World Diabetes Day

Today is World Diabetes Day. There are a lot of “holidays” that float around on the internet, most created in the US and North America, such as National Donut Day and things of the like. But this one was created in 1991 by the World Health Organization and holds a different theme every year. It is observed on November 14th to coincide with Dr. Frederick Banting’s birthday. For you non-Diabetics who may not know, Dr. Banting is the man who co-created insulin alongside Charles Best.

This year’s theme is The Family and Diabetes. I still remember when I was diagnosed with Diabetes, all the way back in 1982. I recall my parents being visibly emotional and overwhelmed. I don’t remember much about how I reacted, except that I felt my parents would make everything okay. I was very wrong.

Over the years that followed, everything was most certainly NOT okay. I suffered from insulin resistance, Diabetic comas, ketoacidosis and score of other Diabetes-related complications. Carb-counting was not a generally known aspect of Diabetes control at the time, and I often suffered severe highs from that lack knowledge. My mother would often say things like “If you’re hungry, have a slice of bread with peanut butter” or “If you’re thirsty, have some milk”, as my mother assumed these things had no “sugar” in them and should be fine for me. All the while, I was being pumped full of carbohydrates and my insulin couldn’t keep up.

Once I got older and began taking control of my treatment and nutrition, things became exponentially better. After all, it’s much easier treating yourself than relying on others. Especially since you can feel symptoms and issues you may be suffering through much better than family members could. Obviously, I don’t hold my parents accountable for the difficulties I faced as a child. I was the first Type 1 Diabetic in my family and they did the best they could with the information they had at the time.

But family is important; not only for the treatment aspect but also for the support aspect. There were a lot of times as a child where I was denied certain privileges like spending weekends away at scout camps and having cake at birthday parties and such. It made my childhood difficult on top of all the medical concerns I faced. And let’s not forget the half dozen times that I likely would have died in my sleep, had my older brother not recognized that I was having a Diabetic seizure and woke my parents.

Family continues to play an important role in my life. When my wife and I started dating, I’m sure she wondered what the hell she’d gotten herself into after seeing me experience a severe low for the first time. Drenched in sweat and practically eating myself out of house and home, I can only imagine at what thoughts may have been floating through her mind. But these days, she’ll be the first to take one look at me and ask if I’m having a low. She’ll remind me to bolus based on the meal’s carb count and she keeps an eye on me.

Family is an important cornerstone in helping one properly control Type-1 Diabetes. They can give you focus and keep you on the straight and narrow, especially when things get rough. They are taking the journey with you, despite not having Diabetes themselves. As you observe World Diabetes Day, take time to include your family. They deal with it, same as you do. Every high, every low and every mood swing. ☯

My Gut Isn’t Fat, It’s A Fuel Tank For A Deity…

One of the common misconceptions that many people have about Buddha is the depiction often used in the Western world of a fat, bald little man. This depiction is not actually of Buddha, but of a 10th-Century Chinese monk known as Budai.

Budai is almost always depicted as smiling or laughing, in a seated position with a protruding stomach. Budai has been incorporated into Buddhism, Taoism and Shintoism and is believed by many to be destined as the next Buddha after Siddhartha Gautama.

Depiction of Budai

Budai was a wandering monk, and would often be said to predict people’s fortunes. He claimed he was an incarnation of Maitreya, the Buddha of the Future.

Siddhartha Gautama was a monk who taught in India between the 6th and 4th Centuries BC and is the person on whose teachings that Buddhism was founded. Gautama was believed to have been born in what is now known as modern day Nepal, and some accounts are that he was born to royalty. Gautama renounced his princely upbringing in order to become a holy man.

Depiction of Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama

One could write indefinitely on the intricate details of this topic. There are a number of different variations and some of the details are a little vague, but like most faiths it all depends on what source you research your information from.

This is a bit like the game some may have played in grade school, Telephone Game. It basically involved sitting in a circle and the first person whispers something into the next person’s ear and so on until it reaches the last person, who speaks the message out loud and reveals how the message may have unexpectedly changed.

The background of some of Buddhism’s origins is a bit similar. With the passing of time and modernization, the Western world has come to recognize Buddha as a little fat man who smiles and little else, which is genuinely unfortunate. ☯

Keeping An Appointment = Keeping Your Word

We live in a world that has evolved to limit personal interaction. Almost everything we could ever need can be purchased online, including groceries, clothing and necessities. All of these things can be mailed or delivered, and we never have to deal with someone face to face while doing it. In the meantime, most of us spend the majority of our down time with our noses buried in an electronic device, gaming, checking social media or other online activities.

In fact, I recently ordered my son’s birthday gifts through an online website, based on choices he showed me from a catalogue. I remember thinking that this made my life incredibly easy as I didn’t have to go out to try and find something for him. Such has become the way of the world.

And while there’s nothing wrong with the ease and simplicity that the internet provides, there’s still an expected standard of etiquette that must be followed. Even if you purchase something from a person over the internet, you still need to have the same courtesy, respect and understanding as you would while dealing with someone face-to-face.

I’ll give you an example… My wife and I are members of a few online buy-and-sell websites, which require you to become a member in order to do business. It’s a great tool for selling things around the home that we no longer use. I enjoy it, because I prefer selling an item to someone else who may make use of it rather than toss it out. It allows me to channel my inner KonMari and clear out all the unnecessary clutter from my house. I can almost hear thousands of eyes rolling but I’m sorry to say it guys… There’s definitely something to Marie Kondo’s organizational method. But I digress…

I currently have over a dozen used items posted for sale online. There’s a lot of haggling and negotiating that usually happens. This also relates to the pick-up or delivery of items as well as when the transaction would happen. Because it’s peer-to-peer, this site requires the buyer and seller to work out whether the items will be picked up or delivered, unlike E-Bay and Amazon.

I had a buyer express interest in not one, but three of my items. We discussed a price for the combined items and a time that the buyer would come pick them up. I was tickled pink… Not so much about the few dollars I was making, but the fact I was getting rid of a few items. The expected pick-up was agreed to be on the Friday, which was three days away… A little long in the tooth, as far as these interactions go, but since the buyer planned on taking a number of items, I agreed to reserve the stuff for them and wait until the Friday.

Friday rolls around and my person is a no-show. A major “faux pas” in the peer-to-peer buy-and-sell world. I allowed almost a full hour beyond our scheduled meeting before I reached out, asking if she still intended on showing up. Nothing. I waited until the end of the day and messaged again. Still nothing.

There’s a system in place on most of these sites that allow a person to report someone for “infractions” like no-shows. I know what you’re thinking: maybe there’s a good reason. Maybe there was an emergency or something critical that happened. Maybe so. Here’s the problem: maybe it was nothing. I’ve dealt with a number of people who simply decided, between agreeing and meeting that they were no longer interested and simply didn’t bother to show up. Then they don’t bother responding, since they’re no longer interested.

It’s much easier to ignore someone when you don’t have to deal with them face-to-face. It’s an aspect of our society that is quickly dying out. Courtesy and good communication should have been improved with the advent of the internet, not hindered. But this doesn’t always seem to be the case. Let’s not forget that good communication with each other is the foundation of a strong society. ☯

What Does It Mean To You?

Canada is a wonderful country where many freedoms can be observed that may not be enjoyed in other countries. We are a country of relative peace, in that for the most part our population does not fear walking the streets and most civil liberties are celebrated whereas they are persecuted and interfered with, in other countries.

In recent decades, certain habits have begun to infringe upon traditions that have long been observed. What I’m referring to, is the fact that today is Remembrance Day. In Canada, Remembrance Day is an important day during which we remember the sacrifice of the members of our armed forces who gave their lives in the line of duty.

Remembrance Day has always held an importance place in my family, as just about every member of the family on my mother’s side has served in a branch of the Canadian Armed Forces. My grandfather served in World War II and was deployed to the active front in Europe, before returning to Canada to start his family.

The Red Poppy, worn to observe Remembrance Day in Canada

It’s easy for me to exude pride, based on what I’ve mentioned above. But as proud Canadians, it’s a solemn day that we should all proudly observe, and leave everything else to start taking precedence AFTER! (Steps up on soapbox) This is where those bad habits I mentioned come in…

The unfortunate reality is that for many people, most people in fact, the passing of Halloween seems to be an invitation for people to start decorating for Christmas, and for commercial businesses to start putting up holiday and Christmas displays. This flies in the faces of all those fallen members who have given their lives in order for us to have all the freedoms and civil liberties that we enjoy in Canada.

Some information on Remembrance Day in Canada can be found on the Veterans Affairs Canada website at the following URL: https://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/information-for/educators/quick-facts/remembrance-day

Let’s take the time to observe Remembrance Day. Although war is a horrible thing that no person should have to endure, we can still show enough respect to thank and remember those who fell protecting us and keeping our country free. ☯

Those Who Forget The Past Are Condemned…

Look, shit happens! I apologize for being so blunt, but life is short, and we all make mistakes. Sometimes these mistakes are born of stupidity and bad decisions, sometimes they are a result of life in general and are unavoidable.

It’s okay to make mistakes; this is how we grow and learn. But that’s the key element: to learn from it. Otherwise, we’re condemned to repeat the same mistakes, as the old saying goes.

Paulo Coelho once said, “Everything that happens once can never happen again. But everything that happens twice will surely happen a third time.” I rather prefer to think that any mistake that happened once is going to happen again, unless you have an adequate response to prevent it from happening again.

It’s one thing for a mistake to happen, regardless of the source, but if you don’t do something about it, then shame on you. One needs to protect oneself from having the same mistakes happen again. Especially if an outside source is the cause of whatever issue may have caused you strife. ☯

A Shovel Full Of Common Sense

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You Gotta Break In The Sneakers

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’re Only Human

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

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

The shirt I just got yesterday

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

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

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

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

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

You Chose Poorly…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Sight” Is More Than Just What You See…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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