Life Lessons | Column | Sample articles

Contact: Josh Martin | 519-856-0919 | joshmartinink@gmail.com
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Lil’ Johnny Pukey Pants: The dangers of rushing
Sample article 1 of 4

One of my earliest memories is not a pleasant one. It’s 1985 and I’m a Kindergarten student at Chepstow Elementary School. A fellow student of mine just barfed at the back of the classroom. A lot. Mrs. Long takes a box out of one of the cupboards and sprinkles its powdery contents over the pond of puke; some absorbent powder designed to help with the clean-up.

Leaving the vomit to cleanup later, Mrs. Long turns her attention back to the class. I pray Johnny Pukey Pants doesn’t sit next to me during Reading Circle.

Even at such a young age I know the joy of the recess bell. When it rings, I’m ready. Bolting from my chair I make a mad dash for the door. The rest of the kids can eat my dust.

A few steps from the exit my feet suddenly fly out from under me. I land with an audible SPLAT, knocking my breath out. It’s immediately clear what has happened. I’m lying in Pukey Pants’ regurgitated breakfast.

Too embarrassed to tell Mrs. Long, I clamber to my feet and dash out the door. The rest of the day is spent covered in barf.

Moral of the Story: The more you rush, the more mistakes you’ll make. Slow down. No matter how rushed your day seems, take time to step back and get your head on straight. Whether it’s having a coffee break, taking a walk around the block at lunch or taking a nap, pausing now and again will help ensure you don’t wind up on your back in a puddle of puke.

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A punch to the face: Doing things that scare us
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I recently got to go through a few haunted houses at Canada’s Wonderland with a bunch of friends. They were all very well done and each spooky in its own way. The most enjoyable bit however was going through them with my friend, Marie. I’ve never seen someone scream so often or at such deafening volumes.

Haunted houses and I don’t have a great history. The last time I went through one was way back in high school, during a school trip to Niagara Falls with my friend, Kristie. Like Marie, Kristie spooks easy. Unlike Marie, when Kristie spooks she doesn’t just scream. She gets violent. Walking down a dark hallway the walls of the haunted house suddenly started to shake. A terrifying racket followed.

I thought it was great. I love a good scare. Kristie? Not so much.

You know that whole “fight or flight” instinct we all have? Well, apparently Kristie has both in spades. In frantic and irrational terror, Kristie spun around and punched me in the face. Pushing me into the wall she bolted for the exit, leaving me alone with whatever horrors lurked in the shadows. A loyal friend indeed.

Moral of the story: Like willingly going through haunted houses, being open to do things that scare you is important for making the most out of life. Trying new things means stepping out of your comfort zone and that can be frightening. But as strong as your flight instinct may be, there are times when standing your ground and facing your fear head-on is the right decision.

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A Noodle to the Eyeball: A lesson in the importance of slowing down
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Dinner with friends is usually a good time. A recent outing for Chinese food, however, didn’t end so well. I ordered “Buddha’s Delight” from the long menu. Despite its cheery name though, it was far from delightful. “Buddha’s Doldrums” would have been more apt.

Slopping on some hot sauce I attempted to jack up the flavour. Now that Buddha was satisfyingly spicy, I started to scarf it down. Way too fast. I hunched over my plate as if it were my last meal, expertly ignoring my friends around the table.

Shoveling food into my mouth I slurped up a rice noodle that was drenched in hot sauce. Thanks to my haste, the noodle whipped up and slapped me in the eyeball, burning like the fiery infernos of a thousand suns. My friends laughed (as good friends do during such times of pain and suffering). Cursing Buddha I went to the bathroom to flush out my stinging eye.

Moral of the story: Slow down when you eat–choking isn’t the only hazard. Chew more. Put your fork (or chopsticks) down between bites. Be present with your dinner companions. Savour your food and the conversation. How often have you skipped breakfast because you’re in too much of a hurry? Or scarfed down a burger on the drive home? Set boundaries and carve out some time for meals with friends and family.

Moral of the story #2: Easy on the hot sauce.

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In a Dilly of a Pickle: The benefits of de-cluttering
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I grew up in a family with eight kids. To feed such a large household my Mom bought a lot of food in bulk. Mega packs of processed cheese slices in the fridge. Jars of peanut butter the size of beer kegs in the pantry. Half a cow in the basement freezer.

Giant jars of dill pickles were other items we always seemed to have on hand. And not the brand name stuff. No, I’m talking about the cheap, mutant pickles that made your face squinch up and your scalp tingle from their tartness.

For some reason we kept the pickle jars after we emptied them. After a quick wash in the kitchen sink, the huge jars were stored on an upper shelf in our mud room. For what purpose, I have no idea. Before long we had a haphazard heap of glass jars perched precariously above our heads whenever we laced up our shoes and grabbed our jackets.

One evening, as we finished drying the dishes, we watched Dad attempt to add just one more jar to that shelf. Simple physics wouldn’t allow it. A moment later an avalanche of briny glass jars came smashing down over Dad’s bloodied head. It was Picklegeddon… the Apicklypse…

Moral of the Story: De-clutter. Nobody needs 12 giant pickle jars. How much of your storage space is taken up by junk you haven’t touched in years? How packed is your closet with clothes you never wear? Reclaim your space and start getting rid of all that pointless stuff. Be ruthless. Choose one room or one drawer each week to tackle.

Just watch yourself when you’re working on those upper shelves.

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