Channel Your Inner Vila…

I remember sitting through many an episode of “This Old House” when I was a kid. My father loved the show, despite having never lifted a tool in his life. I guess it’s a bit like watching wrestling or boxing and never being in a fight.

I absolutely despised home improvement shows at that age, as any kid would. If I’m being honest, I was way more partial to Star Trek, Star Wars or Lost In Space.

I’m a little behind on getting some writing done. Yesterday morning started like any other day. I went into work, then came home to take my son outside to get him out of his mother’s hair. Usually that only includes keeping him busy until lunchtime so she can work, but yesterday I decided to take a drive to Home Depot.

Home Depot is an evil place, because they’re really good at making you believe that you can fix or build ANYTHING. I went in to buy some caulking for my upstairs bathtub, and ended up leaving with flooring, caulking, paint and tools.

What started as a quick shopping visit ended with redoing the bathroom floors and painting all the walls and floorboards. I worked diligently from about ten in the morning yesterday and finished just shortly after lunch this morning. Needless to say, I’m exhausted and I could never do home improvement for a living.

In order to turn my bragging about my renovating prowess into something that qualifies as content for this blog, I should mention my blood sugar levels. I spent almost 36 hours running low.

The idea is that many hours of consistent work tends to make my blood sugar levels drop. It’s not like anything I was doing was intensely rigorous, but even light work stretched over long hours without stopping will have an adverse effect.

I passed out hard last night, after eating reasonable amounts of glucose. When I got back at it this morning, I watched my levels a bit more carefully. It didn’t help that I painted the baseboards outside, with the summer heated quickly rounding the corner on 30 degrees, causing some mild dehydration and blood sugar drops.

This is just another example of how just about EVERYTHING affects you when you have Type 1 Diabetes. It’s important to take this into consideration when doing any sort of activity, especially in the high heat of summer. Drink plenty of fluids and stay hydrated, and test your blood often. ☯

The Spoken Word Is A Lost Art

Technology has come a long way, even in the past ten years. Current trends and social expectations have caused a shift in how we communicate and interact with each other.

Although the jury is out on when it all started, some researchers believe that human beings started communicating with each using vocalization as far back as two million years ago and as early as 50,000 years ago. There’s a great article written by sciencemag.org that covers some of this and goes on to explain how the spoken word may have contributed to our ability to develop hunting weapons and tools during our ancestral times. Here’s the article if you want to give it a read: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2015/01/human-language-may-have-evolved-help-our-ancestors-make-tools

I remember being in my teens and sitting in a small group at a local fast-food restaurant. We’d get food and sit there for hours, just chatting, laughing and shooting the proverbial s&*t. We’d sometimes get booted for being too loud, but we had an active and productive interaction with each other. These days, seeing a small group of teenagers together involves a whole lot of silence and everyone staring down at their phones. Sometimes you can even catch some of them texting each other from across the table! I use teenagers as an example, but adults are often just as bad.

Dating and romantic interactions certainly used to be a vocal skill. I used to remember that if I had interest in a particular person, I had to grow the testicular fortitude to walk up to them and say hi; a bit of chit-chat or small talk before asking if they’d like to grab coffee or go to dinner. These days? Swipe right (Or is it left? I’ve never used Tinder). Making certain your profile “looks good” has replaced showering, getting dressed and going out to meet people in person.

In fact, in many different respects, approaching people in public has almost become taboo. If you walk up to someone and tell them you find them attractive, it will be a coin toss as to whether they smile and sit to coffee or if they slap your face and call you a creep (And no, before anyone gets smart with me, I’m not speaking from personal experience!)

Applying for jobs, ordering everything from furniture to food and even communicating with far away friends and family have all started happening through technology instead of walking into a place of business in person or picking up the phone to actually speak.

I remember just a few years ago, I was working with a younger guy who spent a great deal of his shift on his smart device. It never interfered with his duties, but he usually had it out. He started using this app where you use a spoken message, send it and a few moments later the person you’re speaking to would send a vocal reply.

At one point while he was using the app, he tells me (while holding a cell phone in his hand, no less) “Do you know what would be cool? If they made this app where you’d have an open line to talk and the person on the other end could talk as well, without having to send the individual messages…” I replied, “They already invented that, it’s called a telephone…” I got a lost look of confusion as though I had grown a second head.

Although you need to know your audience and be mindful of your environment, there’s nothing wrong with smiling and saying hi to someone. Don’t be afraid to interact with humanity in person. You were taught how to speak long before you learned to tap a device screen, and humans have the unique benefit of using language as a primary communication tool. So embrace that uniqueness. ☯

Being Plain Is Fine; After All, Vanilla Still Has Flavour…

We live in a society unfortunately obsessed with appearance; our clothing, our physical appearance and our environment, which usually include what possessions we may own, affect us and motivate us in our daily lives.

But is there anything inherently wrong with being plain? In a world obsessed with how it looks, is your life any less important if your bedsheets are plain old sheets from your local retail shop or 1800 thread-count Egyptian cotton from a specialty store? (Don’t ask me how I know about thread count…)

The question stems from a comment I recently received through my blog, two days ago. Of course, the comment was blocked by the spam filter and appeared to come from some a weird retailer’s address, but the comment was sound and got me thinking.

The commenter indicated the belief that “The Blogging Buddhist” is a little plain and that I should develop my titles to be catchier and attract more readers. He also indicated that my content was “good”, but referred me to other news sites to see what colours and details they add to attract more readers.

I was a little taken aback by this comment, and I guess as usual I need to take it with grain of salt as everyone will ultimately have their own opinion. I usually try to create a title that will draw readers and sometimes add a small element of comedy as well (see title of this post).

I’ve always thought that by keeping this as simple and uncluttered as possible, it would make it easier for readers to focus on the actual content and not the pretty colours. Was I wrong?

I know some of you out there are actively reading my posts and I’d like to hear from you. When I started this blog, I put out some feelers asking readers to suggest content they’d like to see me research and write about. Now, I’d like to get people’s opinion on the look of this blog. Leave a comment or click on the “contact” link on the Home banner to reach out to me directly.

Growth only comes with change, and it is often necessary to make that change. I’m nothing if not willing to hear what others have to say, so don’t be shy! ☯

How Life Should Be…

You know, it’s often been said that we’re here to teach and guide the next generation and show them the right path. But parents often forget that our children are little people too, and they have a great deal to teach us.

At only four years of age, my son Nathan often amazes me with the things he does. Of course, he often frustrates, angers me and destroys everything I own, but it wouldn’t be growth otherwise, right?

Yesterday, My wife and I brought Nathan to a local park. As soon as he arrived, he immediately made friends with all the children there. And that’s usually his way. Incredibly it doesn’t matter where we go or what children are there, he always manages to make friends everywhere he goes.

Nathan (with the beige hat), playing with two boys he had just met

I think there’s an important lesson to learn from this. As we grow into adulthood, we move away from our ability to befriend people in general. We develop cliques, join specific groups and (sometimes unintentionally) segregate ourselves from certain environments.

My son will walk into a group of children and automatically take to them, regardless of age, race, ethnicity or gender. His willingness to play and enjoy life side-by-side with anyone he meets is genuinely amazing and is how we should all behave.

What would the world be like if we approached our own societies this way? Imagine if warring states could walk towards each other and just become friends? All the wars and conflicts that could be avoided? How much better would our society be?

We can learn a lot from our children. In some ways, they’re very much like a blank slate that hasn’t been sullied by runny paint. Some of their ways before becoming influenced is what we, as adults should aspire to be. ☯

Respect Is The Foundation Of The Martial Arts

Lyndon B. Johnson once wrote, “Yesterday is not ours to recover. but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.” People often point out that it’s important to remember where we came from, to remember our past. Sometimes that past is not a clear, especially depending on the source.

The martial arts are incredibly old; several thousand years old, in fact. This is taking into consideration some of the paintings and artifacts that demonstrate striking and fighting that originate anywhere between 2000 to 4000 years ago. But some studies have shown some to be even older, originating in China.

Trying to enumerate the number of martial arts styles as they exist today is almost impossible. Many people try to provide a composite list, but the reality is there will always be an offshoot of a mainstream style or an independent master who creates a style all their own. This makes it reasonably impossible to know EXACTLY how many different forms of martial arts there are.

That being said, every style has a story. For example, the origins of my karate style date back to the late 1890’s when the originator of my style fled Japan to escape the mandatory military conscription. He didn’t travel to Japan for the noble purpose of learning the martial arts or studying a mystic art; he fled from conscription.

There are little details like that one present in almost every style. Although not inherently good or bad, some of the details behind the history can lend a unique perspective into where the style will take you. But like an old fashioned game of “hot potato”, the same story can have different details after decades of being passed on through different sources.

Given that the average person has the world’s information at their fingertips via the internet, everyone is an armchair historian. Many students of the martial arts will read a background on something and think nah, that isn’t true… I’ve been guilty of that myself, on occasion.

It’s important to remember that some origins and backgrounds have been passed on through spoken word. And history has often shown that this is an ineffective means of accurately passing on information. After all, the next person may omit certain key details that are important, or only pass on that which they FEEL is important.

Even with today’s use of mainstream media and internet presence, many believe that their version of history becomes “the right one”, simply because they’ve published the book on it. But ultimately, what we learn is what we learn. Although I may be wrong regarding a detail about the style you’ve spent your life studying, it doesn’t mean that respect should immediately be cast aside.

There’s nothing wrong with teaching someone why their information is incorrect or what may be false about it; especially if you’ve studied it yourself. But it becomes wrong if you choose to be confrontational and refuse to have a rational discussion about it. After all, it’s really hard to know if you have the right information unless you were there. And I can almost guarantee there is no one left who was. ☯

“Grab” On To Some Facts 🥋

I know I tend to post a lot about medical issues, problems in society and how to improve your life. This is mostly because, well… That’s the blog! It’s often hard to cover off topics about Diabetes, medical and physical health and the suffering of humanity without touching on some negative aspects.

As such, I’ve decided to keep it short, sweet and light today. I found this photo on another blogging site and it made me smile. I figured any practitioners of the martial arts who are reading may get a kick out of it as well:

I think this is pretty funny, and quite accurate. But just to touch on the actual art of Jiu-Jitsu for a moment, here are five facts about the popular martial art that most people may not know or possibly get wrong:

  1. Jiu-Jitsu is not Brazilian. Despite its popularization through organizations like the UFC, Jiu-Jitsu (or Jujutsu) traces its roots back to Japan. When you hear the term “Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu”, this refers to an adaptation of an older form of Judo;
  2. Jiu-Jitsu is not only a grappling style. Most forms of the martial art also use weapons and strikes. The idea behind the style was to be able to engage an enemy who may be attacking with a short range weapon, such as a short sword or stick. Traditional Jiu-Jitsu incorporates a number of stand-up techniques and it isn’t all about rolling on the mats;
  3. The name “Jiu-Jitsu” is a romanization spelling of the correct spelling, which is “Jujutsu”. And this term didn’t come into being until the early 1800’s. The term was used to encompass a number of grappling styles, empty-handed or not. In fact, one of the systems it covered was “the way of softness”, or Judo. This was almost two hundred years before Judo’s creation by Kano Jigoro;
  4. Jiu-Jitsu is at least partly responsible for the creation and development of multiple other martial arts styles, such as Aikido, Judo and Sambo. During its early existence, Jiu-Jitsu is credited with the creation of more than 2000 offshoots of the art. Some of these retained connections with Jiu-Jitsu while others have modified their techniques and differed their styles enough to no longer considering themselves a style of Jiu-Jitsu;
  5. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is descendant from Judo. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is one of the most popular forms of the art, given how much exposure it has received in mainstream media and the propagation of its teachings. Although an extremely effective art, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was developed after Judo was introduced in 1914.

Sure, maybe points #1 and #5 sort of touch on the same thing, but whatevs… It’s all good information, right? I’ve been doing the martial arts for long enough to know that there’s always something new to learn, and roots always go back further than what we assume is the beginning. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, and find yourself a little something to help make you smile today. ☯

Supplement Yo’self! 💊

Many people say that food isn’t quite what it use to be. Although I think this is true in some respects, as long as you eat a properly balanced diet on a daily basis, you should NORMALLY get everything your body requires. I’m going to point out that “NORMALLY” doesn’t always apply to most diets in today’s society.

As someone with Diabetes, one needs to be cognizant of the potential for a lack of certain nutrients, supplements and vitamins in one’s diet. In some circumstances, the only way to ensure you get everything you need can be through the form of supplementation. Obviously, I feel compelled to point out that no one should include supplements of any kind in one’s diet without first consulting a nutritionist, dietitian or medical practitioner.

There are a number of vitamins and minerals that are ideal for someone with Diabetes. I will endeavour to cover off some of the most important ones.

Chromium: This one is a staple of Diabetes health. I’ve often heard a lot about it, through my youth and it serves a number of purposes. Taken in the correct doses, it can help increase your tolerance to blood glucose, lower fasting blood glucose and help reduce insulin levels. Some studies have shown that intensive exercise helps to increase the concentration of tissue chromium.

Magnesium: This is one that’s been a problem for me, as levels tend to drop to a dangerously low level in people with Diabetic Retinopathy, a condition I’ve actually suffered from. Low Magnesium can lead to increased insulin-resistance, which is a prominent problem for someone with type 1 Diabetes and can often be a cause for Type 2.

Potassium: Believe it or not, this one can be an issue BECAUSE of Diabetes. Insulin treatment can often cause a deficiency in potassium. Potassium is important to counteract the effects of sodium and for the proper function of key areas in the body.

Taurine: Well, this one is good news for me. People with Type 1 Diabetes often suffer form low Taurine levels, which can cause certain heart problems and affect the thickness of your blood. The good news is that Taurine can be found in protein-rich foods. Or in my case, they supplement most energy drinks with Taurine.

Vitamins: Diabetics can, in most cases, have decreased levels in key vitamins including but not limited to B vitamins, Vitamin C, D, E and Zinc. I’ve covered off the use of most of these vitamins in an earlier post (What Did You Think You Were Eating For?), but you can get most of these in their proper amounts by taking a simple daily multi-vitamin.

There are a number of other vitamins and supplements as well, but these are the primary ones that I’ve found in my travels. Obviously, you want to talk to your doctor before starting any of these, with the exception of a generic multi-vitamin.

It IS possible to over-supplement, so it’s important to get the right information before starting to take them. It’s also possible to become paranoid and to start taking supplements simply to ensure you’re getting enough, even though in most cases you don’t need them.

Although some supplements offer the promise of lowered insulin levels and better blood glucose control, most of them need to be tailored and dosed in accordance with each person, specifically. So eat a healthy, balanced diet, test your blood sugars often and keep in touch with your medical practitioner. Those practices on their own, will help to curb some of the issues described above. ☯