A Shitty Thing To Write About…

Alright, let’s get serious for a moment and talk about crap! I mean the literal kind. I often write that Diabetes can and often does, affect many systems throughout the body. There are plenty of common ailments that are caused or aggravated by T1D, including vision issues and heart disease. But people are rarely aware of one of the most crappy systems affected by Diabetes: Your gut!

First of all, there are some basic steps that you can take in order to help improve your overall gut health. This includes drinking plenty of fluids and ingesting a proper amount of dietary fibre. What is the proper amount? Well, according to a post by HealthLine.com, for an average adult consuming a 2,000 calorie a day diet, “the daily value for fibre is 25 grams per day […]”

There are plenty of ways for you to get that amount easily, within the span of a day. For example, a cup of prune juice has about 2.6 grams of fibre, the same as an average-sized banana. Another option that packs a bit stronger of a wallop is bran. Raw oat bran packs 15 grams of dietary fibre in every 100 grams of the stuff, making it super easy to get your recommended daily intake by eating it in muffin form or even in a bowl with some milk, instead of your everyday Froot Loop addiction!

In my household, baby spinach is a fan-favourite, even for my picky 5-year old. Baby spinach is a healthy green and packs 2.4 grams of fibre in a raw, 100-gram serving. I usually sneak it into Nathan’s wraps and he calls it “leaf”. he doesn’t love the idea that it’s there, but he wolfs down the food nonetheless. Many vegetables will provide a decent amount of dietary fibre.

If you’re looking for a little something “extra” to help that fibre content along, there are plenty of fibre supplements that you can find at your local pharmacy. They come in capsule form, gummies and even some lovely wafers that you can fool your child into believing are cookies. And there’s always the run-of-the-mill fibre powders that you can add to a glass of water.

The next item of importance is to drink plenty of water. Drinking plenty of water will help to prevent dehydration (d-uh!), which can lead to diarrhea and continued stomach and bowel issues. Since Diabetes has this nasty habit of affecting the body’s nervous system, damaged nerves in your gut can lead to ugly complications such as Gastroparesis and Diabetic Enteropathy. In the interest of keeping this post at a reasonable length, I’ll just let all of you Google those two conditions. Go ahead, I’ll wait…

Having Diabetes is crappy enough on its own (see what I did there?) without adding to the pile, so be sure to pay attention and listen to your gut. It can help you to ensure you don’t get in shit! (Man, I’ve got a ton of these!) ☯

A Bit Of Darkness Mixed With Your Light

“The Good Deeds A Man Has Done Before Defend Him.”

– J. Robert Oppenheimer, Theoretical Physicist and Father of the Atomic Bomb

What causes good people to do bad things? Seriously, we would like to think that the average person walking down the street could be depended upon to always do what’s right and not to perform any intentional action that may cause suffering in others. Makes sense, right? If you’re a good person, why would you do or say anything that may damage or harm another person’s life and/or livelihood? Unfortunately, it’s a lot more common than you think and I see it almost every day.

I’m reminded of a story I read, some time ago. Although the story is a bit different than how I’ll recount it, the lesson is the same. Here we go…

You get off work during a hot summer day and join a coworker at a local bistro for a cold beer after your shift. The sun is out, the weather is beautiful and you decide to sit on the patio so that you and your colleague can enjoy your drink in the warm weather. As you sit down, you’re about to take a sip of that wonderful golden brew, intending to enjoy it to the fullest. Suddenly, a bird flies overhead and drops a shit right into your beer mug. You put the mug down and stare in disbelief as a singular glob of bird shit sits floating on the surface of your beer.

Now, if your friends are anything like mine, your colleague would be laughing his or her ass off at that moment and likely snapping photos for social media or to share around the office. But I digress…

Ask yourself an honest question: Do you get a napkin or a spoon, and scoop the bird shit off the top of your beer and drink the rest? Or do you consider the entire beer spoiled because of that one, tiny drop floating just on the surface? Do you acknowledge that the rest of the beer is fine? Or do you consider the entire drink tainted and destroyed by the one percent that is touched by a negative, outside influence?

“I Believe That Unarmed Truth And Unconditional Love Will Have The Final Word In Reality. This Is Why Right, Temporarily Defeated, Is Stronger Than Evil Triumphant.”

– Martin Luther King

This is comparable to what I’ve been facing over the past two years. I’ve always been the kind of person who prides himself on working hard. I’ve always pushed myself beyond the expectations of society and others and often, beyond my own expectations. I’ve sacrificed and given up more than I can remember and I’ve always felt as though I’ve done the right thing. And despite building over ten years of dedicated, committed effort towards a solid career, someone came along and dropped a shit right in my beer mug!

I would be inclined to believe that most people would throw away the beer. Maybe there are some individuals who would look past the one spoiled aspect and rectify the situation in order to enjoy the rest of it. For the most part, I think we can all agree we’d throw out the beer. I know I would. And comparatively, that person’s actions have now tainted and damaged the past ten years of hard work and effort I’ve given to my career. To the point where most who see it, would throw my career away much like that beer.

So why would this person do this bad thing? For the most part, I believe that a lot of it stems from the societal condition that the world has developed, where people feel the need to come out on top in a “you versus me” environment. Although there may be nothing to inherently gain or lose from your bad action, the prospect of taking the other person down as a matter of personal principle is a bad thing, even if you seem able to rationalize it in your mind.

I read an article in Psychology Today, where the writer shared some information he received from Craig Johnson, a leadership ethicist. Johnson explained during a conference that there are many reasons behind why good people do bad things and the assertion that “people believe we are more moral than we actually are […]” include such things as “the ends justify the means”, meaning that’s it’s okay to do a bad thing if it elicits a positive result. Another method is by devaluing the victim you create. This is the phenomenon where the person thinks, “They deserved it” as a justification for their bad actions. I’ve only provided a couple of examples, but the article goes on with further examples and can be read here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/cutting-edge-leadership/201411/the-science-why-good-people-do-bad-things

At the end of the day, unless you’ve taken or ended someone’s life, it’s never to late to make amends. You can step forward and repair the damage you’ve caused and try to make your little slice of the world a more positive place. The idea is NOT to cause more suffering in yourself or the world. My personal battle continues, and I can only hope that when the smoke clears I can carry on with my chosen career and continue to help people. After all, even though someone dropped a shit in my mug, there can always be another beer! ☯

Winds Of Change

I’m exhausted. I haven’t written a post this late in the day, in a very long time. Time and circumstances, am I right? Here’s the thing: the wind doesn’t bring change. It simply changes where it roams. Kind of like the old Heraclitus saying, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he is not the same man.”

Time and circumstances change all of us. No matter what we believe, we all go through change. Sometimes without even noticing it. It can be for the better or for the worse, depending on your perspective. I’ve come to realize that I’ve changed a great deal in the past decade. I have. I’ve changed. And not all of it is good, but the important thing is I’m pushing towards making those changes work in my favour. Survival means adapting, right? And as I’ve often said, life doesn’t care about one’s plan.

Think about life a bit like a meal. Depending on where you plan on dining, you may have a menu to choose from. But no matter what you order, you may not get the dish you wanted. It sucks, especially if you had to wait a long time for it. And you may have gotten to the point where the location is closing in a few minutes and there’s no longer time to replace the dish for the one you chose. You have a choice to make: Do you refuse to eat, potentially causing further hunger or starvation? Or do you make the best of a bad situation and take the time to enjoy the dish that’s in front of you, despite the fact it isn’t what you chose?

I’m reaching with all the metaphors here, but the point is that we can plan and want all we want in life. But the end result may not be what we expected. It’s up to us whether we choose to make the best of it or allow ourselves to starve in the face of our stubborn refusal to move forward.

As a character from one of my favourite animated series once said, “Life is a banquet, and death is dessert.” If this is true, I guess it’s a good thing I have Diabetes and have to avoid sweets… ☯

You Can't Use Crosshairs When It Comes To Fat

Everybody is different. I’ve preached that often enough in this blog, but it’s an important detail considering the topic of today’s post. The reality is that a diet that works well for one person may not be as effective for another. There are a number of reasons behind this including metabolism, lifestyle, body type and a bunch more… The same can be said for workouts. Even though doing 30 minutes of fast, pulse-racing cardio may be the ideal workout for one person to reach their goals, the next person may require weights, or some other form of fitness that you may not even consider. This is why losing weight can be so difficult for some, but easy for others.

Fat is a particular beast, because the accumulation and loss relates directly to your metabolism, your genetics and the diet and fitness regiment you follow. Contrary to popular opinion, you can’t focus WHERE you burn fat. That means all those late-night infomercials where the dude and his girlfriend are randomly standing by a pool and both of them could crush walnuts with their abs because of this ONE machine they do for a few minutes a day? Impossible.

You CAN’T choose from which area of the body you’ll burn fat. You CAN choose to increase muscle mass in specific areas. That’s the difference most people don’t understand. If you perform hundreds of crunches a day, your abdominals will become developed and strong. No doubt about it. But there’s no guarantee that it will burn fat around your gut.

According to a post by HealthLine.com, “[…] one study in 24 people who only completed exercises targeting the abdominals for six weeks found no reduction in belly fat.” Further, the article goes on to say, “Another study that followed 40 overweight and obese women for 12 weeks found that resistance training of the abdominals had no effect in belly fat loss […]”

There have been plenty of other studies, most with the same result. Here’s the article, if you want to give it a glance: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/targeted-weight-loss#section3

Your body stores fat as a spare source of energy. Targeting one specific area of the body not only won’t guarantee trimming that area’s fat, studies have shown it’s unlikely. Generally speaking, the only way to burn fat is a combination of intense physical conditioning combined with a proper diet that ensures your getting good, healthy calories.

It’s not all bad news; you can still burn fat, you just can’t focus where it’ll melt first. Toning down will be pretty much universal and consistent throughout your body. Fat burning and proper body toning is especially important for Type-1 Diabetics. ☯

Let The Hate Flow Through You…

Anger is insidious. And it tends to feed on itself. Anyone who knows me, is aware that I have a bit of anger sitting in a deep well inside my gut (I can almost hear my wife upstairs, nodding her head vigorously). I take great pains not to let that anger get the best of me or direct it at others. Why would I? There are so many ways to productively deal with one’s anger, there’s no “reasonable” cause to direct it at another human being.

I was running errands yesterday morning, as I usually do. One of my stops included getting fuel for the family vehicle, which I had been planning on doing for the past couple of days. When I finished paying for my fuel, I exited the gas station onto a four-lane boulevard that ran west to east. The boulevard had a centre lane that allows for turning left or right, which is a common street layout at various locations throughout the city.

My vehicle was placed within the median lane without blocking any traffic, and I was watching the east-bound traffic for an opening to pull into the main driving lane. An approaching pickup truck signaled and moved over to its right, leaving me with an opening to pull into the lane. I merged into the lane and was greeted with the loud sound of a blaring vehicle horn.

I looked to my right and found a black pickup truck (not the one that changed lanes) pull up next to me and the male driver started gesturing and yelling at me. I couldn’t see my own face, of course. But I imagine I had a look of confusion mixed with indignation at being harassed by a random stranger. I wasn’t sure what had happened, and I can confirm I hadn’t even seen this truck when I checked before pulling out. But suddenly, he was right there!

I pulled into the left turning lane, as my intention had been to head North on the cross street. He pulled up next to me in the next lane and lowered his window. Despite my better judgement and the fact I probably shouldn’t have, I lowered my window as well. Here’s the exchange:

Angry Driver: “What the fuck is your problem, shit-head? You’re not supposed to pull out of the gas station there!”

ME: “Of course, I can. That median lane is for turning either direction. Always has been. I saw the truck switching lanes to let me in and I took the opening.”

AD: “He moved right because he was turning right, shit-head! I have the right of way and you pulled right in front of me! What the fuck is wrong with you???”

This was a strange occurrence. It wasn’t the aspect of cutting the guy off that bothered me. I can totally admit that I might have cut him off. But this felt like a role reversal. Usually, I find myself being the one who gets angry and frustrated at other drivers. Although, true to form with the population of this city, the worst one ever faces is the actual vehicle horn. Actual interactions generally don’t happen unless a collision occurs.

AD: “What kind of shit-head are you? Do you not know how to drive…?

I offered an apology, uncertain as to whether is sounded sincere or not, and tried to explain that I hadn’t seen him. He continued to call me a shit-head and swear at me, so I raised my window and let it go. I guess he’s the kind of guy who finds an offensive name he enjoys and uses it, ad nauseam. I was somewhat taken aback by the level of anger and aggression he was using against me for something so trivial in the grand scheme of things.

Did I cut him off? Maybe. I’m even ready to say probably. But there’s no rational reason to chase someone down and start swearing and name-calling because of it. I get angry. My wife can confirm her level of entertainment she gets at hearing me grumble and swear when we’re dealing with traffic. But she can also confirm that following someone to yell, argue and call them names is well beyond even MY anger. I mean, come on!

Folks, life is too short. Things will make you angry. Things will make you frustrated. That’s a part of life. The idea is not to try NOT to be angry; the idea is to find a productive way to vent that anger. And most certainly not pass it on to others. Let’s think about it for a moment. What has this guy accomplished with how he treated me, yesterday? Did he solve the problem? Did it take it back? Of course not. All it did was stoke the flames of his anger further. He probably drove on to his destination with a knot of angst in his gut and hatred for a person he doesn’t even know. I continued on to my destination stressed, confused and harassed without even being aware that I had done something wrong. As Elsa from Frozen once said, let it go… ☯

A Touch Of Innocence For Your Morning

We tend to lose parts of ourselves as we grow older. Adulthood and responsibility have the tendency of destroying certain instincts that most of us are inherently born with. These instincts are a result of a long evolutionary process of over generations. For example, how is it that my 4-month old son knows to smile when he sees me? And seems to recognize a smile as a sign of happiness and familiarity? Sure, part of it involves imitating his mother and father, but a smile is a recognizable facial expression that is used across the entire world, regardless of race, background or language.

The same can be said for dreaming, imagination and curiosity. These aspects are very prominent when we’re born and through childhood, but they slowly disappear as the crushing responsibility of daily life takes over. There’s a perfect example of this phenomenon, which I experienced this morning. Enter: my son Nathan.

Today is a school day for Nathan (it’s Friday, d-uh!) so I turned on his bedroom light at 7 a.m. and told him he needed to get up. Despite getting to bed almost twelve hours previously, he looked at me and frowned around two red, blood-shot eyes that spoke volumes since his vocabulary lacked the words he wanted to express in that very moment.

I went to work preparing his lunch and backpack and trying to get some caffeine into my system as I move about. Contrary to the process that’s usually necessary on school days, he emerged from his bedrooms a mere five minutes later, fully clothed. I asked what he wanted for breakfast and he declined to eat anything. I should’ve listened to him, because my second suggestion produced a response of frustration usually reserved when you can’t find a parking space when you’re ten minutes late for an appointment.

He expressed his desire to watch cartoons for a few minutes before leaving and, in the interest of my sanity, I accommodated him. He curled up in our home office under a blanket and started watching an episode of Paw Patrol for the bazilionth time! My recent illness had me dealing with a wave of nausea, so I couldn’t be bothered trying to argue with a 5-year old. Despite knowing that it’s a school day, he doesn’t choose to acknowledge that some urgency is required during the morning. That’s apparently a problem for adults.

Once the car was started, backpack and coffee mug loaded, I called out that it was time to go. A very frustrated Nathan came up the stairs and told me, in no uncertain terms, that I should come down to the office to get him as opposed to yelling out for him. My response was to get his damn outerwear and boots on.

As he’s sitting on the steps of the landing, slipping his boots on, his eyes suddenly light up and he says, “Look, Daddy! A spider…” I look down at the step and I see a small water drop sized insect on it’s back. I only see six legs, so I explain to him that it’s not a spider. He taps it and the legs move. His excitement grows exponentially as he realizes it isn’t dead. Getting his ski pants and boots on have been completely forgotten.

I try to steer him back on course, but his excitement becomes mixed with concern as he tells me we need to help the bug turn over so it doesn’t die. I look at the time and sigh audibly. The son of a Buddhist wants to help preserve a life. I can’t really fault him for that, can I?

I tell him to keep getting dressed and I’ll take care of the bug. I push the bug gently until it manages to flip over. Turns out, it was a lady bug (At least I hope it was. That’s what it looked like. What am I, an entomologist???”) It starts crawling away. Nathan has his ski pants almost to his waist and his boots on. Time is burning away on bus pickup and now he’s worried about the bug getting off the landing. “We need to put her outside…”

I calmly explain that it’s winter and that the snow will kill the lady bug. Better to let her make her way off the landing herself as she can walk on vertical surfaces. I manage to get him to finish getting his ski pants on and his coat gets around his shoulders and almost zipped up when he stops and kneels down to watch the ladybug walking around.

“Dude, you’re killing me! Get your stuff on! We gotta go!” He hustles into the rest of his coat and I use the term “hustle” sarcastically, and makes his way out to the family vehicle. I bring him to the bus stop and wait patiently as Nathan turns on his seat warmer and puts the radio on a station playing music. After a few minutes of silence, he tells me I need to check on the ladybug when I get home (it was gone, BTW).

He walked to the bus, gave me his customary goodbye hug and stepped up into the bus and started his day. As the bus pulled away, it dawned on me that Nathan spent the better part of his entire time at home this morning, observing, getting excited and showing concern for a tiny, insignificant insect that I hadn’t even noticed was there until he pointed it out. It fascinated him and made him curious about life and his surroundings. But daily life required me to stifle that instinct in the interest of getting him to school. And that’s what life does to you.

Childhood is a strange time in a person’s life. We spend the first two to three years trying to encourage kids to speak and walk, followed by the next decade telling them to shut up and stop running around the house. Then the following ten years WISHING they’d talk to us. All the while, their ability to appreciate the small things and be fascinated with life slowly dwindles out of them until they become the typical, socially acceptable adult that keeps their “eyes on the prize”.

Sometimes it’s a good idea to take a step back and just stare at the clouds. We’re all born with the ability for imagination, so why would we ever stop using it? Some of the greatest ideas in the history of humankind were the result of imagination and dreaming. Take some time to slow down and smell the roses. No matter how much kids can be frustrating, sometimes they get it right. ☯

One Good Turn…

I had something interesting happen to me yesterday that I feel merits recounting. My Wednesday Morning was reasonably typical; I went about the morning getting my son’s lunch ready and working through the struggle that is getting him out of bed and dressed. I got everything lined up and ready, and we were out the door. I dropped Nathan off at his school bus and made my way to a local retailer to purchase some groceries that my wife and I agreed were needed for the days to come.

After completing my shopping and getting back into the car without anyone in public pissing me off (a rarity, these days) I drove home with the intention of unloading my groceries and getting back into pyjamas as I’m still feeling the effects of whatever ungodly illness has taken up residence in my immune system. Even the drive home went off without a hitch, which is also rare since city traffic usually does at least ONE thing to test the limits of my inner serenity. But I digress…

As I came around the curve of the crescent leading to my house, I spotted a lone person at the bus stop down the street. They appeared to be sitting in the snow. Thinking nothing of it, I parked my car, checked the trash bins at the street (it was garbage day yesterday) and turned to see a young woman walking towards me. I recognized her as the person who had been sitting in the snow at the bus stop, based on her clothing. She walked with a bit of a strange gait and walked right up and stopped in front of me. “Can I ask you a question?” Her voice was barely audible and I had to strain to hear what she was saying.

I replied “Sure”, thinking she’ll ask about the bus line or when it passes by. She explains that she’s been sitting in the snow for over fifteen minutes and hasn’t seen a bus yet and needs to get downtown to catch a connecting bus to get her home before work. She asked if there was any way I was willing to give her a ride downtown. I dislike the way this sounds, but her manner of speech and her mannerisms had me thinking she may have something not quite right about her.

Although I’m not in the habit of providing rides to random strangers, it IS winter time, she appeared a little worse for the wear and I had nothing going on that would be interrupted by taking ten minutes to give her a ride. I agreed to provide a ride as soon as I unloaded my groceries. She offered to help, but I draw the limit at letting a stranger carry my groceries and/or walk into my house. I explained to my wife what was happening and what I would be doing and we were on our way.

She introduced herself as Casey and explained that she had stayed at a friend’s house last night and was not from this area. Because of this, she was unfamiliar with the bus schedule and didn’t want to risk being late for work because of it. She was cold and shivering and was grateful for the ride. I brought her down to the main strip where all the primary bus lines travelled, which was where she indicated her destination needed to be. She thanked me and stepped out into the cold to catch her next bus.

Unfortunately, the world we live in has evolved in such a way that most people likely would have declined to help Casey or give her a ride. They likely would have been suspicious of her motives and/or wouldn’t want to burden themselves with someone else’s needs or concerns. They may even have outright ignored her as she approached. But at the end of the day, what did this cost me? Ten minutes of my time? Likely less than a dollar of fuel for my vehicle? What did it do for Casey? It got her to a location she was familiar with, so she could get home? Likely prevented her being late for work? Perhaps even showed her that there are some people who can be trusted?

It’s still okay to help others. Although one needs to protect oneself and their family, there are still instances where it’s not only acceptable to help out someone who asks, it’s the right thing to do. And as a society, doing what’s right should be a primary focus for everybody. I’m quite certain I’ll never see Casey again. But as she goes on with her day, the ride she got likely prevented her from being late and getting into trouble at work, perhaps even getting fired. And she’ll remember for the next while that some people are still willing to help, and it may restore or maintain her faith in humanity. ☯