Happy Pi Day!

Today is Pi Day, due to the date description being of 3.14, which is the most commonly known form of Pi.

Pi is a number that is considered a mathematical constant and was originally used to calculate the ratio of a circle’s circumference to it diameter. The number is has been since been used in various mathematical and physics formulas. Because the number is named “Pi”, it is often represented by a Greek letter and is often referred to as “Archemede’s Constant”. The Pi number is a mathematical constant with a never-ending decimal representation that never repeats itself. Many people enjoy showing their prowess by how many numbers AFTER the decimal they can recite.

These days, Pi Day is celebrated as a day to enjoy just that: Pie! Since the use of the Pi constant is in relation to a circular constant, a pie is the perfect way to represent this. So have yourself a slice! And just to demonstrate the number for those who are not familiar with it, this is the longest form of Pi after the decimal I was able to find (without searching too deeply):

3.1415926535897932384626433

I love me some Chocolate Pie!


Holy Hiccups!!!

I’ve just hd hiccups for over an hour! Here’s a call out: what’s the longest you’ve ever had hiccups? Has it kept you awake?

A hiccup is an involuntary contraction of the diaphragm that can occur several times a minute. Hiccups are involuntary an often tend to lend an annoying presence in your day!

So far, I’ve tried to hold my breath, taking deep drinks and holding my breath some more.

Way back in 2001, I had the owner of the business I managed who told me that drinking a cup of water with a plastic knife on it would help to “cut the hiccups out”. I never understood it, but man, did it work.

Sometimes, some of the things we face in life require a little faith. We don’t always have to know WHY it works, we simply have to close our eyes and accept that it will. The same applies to many of the mysteries of our lives. Sometimes, we have to close our eyes and jump off the ledge, knowing that “all things happen for a reason.”

We Sometimes Only Recognize The Light Because Of The Darkness…

Depression is a very real thing. Unfortunately, the term “depression” is thrown around far too much these days, as most people generally use it as a word to describe simply feeling down. The reality, however, is much more elaborate.

The American Psychiatric Association defines Depression as “a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.” One of the big problems associated to depression is that the person in question will often be unaware that this is what they’re going through. The website goes on to describe some of the symptoms as changes in appetite, trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, loss of energy or increased fatigue and often obvious thoughts of death or suicide. These are just to name a few. More can be read on this at the actual website (https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression)

I believe that most people have suffered from depression at some point in their lives. It’s not a sign of weakness nor is it a sign that they “can’t handle life.” Sometimes it sneaks up on us when we least expect it. Sometimes it comes as a result of matters that are outside our control, which is the case for yours truly.

It’s a lot easier to deal with if you happen to have a good support system in place. Great friends, great wife and an awesome four-year old Tasmanian Devil who destroys everything in his path but makes me giggle as he does so (that’s my boy!); these things all go a long way towards helping me deal with the frightening demons that accompany depression.

Sometimes I feel as though my body won’t respond to my brain ordering it out of bed. Some days I can’t seem to get to sleep, regardless of how exhausted I am, and when I do I’m plagued by nightmares. Motivation seems to bleed out of me for even the most beloved of activities (and I don’t think I need to explain how this can affect play time with a four-year old). There is constant pain and often lack of understanding as to how life could have gotten to this point… Any of this sound familiar to anyone out there?

The good news is that for the most part, depression is treatable. If you’re able to speak to someone, reach out. Your family doctor can definitely be a fantastic resource and can refer you to people who can help. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of harming themselves, make sure to dial 911! Otherwise, the Canada Suicide Prevention Service can be reached by dealing 1-833-456-4566 and they even have a Crisis Text Line that you can reach by texting “TALK” to 686868. They have some different ways of contact, which you can check out here: https://thelifelinecanada.ca/help/crisis-centres/canadian-crisis-centres/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=suicide%20hotline%20canada&utm_content=!acq!v3!39436515258_kwd-55273995352__288566371603_g_c__&utm_campaign=Branded+-+Canada&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIht_D-Kv-4AIVBS9pCh1RIwcsEAAYASAAEgJtq_D_BwE

The bottom line is that we wouldn’t recognize the light if it weren’t seen from the dark. There’s always a way out and it’s always worth fighting for. If there’s one thing that the past ten years have taught me, it’s that even though I’ve seen and dealt with things no person should have to, I know I can still find the strength to fight if I can just dig down deep. The strength you need is right there. Make sure you search for it, and never be afraid to ask for help.

Take care if yourself before you can take care of others!

National Nap Day

Today happens to be National Nap Day in the United States. Now, I happen to be Canadian but I am a firm advocate of the power of napping. Here are some facts…

Naps have been proven to increase memory and can even lower the amount of time it takes to fall asleep. There are a number of doctors who believe that naps are almost as important as exercise and should be included in your weekly routine the same way as exercising.

Some work industries actually believe in providing nap periods throughout the work day as studies have shown that a small nap in the middle of the work day can help increase productivity and imagination. The Japanese have this practice and they call it “inemuri” which means “to be asleep while present.”

Certain studies have found that napping can help reduce heart issues and just knowing a nap is coming can help lower your blood pressure. And contrary to popular opinion, napping will NOT affect the sleep you get at night. Of course, this is offset if you decide to nap for hours during the day. Then you start falling into a deep sleep cycle and can cause grogginess that can last despite coffee and the other fun stuff you may take to wake yourself up.

But the takeaway here is that naps can be good. So if it’s a rainy afternoon and you have a cozy couch and thick blanket, stretch out and let yourself drift off for half an hour to sixty minutes. I took a nap this afternoon, which is how I’ve managed to post twice today! Sleep well!

Fear Is Temporary. Regret Is Forever.

Many years ago, someone in my life once told me that “we often find our destiny on the road we least thought to travel.” I can’t recall who said it to me, but it’s been a guiding principle that I’ve followed throughout my entire life. The closest I’ve ever found to this saying is Jean de la Fontaine’s saying, which reads “A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it.” Pretty close to what my forgotten role model was trying to relay, I think.

In recent months, I’ve had the opportunity to examine life and the opportunities it provides. Keeping with the Buddhist state of mind, it’s important to remember that for every opportunity, there is the chance for loss. I’ve experienced a lot of good opportunities in my life, but I’ve also had life firmly kick me in the gonads more times than I can count. The thing is, and I often say this to people, is that life rarely cares about your plan.

I’m a fighter. Through and through, I’ve taken on every obstacle that life has thrown at me. But about a year ago, I had a bad turn of luck. The proverbial rug has been pulled out from under me, as it were. My year has been one of difficulty, on my family, my home, my career and on myself. It hasn’t been easy. When these difficulties slapped me out of my comfort zone, I could have sat in the corner and sulked about it with my head in my hands. I know that most people in my position would have. But instead, I embraced the opportunity that this difficulty produced. I learned new skills. I made new friends (you know who you are). I used the silver lining of my situation to contain the otherwise dark cloud of what was happening to me.

We always hear people talk about what they regret in life. But here’s the thing: you should never regret anything in life. Regret is a weight on your soul; a blight on your existence. Regret saps your positive energy and makes it difficult for you to focus on the positive. Is it possible to consider how you would have done something different? Sure! but every decision you’ve ever made and every event you’ve ever lived through has brought you to the hear and now. If you ever had the opportunity to go back and change something because you regret it, you would ultimately change the person you are now. And the person you are now is great.

L. Ron Hubbard said: “Never regret yesterday. Life is in you today and you make your tomorrow.” And I’m going to say that you can never reach the top without a rough uphill climb. So get at it. One step at a time and one foot in front of the other.

A Moment To Yourself…

Human beings, as a rule, are pack animals. We tend to gather, live and travel in groups. Evolution has brought us to that point. And although there are some people who actively choose to spend their entire lives alone, the societal norm generally involves growing up in a family dynamic. This is followed by becoming an adult and building a family of one’s own and so on and so forth…

But you really shouldn’t deny the importance of taking time for yourself. Even when involved in the expected dynamic of life, some time alone can lend to a number of benefits.

In 2017, Forbes Magazine posted an article entitled “7 Science-Backed Reasons You Should Spend More Time Alone”. I won’t provide all the details about the article, but some of the benefits listed describe how spending some time alone increases empathy and productivity. Being alone helps to spark creativity and build certain mental strengths. Learning how to be alone can also help to curb certain behavioural issues in children. I’ll admit that I’ve faltered in this aspect, as my son generally feels the need to be attached to my hip and generally refuses to spend any time alone.

Meditation can help. Obviously, I’m a firm advocate of taking some time to meditate daily. I’ll admit that I’m guilty of being “too busy” to maintain this practice, despite my study of Buddhism.

It’s important to plan for some time alone. This helps you to plan certain aspects of your life and get to know yourself better. Amy Morin, the Psychotherapist who wrote the list, recommends that setting aside even just 10 minutes a day can help. This obviously includes shutting off all your electronic devices, of course.

Everyone needs a little time alone. Considering the possible benefits, ten minutes to yourself every day can go a long way towards helping you cope with the hustle and bustle of daily life.

The article is a short read and has a lot of good information. It can be found at https://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2017/08/05/7-science-backed-reasons-you-should-spend-more-time-alone/#67f8832d1b7e

The Wonder That is the E-reader

I’ve written before about reading and how it seems to have become a bit of a lost art in today’s technological society. People tend to prefer their smart phones, tablets and devices as opposed to the classic paperback that you need to carry around.

A lot of people don’t seem to realize that there’s a happy medium: e-readers. An e-reader is a small, hand held device that can be used to read an electronic version of books, magazines and newspapers. And since the books are simple text files, you can store hundreds (in some cases thousands) of books on one device.

I know what you’re likely thinking. You’re wondering, what is the difference between an e-reader and an actual tablet? Well the answer to that is simply this: a tablet is an electronic device that is designed to perform multiple functions, much like a computer. An e-reader is simply for reading.

Also, a tablet’s screen emits light, which is not great on the eyes for prolonged use. An article posted by the University of Birmingham explains that when using a computer, the user should take a ten-minute break for every hour in front of a screen. Otherwise, the extended screen time can lead to eye strain and irritation. This would be the same concept for a backlit screen such as a tablet or smart phone.

In general, e-readers are not backlit screens. They use a technology called “E ink”, which is commonly referred to as “electronic paper”. They require normal room lighting to read, but the benefit is that they use very little power or memory on your reader. One of the disadvantages is that they take longer to load or refresh a page, which can be mildly bothersome if you read extremely fast.

E-readers are nice because they come in a variety of sizes (memory and physical size) and depending on your needs, range from anywhere start in the low to mid twenties’ all the way up to several hundred dollars. When you consider that the average paperback is usually about twelve dollars or so at time of release (Canadian prices), this can be an optimal choice as e-books are often less expensive than their physical counterparts.

I got pretty lucky. In 2009, I purchased a Kobo Mini from a local retail store. It was roughly about eighty dollars at the time and it was 50% off, so I got it for about forty dollars. I’ve got dozens of books on it, and it fits conveniently in my back pocket. Now, the Kobo Mini I have seems to have been discontinued in recent years (at least, I can’t seem to find it for sale anywhere). but the Kobo Aura is comparable.

At the end of the day, I’m still a firm believer in holding a physical book. Turning the pages, feeling the paper and the weight of it… maybe I’m just old school that way. But e-readers are definitely a wonderful and easy-to-use alternative that helps combine the “old school” with the newer, more technological age.

An example of the e-reader I have