, but the point is that the family I was raised with learned over the decades to make the most out of the location, and that “home” is wherever we’re all together. A value I try to pass on to my family as well.

A house is simply a structure. A man-made construction that serves to contain people and their possessions. The people and their affection for one another is what makes the home. This is why, even when human ancestors were sedentary, they still had a “home” in the sense that they were all together.

Always remember that no matter where life takes you, or what challenges you face, home is not only where you hang your hat; it’s also where you are with the ones you love. ☯

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Sometimes We Need To Lose The Small Battles…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s Right…

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Dharma Wheel

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

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

The Nation’s Capital

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

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

At Regina Internal Airport, waiting to leave for Ottawa.

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

Riding the public bus to the downtown area in Ottawa.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meat My Friends, Veggies…

There’s nothing like a nice, thick, juicy t-bone steak, cooked to perfection on a grill. Nothing marks the beginning of summer quite like it! In fact, we had amazing steaks for my wife’s birthday. And if I do say so myself, they were delicious!

But it’s amazing how in the past couple of decades, an unspoken war against meat has taken place (or maybe it isn’t THAT unspoken if you follow social media). With the advent of all the new fitness and nutritional trends that have hit our societies in recent years, there’s been a push in favour of vegetarians and vegans.

Before I get to far into the fray, we should start by examining what the differences are between vegan and vegetarian.

A Vegetarian is defined as someone who does not eat meat, sometimes for moral or religious reasons, but most often for health reasons.

A Vegan is defined as someone who does not use or consume ANY animal product. This means that things like milk and cheese are off the menu as well. For the sake of this post, I’ll mostly stick to the term vegetarian.

So what are humans MEANT to be? The reality is that most medical professionals agree that the human body is designed to be omnivorous. This means that we are designed to consume meat AND vegetables. Sorry to break it to you, vegetarians… Humans can and should eat meat.

According to an article published in Medical News Today, part of what allowed humans to gain an evolutionary advantage in prehistoric times may have been their consumption of meat. The increased amount of protein and energy may have been what contributed to the evolution of our complex brains and our overall evolution. And it is important to note that evolution takes place over hundreds of thousands of years. So we can’t turn back the clock on our bodies simply by cutting out meat.

A vegetarian diet can lend a certain number of benefits. There have been studies linking a vegetarian diet to lower risk of cardiovascular disease. A vegetarian diet also contains higher levels of fibre and less fat.

Vegans are a bit more on the controversial side, as some studies have shown that being a vegan can actually be LESS healthy than a diet including meat. Although a vegan diet can also involve reducing certain cardiovascular risks and may contribute to a certain level of weight loss, a vegan diet lacks certain vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin B12, which is usually found in eggs, fish and meat and is required for proper cell health.

According to an article posted by Independent, “A study conducted by the Medical University in Graz in Austria found that the vegetarian diet, as characterized by a low consumption of saturated fat and cholesterol, due to a higher intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grain products, appeared to carry elevated risks of cancer, allergies and mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.” Definite food for thought (see what I did there?) Here’s that article: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/vegetarians-are-less-healthy-and-have-a-lower-quality-of-life-than-meateaters-scientists-say-9236340.html

Before I close up, let’s examine this from a Diabetes perspective. Some studies have shown that a vegetarian diet can help better manage Type 1 Diabetes and in some cases, can help prevent Type 2 Diabetes. Since being vegetarian can help control weight and blood sugar levels as well as increase the body’s insulin response, it can certainly be helpful (as much as it breaks my heart to says so).

Any change in diet should definitely be done in consultation with your health practitioner and a qualified dietitian. As cute and trendy as being vegetarian or vegan sounds, there are a number of supplements and lifestyle changes you’ll have to make to allow this diet to work for you.

Bottom line is that the average person should be consuming small amounts of meat in combination with plenty of healthy vegetables and some carbohydrates. Also, meat such as poultry or fish is much better for you than red meat.

And last but not least, all of this is a lifestyle choice. Although some people are forced to be vegetarian due to health concerns, the vast majority CHOOSE to do so. And respecting someone’s choice is important. There are shown benefits to both diets, so do everyone a solid and follow the simple idiom, You do you, and let me do me… Meaning that no one needs to hear that they’re murderers simply for consuming meat. ☯

Save It For A Rainy Day…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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