Let’s Celebrate Feeling Good About Ourselves

A year ago, we launched a new program at our martial arts club called Let’s Feel Good About Ourselves. This is our one year anniversary, and again this month we are celebrating Feeling Good About Yourself .

Have you ever noticed how much focus we put on things that we don’t want?  We don’t want cancer or heart disease, but we keep talking about them.  We don’t want bullying or domestic violence, but we keep talking about them.

There is a belief, which is discussed in the movie, The Secret, that what you focus your attention on is what you create, even if it’s something you don’t want. For example, if you focus your attention on getting out of debt, rather than creating wealth, you tend to create more debt. The universe hears the word, debt, so it gives you more debt.

The same applies to cancer, heart disease, bullying, domestic violence and other forms of suffering. The more we focus our attention on these things, the more of it we’re going to create. Have you noticed that despite all the attention we give to cancer and bullying, they’re not going away?  In fact, they’re getting worse.

What is more, our current efforts to eradicate the things we don’t want are fractured.  We have one group fighting breast cancer, another fighting ovarian cancer, another fighting prostate cancer, another fighting bullying another fighting sexual assault and so on and so on. And each of these self interest groups is working independently to raise awareness and funds for research, early detection and treatment.

What we want to do at Georgina Family Martial Arts is bring all of our efforts together to create a unified focus on something positive.

Of course, this doesn’t mean we ignore the things that are causing suffering because clearly we have to deal with them. Nor does it mean we want to diminish the efforts of all the people who are working hard to eliminate cancer and bullying and the like.  We’re just suggesting a different approach, one that puts all of our focus on what we want, rather than what we don’t want.

The fundamental premise of Let’s Feel Good About Ourselves, is the belief that the most important thing for our health and happiness is how we feel about ourselves. What is more, if we all felt good about ourselves all the things we want to eliminate likely wouldn’t exist.  When people feel good about themselves, they don’t mistreat others, therefore, bullying, abuse, domestic violence and all forms of conflict likely wouldn’t exist.  They also eat healthy, therefore, obesity, heart disease, cancer and other forms of disease likely wouldn’t exist.  They also don’t try to numb their pain with drugs and alcohol, therefore, addictions likely wouldn’t exist. They also don’t commit crimes, therefore, crime, government corruption and corporate greed likely wouldn’t exist. They live in the present moment, therefore, worry and stress and stress related illness likely wouldn’t exist.  They want abundance for all, therefore poverty likely wouldn’t exist.  They are good stewards of the environment, therefore, pollution and over-development likely wouldn’t exist.

We believe that if everyone felt good about themselves, we would live with love, compassion and acceptance, and therefore, suffering likely wouldn’t exist.

The intention of our ‘Let’s Feel Good About Ourselves’ program is threefold:

First, to bring awareness to what it means … it means that you feel lovable, worthy, good enough and empowered … it means that you have a positive self image.

Second, to bring awareness to how we create it … by how parents raise their children, by how we behave and by how we react to our experiences.

Third, to bring awareness to the implications of feeling good about yourself, both for ourselves and for society as a whole.

Each month we will have a different theme … this month the theme is simply Feeling Good About Yourself Awareness Month … and we invite you to celebrate it with us.  Here’s what you can do:

  • Read the articles relating to feeling good about yourself. If you’re a parent, we urge you to read ‘Raising Children to Feel Good About Themselves.’
  • Read a self help or spiritual book.
  • Make an extra special effort this month (and every month) to be kind to people and to be honest, generous, helpful and patient.
  • Make it your intention this month to express gratitude every day for all the goodness in your life.
  • Eat healthy.
  • Do the things you love to do … spend time with your family.

If you like what we’re doing, tell your friends about it. The more people who are focused on feeling good about themselves the more positive energy we create.

If you have a story you would like to share, please feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

Hallelujah!

You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affectionBuddha.

Suffering is a choice. One can be in pain but not suffer. Unknown.

Let’s Have Fun!

Is there a better time of year for merriment than summer. Especially for kids free from the burden of school and homework, summer offers unlimited opportunities for unbridled enjoyment! Be it the beach, a camp ground, an amusement park, a game of pick up baseball, or whatever your fancy, it’s a great time to have fun!

Having fun is one of the keys to good health and longevity. It helps us cope with and relieve stress. It promotes the release of endorphins and other ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters!

It strengthens our body, mind and spirit!

Children have an innate knack of finding ways to enjoy themselves. Unburdened by teenage peer pressure or adult responsibilities, childhood is pretty much a free-for-all funfest. At least that’s what I mostly remember of my childhood, save for some bullying and the occasional meting out of corporal punishment by parents whose idea of fun wasn’t always aligned with mine or my brothers. I particularly remember the spirited water fights during family gatherings that seemed to spring up out of nowhere.

Sometimes, the most fun moments occur spontaneously. A few years ago, I taught karate at a summer camp. The most enjoyable experience of the summer was a spur of the moment soccer game in the middle of a sudden rainstorm. We got soaked and we had a ball.

Inappropriate fun that doesn’t conform to the rules will almost always bring you into direct conflict with the authorities. Two Robin Williams’ movies provide great illustrations of this lesson. In both movies, Williams portrayed real life people [Dr. Hunter ‘Patch’ Adams, in Patch Adams and Adrian Cronauer, a radio DJ in Good Morning Vietnam] who bucked the rules in order to bring more joy to their workplaces and clients and both paid a price for their ‘fun’ ways.

There are a number of things we can do so that we can have fun in any situation:

  • Live in the present moment
  • Focus on doing our best
  • Be kind and respectful and act with integrity [fun should never come at the expense of another person and should never involve the destruction of property]
  • Practice safety first [As the saying goes, “it’s always fun until somebody gets hurt” …I learned this the hard way a few times!]
  • Express your feelings. [It’s hard to enjoy yourself when you’re holding onto anger,fear, frustration or sadness.]

Not everyone, as Adams and Cronauer found out, has a sense of humour, and that brings us to one of the most important factors when it comes to having fun, and that is attitude. A positive, optimistic attitude, pretty much guarantees that your life will be full of enjoyment. It will help you see the other person’s point of view.

And finally, it helps to have an adventurous, child-like [not childish] approach to life. Not only does it keep you from taking things too seriously, it helps you feel good about yourself. Kids know how to have fun, so be a kid.

Do it. Throw your inhibitions in the trash can, kick off your shoes and go for it!

Have an awesomely fun day!

The Insanity of War: Lesson’s from Pat Tillman’s Senseless Death

If you knew the following, would you really want you or one of your loved ones to enlist in the armed forces and potentially go off to war:

  • First, that the war you were sent off to fight was primarily the result of someone’s or some group’s personal agenda, or the result of your government meddling in something they had no business meddling in.
  • Second, that you would be directed in battle by incompetent, misinformed superior officers who were more interested in things like meeting deadlines than the safety of the troops.
  • Third, that soldiers regularly ignore combat protocol as it relates to things like PIDing (positively identifying your target) before firing their weapons.
  • Fourth, that there was an extremely high chance that you would be killed by friendly fire (your own guys), known in army circles as fraticide.
  • Fifth, if you were in fact killed by friendly fire, that high ranking army brass and government officials would go to great lengths to hide information, and mislead and deceive your family and the general public around the circumstances of your death.
  • Sixth, that nobody would be held accountable for your ‘accidental’ death.
  • Seventh, that your family would experience immense (and unnecessary) emotional suffering over your death.

All of the above. according the Jon Krakauer in his best selling book, Where Men Win Glory, evidently applies to Pat Tillman, the former NFLer who left the Arizona Cardinals in order to join the army and fight the Taliban after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre in 2001.

Tillman was tragically killed by friendly fire during his very first fire fight in Afghanistan. Then army brass and high ranking government officials tried to cover up the circumstances surrounding his death for fear of losing support for the war.

I grew up fascinated by war. My favourite subject in school was History, and I was particularly drawn to that part of history involving war. Moreover, my favourite movie from early childhood was The Great Escape, the WWII true story of a prison break involving 76 men, 50 of whom were murdered by the German Gestapo. More lately, I have been awed by Steven Spielberg’s epic, Saving Private Ryan, perhaps the most realistic war movie of all time. From Stalag 17 to Black Hawk Down, I have seen pretty much every war movie ever made and I have read countless books on the War of 1812, the Civil War, WWI, WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam war and many other wars.

But now I find myself no longer fascinated by war. War is horrific, heartbreaking, and for the most part, unnecessary.

I am a Canadian and despite that fact that Canada’s identity as a Nation was born as a result of the heroic efforts of Canadian soldiers at Vimy Ridge during WWI, I thought I would never see Canadians fighting and dying in combat in my lifetime. Sadly, as a fallout from 9/11, that is no longer the case.

People will argue that war is necessary, and perhaps in some cases, it is. Like a school yard bully, ruthless dictators and warmongering states have to be dealt with. But the reality is, you don’t end darkness with more darkness. You end it with light. And you don’t end war with more war. You end it with peace.

Some people will also say that friendly fire deaths go with the territory…that it is part of the cost of going to war. I’m guessing the people who make such statements have never lost a loved one under such senseless circumstances.

Many Western governments will argue that we are currently fighting a war on terror, but the truth is, biotech companies (like Monsanto), drug companies and even hospitals are far more of a threat to Western welfare than are terrorists.

I believe the way to end war is to focus on what will bring all wars to an end and that is, creating a society that feels good about itself. When people feel good about themselves, they don’t mistreat others. They don’t go to war. That is a truth.

Go back in history and closely examine every man who started a war and you will find someone who invariably felt powerless and inadequate…someone who, on a certain level, felt inferior and unloved. We can end war by eliminating this destructive human condition.

It also behoves us to stop creating movies, video games and the like that glorify war and encourage young adults to think that fighting in combat is a glorious pursuit. Last year, I watched Pacific, the WWII mini-series produced by Spielberg and Tom Hanks. As fascinated as I was by the reality of the filming and the unbelievable sacrifices of the soldiers, I couldn’t help but think creating movies and television shows about war simply helps make us think it’s okay.

Men and women enlist for honourable reasons: they want to serve their country; they want to help people. More often than not however, they die for less than honourable reasons: somebody messed up; somebody failed to PID their target; somebody wanted to achieve a dubious objective; they became cannon fodder; they were simply, expendable.

Pat Tillman felt a sense of duty, and so he joined the army. Perhaps if he had taken into consideration the possibility of all the points listed above, he might never have done so. Perhaps he did, but his call to duty and integrity were more important.

In the last chapter of Where Men Win Glory, Krakauer sites some alarming statics from various wars on the percentages of friendly fire casualties…21% in WWII, 39% in Vietnam, a whopping 52% in the first Gulf War, 41% in Iraq and 13% in Afghanistan. Krakauer says that these numbers are likely understated. What is more, they don’t include those killed because of inept leadership, nor do they include innocent civilians.

This is insanity!

Perhaps if everyone knew the truth about the people and circumstances that draw countries into war, and if they knew just how many soldiers and civilians die unnecessarily, they would work harder to create peace.

Have a thoughtfully peaceful day!

Three Simple Words That Can Transform the World!

“I Love You!”

“Pardon?” I said, somewhat surprised at his sudden declaration.

“Three words that can transform the world,” he replied.

“I guess,” I agreed tentatively, not quite knowing where he was going with this, particularly given that we were in the middle of moving his sofa, which I have to admit, was quite heavy.

“Are there three words, when put together, that are more powerful? More important to speak? More beautiful to hear?” he asked.

“What about, ‘you won the lottery?'” I countered, not taking him seriously. Wait, that’s four words! Damn!

“Je t’aime (French). Te amo (Spanish). Ti amo (Italian). Is breá liom tú (Irish). Ma armastan sind (Estonian). Nakupenda (Swahili). Sounds beautiful in any language, doesn’t it?”

“Yes,” I agreed, thankful that he had missed my lottery gaffe, although I was wondering what the Tibetan translation for I love you would be.

“When a child says, I love you, Daddy or I love you, Mommy, it instantly melts your heart!”

“It sure does,” I concurred, a broad smile creeping across my face. I couldn’t help but think about the times my children had said those very words and how good it felt. Even now, as adults, I love it when they tell me they love me!

“When a man says it to a woman, or vice versa, a dark day suddenly brightens!” he went on. “Troubles melt away. Squabbles become irrelevant.”

“Yep … ”

“I love you, spoken to a child, is the foundation of a healthy self image,” he continued before I had a chance to expand on my response. “Three words that are oh so crucial in helping children to feel good about themselves.”

I knew what he said was really important, but I kind of lost focus thinking about where we were going with the sofa. My muscles were beginning to burn.

“When you get right down to it,” he continued. “At the root of all suffering and inappropriate behaviour is a lack of self love.”

“That makes a lot of sense,” I said, as my mind came back into focus.

“If you are suffering in any way … physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, in your relationships or career … chances are, a lack of self love is at the root of it,” he added.

“I guess the same is true for when we mistreat another being. We do so because we lack self love … we don’t feel good about ourself.”

“Without a doubt. When we don’t love ourselves we feel inferior, powerless, unworthy and inadequate and in a misguided attempt to compensate for these feelings, we behave inappropriately. We do things to ourselves and other people that are very destructive.”

“Why don’t we do loving things to overcome our lack of self love?”

“Sometimes we do, but I think we do it more so in an attempt to receive love in return.”

“And I guess if we don’t receive that love, we feel even more hurt.”

“Yes, inevitably we do.”

“It seems like parents play an important role in the development of a sense of self love.”

“Absolutely. Parents role is critical. Not only is it important that they give their children unconditional love, but it is equally important that they teach them to love themselves.”

“So, if I understand this correctly, most, if not all, of the destructive behaviour on the planet stems from a lack of self love, and this is mostly the result of a toxic parent-child relationship.” For the moment, I was completely engrossed in the conversation and had forgotten that my arms were about to fall off.

“Yes, it is. But we can change the experience. We can recapture the self love that was not ingrained in us growing up.”

“What can we do?” I asked.

“Here’s how each of us can do it. Stand in front of the mirror every day, look into your eyes and simply say, ‘I love you.'”

“Is that it?” I inquired. It seemed too simple.

“You can also sit beneath a tree, close your eyes and say I love you, or sit beside a lake, look out into the water and say it, or sit in a meadow, look up into the sky and say it.”

“I guess you can pick pretty much any setting.”

“Pretty much,” he agreed. “The key is to keep saying it.”

I thought about his suggestions for a few moments. It sounded doable enough. I knew there were studies that had been done that demonstrated how positive affirmations could change your faulty beliefs and even your DNA. I imagined myself standing in front of my bathroom mirror, repeating those three words. I could see myself doing it, but I had doubts about other people. “What about the dictators, hardened criminals, terrorists, psychopaths, child molesters and the people who are destroying the planet in the name of profits? Even some of my friends. How do we change them?”

“Lead by example,” he replied. “You can’t change them forcibly. You cannot exert your will on them. They have to want to change themselves. Show them love and send them loving thoughts. Overwhelm them with love and let them change willingly.”

What he said made a lot of sense. “I guess all the hatred we’ve been sending each other hasn’t really worked, has it?”

“Nope! Quite the opposite actually.”

“And we’ve had lots of good role models to show us how to live lovingly, haven’t we?”

“We certainly have … from Abraham, Jesus, Buddha and Muhammad to Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, John Lennon and Nelson Mandela … although, most of them went through a period of transformation before love became their guiding light.”

I thought about all the people he had just mentioned and realized we had been given lots of excellent role models and a solid template for living in a loving way. “As John Lennon said, ‘all you need is love.'”

“Indeed. Even using just the first two words, I love, creates an entirely different feeling no matter what the situation or experience,” he added. “Words have energy and the way we use them creates an energy.”

“That’s true,” I agreed enthusiastically, thinking how I love teaching karate, how I love the summer, how I love swimming, and how I love my kids, and how I love the way it makes me feel saying it. “It’s sort of like the experiments conducted by Dr. Imoto, the Japanese scientist, who literally changed the molecular structure of water and ice crystals using words and feelings.”

“Exactly. And remember, human beings are 75% water. Love can change everything … loving thoughts, words and actions … and what better way to do it, than saying I love and I love you. As each of us discovers self-love, this loving energy transform the hatred, greed and fear that is suffocating the planet.”

“I love it when people treat each other with kindness,” I said cheerfully.

“I love democracy,” he replied.

“I love the idea of everyone living in abundance.”

“We could go on and on, couldn’t we?’ he asked.

“Absolutely!” I replied. “But what I’d love most right now, is to put this sofa down.”

“I love your suggestion,” he said with a devilish grin.

Have a lovingly awesome day!

Brett Lawrie’s Controversial Strikeout — What’s Really Important

I watched two things on TV a a couple of days ago which tell a striking (no pun intended) story of life here on the planet. The first was an item on CBC News. The second occurred during the Toronto Blue Jays baseball game.

In the ballgame, Toronto was trailing 4-3 to the Tampa Bay Rays in the bottom of the ninth inning. Brett Lawrie was at bat with a 3-1 count (3 balls & 1 strike). There were two out. The next pitch was well outside the strike zone. Lawrie dropped his bat and headed down to first base. Hold on a second. The umpire called ‘strike two.’ Lawrie returned to the batter’s box, clearly upset with the call. The next pitch was even further outside the strike zone. Again, Lawrie dropped his bat and headed to first base.

“Strike three.”

What! Everybody went ballistic. Especially, Lawrie. He slammed his helmet into the artificial turf and it bounced up and struck the ump (again, no pun intended). Game over. The Jays lost!

A travesty of justice! A tragic end to the ballgame! A fan even threw a beer at the ump (who by the way, was surrounded by the police). Nobody ever said Toronto fans were discrete.

Ball fans all over North America have been talking about this and will be for days to come. TV and radio sports shows have been discussing it at length. Clearly the ump blew the first call and clearly he made the second call personal after Lawrie had shown him up with his premature trot to first base. Yes, an injustice well worth our attention!

Now, let’s get back to the first item. As I said, I caught it on CBC News. Something about a report concluding that the human race is gobbling up resources (water, air, fish, forests, minerals, arable land, etc) at a much faster rate than the planet can replace them. This report estimates that by 2030, we will need two planets in order to sustain our present use of resources. I suspect the conclusions of this study are based on best case scenario and likely underestimate the severity of the situation.

I wonder how much of our attention this story will get, particularly in light of the impending initial public offering of facebook shares, which is estimated to be valued in the billions of dollars … and we could all use a little extra personal wealth at this time, especially rich folks!

The fuss over Brett Lawrie’s unjust strikeout is akin to the passengers complaining about the quality of the wine … after the Titanic crashed into the iceberg…and quite frankly we don’t have time for such trivial matters. We are facing a crisis that threatens the survival of life on the planet … and I’m not being melodramatic … particularly in light of another CBC News report from last fall of a study that found that the world’s oceans are in far worse shape than previously thought … and yet the vast majority are doing nothing about it.

I think, perhaps, the cause of our apparent apathy is threefold. First, we genuinely don’t see the urgency of our predicament. It’s too far out and we’ve got too many other more urgent matters to deal with, like mortgage payments, the kid’s schooling, opening up the cottage and the aforementioned Lawrie strikeout. Second, we have no idea what to do. Third, it’s just far too big for us to deal with it. We’re overwhelmed by it!

This is understandable. After all, how do you halt population growth? How do you stop development? How do you stop big business from polluting? How do you convince corporate CEOs to put the welfare of society ahead of their bonus cheques? How do you stop biotech companies from creating gmo’s? How do you stop terrorists from suicide bombing? How do you put an end to factory farming? How do you convince Japan to stop killing dolphins? How do you convince Indonesia to stop tearing down the forests that orangutans need to live? How do you convince China to stop killing sharks? More importantly, how do you convince China and North Korea and Cuba and so on and so on, to allow their people to live in freedom? In fact, how do you convince democratic governments to behave like democratic governments?

The situation is daunting indeed. Our apathy, however, is going to lead to our extinction! Again, I’m not being melodramatic. As Paul Rodgers (former lead singer of Free and Bad Company) recently said, “My greatest fear is that there are too many people on this planet and we’re drowning in our own garbage.”

We have to take action. Now! We have no time to waste and it is essential that we do so on both an individual and collective basis.

Perhaps the single most important thing each of us can do, is develop a healthy self image. I believe that if we all felt good about ourselves, we simply wouldn’t treat each other and the planet the way we do. We would be less concerned with money, fame and power and more intent on living with love, compassion and acceptance. We would want peace of mind and joyful living that is derived from spiritual pursuits. If everybody felt good about themselves, we could eliminate all suffering on the planet…overnight!

The second thing we can do is change the way we live on a day to day basis. We can do a lot less consuming … I’m talking about material goods and resources … and a lot more enjoying what we have, including what nature has to offer. Here’s a list of things we can do to get started:

  • grow our own foods
  • eat organic
  • eat dandelions (they’re incredibly nutritious and don’t cost a cent)
  • learn about the things that grow naturally around us that we can eat
  • take fewer trips (use less gas)
  • don’t idle our engine for more than 10 seconds
  • don’t replace things until we absolutely have to
  • minimize the amount of garbage and waste we create
  • don’t use pesticides or herbicides on our lawns
  • turn off the shower when we’re lathering
  • turn off our air conditioners and spend more time outdoors
  • adopt a minimalist way of living…we really don’t need all the things we think we need

If you want to get more radical as it relates to taking a stand on things that don’t serve mankind, take up boycotting. It’s a very powerful negotiating tool. Here are some of things I avoid:

  • fast food joints…they produce toxic, unhealthy foods and an enormous amount of garbage
  • foods that are genetically modified, like corn…they are highly toxic and are contributing to declining bee populations
  • medications, especially prescription medications..again, they are highly toxic, mostly unnecessary and are produced by companies whose only concern is profits

I would also love to boycott gas companies…they are raking in billions & billions of dollars selling a product that pollutes…however, that’s not exactly practical, so I use as little gasoline as necessary (it helps to have a bicycle).

These are just a few things, but they’re a start. Most importantly, they get us thinking about taking better care of ourselves and the planet.

Have a strikingly awesome day!

The Tiger Woods Saga … Lessons for Us All

“Do you think he’ll ever get it back?” I asked earnestly as we strolled casually down the fairway. I was thinking about the 2000 Canadian Open golf championship. Tiger Woods’ shot out of the bunker on the 18th hole, around the trees, over the water to within 12 feet of the cup to win the tournament. A miraculous shot that I won’t soon forget.

“Don’t know,” my friend replied. “He’s had plenty of time by now. I think he’s got a lot of work to do.”

“What do you mean, nobody works harder on his shot or his game than Tiger.”

“I’m not referring to his golf game.”

“Oh!” I was puzzled. From his emergence on the professional golf tour in 1996 through to 2009, Tiger dominated the game. Not only was he considered the best of his era, he was considered the best of all time. He played with unprecedented confidence, intensity and focus, credited largely to his Buddhist upbringing. What is more, he had an amazing work ethic. If not his golf game, then what did he need to work on. “I don’t get it.”

“He needs to work on his self image.”

“You mean, how he feels about himself as a result of the scandal?”

“You bet. And more importantly, how he felt about himself before the scandal.”

In 2009, Tiger was still on top of the golf world. PGA player of the year, leading money winner, six tournament wins and FedEx Cup champion. Then, in November, the proverbial s**t hit the fan. After a very public domestic incident with his then wife, Elin Nordegren, it was revealed that Tiger had had a litany of ex-marital affairs. He took several months off golf and since his return, his game simply has not been the same. “You mean, Tiger felt inadequate before the scandal?” I thought it a rather strange assessment of a man who had experienced so much success in his life.

“Can’t say for sure … I don’t know him personally … but it sure looks like it, what with the anger he plays with, the fortune he’s amassing and … the girlfriends. Sure seems as though he’s trying to prove something to somebody.”

I thought about my friend’s comments for a few moments. Perhaps Tiger is a classic example of someone who doesn’t feel good about himself … who doesn’t feel good enough. The anger is a dead give away. “What about his competitiveness?” I inquired. Tiger’s intense desire to win was, is, unparalleled. He is a very driven man. “Won’t that get him back on top?”

“There’s a big difference between a competitive spirit that comes from a genuine desire to do one’s best, as opposed to one derived from a sense of inadequacy. Tiger’s competitiveness is over the top. I don’t think it comes from a place of self love.”

“I get that,” I acknowledged excitedly.

“Maybe Tiger’s shocking fall from grace is meant to be a message for all of humanity.”

“You mean it had a purpose?”

“Pretty sure it did.”

I understood what my friend was saying. I learned a few years ago that on a soul level, we agree to have experiences and learn lessons. Sometimes we do so for ourselves and sometimes we do so to help others. Sometimes our experiences are meant to benefit on a grander scale. “So, you think Tiger is taking one for the team?” I asked, pleased with my witticism.

“You could say that … although it seems quite ironic given that Tiger isn’t much of a team player. Having said that, it seems that Tiger is showing the rest of the world that how you feel about yourself is far more important than money and fame.”

“I can see that, but it still seems bewildering to me that he would risk everything … his marriage, career and reputation … just to get laid.”

“He’s not doing it consciously. Sometimes we’re driven by forces that can’t be logically explained.”

“What do you mean by that.”

“I think there is a second reason for Tiger’s implosion.”

“Go on,” I said encouragingly, anxious to hear the pearls of wisdom he was about to lay on me.

“I think there is a part of us that feels enormous unease when we are surrounded by suffering and perhaps those who live in opulence are affected in a more profound way. Perhaps they feel deep inside that they don’t deserve it.”

“And so we self destruct.”

“Exactly! You have to ask yourself, how does it serve mankind when a certain few, like Tiger Woods, have so much, while so many others have too little?”

“I guess it doesn’t.”

“Remember, we live in oneness. When one suffers, we all suffer.”

“And I guess we really need to bring attention to this inequity.”

“We certainly do,” he said in a very complimentary tone. My friend seemed pleased with my assessment.

“Is that why Tiger’s message to humanity didn’t come in a more positive way, for him?”

“Sometimes, a shock to the system is more effective. It causes us to ask questions. It inspires us to challenge the status quo. At the very least, it gives us something to think about.”

“It certainly does!”

Have an awesomely feel good day!

A Healthy Immune System: It’s Our Choice

Convincing people to eat a more healthy diet is a considerable challenge. Healthy eating takes willpower. It’s not easy to resist the temptation of a piece of chocolate or a burger loaded with bacon, cheese and ketchup. Nor is it always easy to take the time to prepare and cook nutritious foods when you can reach in the cupboard or pick up the phone and have something on the table in short order and with little effort. However, knowing that a healthy diet is key to having a healthy immune system can inspire us to make better choices at meal time.

Our immune system is vital to our health. In fact, the state of our health is pretty much entirely dependent on the state of our immune system (IS). If our IS is in good working order, it’s almost impossible for us to get sick.

According to The Healing Code, written by Alex Lloyd and Ben Johnson, only one thing compromises our IS, and that is stress. Stress comes primarily in four forms: first, an unhealthy diet; second, day to day stress; third, unresolved emotional pain; and, four, physical trauma to the body. If the stress is mild or short-term, generally our IS can handle. The problem is that we’re overloading our immune system with all forms of stress.

Given that 80% of our IS is situated in our gastrointestinal tract, the single most important thing we can do for it is to eat healthy foods. It’s the surest way to keep from getting colds, flus and even cancer. Unfortunately, the lure of tasty, unhealthy stuff is quite often too irresistible and so we opt for foods and snacks that aren’t good for us.

The second important thing we can do for our IS is to feel good about ourselves. When we feel good about ourselves we make better food choices and we are generally much happier…we are not so affected by day to day stress. A happy mind helps keep our body’s pH level in the 7.0 to 7.4 range which promotes a healthy IS.

Changing the way we eat begins with awareness. It is really important to know about the effects of all the food we consume. Yes, everyone knows that eating candies, snack foods and fast foods isn’t exactly going to help you live til 100. But it is also important to be aware of the negative health effects artificial sweeteners (esp. aspartame), sugar, margarine, dairy, pasteurized juices, processed foods and genetically modified foods (esp. corn), because in many cases we’ve been led to believe the exact opposite.

We also need to be aware of the positive effects of fermented foods (like sauerkraut and kefir), which put healthy bacteria into our digestive system, and Vit D (esp. from the sun), which promotes a healthy IS.

Folks, it’s like we’ve been given a choice. We can choose short term ego gratification by stuffing ourselves with tasty, unhealthy foods or we can choose long term health. Because I am in the process of healing Parkinson’s, my choice was made easy for me. I just wish I had this awareness, wisdom and willpower before I got sick, and I wish the same for you.

In recognition of the importance of maintaining a healthy immune system, this month at our karate club–Georgina Family Martial Arts–we’re celebrating Be Kind to Our Immune System and we invite you to celebrate it with us by making healthy food choices.

Honouring your immune system is a wonderful gift you can give yourself! We wish you healthy eating and an awesome day!

This Is Why I Teach Karate

I love teaching karate. It brings me enormous joy and satisfaction and I am tremendously grateful every night for every student who chooses to attend karate class.

I receive constant feedback from students and parents about how much they enjoy karate and how much they appreciate my instruction. What could be better?

What I enjoy most, I think, is the opportunity to affect people’s lives in a positive way, by helping students master techniques, while developing confidence, respect and a healthy self image. It gives me an enormous sense of satisfaction.

Every once in a while though a parent will tell me about something that happened with their child that blows me away and really reaffirms my love of teaching. The following is one such story:

From Laura…Sam’s mother:

Thought you’d get a kick out this…Sam and Jaden are practically family, and on the weekend they were “playing” and Jaden hurt Sam. Sam retaliated and hit Jaden on the head trying to get back at him. After some time out with me, Sam went over to Jaden and apologized. I watched them from a distance and saw Sam say sorry. Jaden said that it was ok, then they both did the peace over war hand gesture and bowed to each other! (something they learned at karate) Pretty darn cute!!! Made me smile! I love Karate!!!!  Laura

And I love karate too. Especially teaching it!

What makes this story so special is that Sam and Jaden are only 4 & 5 years old, respectively.  Now how wonderful is that?

I have said many times that I have the best job in the world. I am incredibly grateful that I get paid to do what I love.  Speaking which, a student asked me recently if I would rather work at a job that I didn’t enjoy, but paid me lots of money, or work at a job I love and make a lot less money. I told him that given that I had already experienced both scenarios, the answer was easy. I would so much rather work at a job I love, even if it meant making a lot less money, because you can always adjust your lifestyle. As long as you spend less money than you make, you will always get ahead.

I feel very blessed and my wish would be that everyone someday gets to feel the way I do.  It’s awesome!!!

Have an awesome day!!

Michael Jackson & Elvis Presley: Why Did They Die?

I just watched an Oprah Winfrey interview with Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter Elvis Presley and former wife of Michael Jackson. Lisa Marie thought it was ironic and didn’t understand how it was that her extremely famous father and extremely famous husband could have died from the same thing…over use of prescription drugs. Nor could she understand the significance of her connection with these men.

Elvis had 14 different prescription medications in his body when he died. MJ’s autopsy revealed evidence of at least 7 different medications.

I can’t help but think both of these extremely talented, charismatic and personable men died for the same reason…to help guide mankind back to a better way of living.

We have become a society that reaches for a pill bottle at the first sign of trouble. Got a cold, take a pill. Got an ache, take a pill. Can’t sleep, take a pill.

I recently asked two police officers from different police forces what the most pressing problem is in the province of Ontario and they both said, Oxycotin, a prescription pain medication, which has now become a lethal street drug.

Is this really the way we’re meant to live?

I sincerely believe that rather than taking pills it would serve us far better to understand three things: first, the role of the immune system and the importance of a healthy diet in maintaining the immune system’s health and proper pH level in the body, so we don’t get sick in the first place. Second, the role of unresolved emotional pain as the underlying root cause of  sickness and disease. Third, the importance of self image…feeling good about yourself…in reducing stress and developing and maintaining healthy thoughts and eating habits.

Taking medications simply neutralizes symptoms and makes the people who own and run drug companies rich. They’re not a long-term solution to healing.

But, you ask, what about the famous philosopher and mathematician, Descartes, and all the other people who died from pneumonia and other diseases, whose lives could have been saved’ using medications. Again, I bring your attention to the importance of having a healthy immune system and proper pH balance.

Elvis and MJ, like all humans, were capable of logic and common sense and they were surrounded by people who were capable of logic and common sense and yet they allowed their health and lives to be ruined by prescription medication. On a higher spiritual plane, there must have been a reason for this.

I hope and pray that it’s not going to take a few more Elvises and Micheals for us to figure it out? Perhaps this explains Lisa Marie’s connection to these two men. To use her fame to bring awareness to these ideas.

Have a thoughtful day!

Sopranos-style Compassion

Compassion is defined as a ‘Deep awareness of the suffering of another, coupled with the wish to relieve it.’  It’s our innate desire to reach out and help someone in need.

What is Sopranos-style compassion then you ask?  Well, it’s a rather discompassionate form of compassion that ranges anywhere from a curt, ‘Suck it up and get over it,’ to a harsher response Tony captured so eloquently in a scene from the Sopranos when he said, “Anthony’s got to know that the world doesn’t revolve around his sensitivity.  I should have beaten it out of him when he was a kid!” Whack!

Sopranos-style compassion!

I see it every week when I’m teaching karate.  A few months ago a father actually yelled at me and ordered me to put his 4 year old son down and make him walk after he had hurt himself and was crying.  More recently, I heard a parent say to their child, “Stop crying.  You have to be brave.”

Sopranos-style compassion!

Frankly, I think it takes a lot more courage to cry in public than it does to suppress it, but that’s another topic for discussion.

Sopranos-style compassion may come in the form of an icy stare, a cold shoulder or 30 tons of explosives.  “Your beliefs are different than mine, you say?”

Sometimes Sopranos-style compassion is a little more subtle, ‘My, aren’t we the sensitive one.’  It’s dished out with a tinge of sarcasm for added effect.

Whatever form it comes in, it’s very devastating to a person’s sense of security and their sense of self.  This is especially true of children who are preciously vulnerable to insensitivity.

How did we become a society that embraces this form of compassion? What is it that allows us to coldly walk past a homeless person begging for money and why is it that we can be so deeply touched by a picture of a soldier…or firefighter or police officer…carrying a wounded child, and yet find it so easy to scold our own children in times of emotional hurt?  I suspect it has a lot to do with the lack of compassion we were shown as a child.  Or maybe it’s because we’re finding it easier to be cold this day in age as a result of being numbed by the violence we are being bombarded with in movies and video games.  Perhaps it’s because we’ve become so far removed from our true authentic loving selves.

The irony of  Sopranos-style compassion was brilliantly captured by Pauly, perhaps the coldest and most vicious character on the Sopranos, when he sadly pleaded, “I’m not without my sensitivities.”  Compassion is one of the core characteristics of human nature.  We all want to be held, nurtured and soothed in difficult times.  We want to be reassured that we are going to be all right.  It’s okay to show a little softness.  It makes us more human.

“There, there Fred.  All is well!”

Have an awesome day!