Through The Eyes Of Another…

Kids are great!  No, seriously… they’re totally awesome (as I rock gently while downing yet another shot of whisky).  All jokes aside, children genuinely are a wonder.  They are the only way to indirectly ensure one’s immortality, and they allow a brief glimpse into one’s past.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen my son Nathan, do something and think, “Wow, I used to be JUST like that!”  And with the arrival of my second son, Alexander, I’m sure the comparisons will continue.

That’s me at the top, and my son Nathan on the bottom, both at 1 year of age

With another Halloween come and gone, I’m left remembering aspects of my childhood and how I dealt with them.  I was faced with many dietary and health restrictions due to my Diabetes.  Having been diagnosed at the age of four, I really never had the opportunity to go door-to-door like all the other kids.  My mother had some friends who would provide things like raisins, apples and “sugar-free treats” (it wouldn’t be until decades later that I would discover how many carbs and how sugary all of those other treats actually were).  But the prospect of a genuine “trick or treat” outing was nonexistent.

Enter: Nathan.  It’s difficult for me to draw a line sometimes, because I realize and acknowledge that he isn’t limited by the same health restrictions that I was at his age. He turns into an absolute hell-spawn when he eats sugar, much like any child; but I can’t resist allowing him to indulge in the ways that I couldn’t.  Maybe there’s a bit of indulgence on my part as well, since I get to experience it vicariously through his eyes.  Such is parenthood.

My little Lightning McQueen

Yesterday, my wife and I took Nathan to an artisan ice cream parlour.  Clad in his Lightning McQueen costume, he was treated to a free ice cream of his choice.  He chose triple chocolate brownie.  That’s my boy!  Tonight, he indulged in some jellybeans that were left over from last night’s trick or treaters.  Although we normally suffer through the after-effects of the sugar in his system, it’s hard for me NOT to allow him the pleasure, since I never had that pleasure myself.

Our Halloween jellybeans

Sure, I can take insulin dosages necessary to enjoy things now, as an adult.  But I can’t help but wonder how different my childhood would have been, had I not been limited and held back by Type 1 Diabetes. Luckily, Nathan doesn’t have that issue and can enjoy his snacks in the guilt-free way that any child should: by driving his parents nuts during the sugar rush! ☯

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Who Replaced My Shampoo With Numbing Cream?

You would think that cold air would do something to awaken a person.  But the weather seems to be having the opposite effect on me.  With the coming of winter, I have to admit that my head feels all foggy and I’m utterly exhausted.

The result of this fog is that I seem to have a sincere lack of inspiration on what to write today.  Has that ever happened to any of you?  I’d like to say that it’s only the weather getting me down, but that would be an outright lie.

It wouldn’t be the first time I fell asleep at a keyboard!

Fatigue and even exhaustion can often be side effects of stress and depression. You can tell something is wrong if you’ve slept all night but yet still wake up, just as tired as you were the night before, when your head hit the pillow.

In any event, I think I’ll be taking a night to let my creative juices rest. Hopefully, I’m done answering my door for all the trick-or-treat kids in the neighborhood and can retire to my bed sometime in the next short while. ☯

Sometimes You Have To Take A Knee…

It’s been a rough few days, with the cold weather and snow finding a permanent home for the winter.  My knees feel as though they’re fighting against me, as far as movement goes.

The cold has a measurable and proven effect on one’s joints and tendons.  There are many explanations for this, including thickening of the fluids in your joints.  Thickened fluids will make the joints feel thicker and make it feel as though the joints are stiff.  Arthritis flare-ups and the expansion of tissue have also been known to cause pain. 

Whatever the reason, it’s a condition that has worsened over the years and I’m certainly feeling it today.  I missed a karate class last night, which irks me to no end.  But sometimes you need to know when to take a step back and allow the pain to pass.  What’s worse, classes have been cancelled for tomorrow night since it’s Halloween, but at least that gives me a full week’s rest before taxing my knees further.

Although there have been a number of studies performed in relation to joint pain during inclement weather, nothing conclusive has ever been proven.  Feel free to Google “joint pain when it’s cold” and you’ll find a bunch of articles…  Despite that fact, there are a few things you can do to help alleviate some of the pain.  

Obviously, some over-the-counter pain medications can help to some degree, depending on the exact cause.  If swelling is the culprit, ibuprofen can provide some relief.  Keep your joints warm…  I find that a heating blanket for short periods of time, helps to reduce the pain in my knees.  Make certain that you dress warmly, especially if going outdoors.  As usual, exercise and proper health management are always my favorite go-to’s when trying to prevent any sort of complication.

Hopefully once the weather becomes consistent, despite the cold, my joints will adjust and feel better.  In my case, some of it may be age-related.  But the bottom line is that even though it’s important to learn how to “fight through the pain”, it’s just as important to know when to back off and take it easy.  For the immediate moment, it appears that I’ll just have to take a knee… ☯

The Second Time Was Much Sweeter…

I’m not one for being stubborn (as my wife shakes her head), but I wasn’t satisfied with how my sugar pie turned out a few days ago.  As a result, I did a search and found a French Canadian recipe that only included two ingredients (I may have mentioned this in the last post).

The recipe only involved 400 grams of maple sugar and 225 mL of whipping cream. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t find maple sugar, so I chose to use brown sugar instead.  Most sugar pies these days are made with brown sugar anyway.

I started by mixing those two ingredients and heating it up for fifteen minutes to thicken the mixture.  Once that was done, I poured the mixture into an uncooked pie crust and baked at 345 degrees for about half an hour.  Despite a slight burning smell from some of the mixture bubbling over, there was a nice, warm aroma of brown sugary goodness in the house.

Way better attempt, this time

Once it came out of the oven, I let it cool for a while then put it in the fridge to let it set.  I had the benefit of having low blood sugar, so I gave in to temptation and had a piece. It was still a bit liquidy, perhaps from needing more time to set.  But it was good enough that I was sorely tempted to eat the entire thing!  It may not have been 100% like the sugar pies back home, but it was damn close.

A bit on the watery side but still delicious

It just goes to show what happens when you’re stubborn enough to keep at it until you get it right.  It may require a few more tries and a lot more insulin! ☯

Footprints In The Sand…

Something that most people don’t know about me is that I was raised on the Catholic faith. My mother studied to become a nun (once again, SUPER happy she didn’t pursue that route) and my family and household were rife with references to the Catholic Church.  It influenced me throughout my childhood, considering I attended elementary school before Canada had a firm separation of church and state. We even had missionaries in our family and I would donate some of my belongings every year to impoverished countries at the behest of these family members.

Although the years that followed would see me steer away from the Catholic Church and organized religion as a whole, some aspects of my theological studies remained with me.  And as I’ve always believed, true knowledge can be found in most religions and applied to all.  One of these examples is the story known as “Footprints”.  Although who the author of this “poem” was is still debated, it carries a powerful message. Here’s the poem:

One night I dreamed a dream

I was walking along the beach with my Lord.

Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.

For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,

One belonging to me and one to my Lord.

When the last scene of my life shot before me,

I looked back at the footprints in the sand.

There was only one set of footprints.

I realized that this was the lowest and saddest times of my life.

This always bothered me and I questioned the Lord about my dilemma.

“Lord, you told me when I decided to follow You,

You would walk and talk with me all the way.

But I’m aware that during the most troublesome times of my life,

There is only one set of footprints.

I just don’t understand why, when I need You most, You leave me.”

He whispered “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you,

Never, ever, during your trials and testings

When you saw only one set of footprints,It was then that I carried you.”

I believe we find knowledge and truth in the places we least expect them.  When I first heard this poem, I was about 8 years old. I had been diagnosed as a Type 1 Diabetic four years prior, I was in poor health and had already suffered several Diabetic comas.  My life was in jeopardy and insulin resistance posed a real threat to my continued existence.

I couldn’t conceive of life and a future at that point, but as I look back at everything I’ve suffered through I realize that I’ve left a significant number of footprints in the sand, myself.  If one were to tell me I’d be where I am now, ten years ago, I likely would have laughed in their faces.

The thing about sand is that although it’s solid matter, it holds nothing permanently. Eventually, those footprints melt away and life goes on.  So ask yourself: who will remember your footprints?  What impact have you had and what difference have you made in the world that your footprints should be cemented in the minds of others?  The answer you find may shock and/or inspire you…

Not everyone has religious beliefs. And that’s okay. We live in a modern world where science has been able to prove (or disprove) most things written in religious texts. But that doesn’t make some of their lessons any less timely or important. The impact we make on this world has the opportunity to either remain in the memory of others of fade away with the washing of the sand. the choice is yours. ☯

When It Doesn’t Make Sense Is When You Need To Keep Working At It

One of the weirdest lessons in life is how things have to be the opposite of the result you seek to achieve in order to realize you have to change it.  For example, most people won’t necessarily realize it’s time to change their diets and hit the gym until they gain a noticeable amount of weight and start experiencing health issues.  Or we often won’t eat properly until we are diagnosed with some measurable health deficiency or dietary issue caused by eating too much junk food or making bad health choices.

I think it was Albert Einstein who said, “If you don’t understand it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”  There’s a depth of truth in this that applies to all persons, regardless of their goals. Here’s the simple truth: you shouldn’t wait until you fall out of shape or gain weight to start “getting into shape” or exercising.  You shouldn’t wait until your blood sugars run rampant or your health falters before you change your diet and eat better.  And live better.

That’s an important aspect as well.  It’s not all about diet and exercise (although they are two of the most important factors and the focus of this post).  You have to be well within your own existence.  You have to be able to wake up in the morning WANTING to face the day instead of dreading the next 8 hours that may be coming.  Trust me, when I say that this is not always an easy aspect.

But let’s focus on the two first factors, diet and exercise.  I once read that the only way to get in shape is to show how out of shape you are.  What I interpret this to mean is, there’s nothing impressive about the 250-pound muscle jock benching huge amounts of weight and screaming with every rep. Sure, he no doubt worked to get to the state he’s in, but what’s more impressive is the brave soul who steps onto the treadmill and sweats within a minute and has to struggle to speed walk for five minutes.  Then they come back the next day.  And the next. And the next.  And before you know it, this person is losing weight and becoming stronger, faster and better.  That’s how change is made.  By showing up and doing it!

Your diet is the next big aspect.  It has to be specific to what you’re trying to accomplish.  The athlete training for a heavy weight boxing match won’t have the same diet as someone trying to slim down and lose weight.  And most people seem to be confused about what diets can work and what specific foods can do for you and/or against you.

Let’s discuss carbs for a moment.  Carbs are a Type 1 Diabetic’s biggest nemesis.  Why? Because carbs are the reason we need to take insulin.  The more carbs we ingest during a meal, the larger the dose of insulin that’s required. That’s an over-simplification, but carbs are meant to provide energy for the body.    This is true for all people, Diabetic or not.  So it’s usually not advisable or healthy (unless instructed by your health practitioner) to try and be completely carb-free.  Carbs get broken down into glucose or stored as fat.

Carbs get stored as fat when we take in more calories than we require or burn within the day, and get stored in all those lovely areas we hate to look at when we hop in the shower.  That’s why many professional athletes will “carb load”, because they know they’ll need the energy and it will all get used up, as opposed to being stored as fat.

The lesson here is that in order to lose weight and get into shape, you need to combine exercise AND diet.  There’s no getting around this.  You have to fire up your metabolism to help you along, and there’s no magic pill that will accomplish this.  You just need to get off the couch and do it.  You can’t diet but sit around like a lump and expect t lose weight.  You can’t exercise like a pro athlete then go out and eat the entire value menu at your local fast-food restaurant and expect to stay healthy.  You have to combine both aspects.

You want to avoid refined carbohydrates and sugars such as pastries, white breads and pastas as well as sweetened drinks and sodas.  Base the amount of carbs you ingest on your level of exercise.  If you are just starting, then keep your carb intake on the lower side in order to prevent increasing those fat stores.  Eat plenty of fiber and lean protein to help with muscle repair and development and the continuance of “friendly” bacteria in the digestion.  Lean protein means meat options that are low in fat and provide the healthiest totality, such as skinless chicken or fish (sorry vegetarians, cutting out meat does NOT help you lose weight).  And last but not least, don’t make any major changes to your lifestyle without consulting your health practitioner and/or professional trainer.

All pebbles seem small until you have one stuck in your shoe.  I forget who said that, but it’s true.  Getting into shape and reaching your health goals always seem like a HUGE challenge… until it’s not.  Then you get to maintain that health instead of trying to fight for it, and you can look back on the days you wished you were in the shape you are now. But you have to start.  One step, that’s all it takes.  Then once you get moving, you’ll be amazed at how difficult it is to stop! ☯

Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch… You Know I Love You! 🎶

You know, when you spend every day minding what you eat and watching your health it can get a little tedious.  Sometimes we forget that it’s okay to take a step back, take a breath and let ourselves enjoy simple pleasures that we’ve always been told were a no-no.

Enter sugar pie!  As some of you may remember from earlier posts, I’ve been living in the Canadian Prairies for the past ten years.  During the past decade, one fo the things I’ve missed the most from the east coast is exactly that: sugar pie.  This delicious desert has many different backgrounds in North America, but the one I’m referring to traces its roots to the Province of Quebec.

French Canadians have a bit of a dark history and faced many difficulties during the country’s development.  Many of the recipes created during this period were rich in calories with lots of fat and sugar.  This helped early French settlers to survive the harsh living conditions they faced due to the elements.  Of course, the modern recipe is made with brown sugar, a rare commodity that wasn’t available back then.  The original recipe called for maple syrup as opposed to brown sugar, so the flavor may have been different but many recipes still use either, or both.

The results of my attempt at a sugar pie

Today I decided to try my hand at making a sugar pie.  It’s one of the few vices that I long for whenever I visit my family in the Maritimes, and I’ve never been able to find one anywhere in Saskatchewan. Although some people have mentioned having heard of sugar pie, no one has ever been able to provide me with a place to get one.

I happened to find a recipe for it online today, and decided to try my hand at it. The ingredient composition may have been a bit more complicated than the original recipe, but I figured I’d give it a shot.  Depending on the taste, it may be an indulgence I can now allow myself.

Watery and unsuccessful…

Ultimately, it tastes like a bowl of jellied s&*t!!!  I should leave the baking to those who know how.  The French settlers would have likely opted for starvation over eating this thing.  I’m not sure where I went wrong, but it’s watery and tastes nothing like any sugar I’ve ever had out east.  But hey, at least I tried… ☯