Sure, Go To Bed Angry…

Have you ever heard the saying that you should never go to bed angry? Of course you have! Most people at some point in their adult lives have heard that saying. It used to be an important staple of relationship advice and previous generations stuck to it like glue. In fact, it’s even quoted in the Bible. Don’t believe me? Check out Ephesians 4:26 and tell me that Paul wasn’t talking about this exact thing.

Realistically, trying never to go to bed angry is an outdated and archaic way of looking at things. And it doesn’t just refer to marriage. It applies to most relationships, regardless of their nature and/or type. There are some sources that explain that going to bed angry can actually be helpful.

According to an article posted by Psychology Today, people tend to fight over nothing when they’re tired. They’ll even fight over issues that wouldn’t faze them if they were well-rested. The worst part is, resolving whatever the issue is winds up being more difficult due to the fatigue. The same can be said of trying to resolve a problem when you’re hungry.

Going to bed while you’re still angry is not only a good idea, it can lend some significant benefits. The fact is, you’ll likely be rested, refreshed and able to approach whatever got your hackles up with a renewed perspective. You may avoid saying something stupid because you were too tired. And as I said earlier, this applies to all relationships.

There are days when my 5-year old makes me angry as hell. Strange how kids can get under one’s skin sometimes, right? Rather than lose my temper and yell at him, I usually prefer to distance myself and let him go to bed. Once I’ve got a proper night’s sleep (or some close approximation) I can deal with the previous night’s issue with a better frame of mind.

The old school way of thinking isn’t always wrong; this just happens to be one of those times when it falls short of what’s necessary. So when tempers flare, don’t be afraid to take a step back. After all, “sleep on it” may be more beneficial than “never go to bed angry.” But what do I know? I’ve never fought with my wife before bed. ☯

Knowing the difference

I’ve been reading about a number of different terms that are used within martial arts circles. Some of them have been confusing me and there’s a difference between some of the terms that are used. I thought I would take the time to cover two of them off, as many people tend to use them interchangeably, even if they’re not.

The first term I want to cover is martialist. This is a term I’ve found in a number of philosophy and martial arts books. So, what is a martialist? And how does it differ from a martial artist? Well, Webster’s Dictionary defines a martialist as someone “skilled in warlike arts and techniques.” A martial artist, on the other hand, is a person who studies an art form developed for the purpose of self-defence and combat, although most of them can find their roots in military or war-based origins.

The next term I’ll cover is Senpai. This is a term that refers to a senior member of a dojo who also instructs, generally ranked below the Sensei. In Japan, the terms Senpai and Kohai are meant to mean “Senior” and “Junior”, respectively. But in karate, a Senpai is someone who steps in and teaches as a direct assistant to the Sensei, but not the Sensei himself (or herself).

I’ll be the first to admit that the martial arts is a rich tapestry that crosses many different cultures and backgrounds. Sometimes, it gets difficult to keep all the different terminology straight, depending on your background and what style you may be studying. Doing an internet search will only get you so far, and there is a fair amount of confusion or inaccurate information out there.

if you already study the martial arts, don’t be afraid to ask you Sensei if you have questions about proper terminology. You should likely do this AFTER class, so as to not take away from the Sensei’s stretching and warm-up before class. If your instructor tells you something vague like how you shouldn’t worry about such things, he or she may not have your best interests in mind. Your curiosities should be accommodated wherever it’s appropriate. ☯

The Sword Saint

This week, I’ve decided to focus my attentions on someone whom I’ve read about since I was a young child: Miyamoto Musashi. Most people aren’t familiar with the name, though he was well-known in feudal Japan as the greatest swordsman to have ever been. People are more familiar with the book he wrote before the end of his life: The Book of Five Rings.

Musashi is thought to have been born in Japan in the late 1500’s by the name “Bennosuke” to a farmer. The history is a bit difficult to trace, but there is some debate as to exactly where and in what Province Musashi was born. Musashi was raised by his uncle after the death of his father, and was taught Buddhism, reading and writing (which was not a common thing in that era).

Musashi’s name was changed to “Takezo” later in life and he began to study the sword, either from his father or under his uncle, fighting and winning his first duel at the age of thirteen. Musashi was said to have fought (and won) 61 duels and battles, leading to the creation of a legend in his own right. He developed and refined his own style of two-sword combat called Niten Ichi-ryu, making use of both a katana and a wakizashi in combat.

Although best known as a swordsman, Musashi was a philosopher, artist, painter and calligrapher. I could go on about the different skills he developed and mastered throughout the course of his life, but suffice it to say that Musashi was a firm believer in studying one thing in order to master another. For example, if you study only the sword you will grow to be ignorant and unaware of anything else. In order to truly master a skill, you need to branch out and have some variety.

Miyamoto Musashi is a source of inspiration for me, because he walked his own path. Although receiving instruction at some point in his young age, he went on to develop and master his own style, suited to his own needs. A variation of his style of swordsmanship is still studied today. He’s written various works and created multiple pieces of art, and can be cited as a source of popular quotes (feel free to Google “Musashi quotes”).

To be honest, I could share quotes and passages from some of his works, but that would scarcely do him justice. If you want to learn all you can about Miyamoto Musashi, my best suggestion would be to get tour hands on a copy of his book, The Book Of Five Rings. The version translated and written by Hanshi Stephen Kaufman is the most popular version (and the most complete one). It’s a fascinating read, and the material can apply to many aspects of life, not just combat. ☯

The Right Frame Of Mind

Developing yourself and reaching a goal can be difficult. Especially when you don’t allow yourself to have a strong frame of mind or proper perspective. Having a partner when you work out can be extremely helpful, as I wrote about in a previous post It Takes Two, Baby…🎶. But although having someone there to spot you and motivate you can be quite the benefit, you need to allow yourself to have a correct frame of mind behind your workout.

The distance I achieved yesterday

A friend of mine recently pointed out something important as it relates to fitness. Let’s say that you’re trying to lose some weight. You intend on climbing the nearby mountain with a partner, which is not only smart for safety reasons but can motivate you to push further in order to keep up. As you start climbing, you begin to feel tired. Your body is having difficulty continuing due to the excess weight that you’re trying to shed, and you feel compelled to stop.

Perhaps you tell your partner you need a rest. Or perhaps you tell them you can’t go on. Maybe you surrender to your body’s urge to have you sit down and give up. A terrible thing to allow, especially if you’ve set yourself some fitness goals that can be important for your health. For someone with Type-1 Diabetes, this can be a common occurrence, since fluctuating blood glucose levels can have the unfortunate side effect of making a person groggy and sluggish.

Yesterday’s route around the Regina Bypass

As I’ve often mentioned before, it’s important to ask yourself why? What is the reason behind your motivation? Your body should and will give out, long before you do. Why do you think people listen to music when they work out? It’s not simply for their love of it, although for some I would believe that’s included. It’s because music motivates us (and in some ways, distracts us from the physical exertion we’re going through).

This is why it’s so important to motivate yourself and stay positive. When I started cycling for fitness this year, I would get home after about a dozen kilometres and my legs would kill, I’d be exhausted and I would feel like total crap. But as you can see from the images above, the day before last saw me hit 65 kilometres. And yes, when I got home my legs killed, I was exhausted and dehydrated and needed food. But I can promise that a dozen kilometres now seem like a trivial amount, and I can do it quite easily in only about half an hour. This is something I wouldn’t have imagined when I started.

Sometimes it’s better to take things in small increments. If I’d hopped on my bike and tried to reach 60k on one of my first times out, I likely would have floored myself and became discouraged. But by staying consistent and building myself slowly, I’ve been able to keep building and developing how far I can go. The same can be said of martial arts or any fitness regimen that you may be attempting.

Let’s get back to our friend who’s attempting to climb the mountain. When exhaustion sets in and you feel like you can’t go any further, there’s no shame in taking a breather. But then, look ahead and spot a point further up the trail and tell yourself, “I can push at LEAST until that tree…” Then go for it. Once you reach that tree, maybe you’ll need another breather, maybe you won’t. But fix yourself another short goal and strive for it.

I think it was a Navy Seal that I had seen years ago, who described taking his training in steps, from day to day. At the beginning of the day, he would tell himself to simply get past breakfast. That’s it. Once this period had passed, he would focus simply on getting through the afternoon. Nothing more. With each piece of the day’s puzzle reached, he would be able to shift his focus and move on to the next, thereby guaranteeing he would make it through the day before hitting the rack. If he were to focus on completing the entire day, he would likely become discouraged and lack motivation. This is a concept that anyone can apply to their daily routines.

The idea is to allow yourself the time to grow. Have a positive and motivated perspective and you’ll go much further. If your thoughts are negative as soon as you begin, you’re sure to fail. how can you be motivated if you’re already defeating yourself? But if you focus on the positive, music, goals, health benefits, perhaps the scenery that surrounds you as you climb, you’re more likely to push farther and accomplish more.

Your own health and fitness is important; critical to your survival, really. And the proper mindset is what will help get you there. For someone with weight issues or Diabetes, staying fit and healthy can mean the difference between life and death. This is one of the reasons I push so hard. Life has too much to offer to lay down and die sooner than necessary.

And Diabetes or not, death will take me. Of this, there is no doubt. But I can promise two things: Death will lose ten pounds in sweat trying to make it happen and he’ll lose a mouth of teeth in the attempt. I intend to go down fighting. (Gee, that would make a great t-shirt) ☯

A Gentle Hand In Hygiene…

Washing one’s hands has become a popular topic of most conversations regarding personal hygiene in recent years, and it still surprises me how many people go without washing their hands frequently and especially after prepping food, using the washroom or contaminating one’s hands with something potentially painful, like hot sauce!

I’ll admit I’m usually guilty of this, at least a couple of times a month. I’ll prep a plate of nachos with cheese, varying ingredients and hot sauce and sit on the couch to watch a show or a movie with my wife. I’ll be snacking away, happy and content with the deliciousness of my nachos when, all of a sudden, my eye will itch. Absentmindedly, I’ll reach up and rub my eye. Within seconds and for minutes after, my eye is a fountain of tears and irritation as the hot sauce residue teaches me the importance of washing my hands before touching my face.

I wish I could say I’ve learned my lesson, but I unfortunately repeat this vaudeville routine on a regular basis. One of the main ingredients in most hot sauces is capsaicin, related to capsicum, which is the primary debilitating ingredient in pepper spray. And I rub that shit into my eyes on the reg… Are you sure y’all should be listening to ANYTHING I say? But I digress…

The reality is that your hands carry a shit-ton of germs. And yes, that pun IS intended, considering fecal bacteria is the most common thing on your hands, your phone, etc… Most people don’t wash their hands properly, and many that do fail to scrub up for as long as is necessary for proper hygiene. The big problem is that we use our hands for everything. We touch our faces, eyes, nose, mouth… often without even realizing it. And whatever nasty bugs we have on them will find a good home in any of those openings.

The next problem is that failing to properly wash one’s hands can lead to the propagation of those germs. By using our hands without properly washing them, we can potentially transfer germs and bacteria to food we prepare for our family or directly onto our children as we hug them and seek to protect them. And looking back on the funny story about putting hot sauce in my eye, there is another very unpopular condition that can be caused by dirty hands: pink eye!

Pink eye, or what’s known as infectious conjunctivitis, is usually caused by viruses but can also be caused by bacteria; such as the ones found on unwashed hands. I’ve been fortunate enough never to have pink eye, but it doesn’t sound like a spa treatment! And washing your hands regularly and frequently can go a long way towards helping to prevent it.

So, good hand washing practices are important, especially to help maintain proper health. Diabetics especially don’t need the added potential for germs and bacteria to cause infections and complications that could make us ill. The biggest challenge is trying to teach children. Trying to convince my 5-year old son why he has to go wash his hands before he eats, sleeps, touches the baby, etc is a battle unto itself…

Be sure to get your hands completely wet, scrub thoroughly with warm/hot water and soap for at least 20 seconds or more. Do this every time you’ve handled raw foods, did work outside, shook someone’s hands and especially after any and all bathroom use. And yes, you CAN overdo it. Washing your hands TOO much will scrub away oils needed to keep the skin healthy and cause dry, itchy skin. But you’d have to go a long way to reach that point. ☯

Sleepy Is As Sleepy Does 😴

Yesterday, I wrote a post about the importance of meals and which of those meals is the most important (despite all of them being important). One of the points I made towards the end, is that it’s important to stop eating at east a couple of hours before you hit the sack, otherwise your body is busy digesting and processing foods instead of what it’s SUPPOSED to be doing during sleep.

As a follow up to that post, I thought it might be interesting to examine and discuss exactly what the body IS doing while we sleep. For the purposes of today’s post, I won’t get into all the “brain stuff” like REM sleep and sleep cycles. Rather, I’d like to focus on the physical aspects that take place within your body while you’re dreaming about that log cabin on the lake that you plan to retire to…

Let’s start with some of physiological effects… According to a list posted by WebMD, your body temperature will drop during sleep and your breathing will deepen and slow. Your heart rate will fluctuate, but non-REM sleep will lower your pulse and blood pressure, allowing the heart and blood vessels to recover. Deep sleep cycles are where the body takes advantage to repair muscle and other tissues, as well as release chemicals that strengthen your immune system. Ever wonder why you need “rest” and sleep when you’re sick? That would be why.

While you sleep, your brain sends out messages to keep you from acting out your dreams. Essentially, your brain paralyzes you while you sleep… (because THAT doesn’t sound horrible!) During sleep, growth hormones increase and stress hormones decrease. There’s also a whole mess of stuff that happens with other hormones as well.

Sleep not only allows your body the opportunity to heal and repair tissues, it also allows your energy to be restored to face the following day’s challenges. Not to mention that your brain processes and stores information and possibly creates long-term memories during sleep. Not to mention eliminating toxins and waste from the body, which is why (outside of drinking too much water before bed) most people dash to the washroom, first thing in the morning.

So just imagine that with everything the body takes care of during your sleep cycle, combined with the fact that your metabolism slows down, you pile a bunch of food on top of it all to be digested right before going to sleep. Eating right before bed can cause heartburn, indigestion and can have an effect on your weight, since the improperly digested calories will likely be stored as fat.

Sleep is super important, and there’s a whole frontier of mystery behind it, as scientists are still uncertain why we have specific sleep cycles, why we dream and what some of the brain activity involved in sleeping is meant for. But one thing is for certain; not getting an appropriate amount of proper sleep can be disruptive and harmful to the body’s natural function. So, hug your pillow tight! Even while you’re at rest, your body continues to work. ☯

Make A Meal Of Some Information…

Mornings suck… I mean, you’re entitled to your opinion if you believe this to be false, but I dislike waking up in the morning. Maybe it’s because I never get a genuine full-night’s rest from my sleep, for various reasons. But getting up in the morning leads to certain routines that most people adhere to. Things like brewing/consuming coffee and perhaps having breakfast.

Now, I’m not a nutritionist or a dietitian and I have no formal training in those areas. I function solely on the personal knowledge and study I’ve accumulated over decades due to being a Type-1 Diabetic. And I will allow myself a brief vulnerability and admit that I’m probably one of the worst people for failing to consume what is generally considered the most important meal of the day: breakfast!

I grew up in a household where breakfast was not only considered the most important meal of the day, but it was mandatory. I have memories of my mother almost physically dragging me to the breakfast table during those awkward teenage years when all you want to do is sleep. There was no way I would be permitted to leave the house without something in my stomach.

The main idea is that eating breakfast within an hour of waking up helps your body to get the sustenance and energy it requires to attack the challenges of the day. Your body’s metabolism is usually at its lowest upon waking, which is why you need the nutrients and energy from a well-balanced breakfast to kick things off. Skipping breakfast and/or the first meal of your day can have negative effects on your body.

According to a paragraph in an article by Science Direct, “[…] the failure to eat (a well-balanced) breakfast has been documented to have a deleterious impact on cognitive performance […]” The takeaway is that trying to start your day without food in your system will affect your overall cognitive functions and impede your overall performance.

WebMD seems to agree as a quote from their webpage states, “Skipping the morning’s meal can throw off your body’s rhythm of of fasting and eating. When you wake up, the blood sugar your body needs to make your muscles and brain work their best is usually low. Breakfast helps replenish it.” The article goes on to explain that skipping breakfast can lead to feeling drained and “zapped” of energy throughout the day, an effect I can attest to have suffered from on a number of occasions.

I’ll admit that I’m quite guilty of this. My first actions in the morning usually include grabbing the first available source of caffeine and flopping down into my desk chair and working on this blog… Thoughts of food don’t hit me until close to lunchtime, by which time I’ve become hungry enough that I overeat. This is an issue that I’ve gotten into a habit of stemming by eating a simple english muffin with my coffee.

What you eat for breakfast is often as important as whether or not you choose to consume breakfast. A balanced meal of proteins, grains and dairy will help ensure your body gets the necessary “kick” it requires to make it through the day. On the flip side, if you constantly consume a breakfast heavy in fats and processed sugars like popular name-brand cereals and bacon, you may start the day with a full stomach but you may also be doing damage in other ways. So, be smart about what you eat and when (something that WOULD require the advice of a nutritionist or dietitian)

So if breakfast is the most important meal of the day, is there a LEAST important meal? The short answer is no. All three meals, accompanied with light, healthy snacks in between, are all just as important in the grand scheme of your health. That being said, lunch can be a bit on the light side, with an accompanying snack during the middle of the afternoon. Dinner (or supper) may end up being a substantial meal as it’s statistically the one we have at home with the family and is prepared to be larger to accommodate everyone. But there’s no hard and fast rule to this.

The one important detail to remember is that no matter what meals you partake in and what time you enjoy them at, experts agree that you should stop eating a minimum of a couple of hours before bed so that your digestive system has time to process your food before you try and sleep. Once you go to sleep, your body is meant to fast as it works on rejuvenating itself for the day to come; something it can’t do if it spends half the night digesting your buffalo wings from your Netflix binge!

Eating your meals at proper intervals will also help with proper blood sugar control if you have Diabetes. Maintaining a proper routine and healthy diet is always the optimal choice in order to help prevent spikes or drops in blood sugar. So, there you have it! If you grew up through the 80’s like I did and constantly heard commercials on Saturday morning about starting your morning with a healthy breakfast, that rule is still a reality today.

For myself, I usually end up skipping breakfast in favour of sleeping in for that added twenty minutes and rushing off to work. But the reality is that most studies will show that getting up a touch earlier and having a proper breakfast may go farther towards ensuring you’re awake and alert than hitting the old snooze button. So take time to grab a meal before facing the world. It always looks better on a full stomach. ☯

Life Isn’t A StopWatch

I hate being interrupted. Honestly, it happens in all aspects of life; there’s simply no getting around that. With children, work and daily obligations, interruptions to ANY task I may be doing is a common occurrence. And I’ve honestly come to expect interruptions and even become concerned when I’m not interrupted. This usually means that my son is up to something… (he’s literally pestering me for food as I type this sentence)

A good example is the fact that between the first paragraph and this one, I’ve been away from my keyboard for about twenty minutes making waffles for my son and trying to figure out why my Roku stick won’t play his damnable shows…(Burn in hell, Peppa Pig!) But the good news is with something like a blog, I can stop typing to deal with whatever the interruption may be and return to it once I’ve gotten clear. But what about something like working out? Can you stop your workout and come back to it, later on?

Life isn’t a stopwatch. There’s no way to pause time and restart it once we’ve gotten past whatever may be in the way. There are a finite number of hours in the week, and focusing on one’s fitness amidst needy children, work, chores around the house and anything else that may come along can prove to be difficult. How effectively can your fitness plans be instituted into your daily life in these conditions?

According to a blog post on Strong Mommas, there are four valuable tips to dealing with interruptions to your fitness routine. You can click the link to get the full details from the post, but I’ll synopsize these tips here, based on how I deal with things. There are only three tips listed in my post because #2 and #3 in the linked post are basically the same:

  1. Workout when you’ll be least interrupted. This can be a bit difficult, depending on your lifestyle and what job you have. The article describes the writer finally “sucking it up” and waking up at 5:30 in the morning to wake up. Screw that noise! I’m not a morning person to start with, so that’s the LAST option I would entertain. But it happens to be a period where the writer can guarantee she won’t be interrupted, so it works for her. Cycling workouts are best for me, as they happen to be outside the home. But even this gets interrupted, depending on what I have going on at home. If you have a period of the day where you may have some peace and quiet, this should be when you go for it. I agree on the writer’s last thought on this point, that working out during late evening when the kids go to bed can be rough, especially since you’ll likely be tired as well;
  2. Pick up where you left off. If your workout gets interrupted and you find yourself freed up, there’s nothing wrong with coming right back to it. This sucks, since you’ve likely cooled down while taking care of whatever caused the interruption. If you can get back to it within 15 minutes, you should be good to go. Depending on how much your body has cooled down, you may have to warm up again before resuming your workout. This will depend greatly on how tight your muscles feel and is subjective to the person working out. If you’ve barely reached halfway through your set, just start the set from the beginning;
  3. You may have to surrender and quit the workout. There’s a chance that depending on the workout and what the interruption is, you won’t get the chance to return to your workout. That pisses me off to no end and stubbornly, I often don’t include these instances in my logs. But as most fitness experts would tell you, doing anything is better than doing nothing.

If you’re anything like me, you should PLAN on being interrupted. Whether it’s a phone call, a child’s needs or anything else in the household, you can almost be guaranteed that your workout may be interrupted. I’ve found that what usually works for me is doing a shorter workout. Working out for only 30 minutes significantly increases the odds that you’ll get through your sweat before being stopped or interrupted. That being said, it also depends on what type of workout you’re indulging in.

The important thing to remember is to roll with the punches and not let it discourage you or stress you into NOT working out. You can exercise literally anywhere at anytime, so this is a pretty good flexibility when all things are considered. Look for opportunities and take advantage of whatever may be in front of you. For example, whenever I go for my eye injections in the city, I always walk from my hotel to the hospital, then back. It’s not an intense workout, by any means but it gives me the better part of over a kilometre of walking, which is better than nothing.

To be honest, I’m a creature of habit and routine, and I absolutely despise having said routines disrupted by anything. So I usually have to work pretty hard at not letting the anxiety levels rise to ridiculous levels. For example, while writing this post I was interrupted at least a half dozen times by the varying members of my family and their need of my assistance. Like I said, it’s GOING to happen, there’s no getting out of it. So plan accordingly, stick with it and keep pushing forward, no matter what the grind of daily life throws in your way! ☯

Aren’t Kids Just The Best…?

Having children is a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, they can provide a significant amount of reward in the way they grow, progress and develop into their own little people. As long as you have the strength and foresight to ensure that they don’t grow up to be little thugs or criminals, you get to pat yourself on the back on a job well-done and move on with life (and potentially enjoy some grandchildren).

On the other hand, kids can be little assholes. And while some are probably reading this and thinking how shocked they are that I would refer to children this way, they also know I’m right. And this is a story of why… First of all, let’s be clear on a universally-known but not always acknowledged fact: kids smell bad. This isn’t a judgement, it’s simply a reality. You see, kids go through a curve where at birth, they smell amazing. You ever smell a baby’s head? If you could find a way to bottle that scent, you’d give Giorgio Armani a run for his money.

Now, that “new baby smell” is a leftover biological defence mechanism that humans evolved to ensure bonding with their mothers. This was important during the existence of our prehistoric ancestors because, since babies are normally crying, shitting and eating everything in sight, our less-civilized ancestors may have said “Not today, Satan!” before leaving their little bundle to die in the wilderness. But this isn’t important to the story, so I should get back on track…

As kids get a bit older, they spend a few years where they care a bit less about hygiene. They need to be prompted to wash their hands, forced to bathe or shower, and don’t even get me started on the eternal battle for brushing one’s teeth! Once children get past the “kid” stage and slip into the adolescent and teenage years, they start to discover that staying clean and smelling nice are not only important aspects of health, they’re pretty important aspects of societal acceptance as well.

Anyone who’s a parent will recognize this phenomenon, simply from walking into their child’s room, trying to keep the family vehicle clean or even hugging their kid after a day of playing outside. But none of it was made any truer than after an incident that started almost two weeks ago with my 5-year old son, Nathan…

For the most part, Nathan is a catch-22 in the behavioural department. On certain days he’s like an angel of mercy, following every demand and instruction with total obedience and making for an almost peaceful day. On other days, he’s a walking nightmare who requires constant prodding or blackmailing in order to accomplish the simplest of tasks around the household.

We had recently started cleaning and using our universal air conditioner, and at one point I walked into my son’s room and commented on the fact that it smelled rather funky in there. I chalked it up to the possibility that his bedding needed to be changed (kids sometimes won’t QUITE make it to the washroom in the middle of the night) and made a mental note to change it up. We opened windows and aired out the house as we cleaned, especially since our home is up for sale.

Several days later, I remarked that the room still smelled a bit odd, almost like stale urine. Nathan was known for occasionally wetting himself and hiding the wet things behind his bed so he wouldn’t get in trouble, so I made a point of searching his room. Nothing. I stripped his bed (with his help), washed and disinfected all of his bedding with the hopes that this would eliminate whatever the mystery source of this odour may have been.

Flash forward to over an hour later, I felt the house starting to get a bit stuffy from the heat and asked my wife to turn on the air conditioning. Once Nathan’s bedding was dry, I walked upstairs with my arms full of blankets, sheets and a pillow cover, intent of remaking his bed in anticipation of bedtime in a few hours. When I walked into the room, the smell hit me! It was clear, pungent, and almost reminded me of some rather less-than-pleasant environments I had attended in the course of my job.

I gagged and retreated out of the room and told my wife there was a problem and she needed to come to Nathan’s room. Now, my wife has allergies and usually can’t smell things worth a damn, but even she was able to detect the strong odour of urine that permeated our every sense. Her next comment fed the suspicion that I was trying not to admit:

“Oh boy, what did he pour down the air vent…”

I kneeled down next to the A/C vent and inhaled. Sure enough, the source of the smell was coming from Nathan’s A/C vent. The I looked closely enough, I could see the telltale swirls of dried urine on the top surface of the vent cover. He was outside playing at that moment (which was probably better for his sake), so I investigated the only way I could think of. I removed the vent cover, carefully lowered my phone into the air duct and video recorded what was going on in there… (head’s up, the photo below IS disgusting!)

A screenshot of the inside of my son’s A/C vent…

I apologize for how disgusting the above photo may appear, but it was even less pleasant to deal with, trust me! What you’re looking at is a screenshot of the video I took right at the elbow of his air vent. You can see various bits of Cheerios, wax crayons and what I can only assume are pieces of chocolate (I hope, although why would one waste chocolate???) sitting in a brackish quarter-inch of stagnant Nathan-pee!

Lucky for me, the vents are actually really level so the urine was sitting still within the first four feet of air duct and wasn’t crawling it’s way back to the furnace or beyond the immediate stretch that you can see in the photo. I was pissed (pun fully intended). My wife and I discussed whether we would need to have someone professional come in to clean out the air ducts when my precious first-born chose that moment to put his life in jeopardy and come in from outside.

I sat him down, controlled my breathing and showed him the video. I started by asking him why he would pee down his air vent and received the same answer every parent receives from a child trying to prevent further punishment: I don’t know. I moved on from the why long enough to explain to him that under no circumstances was there EVER a good reason to use one’s air vent as a toilet, and that all his needs MUST be done in the washroom, without exception.

I left him sitting on the landing with a pouting lip and set about the task of trying to clean the mess up myself. I removed the fifty-year old masking tape that the previous owner had used to seal with vents. I then loosened the four-foot stretch of air duct AFTER the pee-filled area and removed it. This ensured that there wouldn’t continue to be a rush of cold, urine-scented air filling the upstairs area.

Unfortunately, when I removed the second stretch of duct, the piece still connected to Nathan’s room dipped down and released its golden bounty… all over the laundry room floor and my legs. Lovely. I pulled the affected air duct free and brought it outside where I laboured using a pressure washer to scrub out the inside and get it clean. I also took advantage to clean out the excess crayons and food bits that were sitting at the base of the vent.

All in all, the whole thing took almost two hours by the time I removed everything, cleaned it all then put it all back in place and used actual duct tape. Yes, duct tape is ACTUALLY meant to seal joints in your air ducts. Take that, Red Green! (I’ll just let you newer generation Google who “Red Green” is…) While I was outside pressure washing, my wife managed to get some rudimentary explanation out of Nathan involving his laziness and not wanting to walk to the washroom in the middle of the night. Needless to say, it wasn’t the best evening.

The following morning, Nathan sought me out once he was out of bed and immediately asked me if I was still mad at him, complete with a hug and kiss. He can be such a good kid in some respects while being the reason we can’t nice things in others respects. And that’s the thing about kids: they may drive you crazy with some of their antics, but it usually only takes a show of affection to remind us how important they can be. ☯

“Rowdy” Ronda Rousey

As usual, I’ve been reserving my Sunday posts for people that have inspired me or motivated me in some way. While going through my Kobo with my wife, we came upon the autobiography of Ronda Rousey, entitled “My Fight/Your Fight.” I started talking about the autobiography and about everything Rousey has been through in her life (up to that point) to get to where she is today. My wife suggested that I seemed pretty inspired by Rousey and that perhaps I should write about her. And here we are…

Many people in martial arts circles and non-fitness circles alike have expressed a love/hate relationship with Rousey. Some believing her to be more of a passing fad than a genuine athlete, some idolizing her as a true martial artist and pioneer in the women’s division of one of the most male-dominated forms of sport entertainment currently in existence. But the truth of it is she’s accomplished many great things. Most of which were accomplished through sheer force of will and has beaten odds that would have crushed a lesser person.

Rousey was born in California in the late 80’s and was born with a condition known as apraxia, which is a particular childhood speech disorder that made it difficult for Rousey to speak in a coherent manner for the first years of her life. This would be one of the first obstacles she’d overcome as she would eventually go on to speak normally, as anyone who has heard her speak in recent years could attest.

Rousey suffered tragedy early in her life as her father broke his back while sledding with Rousey and her sisters. Rousey’s father became a paraplegic as a result and took his own life in 1995. Years later, Rousey would begin training in the martial art of Judo, as her mother had been an accomplished athlete in Judo, having been the first American to win the World Judo Championship in 1984.

Rousey progressed, promoted and moved up the ranks in Judo and won more medals and trophies than I could possibly list here (you should read her biography for deeper details) and never gave up along the way. She faced personal difficulties at home, which saw her leave her family to train elsewhere and injuries that made continued training and development difficult. But along the way, she never stopped fighting, in the physical and metaphorical sense. Rousey became an Olympian by winning a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympic games, becoming the first American to win an Olympic medal in women’s Judo since its creation.

After winning an Olympic medal, Rousey retired from Judo professionally, and sought some direction in her life. Without getting into the nitty-gritty of it, my impression was that she slipped off the rails a bit when she failed to find that direction in her own life. I can definitely relate to that, on a number of levels.

Rousey fell into the world of Mixed Martial Arts in 2010 as an amateur, a term that wouldn’t apply to her for very long. She trained with the same passion and fervour in MMA and she had in Judo, and quickly came to make her mark on the sport and ultimately, the world. Her signature move was submission by armbar, and it seemed that no opponent could best her.

Rousey stepped into professional MMA in the following year and became Strikeforce’s Women’s Bantamweight Champion in 2012. Rousey would go on to be the first female signed with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, after a great deal of debate whether women would ever be in the UFC. Once part of UFC, Rousey was named the UFC’s first Women’s Bantamweight Champion, a title she defended over and over until her loss to another fighter in 2015.

Rousey was away from MMA for about a year before she returned to reclaim her title. She ultimately suffered another loss and unofficially retired from the UFC in late 2016. She was, however, inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2018. Rousey has since moved on to professional wrestling, and has continued to make an impact there, as well.

The thing about Ronda Rousey is that despite the obstacles, difficulties and losses she’s faced in life and career, she never stopped fighting. Even at her lowest, when she felt she had nothing more she could lose, she found ways to rise up and pick herself up like a proverbial phoenix. Rousey has gone on to author books, star in action films accomplish inspirational things despite said obstacles.

If you want to learn about Ronda Rousey the person, I would definitely recommend picking up her autobiography, My Fight/Your Fight. You can get it from your local bookstore or you can get it as an e-book for your Kobo, which is what I did. It’s definitely worth the read and will give you insight on her character and her development as a person, as opposed to an entertainer and athlete. But, what an athlete! If you need some proof, just Google her fight record… From Judo to MMA to professional wrestling, the scales definitely tip in her favour.

As most of you know, I’ve never been a great fan of MMA. To a traditional martial artist, the term “mixed martial arts” doesn’t ring true under any circumstance. So, for me to be inspired and motivated by an MMA athlete is a bit of a step out of my comfort zone. That being said, holding a 6th degree black belt in Judo definitely helps. She’s a good combination of traditional and modern, with a warrior spirit to back it up. ☯