Friday, June 23, 2017


Dear Zen,

You came home to us one year ago on Canada Day.  After many years of Adele begging for a dog, we finally gave in after a friendly reminder that there are no guarantees whatsoever while playing the Type 1 game for so many years.  Our human nature makes us tend to forget this about life.  We were so excited to bring you home.  We couldn’t wait.  And you were soooooo cute !!

And who knew that 4 days later that I would fall and hit my head?  We initially decided to become dog owners to help Adele, but in the end the universe brought you into our lives to save me.  Last fall, when I was feeling so very unwell, the highlight of my day was taking you for a walk after work.  At a certain point, it was the only time of the day that I felt at peace.

Adele being our only child and because she was diagnosed as a baby, Type 1 Diabetes literally robbed us of the normal experience and magic of parenting a young child.  Especially when your Type 1 child is too young to talk and tell you how he/she is feeling, you need to be hyper vigilant trying to stay on top of things.  After a while you get lost in it all and don’t see your child anymore.  You just see numbers.  You think about how many carbs that your child ate and when.  You think about how much insulin you gave him/her and how much of that insulin is still active in his/her system.  And because you get so caught up in this as a responsible parent you miss all of the good stuff about being a parent.  You miss the moments that make you smile and feel so much LOVE deep inside of you for the human being that you brought into this world.  You miss these moments because being a pseudo pancreas for your Type 1 child is ever-consuming.  In this sense, I appreciate being able to look at things through your clear eyes as a parent not wearing Type 1 glasses.  You are constantly curious and amazed with everything that is so new to you.  I remember the first days feeding you when I caught myself about to weigh and calculate the amount of carbs in your food.  That way of thinking has sadly become so ingrained in my brain through the many years of Type 1 gaming that it has now become an automated response.


I knew that you would have much to teach us, but I am constantly blown away by your wisdom.  You don’t have any pre-conceived notion of wanting things to be a certain way.  As long as you’re with us you’re happy.  I love the way you exhale to completely empty your lungs of all that “stale” air every time you lay and settle down.  We should practice this release much more often.  Thanks for reminding me of the importance of being patient, trusting the process and slowing down.  There is no rush.  All that we have is the present moment.  You embody this and are my constant reminder.

I will always remember last fall when we were hiking singletrack along Humphrey Brook and I noticed the awakening of your true nature being out in the woods.  Your ears perked up and you became so alert checking everything out around you.  It was so beautiful.  You made me notice the stillness around us in that moment.

You have no expectations and remind me that all of my problems are self-created.  You play and work when you have the energy and rest when you don’t.  You are an expert at listening to your body and giving it what it needs.

Thank you for your unconditional love, companionship, presence and for making me laugh every single day.  

I owe you Zen.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


Minimalism is a new trend that has been surfacing the last few years.  The idea is to get rid of and not accumulate too many things to free up your time, energy and budget to live a lighter more centered life.    Minimalists and our younger generation seem to prefer experiences over things.   The older generations seemed to think that more stuff was the answer, but this way of thinking is beginning to shift.  The tiny house movement is an example of how this movement is taking shape.

I’m not sure that “experiences” is the best word to use to describe what humans are longing for?  Is the whole point of us being here on this planet to create the longest “experiences” list as possible?  I think of it more as the “feelings” that those experiences bring.  Remembering a positive experience will bring back feelings through memories.  And this is what I think humans cherish.  In the end all that will be left are these feelings.  These are the most powerful thing that this life here has to offer us.  In reality, these feelings ARE life.  These feelings will be what people will talk about at your funeral and when they remember you after you pass on.  To fully embrace these feelings while we’re alive is the way to live fully.  I believe that it is that simple.

The problem is that we can’t pick and choose which feelings that we want to feel.  By opening ourselves to feel the positive feelings more deeply we also open ourselves up to the not so pleasant feelings.  I purposely didn’t use the term “negative” because even if these feelings are not pleasant, there still isn’t anything wrong with them.  They are a normal part of what it means to be alive.  Like I said, to open is to open to all feelings.  There is no other way.

Society doesn’t do a very good job of teaching us this and our self-protection human nature kicks in trying to protect us from harm and we start unconsciously learning to avoid difficult and painful feelings.  And society thinks of those who get really good at this as the “strong” ones.  They are the ones who show no emotion, or show fake ones, going through life with very thick armor surrounding them.  First of all this is not true strength.  And this armor also isolates us from our ability to feel the positive feelings which are the best part of being alive.

When Adele was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes close to 15 years ago, the unpleasant feelings that arose were overwhelming for me.  I imagine that if I spoke with other Type 1 parents that they would surely agree that they also had a similar experience.  Adele was only 2 years old and it killed me to have to shove needles into her many times every single day while she kicked and screamed.  It was all happening so fast.  There was no time to grieve.  There was no time to deal with or feel these unpleasant feelings.  Looking back, I now realize that I mostly became numb and just put up a happy front.  I just stuffed these feelings inside and moved on.  That’s what society expects.  Nobody wants to be dealing with a basket case so I reacted by stiffening my upper lip.

I only cried once when the doctor gave us Adele’s diagnosis.  After that it was all business.  Everyone kept telling me that things would get better with time.  So I went with that.  One thing about Type 1 gaming is that even if insulin doses are spot on one day, the next they can be dangerously way off.  And it doesn’t matter if you’ve just been diagnosed or if you’ve been playing the Type 1 game for decades, the truth is that nothing really changes with time.  It’s a chronic life-long disease that needs to be dealt with 24-7 with no vacation whatsoever.  Insulin is not a cure.  It is life-support.

What did happen in time is that I became more and more shielded from all feelings thus all of life.  Now I had never been very open to expressing my feelings to begin with, but this got even worse after Adele’s Type 1 diagnosis.  It even got to the point where it affected my relationship with my wife.  She used to say that I would always be “in my own little bubble” and she was right.  We became more and more disconnected.  The concussion last summer broke me open.  And now I can become teary eyed listening to music.  Just like that, sitting at work listening to tunes and I feel water welling up in the corner of my eye.  I feel it build from my heart and move up and out to my eyes.  In those times I kindof wished that I had not popped my bubble or protective shield, but the depth of my relationships have increased so much that I would never want to go back.  Actually, once you are open I believe that there is no going back.

I believe that to live fully is to feel fully.  Opening is a lot of conscious work but totally worth the effort.  To be open is to be real, authentic and in the end the only way to truly live.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

12 years old


The best thing about cycling is that it makes me feel like I’m 12 years old again as soon as I get on my bike.  The worse thing about cycling is that it makes me feel like 12 years old again as soon as I get on my bike. 
The 12 year old me is all about having fun.  He doesn’t have the aches and pains of a middle aged grown-up.  He just loves the thrill of the ride, the funny feeling he gets in his stomach when he’s riding, the euphoria… 

But the 12 year old me is also not very smart and often doesn’t make the best choices.  He is impulsive and feels indestructible.  He just wants to have fun and doesn’t really dwell on the possible consequences.  He hasn’t fallen hard enough yet to know any better.  He just wants to go go go…

Can these 2 versions of the 12 year old me co-exist sustainably?

11 months since hitting my head, my symptoms are still ever-changing.  I’m kindof feeling better riding on my good days.  A few weeks ago I went to Rotary Park to spectate the first Tuesday night Hub City Challenge mountain bike race of the season.  One thing that I noticed was that for the first time in as long as I can remember I didn’t feel like or miss racing.  That urge that was once ever present wasn’t there anymore.  I also felt completely done and exhausted afterwards when I got home.  The many conversations and noises around me seemed so overwhelming.  I felt dizzy and so very tired.  The last few weeks I have been feeling worse when I start riding, but better afterwards (this is new).  Social situations were fine in the past, but they seem to have now become too much to handle especially if I am already tired.  Again, symptoms continue to be ever-changing and I don’t really know what to expect except to simply accept (wow, that's a tongue twister).

I rode my mountain bike for the first time since my crash last week and was surprised to feel pretty good.  I have been having a hard time with movement while riding on the gravel trail and on the road but riding the singletrack was better.  Maybe it was the slower speed or the narrow trail?  I didn’t ride for long and didn’t push it whatsoever but I still felt like coming back home after being away for so long.  I felt more focused while the bike kept disappearing under me.  I felt like one with my bike again.  I forgot for a brief moment about the concussion.  And that scared the hell out of me…

Watching the latest BMX YouTube videos, I always cringe how some of today’s young riders have this “GO BIG” attitude attempting crazy stunts where if you miss the results are catastrophic.  Social media has created a generation that puts so much importance on getting likes and views that these two-wheeled daredevils have completely lost touch with fear.   Everyone dreams of becoming a hero, a legend and they’re willing to risk life and limb literally in the process.  Growing up I wasn’t like that.  It may have been a different way of thinking of my generation or just me, but I like to think that I had a very healthy fear that saved my ass oh so many times.  I did some dangerous stuff on my bike, but the lead-up to it was very, very gradual and achieved in baby steps.  It was a gradual progression guided by what this healthy fear.

In time, through this progression, a certain confidence set in and I felt very comfortable on my bike.  I could almost say that I eventually felt the most comfortable when on my bike.  And that confidence followed me as I grew older until I crashed and smacked my head.  Before the accident, I was never really afraid of crashing when mountain biking.  I mean, there was definitely a line that I wasn’t willing to cross, especially on the downhills, but in general I was never afraid.  I always rode with confidence thinking that the skills developed over a lifetime of riding could get me out of big trouble and save my ass.  This all changed last July.  And it really scared me when I forgot about my crash while mountain biking last week.  I felt afraid of not being afraid.

In so many ways I feel like I am relearning how to do the stuff that I did again, especially activities involving balance.  My physio says that my brain still knows how to do it all, but the messages that it needs to send to the rest of my body get screwed up because the pathways that it uses are still not 100% healed yet.  

I feel like many of the people that I know think that I am overthinking and over-analyzing all of this, that I am being paranoid, that I simply need to face my fears head on and begin living the rest of my life.  The thing is that no one truly understands how much this injury has affected me.  It’s very hard to explain.  In many ways it’s kindof like depression and other mental illnesses.  It’s invisible and unless you’ve lived through it yourself, you don’t really get it and tend to think that the sufferer should simply snap out of it.  At times, I felt so disconnected with outside reality and my physical environment that I didn’t really feel part of this world anymore.  Everything felt like a very lucid dream.  My symptoms affected every single thing that I did in an ever so subtle way but with such depth that not even simply 'being' felt real anymore.  Given the way my physical symptoms have literally changed my life and that they have persisted for so long I feel that I would be missing the whole point by dismissing them.  I need to listen to my body.  There is no way to just push through this.

Yesterday, as soon as I started my ride, the dizziness came and it’s like I lost the sense of what was underneath me.  I felt like the physical foundation on which I was riding wasn’t there anymore.  It’s very weird, but when this happens I can either turn around and go home or keep going while being extra careful.  Last night I chose the 2nd option.  In this case I was very happy to be riding alone because then all of my focus and energy can be put on riding my bike.  When I feel like this I can only do 1 thing at a time.  And when I’m alone that thing is riding.  I can’t really socialize and ride when I feel like this.  It just makes the symptoms worse.  And that’s why I’m still riding alone for now.  Like I mentioned in the last post, it’s not because I don’t want to ride with anyone else, it’s just because my brain is telling me that it isn’t ready for it just yet. 

Like Type 1 gaming, injuries are so very humbling.  But I do think that their purpose is as a reminder of life’s fragility and an opportunity to develop compassion.  And that’s another reason why they must not be dismissed.  I believe that they are meant to soften and mold us into better humans.  It isn’t easy, but it has to be that way in order to really make an impression.