All The Way From …”The Bright End of Nowhere”

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Hey, Mr. Chips,

As I sit there, In the midst of my umpteenth Matthew Good concert my mind begins to run as fast as my legs, and hands were jamming to the songs. Flooded with thoughts. Trying my hardest to keep my shit together in the middle of a rock show at a damn casino. …I couldn’t.

I began to think about Jen, and what Matt Good meant to her, his songs, his lyrics, his messages, and his fight. What it means, and has meant for me. My mom, brother, and soon enough… Jen’s daughter, Abbey.

I then think back to when I used to write somewhere between occasionally and frequently on my blog. About my grieving, my loss, and just my everyday fight to find another tomorrow.

THEN… I think about that night when I just about closed my eyes and let go on that highway years ago. Someone saved me. I went home that night, and finally found the bravery, and the strength to write about this very journey. Thinking that one day, maybe this would bring me joy, and hopefully in the process provide others with at least the smallest ounce of courage.

THEN… I just stopped… I stopped thinking at the show, and I realized I’ve just stopped writing all together almost. Why. It’s done so much for me. Tears began to well down my eyes even more, so I shut my eyes and swayed my head to “Advertising on Police Cars” and I swear for a moment, only Jen and I were at that show. She held my hand, and said… “Blair, Write..” I swear, I could hear her say those two words, and then boom, heavy guitar, and light show on the stage. Rock show was back on.

As the show progressed, I was, in a weird way forced to continue thinking a million thoughts, to allow myself to keep it together.   But, I then thought to myself… Really, why have I not been writing this year? It used to bring me so much joy, and so much strength, and others.

But, THEN, I dug at myself a bit more, and perhaps found the reason. Selfishly… I don’t feel that I have to in order to survive anymore. When I first began writing, I didn’t know if anyone was ever going to read anything, but I ultimately had to write to save myself. There were no other options.

I thought, maybe one day I will find solace, and content.

I have finally found just that. I can’t pinpoint the exact date, or time, or what it was that finally allowed me for the first time in possibly forever, to feel… Good, I felt content, and I felt good about myself. I began to not fear tomorrow. I can, and will say I do believe there was three particular events that occurred this year that I think really helped me get to “contentment”

 

  1. Professional Life. If you’ve been following my blog for any amount of time, you know I hold myself to an absolutely unbelievably unrealistic standard, and am rarely, if ever satisfied with myself. I struggle with failure, and struggle with needing more. For the first time ever, I am perfectly happy, and succeeding in my professional life, and those feelings have slowly eroded, and gone away. It was 11:11 a couple months ago, and I couldn’t even think of wish. Then, I kind of chuckled, thought… Everything is ok right now. I have what I need.

 

  1. You may laugh, and it seems silly… perhaps it is a bit. But, I’ve always loved cats. Grew up with them. My whole family is full of cat people. Amanda, not so much. I’ve begged her, and begged our entire relationship to one day get a cat. Finally, I just gave up. Was convinced I would never have one. Then one day, she drove me out to the boonies and surprised me with a litter of Maine Coon kittens, allowing me to choose my very own cat dude. I couldn’t believe it. In that very moment, I don’t know if I have ever felt that much joy, and excitement. I could not contain myself. To this day, Kukui continues to provide endless amounts of entertainment, and joy to our family. Amanda included, who is absolutely in love with kitten. As much joy as this massive fuzzrat has brought me, I can say he’s done the same for our dog; Kona as well.

 

  1. July 25, 2015, and every day after. I got to finally call the girl of my dreams; my wife. I knew the day I asked Amanda out I wanted her to be my wife. Lofty goals for a grade 9 student, but I knew. We’ve been through hell, and back together a few times, so to finally marry Amanda, was simply a dream come true. Every day since, I put my ring on in the morning and I just feel like a different person.   I am beyond confident in myself; I am suddenly comfortable with myself, and for the first time ever… I feel proud of myself, and feel accomplished. Something that I have forever longed for.

 

These three events I believe have allowed me to find happiness and joy in my life every day. Sure, I still have shitty days… I think everyone does. But, now, just knowing you’re ok, can go such a long way when you’re having those shitty days. I never used to have that to help me get through times when I was down. I didn’t have many options on how to get myself out of ruts. I was trying to learn some different things. So I would write, and it almost always was able to pull me temporarily out of where I was. Then, I’d receive so many notes, messages, and constant feedback from friends, family and people I don’t even know about how much I was helping them, and I was able to feel for a moment, a small sense of pride. Though, it never lasted. But, it was all part of the process I think of getting to where I am today.

When I would write to save myself, as you know it was a tremendous process for me. It was emotionally, and mentally exhausting. So I would often times have to work myself up for it. I would race home knowing I needed to get to my computer, and write. Be it at 6pm after work, or at 10:30pm after something else. I ‘d stay up as late as I needed to till I could finally take a deep breath, go on with half a smile, and go to sleep not fearing tomorrow might be the same dreadful day. I would look forward to connecting with people who had read my post. But, there aren’t days where I race home to write, or go to bed longing to see the comments on social media in the morning. Or, since I felt better, selfishly, again… I was good with just that, and no more. There aren’t nights I come home anymore, and feel like I am two feet tall, and to get back to height, I need to light up the incense and type.  Now, I am able to come home to my wife, and my two boys and I feel like everything is going to be fine, no matter how shitty the day may have gone. I just feel stronger, and they always light me up with smiles, and laughter.

Another reason… This may seem weird; especially for those who know me really well, but if I am not within my circle of comfort, and friends… I am very quiet, and humble. I’ve been referred to as a sponge in these circumstances, quiet and absorbing.   I don’t usually like to take much credit for things, I don’t like much to talk about my successes, if any, and I don’t care to make myself feel superior to others, or boast about perhaps having more, or something someone doesn’t. Like… happiness. I know how hard that can be when you’re struggling, and people kick you when you’re down, even if they don’t mean to. I’ve been there. I do not want to humiliate anyone, and I don’t want to toot my own horn, and brag that I have finally found some piece of joy.

So as much bravery, and strength as it took for me to start this blog a few years ago, after almost letting go.   I’ve seemingly come 180, and now am learning to find the bravery, and the strength to write about my life now that I am holding on, and things are okay. It’s a different take on things, but it’s amazing how when I felt so desperate, lost, and out of control. I created GoneAwayBoys to talk about how I felt just that, but now that I feel in control, and happy… I don’t want to talk about it all. I want to just go about my business. Quietly.

It’s a different bravery I feel I have to find now, but for whatever reason it almost seems harder now. I was out of options when this blog started. I had nothing left. I almost let go. Now, I just… feel like I have so much.

As long, painful and strenuous as this journey from complete depression to happiness has been, being able to finally say that I am okay has not been easy. As I’ve mentioned I believe there were three big events this year that allowed me to write this, but more than that it’s been all of the little things along the way. I have worked so hard on getting myself better, and have been so cognizant of it. I can honestly say though, as much as this blog has saved my life… without the comments, the messages, and the feedback that I have received from friends, and strangers I certainly would not be able to write to you today. Everyone that has even done so much as liked a post I wrote, you’ve made a difference in my life. You really have. You have helped get me here today.

Even a year ago… I could never imagine saying some of the things I have said in this entry, and I certainly never believed this one as much as I do now, and that I will leave with you.

… It does get better.

 

The Unfortunate World that has become Spring Hockey

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For the last eight years, I have spent the bulk of the fall and winter coaching minor hockey. From community bantam, minor midget aaa, to bantam aaa and finally midget aaa. I have been very lucky in my brief coaching career to have the opportunity to learn from some very strong hockey minds, and build some special relationships.

My first year coaching in Calgary, I was randomly paired up with this big fuzzy blue noser… 8 years later, Geoff would stand for me at my wedding as a groomsmen. We’ve coached a number of teams together, and still to this day coach every spring together.

Then, there was the two years I coached Minor Midget AAA and had a tone of success with who is now the best hidden gem of the hockey coaches community; Brent Osmond. To this day, of all the people I have spent time with. He’s one of the best coaches I have ever been around from his knowledge of the game, to his ability to get the most out of every single player, and still push them. Guys would go through walls for Brent. I admired that.

Then, I spent a summer working at the Okanagan Hockey School where I got to work alongside some very good coaches who have had long careers both playing and coaching professionally. From Mike Needham, Dixon Ward, Barry Smith and Mark Holick. Some of these guys I only even spent a week around, and still learned so much. It pays off to be a sponge I guess.

Then, I locked into the next four years coaching with Tyler Drader who gave me an opportunity to join some really special hockey teams, and coach some very, very talented players. I too, have learned so much from the years spent with Ty, always very patient, and fair when I sometimes was ready to fly off the handle, and write guys off, he was always the voice of reason…often was right. Certainly learned a lot about composure from Ty.

Each of those guys I mentioned above has shaped me not only as a person, but as a coach as well. They all had different strengths that I tried to absorb and mold into my coaching style. And while, I will be the first to admit that I am not the worlds best coach, or teacher by any stretch of the imagination, I do strongly believe that any quality of me as a coach can be directly traced back to my mentors above.

Now, with that all said… The last few years I have been immersed into spring hockey… for better, or worse. I’ve stuck with the 03 group the last few years, which at the time was a daunting challenge as 14 year olds was the youngest I’d ever coached, and I am horrible with kids, so coaching 10 year olds seemed like a terrible idea. But, I can honestly say I absolutely love every second of coaching with these kids. When we are on the ice together, or at the rink together. I don’t know if I’ve enjoyed coaching more. Part of it, I think is because of the group of core kids we’ve had the last couple years. They are such good kids, and most of them are want to learn, want to get better and willing to put in the work required.

Sure, we aren’t the best team around, I don’t know that we will ever win any major tournaments, and frankly… this might shock some of you to hear… I really don’t care if we ever win a “major” tournament with these now 12 year olds. That may sound appalling, and terrifying for some of you parents to hear. But, I really don’t care and here’s why.

Spring hockey has become a complete monster. A mess. I’ve always thought while coaching association hockey, boy, wouldn’t it be nice if there were no boundaries and we could pick whomever we want? Well.. That’s how spring works, and it’s a disaster. Granted, for me, the purpose of spring hockey is a bit different than that of association/winter hockey. The main goal is to of course, develop these players into fine young men, and athletes both on and off the ice. That’s a common theme in every sport, at every level. But, in winter, especially at elite levels, there’s more at stake. There really is, there’s scouts, and more scouts, agents, more agents and pretengents, then there are managers of teams, and coaches of teams from the next level, and then there are websites, and basement blogs with their meaningless opinions. However, there is still a pressuring desire to win, and there are true major, prestigious tournaments to win, that speak volumes about the kids that win them. I’m talking… Alberta Cup, John Reid Memorial, Western Canadian Bantam Championships, Sutter Cup, Macs Midget Tournament, Pacific Regionals, and perhaps the holy grail of minor hockey… Telus Cup. This may too also shock some of you spring hockey parents that I don’t have the Winnipeg Spring Tournament, or the Vancouver, or the Regina one in my list. Forgive me; I don’t even know the names of these tournies. But, these truly are not major tournaments.

All those people that relatively matter I mentioned above, you know… the scouts, coaches, managers, etc… They know each and every single kid that has won one of these prestigious tournaments. I could almost guarantee you that 98% of them… have no clue who won those spring tournaments; if… they even know that they exist. Sorry.

So, I guess what I am trying to say is that winning, and team success if far more of a premium in winter hockey, and far less of one in spring, or at least it should be.  But, the emphasis of spring has been misplaced with parents on the front lines of this movement. Whether the place the emphasis on winning as a result of fear, and intimidation from these spring groups, or the just simply have no clue. But, I’ve even had a parent tell me winter hockey is a waste of their time, they just wait for spring hockey. The 9-10 weeks of it. Also have had parents tell me that practices are useless, and they will only come to half of them, but all games. I kid you not. I’ve had multiple parents tell me both these things, and worse. It’s all ass-backwards.

In all my years of coaching AAA hockey, when we get to camp and get these long lists of registrants, and players that are trying out for our team. These sheets include most of the following information.

  • Name
  • Position
  • Previous Team

That’s it… and previous team is their previous winter team. No place, nowhere is there mention of their spring team, how many points they had, or what tournament they won in June. And trust me, no coach knows, or cares if he played spring hockey on a bronze team, a super elite team or didn’t play at all, perhaps he played baseball. They care only about 1 thing… Can this kid play?

Unfortunately, throughout the levels of spring hockey, many parent’s have concerned themselves with one thing, and one thing only when deciding where to play. Best team. Regardless of what team little Jonny wants to play in, or where his friends are, or what coach he likes best… Dad wants them to play on the best team. Why?… He’ll tell you cause his kid will get better playing on the best team. When truth is, kids going to eventually end up not having a tonne of fun sitting on the bench, or going through the pressures of being this super super team for the ten week spring season, so the kid eventually ends up losing his fire for hockey, and worst case… they quit at ten years old, which is beginning to happen.   Heartbreaking. All the while, these kids are quitting, other families are scared to leave these super duper teams because for some reason they feel their son will be later blacklisted from what… I have no idea.

In fact, just recently… had a family quit my spring team in favor of another supposed “elite” team out of another province. After they screwed us around a few times, trying to play on both teams. They ultimately decided to join the super elite team, we had recently just beat… when I asked why? … They had signed a contract that made them commit to their team, and their team only. Yes. They were forbidden to play for any other team, or miss practices of this super team. So I asked what would happen… Are you going to get sued, or go to jail if you play with us instead and miss their practice?

“…No, I just am not ready to burn any bridges with them yet”

… Don’t want to burn any bridges with a team based out of another province, coached by some random group of guys? …Ok. Wasn’t a fight worth fighting.

Three months later, I reluctantly declined to coach the winter team that player would be trying out for.   Talk about burning bridges. Yikes. Close one. Maybe the kid learned more with these other guys, or had more fun. In which case… Fair enough. Fine with me. Fortunately, if the kids good enough, I’d take the kid, regardless. Coaches can’t hold grudges, and should never blackmail parents. Gives you an idea of how some of these parents think, and the games some of these coaches, and programs play. Who the hell makes an 11 year old sign a contract.

I don’t understand why the parents do this. It’s like holding their kids hostage, if they don’t want to play there… don’t make them play there. Just so mom and dad can hold their nose up in the air, and show off their nice pretty jackets… who cares? That jacket won’t fit soon anyway, and your kid is no longer having fun with hockey, so he’s not learning, not getting any better… and anytime now will fall behind every one else as a result. Or, worst case… He quits this great game. Good job Dad.   But hey… you have the swag still.

I wanted to keep this short, but I got fired right up the last few paragraphs. My point is here folks, see spring hockey for what is, a place to develop, stay on your skates and get prepared for the next level until he gets to bantam and there’s no longer the need for spring. It’s not about winning, sure, winning is great. Who doesn’t love it, but the more important thing in my mind about spring hockey, is simply getting better and each kid has different things that make him tick, and help him develop. The one common theme amongst all of that is; having fun. If kids are having fun, they are learning, developing and in the right environment… plus, they’ll love the game, which makes coming to the rink every day fun.

When I was this age, there were two options for playing spring hockey. If you were a phenom from Edmonton area, you played NAA. If you were a phenom from the Calgary area, you played Foothills. If you were neither, which was majority of us were. You rode your bike around in the spring, played baseball, roller hockey and road hockey. Good enough. Now, there are 15-20 teams just per age group, per freaking city! It’s crazy. Which, has of course led to this crisis and disaster. So with there being that many teams, of course parents unfortunately have to make decisions.

I can’t speak to the decision making process of which team your 8 year old plays on… Frankly, it should be a baseball team somewhere else… but when it comes to these 03s, who next spring will be beginning their transition into contact hockey the following fall. It’s a very important year; don’t just put your team on Team X because you believe it’s a better team. Isn’t what spring hockey should be about, nor does the best team automatically make for the best route for your son.

Please, for the love of God, hockey and your kid’s passion…

Let him find a team he enjoys being around, regardless of the prowess of his fellow winger.

Let him find the coach he feels he can learn from the best.

Let him find the practices that he feels challenged in, and gets into your vehicle after every skate and talks about how fun it was the whole way home.

Let him be apart of the solution for the “weaker” team, and let him challenge himself instead of teaching him that you can just float by and win meaningless tournaments with your nose in the air. I miss the important lesson here.

Let him play with his friends, maybe!!!

….And for effsakes… why not let him display some maturity, accountability and make the decision on his own. Unless he chooses the team of delinqieunts, let the kid play where he wants to play. Not where you think there are better players. It will backfire, if that’s your only reason. If you meet all the criteria above, and it leads Timmy back to the snob team… then, that’s where you go and I am happy for you. It will work for some. Not all.

I’m sure you’re probably all thinking I wrote this as a recruiting ploy for my own team, and that was not the case. In fact, it’s quite a sad story why I decided I had to write this. Recently, I have heard of a number of these young kids, who are great players, quitting our game at such a young age, and to be honest… It crushed me. Some of them just decided to give up spring hockey altogether, while others just quit the game entirely. It honest to God, broke my heart when I heard this. It really did. It’s absolutely criminal. Hockey is such a damn fine game, and can provide so much for these guys in a lifetime, even if they end up playing beer league with their coaches in fifteen years. Hockey will teach them so much, just let the kids play, and let them have fun doing so. They’ll learn, and this is where they will develop into good men.

Being only ever involved in winter hockey, it took me till spring hockey to realize this, but… winning really is not what it’s about. It’s about developing good people, and athletes, and hey… if you catch a banner, or a trophy along the way. All the power to you… Just do it when people are watching, and people watch middle of September –first week of April.

Good luck to all the kids at training camp in whatever league, or level they are in!

Have a great year!

Grocery Store Wars – At My Most Chill

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What a summer this has been. Easily, without a doubt this has been the best summer of my life. For the first time, in possibly… ever, I felt and feel complete contentment. Lake Havasu & Phoenix kicked off the summer, with all of my best friends, and my new father in law.   Then, there was the big event. Marrying my best friend, and for the first time in my life, realizing a childhood dream come true. No, my dream was not to just get married. But, since I was 12 years old, and met Amanda… I wanted her to be my wife. What kid thinks of that? I have no idea… but I did, and July 25th, a dream came true for me. I get to officially call her my wife. It still seems so surreal, that this has all happened. But, maybe that’s what it feels like when your dreams come true.

The single greatest day of my life.

Last weekend, we took off to the Okanagan with two of my best friends, and their girls. There aren’t many things better than being in the OK to begin with… then add to that a couple days of winery after winery. Amazing.

Today, I finally had a chance to take a deep breath, and relax with zero plans. EXCEPT! Go grocery shopping. Which brings us together today. Now to most people… This probably seems like an arduous and miserable task, and for me majority of the time it is. I hate going to Costco, I hate going to Safeway, I despise walking into a Superstore and Co-op doesn’t do much for me either.

Safeway, I can’t stand the lighting, and their colors. Completely brutal. You’d have to pay me $200 an hour to wear that sand brown dress shirt with that apron. Then, there is their overpriced…everything. But, we’re going to keep cost out of this today. We talkin’ grocery store intangibles.

Let’s move to Costco… Don’t get me wrong, Costco is great, products incredible, even moreso if you’re buying for a colony, the quantity in which product is packed is something else. I can think of a few pals that thought buying condoms at Costco would last them a summer… This was 2006; pretty sure the box hasn’t seen much of a dent. Should have gone to 7-11 for those.

Costco would be so much more enjoyable, if I could just rent it for an hour and shop solely by myself, and ensure all the food sample people are going, and every time I turn the corner to another red stand with a conventional over, that bagel bite is fresh out of the oven. Too many times I go to Costco, see a lady cooking up chicken wings, fight through all the shopping carts and grapefruit stands to get to these honey garlic wings, and… Well shit, she just threw them in. Come on. Off to the next one… Oh, nope. Some eight year old shorter than the red-aproned stand came in and swiped the rest of the Dixie cups. Bastard. Though, I can’t get mad. That used to be me. I get it. Today, I’ll just fucking starve kid. You prick. Then, once my cart is filled to the brim, and overflowing with cat litter, dog food, cat food, and beef jerky…. I must find the magic lineup. Well, all these lineups are at least 45 carts long. Whatever. Pick this one. I’ll be back. Going piss, and to get a hot dog with fries. Speaking of fries… they don’t even label what jar is salt and pepper! I put fucking hot cocoa powder all over my fries last time. WHO THE HELL HAS HOT COCOA MIXED IN WITH THE KETCHUP, MUSTARD AND SHIT. ABSOLUTELY UNBELIEVABLE. Thanks for the cocoa fries. How hard is it to put, S, P and Cocoa Dust on the shakers. I hate you Costco, and all the people that crowd up the vegetable aisle, and just leave their carts in the middle of the road. Costco seriously needs aisle lights, or you need to have a license to operate a cart there. UGH.

Ok. Well that got ugly… What do we have left? Superstore? Well… I trust you’ve been to a superstore, so I won’t even dignify it with detailed conversation. I feel like I am buying my groceries from a third or fourth hand consignment store when I am there.

That brings us to Co-op… You know what, I shouldn’t be that hard on Co-op. The meats are great there, and I think it’s marginally better priced than Safeway. Again, the colors, and the ambiance doesn’t necessarily thrill me, but neither does it being me to a sixty minute violent stomach flu like Safeyway does. Co-Op loses on poor stigma. It brings me back to the hideous co-op in Vegreville that my mom used to torment me to go with her to. Good grief, I hated that place. So Co-Op… Sorry, you never even had a chance.

Alright. The moment we’ve all been waiting for. Save on Foods. Now, previous to moving to Mahogany in SE Calgary, never even really thought about SOF. I don’t think one existed in Calgary at the time. I recall visiting one in Edmonton, but it was just another grocery store, and I was possibly to young to appreciate it. Or, Mom wouldn’t let me buy the damn peach YOP so I hated it. Well, we moved to SE Calgary almost two years ago. In my hunt of nearby amenities, and resources I found a Save on Foods in Seton. Hmm. Never been let’s try it.

Right off the bat, we hit it off. The building was beautiful, the area looks like some modern day space shuttle take off thingy kind of place, with sick lights in the evening that change color. Then there is the parking; this is where the other places generally blow it right off the bat. Costco…they might as well have a C Train that drops you off at the lady pretending to check your Costco card. SOF… Parking everywhere! Never once an issue. After you park, what’s next… Carts. Well, Don’t need to worry about if I have a loonie, or a quarter on me. I’m just going to grab a nice green cart. Meanwhile, at Safeway, never know if you’re going to need a penny, or a red bill to unlock one of those. I have NEVER understood that concept. The carts at SOF, they are always mint. Wheels work, never dirty, never garbage in them from the previous operator. Safeway… Complete shit. I’ll compare SOF Carts to a brand new Ford, while the Safeway carts are more like a 76’ Chevette. Costco carts… Well, that’s a 15 man econoline van. Good luck.

Now that we’ve parked, and we’ve grabbed our luxurious carts, lets indulge into what has become one of most relaxing, enjoyable experiences of my life. Perhaps this has come with age, and marriage. But, I honest to gracious enjoy very few things more than I do that going to Save On Foods in the late morning of a weekend. I actually look forward to it. Like a kid on Christmas Eve. Perhaps, It’s so enjoyable because it’s often just quiet, me time. But, the store facilitates all the things that I need to just… detox myself of everything poor in my life for ninety minutes, and that’s exactly what it does. It’s strange, and your judging me… I know. But, I am at my utmost chill at Save on Foods at 11:00am Saturday. I’ve always felt like this going there, but I’ve never really acknowledged it, or thought about it till today. Why in the fuck does this place completely wipe me clean, and mellow me out like some kind of hippie lost in the forest of Vancouver Island. It’s just so chill.

Some of the things I mentioned I hated at SOF competitors.

  1. Colors. Everything is bright and pleasant at SOF, the uniforms are a bright green with white. The lighting is incredible; it’s the right amount of illumination, without being blinded, or feeling like you’re entering the dungeons of Safeway.
  1. The staff. They are not overbearing, and they are not everywhere. However, they are always doing their jobs, easy to find, and willing to assist you if you need.
  1. The Sounds. I go to a pub, and I couldn’t tell you three hours later the kind of music they played, maybe because I wasn’t listening for it, or possibly it was too quiet. Either way. It’s rarely atop of mind. At SOF, the music there is always great. They play music that’s well known, but not overplayed. They play music from various eras, so guaranteed every single person in there will enjoy at least three songs while enduring a shopping trip. They play it at the right volume. It’s loud enough to drown out any possibly painful conversation around, and just perfect enough for you to enjoy the song. It’s quiet enough you can hear yourself think enough to choose what hot sauce you want, and you can hear the man at frozen meat counter ask “is that all”.
  1. The People. I mentioned the staff; phenomenal. But, for some reason the other people there seem to be in the same state as my, shopping for peeled shrimp, completely relaxed. They too, are quiet, relaxed it seems, and hardly annoying, or difficult. I often wonder if SOF has a 21+ rule or something, because never see any hoodlums, or screaming kids in there. Nothing annoys me more than humans, and I’ve never once been irritated by people at SOF.
  1. Space. The aisles are gifted with enough width, and length that never seems overcrowded, or busy there. There is just the right amount of aisles, they are lableled, and organized enough, you’re always able to find even the most obscure things the wife puts on the list… like dry Swiffer pads.
  1. Cleanliness. I remember working my first ever job at Extra Foods in Vegreville, and I hated it. We’d spend hours a week just bringing boxes of rice a roni to the front of the shelf. I always thought this was trivial, absurd and painful. But… Now, as I enter the shoes of a consumer, it’s extremely helpful and I totally get it. Save on Foods must have 24-7 invincible robots doing this, because the shelves NEVER appear empty. EVER. Very organized, and very clean. All of the time. Most grocery stores I feel like after I touch something I need to douse myself in sanitizer, not here.   Then, there is the floor… Superstore gets an F in this regard, SOF get’s another A+, the floors are always glistening. Literally, glistening. I don’t understand how they do it.
  1. The sausage selection at the meat counter. Incredible variety. Chipotle. Maple. Jalapeno. Lime. Ginger. Spinach & Feta. Italian. Texas. Smoked… On and On…

I could honestly go on and on about the 31 wonders of this facility, but I will end up writing six pages on grocery stores. OH ya!

  1. Rarely ever a lineup, and always the right amount of tills opened.

I’m sure you’re thinking I am completely wacked, or maybe have even lost my mind in my two weeks of marriage, but this is the honest to God truth. I freaking love Save on Foods. It’s magical for me. Like Disneyland for you, it’s a place of pure, complete relaxation for me. A place to getaway.

…. And I don’t even cook, clean or use half the shit I buy.

McDavid is an Oiler, and it’s good. Get over it.

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Settle down.  McDavid is going to be an Oiler.  Get over it.

I get it, the Oilers don’t deserve him. They’ve been so bad, and such a mess for so many years, and they’ve just been handed a get out of jail free card.  All of it, their own doing.  They’ve had four #1 overall picks in six years.  I get it.  They don’t deserve to have Connor, I agree with you.

But… Let’s rewind a few months here.  You want to talk about McDavid going somewhere deserving.  Well, Outside of Edmonton… the greater possibilities were Buffalo, Arizona, Toronto.  Can you really tell me those teams are “worthy” of the kid, equally or more-so than Edmonton?  Not a chance.

Buffalo traded both of their starting goalies, for no reason other than they were keeping them in hockey games.  They had fans show up to their games, and celebrate when they were scored against.  They did everything they possibly could to secure the highest percentage.  If my memory serves me correctly, I recall an interview with Connor in the fall, and he’d been asked about his thoughts on teams tanking for him… his response, those are the teams he wouldn’t want to play for.  No kidding.  So… We can cross Buffalo off that list of teams deserving.  Not to mention they have ultra-douchebag Evander on their team.   The Jets didnt wan’t Kane anywhere near their pool of rich prospects coming… So why would we want McDavid with that guy?

Then we get to the landscapes of the city… Yea… Ok,  Edmonton is far from Carolina, or Scottsdale. I get that… I’m from there.  It ain’t the prettiest, or warmest place I’ve been either.  But… something about that city, helluva lot character.  I rip on Edmonton lots, being from the area.  But, I have a lot of pride in coming from there.  When people ask, ya I live in Calgary but I’m from Edmonton.  It’s a shithole, I know… but there’s something about that shithole.  But… Tell me Buffalo is more of an attractive city than Edmonton?   No…. it’s not.

Arizona, well… my first few comments on them are same as they were above.  Did all they could to secure that extra few percent, and had their own fans, the very few of them celebrate defeat.  If I recall, Maloney even made some stupid comment “tanking” and attempting to justify it.  Aside from the obvious tanking down the stretch, or down the last forty games.  Do we really want a potential player of Crosby calibre to end up in Arizona?  Come on…  The teams a disaster, no one goes to games, I’m not sure they even have a fan base…  I’m sure McDavid would fill a few seats.  But, the team is equally as much of a mess as the oilers are off the ice, just for different reasons.  So… McDavid helps keep a team in Phoenix relevant for another few years.  No… Cut your losses, and move to Seattle.  Also… They are the most boring team in the league.  They have the worst uniforms in sports.  They don’t even deserve to exist in the Arizona, so how the hell do they deserve a saviour?

Toronto…  I’m not even going to bother justifying why this train wreck is not worthy of the second coming of “the kid”

Carolina… I want to watch McDavid.  Other then when Carolina plays Toronto on Saturday.  When was the last time you watched the Hurricanes?

Fact is… None of these teams deserve 97.  That’s why they are in this position, and that highlights the flaws of the NHL Lottery System.  Tanking, and total incompetence is rewarded.  Which, is why a few months ago, I wrote why the NHL needed to change their lottery system, and despite being an Oiler fan with a massive… ahhh ummm…  for the next few years, I still think this system needs to be altered.  But, if we are going to sit here and try to justify which teams deserve Connor McDavid, and which don’t…  Fact is, the teams that “deserve” him are all playing hockey right now.  Detroit deserves him.  They’re made the playoffs how many straight decades?  They develop players like no other team, and draft as good as anyone in sports.  They deserve McDavid. But guess what…  They are ineligible, playing in the playoffs.  So… No team has a chance at him, that would “deserve” him, so don’t tell me there are other lottery teams that are more or less deserving of this player than any other team.


But… Here’s some things to consider before the envious hockey fan snaps again about how McDavid is going to be destroyed, and the Oilers don’t deserve even a pinecone, let alone a generational player.

  1. Rewind to when AZ and Buff started tanking… what did the Oilers do?  The complete opposite.  If you actually watched them, majority of those games… Looked like they were doing all they could to get the hell out of the double digit percentile.  They put in some real good efforts down the stretch.  Just ask the Flame, and Canuck fans.  Remember the day they helped you clinch by beating LA?  Those two are now beating the wheels off each other in what’s been a great series.  Some thanks to Oil. Would have been real easy for them fold the tents, like in years past, and like the Sabres & Yotes.  Bet you the Boston Bruins wished Edmonton was playing Pittsburgh last week, instead of Buffalo.
  2. The Fans.  Come on.  There has not been a more dedicated, loyal, passionate and true fan base that has stuck with their team throughout so many years of complete crap.  If nothing else, the fans deserve the kid. For the most part, Oil fans get it. They aren’t ignorant, and delusional like Canucks fan. They don’t pretend to be some kind of thug warrior like the Van crowd does.  They exist a helluva lot more than Phx… and, well, Buffalo fans taped a Coyote logo of the Sabre logo of their own jersey… so… you tell me.  They aren’t seasonal fans.  They almost foolishly are optimistic and excited for every season.   Didn’t matter who the Oil played, what the weather was, how bad they were doing… People still went to games, and supported them.   If they weren’t at the games, they were at pubs watching them, or at home.  Guaranteed.  Cause I was one of them.  Knowing the Flames will thump the Oilers, it will be a complete snoozer… but I couldn’t wait to watch anyway.
  3. Crosby is in the east, OV is in the east, Stamkos is in the east.  Why not have him in the West?
  4. The team is young, and potential remains through the ceiling…  I keep reading how McDavid’s career is going to be ruined now that he’s an Oiler. Sure, some of the development of their young players has seemingly stalled, or is painfully slow. But… can someone please tell me, which Oiler has had their young career ruined?  Is it any of the three that are off playing for Team Canada right now?  If you watched any of the last 25 games, surely Yakupov is a new player with a real coach, and is on the right track.  So I sure wouldn’t say he’s been ruined… and what Ryan Murray doing anyways?  Can’t be Marincin… I mean wasn’t he playing at the Olympics not long ago? Klefbom?  Again… If you watched last 25 games.  The goalies? Ok…. You might have a case… but don’t believe any of their goalies really had much of a career prior to?   Give your head a shake if you’re the Munson saying his career is already ruined, or is going to be ruined because he’s an Oiler.  I can’t think of one player that the Oilers have completely ruined, so to say McDavid is next in line. You’re an idiot. Plain & Simple.
  5. Monahan, Bennett, Gaudreau vs. McDavid, Nuge, Eberle… Come on!
  6. Canada.  We always hope for these Canadian teams to get into playoffs, we were all so happy to see 5 of 7 get in… well, McDavid going to Buffalo, or Arizona certainly doesn’t help our odds.
  7. They need him more.  I think the Sabres, and Yotes will still find their way and be competitive teams again.  I don’t know if the Oilers would have.  Now we have a bit of hope.  So if they don’t “deserve” him… they damn well need him.
  8. As an Oiler fan… I truly believe this will shape the team up. I think his arrival is going to give a new sense of life to these players, it’s going to make them work a little bit harder. They are going to be better for it. Remember, great players make other players better. That’s the difference from a good player, and a great player.   To say, that guys like Hall, Yak are going to pissed off that McDavid is going to come in and steal their thunder. No. These guys are hockey players,  not selfish prima donna NBA players. I bet you the only people more excited than the rest of “Oiler Nation” … is the Oilers.
  9. Finally, unless you are a psychologist… you can’t tell me how devastated, frustrated, or upset Connor was in his interviews knowing he was an Oiler.  The kids extremely mature, very well spoken and composed.  What were you expecting?  Him to jump around like a baboon? No.  His reaction I can assure you would have been no different if he was an Oiler, Sabre…etc.

So… Connor is an Oiler dumb luck. No need to hate on the 18 year old kid.   Wish him well, and hope the Oilers can get straight with his arrival.  Better for the game.

Get over it.

What Makes You Happy?

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What Makes You Happy

 

I haven’t written in a long time, part of me felt like it was maybe because I’ve been doing better. I haven’t been feeling as depressed. My life had seemingly come together, even if just the slightest. I always told myself that when hockey ended, I was going to become an author, a literary wizard; I was going to write every day now that I had a bit more time. Well, hockey’s been over for about six weeks, and I am just starting to write at 10:56PM Easter Sunday.

Sure, I’ve been busy with things in the meantime, but if anyone knows me, busy, is not an excuse. If you want something bad enough, you’ll find the means to do it. Busy doesn’t exist in my world. It’s not because I don’t ever do anything, in fact, that’s probably quite the opposite. I probably have more going on than most folk. Actually, I could almost guarantee that. I just don’t feel the need to let everyone know how I preoccupied I am. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way. It makes me sick when people say they are too busy.

Why? I remember years ago, my sister tried to chat with me through Facebook, through simple Internet chat… and, I recall looking at the messages, the message read something along the lines of hey, call me when you got some time, want to know how college is going. I looked at it, thought, meh; I’ll call her later… I am busy. I never called her. And, I don’t know if I ever talked to her again. She committed suicide a couple of months after, and I’ve never been too busy since.   So when people tell me, they are too busy. It doesn’t sit well. At all.

So, to say that I haven’t been writing, because I have been doing well, or because I have been doing poorly… I don’t even know the answer. Sometimes life has a tendency to just happen, and just leave me trapped in the motions that I just can’t comprehend the appropriate emotions, and feelings.

I know that writing provides me with the single most joyous experiences of my life. So, you would think it’s easier to do so. But… for some reason, it’s been getting more difficult, and for the first time, I feel like my writing is actually good. In the past, all I did was write about how I felt. That’s it. There was no scientific method to it; there was no English specialty behind it. Simply, just how I felt. I have such a difficult time re-reading my pieces, for a variety of reasons… mainly because I feel such a huge disconnect with the person who wrote that very piece, but also because… I think it’s shit. I looked earlier, and I have posted 47 entries to GAB. This being 48. I can honestly say that 1 was of quality, Your Move Chief. So, as much gratification as writing brings me… I don’t know if it’s from the actual writing, or the feedback. As pathetic as this may be, I seek so much approval, and accreditation, from… whomever, predominantly from my mom, and from my fiancé…. It’s pathetic, if I don’t hear anything within a day or so, I am texting those two asking what they thought… It drives me crazy that I do this. But… I do. And, I can probably recap every single compliment, or piece of positive feedback I have received from my blog. There is truly nothing, and I mean NOTHING more gratifying than when I hear about people who have read my blog, and find comfort from reading. Whether, I know them or not. I spend so much time wanting to write, then I spend such little time actually writing, and I conclude with spending even more time looking for approval on my writing. From, my family… my fiancé… my best friends… my friends… strangers… When, I receive this, it’s pure happiness. Joy. Elation. You know that feeling where you just can’t wipe that smile off your face. This is the only time I’ll feel it. So you’d think I’d write more, with this being the case. But, truth is… I think I have become a bit scared. My unrelenting life standards have once again trapped me with failure. Where, I need simple accolades. However, that’s slowed down significantly. I don’t know if it’s because my writing has gotten stale, or the content has. Or maybe, I am just without the random viewers from Europe. Or, perhaps, the people who have already graciously patted my back don’t feel like they need to tell me good job every single fucking time. Though they shouldn’t. However, I feel like, unless I get that… I am failing. I want to know what every single person thinks of my writing, even if they think it’s complete crap. I just want to know… because; I think it is too, I can’t even find myself appreciative, and satisfied with my own work.

So, in getting to the point of this entry… the great folks at Mind Your Mind proposed the question, what makes you happy? I thought about it for a long, long time. There are so many things that I enjoy, so many. But, to label them as something that makes me completely happy would likely be false. I think at any point, doing makes me happy. Regardless, of what it is that I am doing. I think sometimes you can find temporary joy in that, and I do. But, I tried to really think of something that makes me truly happy. True joy. I almost couldn’t think of anything, till I thought about writing, then I thought about all of the positive feedback I have received over the two years, and the people I have been able to help, if even just to help them temporarily. This has brought me pure joy, and continues to do so. It’s the only thing that allows me to feel self-pride, and self worth. Regardless, of the success I have at work, or in coaching sports, or my daily life even. I always seem to be stuck wanting more, and eventually get a place where good just isn’t good enough. But, with writing, that’s different. Even, if I receive two notes about my latest post, to me it was a success, and it provides that feeling. That feeling where I can’t stop but smiling, even if it’s a random stranger at an arena that says, “hey, you’re the guy that writes that mental health blog” … Yes, I guess so. These are the things that keep me ticking, and continue to remind me just what it is to feel joy, and to feel good.

You just hope that somehow you can find a way to enjoy, accept and appreciate your own bravery and work. Sometimes there is just far too much pressure on writing purely for the audience, and hoping to help them find joy, and hope. I need to find my own first.

Rest easy, and rest happily Max. I hope you can still find some time to read my blog, and I hope that you’ve found true joy.   I know you and Jen are hanging out as we speak. Listening to music, watching over us, and laughing at us.

2015 McEichel Cup – Getting Past the Tanks

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I absolutely love hockey, I always have. I have been following the NHL for as long as I can remember, and as an Oiler fan, I am completely fed up with losing, and disgusted in the losing culture that surrounds that team, and some of the fan base. But, in all my time being an Oiler fan, and going through these miserable last few years. I don’t recall them really ever blatantly throwing the season to get their first overall pick. They just were… bad. Or, maybe it’s cause at the end of the line, there wasn’t a Crosby, a Toews, an Ovechkin or a Malkin; a generational player, or maybe it was because there was no worry about the Oilers as a business. Fans were going to keep coming no matter what. Not so much in Glendale, or Buffalo.   Or, maybe they see that McDavid seems to be averaging five points a night in the OHL lately, or a Eichel who is far the best player in a league composed of men.   Whatever the motive, the reward; the possibilities of landing either of these two young men is far outlands finishing the season with a little pride. So, starting goalies, out the door you go, you’re holding us in it too much. Top defenseman, centerman, go, go go!!! We can’t have you. So, the rest of the season lands on the shoulders of young kids who aren’t anywhere near ready, or older guys who probably are falling off the give a shit meter. So, these teams, and the NHL promote losing, help facilitate a losing culture, and then on the notice of 2015 training camp, players are expected to return hungry, motivated, disciplined and doing all they can to promote a culture of success, and winning. After the ownership basically just robbed them of any opportunity to do that just six months ago.

The NHL needs to change this. I can’t imagine it does any good for the players that are left on these teams that are picked over more than a hallmark after valentines. Especially the young guys that are on these teams, their limited NHL experience is that of a losing one, and where losing is totally fine, and completely acceptable., and just ask Sam Gagner… all of those sudden you’re half a decade into your career, and all you know how to do is lose and eventually you’re going to just become okay with that. Take a look at the successful teams in the NHL, they all have young players on the rosters that they’ve drafted, wherever, developed and have since insulated around great players.   Detroit, Tampa Bay, Los Angeles, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Nashville, Rangers… You go through the standings of the league, and you can name two young impactful players on that team, but then you can find two older, more experienced impactful players that are insulating those guys.   Probably almost every team except the Oilers, even the Coyotes and Sabres up until the last 12 weeks. Till they traded all of the decent, older players they could, and now the team is expected to fail miserably, all on the shoulders of these young players. Great way to develop your future. How about the older guys that have worked their bags off, dream of one day winning a Stanley cup and now they find themselves on a team that’s been set up to fail, and that will be a defining success.   After seeing the Coyotes trade away most of their valuable roster assets, and the Sabres doing the same, hell the sabres traded both their starting goalies cause they were keeping them in games! Now, it will be a race to see who can free-fall further, and the media loves it.   It’s become a competition, one where the lamest efforts will be rewarded. It’s sickening, and it’s unfortunate that this is the case. I can’t imagine this is a productive environment for the players on these rosters, or the people paying to be fans of these teams, or the kids in the area that are growing up watching, idolizing these teams. Intentionally failing does not get rewarded in any world outside of the NHL, at least that I know of anyways. But, these kids are being taught that maybe it’s ok. And losing is OK, but doing so intentionally is not OK. Players make the NHL because they worked harder than every one of their peers. Now, they’re being handcuffed by their bosses and isolated in an environment with virtually no chance of success. I truly believe there has to be a better way around this. I agree that the lowliest team should be in the running for the top draft picks at the conclusion of the season, but there has to be a better way to reward a team with McEichel then the team that tanked faster, and harder. I can’t in any way relate to Connor, or Jack… but if I were them, I don’t know that I would have any interested in going to play for Buffalo and, or Phoenix after this. The 20 guys on their roster were just handcuffed, and lost 17 of 20 games so they could get you. Awkward? Probably. Not to mention the losing culture you’re throwing these kids into.

So, with all of that, here is my proposal to get around this free for all.


McEichel Cup

28th Edmonton Oilers

29th Arizona Coyotes

30th Buffalo Sabres

 

  • These three teams will enter a mini series that will take place following the conclusion of the NHL season.
  • The highest seeded team will host the series.
  • Each team will play each other once, both being H and A away once.
  • The highest seeded team based on record, then head to head result, plus/minus will then be rewarded the #1 overall puck
  • The second seeded team will then be rewarded the #2 overall pick
  • The third seeded team will the be rewarded the #3 overall pick
  • The rest of the teams outside of these three, will then resume with the regular NHL draft lottery, with the top available draft pick being #4 overall.

Mock Results

Day 1 – Edmonton (4) Vs Buffalo (3)

Day 2 – Arizona (1) @ Buffalo (3)

Day 3 – Edmonton (2) @ Arizona (0)

Team W L PTS GF GA +/-
Oilers 2 0 4 6 3 3
Sabres 1 1 2 6 5 1
Coyotes 0 2 0 1 5 -4

So, with this… The Edmonton Oilers are winners of the McEichel Cup, and will be rewarded the #1 overall pick. The Buffalo Sabres finish second, as the defeat the Coyotes so they receive the #2 overall pick, and the Coyotes will pick #3 overall. Carolina Hurricanes will lead the lottery percentages for 4th overall.

So with this… I wonder if the Coyotes are so quick to trade up some of their star players, or if the Sabres are so quick to put their starting goalies on the first plane out of town. If these two teams were so motivated to move these assets, then I bet it yields them a much higher return than a goalie that just has a pulse, or a few late round picks. Instead of these teams doing all that they can to subtly lose, and see that culture take over. They motivated to win. All of the guys probably want McDavid in their room next year, but probably not at the expense of their own season. So, let’s have a tournament, where the winners get McDavid and Eichel. Not the biggest losers. Someone has to finish 28th, 29th and 30th in the league. But, it shouldn’t be a formula 1 race to get there. It causes too much damage along the way. Aside from changing the notion of lose for big reward to win for reward, what’s wrong with a little added revenue from ticket sales, TV contracts, etc. You can’t tell me the media wouldn’t eat this up! Are you kidding… McEichel cup right before the playoffs, what a great way to kick off the post season, and you know what… adds a little consolation to the Shane Doans of the world after the miserable season he just stuck through. Sure, he might not be around to play much with McDavid, but you can say he had a big part in Connor being there, and that would be a good thing.   Three days is all we need. Give everyone the Sunday off after the season ends, allows for travel for these three teams, and then on the Monday, McEichel Cup starts. It’s done Wednesday, playoffs fire up Thursday. As a fan, I would love to have this take up some of that filler time leading up to playoffs, wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t it be exciting watching this. It would be the most meaningful hockey the Oilers have played in half a decade, and the most the Coyotes and Sabres have played in some time. I’m sure initially there would be some pushback from teams, that they’ve played 82 games, guys are hurt, etc, etc… Well, That’s great. This is part of your losing culture. They are 16 other teams that prepared to play another 28 games with whomever is healthy enough to tie their skates, all to accomplish a childhood dread. You can play two more games.

Right away, we’ve eliminated the losing cultures, the tanking, and the circus that has followed. Games are still fun for the guys on these teams, the end of the season is fun, there is something to look forward to at the end of the year. Not just wishing for that last regular season game to come quicker. Something to play for, I bet Brian Gionta and Shane Doan wouldn’t mind this. Alternatively, I bet the Sabres probably don’t have as many off-ice issues with guys. Maybe Zadorov shows up on time cause there is still some meaning left in the season. Still some winning and competing to be done.

I almost puked when I read a quote from Don Maloney last week that justified his team’s horrible season, and their transactions. “Least there is a big reward for us at the end of the year” It shouldn’t just be there. In life, you don’t make it anywhere if you aren’t willing to work hard. You don’t make it by throwing in the towel. The NHL and the draft should be no different.

My Beautiful Girl

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I wanted to post this yesterday but didn’t have a chance.  Also likely going to take some real flak from the boys for posting this; soft! So I was probably delaying that a little bit too!

Keeping things with Valentines Day, and in a week or so will be the 11 year anniversary since I asked Amanda to go out with me. Thankfully, she said yes.  We’d be 12 years but she said no the year before!

Anyway, I wrote this letter for her a couple weeks back when I was heading home from Hawaii without her.


It hasn’t been more than thirty minutes since I last looked back, and waved goodbye. I finished my tour of anxiety through security, looked back to you, and waved. You immediately waved back. I could see the excitement in you that I had looked back to see you one last time. I made my way up the escalator, and I hoped I’d see you once more; I didn’t want to lose sight of you.  You must have left, and then it hit me. You were gone, and I was going the other way. We were apart. In most worlds, and most relationships, I think people look forward to four days of alone time, and there isn’t likely to be a person who loves their alone time more than me. But this time… it hurt me. I don’t know why. I think every time I am not by your side, I am so afraid that it’s the last time I will see you. The last time I will see happiness. I think one of the things that people go through when they suffer from depression is, though they may have moments of happiness, and elation… It doesn’t always last, and when it’s gone, it’s heart sinking because you always feel like that may be the last time you’ll feel that joy again. That’s how I am every time

You have this weird way of allowing me to be happy, to have fun, and to feel like everything is going to be just fine. Even if in the moment, it doesn’t seem like it will be. I used to always be so hard on myself, expect so much of myself, that it was nearly impossible for me to ever find happiness. I blamed myself for every little thing that went wrong, things I couldn’t even control; I found a way to make it my fault. I lost all sense of hope, peace and completely lost all hope of happiness. I can remember that time I was really at rock bottom and you went miles above your call of duty to ensure I was ok. After talking to the psychiatrist about how I was feeling, I remember her coming back into the room. I was ready for her to tell me I needed to be locked up, or kept overnight because I was crazy, or something was wrong with me. She didn’t say the former, or the latter. She just said, I think he is just very, very sad. She could not have been more correct. There was no need for this significant diagnosis, exams, or medications. I wasn’t going to hurt myself, or hurt anyone. I didn’t want too. I was just simply, or complicated-ly…sad.   At the time, I never thought I could lean on you the way I have learned how to now. I didn’t want to hurt you, let you down, or feel vulnerable. I was afraid of that. I thought I could deal with my despair independently. This led me down a path I wish to never return. Using alcohol as a crutch. I’d drink, and drink, drink some more and continually party. I knew that this wasn’t making me any less sad, or any happier. It was temporary relief, where I would simply forget my sadness for an evening, only to awake to a stronger never-ending mountain of grief. This wasn’t working. Most people would have left me on my own after the pain I had caused you, all of it completely unfair to you. Though, through it all, you never budged, you never gave up. I am sure that it must have been extremely hard on you. Nights I was out partying and you had no idea where I was, what I was doing, when I was coming home, or if I even was. I’m sure I caused you many long, sleepless and emotionally drowning nights. I am certain of it now. For that, I cannot apologize enough, and I cannot thank you enough for never losing hope and faith in me. You somehow always found something in me I could never find in myself.

When I started to realize that the crutch I was using was only digging me deeper into darkness, and I decided enough was enough. I needed to find help, elsewhere. You had longed for me to enter the PAS program at the hospital, and try it. Finally, I did. And, throughout my weekly sessions for eight months, I learned so much about myself; I think I gained so much strength in those eight months. I learned different ways to channel my sadness, and try to turn it into something else, I learned that it’s ok to sometimes feel like nothing, to sometimes feel as if you’re mental space has completely died, yet your still moving physically. I learned that it’s ok to feel vulnerable, and for years, I was mortified of this. It was ok to feel weak, and to have those around me know that I was weak, and that I was hurting, and it was ok to lean on your for help, and for strength.

I don’t know what the real turning point was in those eight months that have led us to today, but I keep thinking back to that exercise I completed in therapy where I had to write you a letter explaining why I had a difficult time leaning on you. I’ve always been better with writing my feelings down, than I have been verbalizing them. We know that. Yet, I was so scared to give you this letter. It took three weeks. Finally, I did. I had never been so nervous in my life. I was afraid I was going to hurt you. I had no idea what to expect from you in response to this letter. I watched your every move as you read the pages I delivered to you. My mind raced, attempting to analyze your every thought. Finally, you finished, looked me deep in the eyes, and told me we’re ok, hugged me, gave me a kiss and told me that you loved me. You didn’t get upset. You didn’t shut down. You didn’t try to dig for more. Your response was everything I would have envisioned in a perfect world. And, at that very moment, I think you made me truly feel like everything was going to be ok, no matter how weak I was at the time, or at anything… or how much I was hurting. You were there for me.

Fast forward to today, as I make my way home on my own. I looked back to see you one last time as I rose up the escalator… and it hit me. You are truly everything to me. I am heart broken to be away from you even if for a few short days. It sounds pathetic, but it’s true. I have finally found peace, strength and happiness alongside you, and being able to confide in you has provided me with a life of joy that I could have never imagined.

I can’t wait to be home with you again.

I love you, my beautiful girl.

Pigeon Camera – When Dreams Happen

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If you’ve been following along my blog for some time, you know now that I love music.  I am always listening to music, reading lyrics, watching concerts…etc.  Growing up it was a big thing in our family.  The second thing you might know, is every now and then I have dreams of which my sister is in.  Sometimes so vividly, I can see that she is happy, enjoying herself.  I believe this is her way of telling me she’s better now, and that things are going to be alright.  I wish I had these dreams of her more often.

A few of these dreams I’ve had with her, I’ve really tried to keep with me, and revisit them often. Just to see her smile, and to see her laugh.  Sometimes I’ll ask her before I go to sleep how she’s doing, and to visit me soon in my dreams.  Hoping that I’ll see her again.  One dream I had with her in particular, I can recall almost every little detail, and have still images of this dream as if were some kind of photograph.

We were in a dark room, presumably some kind of pub.  Looked just like the Crocodile Pub in Seattle; my favorite place on the planet.  Jen loved Seattle, I often wonder if she got to go there.  Anyways.  Ahead was a small wooden stage lifted about a foot off the floor.  The stage, well-lit, sat in front of a small circular table that my mom, my sister and myself sat at in high black bar stools.  I can even remember the order of which we sat.  Mom was in the middle, Jen to the left, me to the right.  We sat, and laughed, all we did was laugh.  Jen looked just as I remember, she just looked… happier.  In front of us, on the stage performing was the Tragically Hip, complete with Gord Downie’s usual performing antics that make them such a phenomenal show.  It just seemed so real.  They just played, and played, while we sat at our grungy round table laughing, embracing the show in front of us…. and they just kept playing.

The Hip have always been a band that we listened to as I was kid, and growing up, I mean… who didn’t?? As I got older, I realized that my mom was more often right than wrong in her choice of tunes, and I learned to appreciate some of the bands she forced on me more and more.  Today, I love them all.  Music was something that we could all share together as a family, and continue to do so now as Brody grows up and learns to appreciate real music.  I remember always talking about music with Jen, wanting to look through her Roots CD wallet, see what new albums she had, or what she was listening too.  I’d try to trade her some of my discs for hers, or if deal was declined, I’d just try sneak away with the ones I wanted. Borrowing!  I must have gone through that CD Wallet five thousand times growing up.  That very same CD wallet is one of the most cherished items that I now have. It sits in my bookshelf, with all of her CDs still in place.  I’ll take them out, listen to them occasionally, and they go right back in the exact sleeve I found them.  I take care of this thing, more than I take care of anything else that I own.  For years, I wouldn’t put it near anything else, in fear that it would lose the scent of her.  I can remember yelling at Amanda after she moved in with the rest of the photo albums and such on the bookshelf at our old condo.  She asked why, and I didn’t want to tell her, I think I just said “Because!”  One of the other things I have of hers is the “Hipeponymous” box set, which I treat as if it were a million dollar item as well.  These two things that I have of hers, to me are as important as the pictures, and the memories I have of her, and more important than pretty well anything that I claim to own.

I’ve been to a Hip performance once before; Stampede Roundup.  However, I stuck about 300 yards back, and could hardly see a thing, or hear.  So to me, I don’t count that as really seeing them, cause, well… I didn’t.  Thus, The Hip have long been on my concert bucket list.  I’ve been fortunate enough to attend countless amounts of shows, and have seen many of my favorite bands.  However, none of which were shared with Jen.  It’s something that I think about every concert I go to.  Man…  I wish you were here.  I think this is probably what led to the aforementioned dream.


Last night… My brother got to enjoy his first real concert, and I got to knock one of the bucket list.  Mom had taken us to a show.  The Tragically Hip.  Brody. Mom. Me. Empty seat.  Just as we sat in my dream.  Beside me was probably the only empty seat in the first two levels of Rexall Place.  I thought nothing of it. Great, more space.  The show went on. Few songs in…”Pigeon Camera”  My favorite Hip song.  I didn’t expect to hear this one, not realizing he was going to play the entire FullyCompletely album.

Over there that’s my room
And that’s my sister’s
And that’s my sister
With something we could no longer contain

At that very moment, it hit me.   That dream came back to my mind, as vivid as ever.  I glanced over, and realized.. Brody, Mom, Me… Just how we sat in my dream.  Then, the empty seat beside me… Jen.  She was there.  Right beside me.  Pretty well the only empty seat in the building.  I started to laugh.  Couldn’t believe it.

My dream had come true


As I drove through the night, and early morning hours of this morning heading home, I was absolutely just gleaming.  I had my iPod playing, on shuffle… I have about 700 songs or so on this iPod.  You know when you have the shuffle going, you really always quietly hope to hear a couple different songs, then they never come on, so you get frustrated and then just search for it.  Well, I was really hoping for this one particular Yelawolf song…  Sure enough, two songs later.  Write Your Name.  I kinda laughed to myself, thought, ha thanks Jen!

Then, nearing Calgary, I thought… Ah, I really hope I get to hear The Year the Summer Ended in June before I get home.   Not three minutes later.  Yep.  I was stunned, butterflies.  I couldn’t stop myself from giggling, and shaking my head.  Here it was 2:30 in the morning.  I’d been awake for 20 hours straight.  Drove to Edmonton and back… and I all I wanted was for this night to continue on forever.  I have never felt Jen’s presence so much.  I could almost see, and hear her.  It was seriously, a dream come true.

For the last six years, all I’ve wished for is a chance to go back, and spend more time with Jen, do things with her I hadn’t done when the opportunity was there.  Nights where I’ve laid in bed screaming for a chance to go back.   Moments where I’ve wished myself sick, and sore.  It was as if I were to squeeze hard enough, I could go back.  Could go back and spend time with her, and share those moments that we’ve missed out on.  Moments like last night.  With everyone.

And last night, It just happened…


February 12, 2015 will go down as one of the most memorable nights of my life.  Thank you to those who were apart of it.  Mom, for taking us.  Brody for coming, and sharing tonight.  I was thrilled when I heard you were coming.  I had no idea.  And Kyle, for sharing some of your evening with us, and planning dinner, and meeting us.

I always laugh when people say this, and consider it to be so cheesy, and ya ya whatever.. but, everything really was aligned last night, just right.

Truly, one of the greatest evenings of my life.

Thank you.

Love, B

Preparing For & Enduring the Holidays

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Via Mind Your Mind & Mindcheck / Speak Up, I have put together a few couple stories on preparing for this holiday season, which is as you known, an overly difficult time.

You can check out the stories here!

http://mindcheck.ca/speakup/news/2014/something-will-always-be-missing

http://mindyourmind.ca/author/blair-courchene

On that note, hope you find some time to read, and are able to find even more time to enjoy your holidays with your family, friends and loved ones.  It’s a special time of year, and should be cherished as such.

Merry Christmas!

Hard Times & Holidays (MindYourMind.ca)

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If you have been following along goneawayboys for anytime, you’re well aware that holidays sometimes are a little difficult, and I am otherwise known as “The Grinch”

In my latest contribution to Mind Your Mind, I talk about the holidays, and what this year might be like…  Hopefully different.

The direct link to the blog is here…   Don’t forget to check out some of the other folks with amazing writing on the MYM Blog! http://www.mindyourmind.ca/expression/blog/holiday-hard-times


I can remember as a kid how excited I used to get for Christmas; I’d lose sleep over it all the time.  I think it was more than anything; just that one time a year our whole family would have the chance to be together, in happiness and in joy.  We used to do the traditional Christmas, once everyone gets up…  in your Christmas pajamas and head to the tree and hand out gifts.  I can remember today, so vividly the smiles, and the laughter we’d pass around throughout the entire day.  During the holidays, when we were all together with our family, everything just seemed like it was all… OK.  Everyone reveled in sheer joy. Together.  There was nothing better.  Absolutely nothing.  I used to think to myself, I never want this to end, I can’t wait till next Christmas.

Then…it ended, and there’s not a “next” Christmas.  Since my sister passed away six years ago, Christmas has not yet been the same, and it never will be the same. It’s not that easy, enjoyable holiday we used to enjoy so much with each other.  In fact…now it’s become just downright fucking hard.  I hate it.  It is one of the hardest times of the year for me.  I went from bouncing off the walls in excitement for Christmas, to completely loathing, and fearing everything there is about it.  It reminds me of all the Christmases we used to have, and the vivid memories I have of our family, and Jen, and just knowing, we will never have that again.  Ever.

I cherish these memories so much, but it can be so hard going through the holiday season every year.  Trying to put on a smile for others, trying to share that same level of joy, and of happiness.  But, I can’t.  I seriously fight each Christmas to keep it together.  A certain part of me wants to disappear every time it turns December 1, and I’ll return Jan 3.  And, I have…  I’ve booked holidays around that time, and it’s been the only way I have safely escaped Christmas.

Last year, it was just my fiancé and I…which was about the only other way I’d survive Christmas.  I can remember, I wanted to just treat it like any other day.  I demanded we not have a tree, and we not have lights, or anything else Christmas-like around the house….and I know it devastated her.  Christmas is her favorite time of the year, and I truly feel like the Grinch because I know last year, I selfishly took that away from her.  I can remember, in the morning I headed out to Starbucks to get us coffees…and on my way home…I completely lost it.  I parked my truck along the street in our community and I cried, I completely broke down for a good hour.  I remember Amanda texting me if I was ok…and I just replied…it’s hard.  Christmas is hard.  She knew…and, she was so supportive.  She really is my rock.

This year…I already fear Christmas, I see other people gearing up for it, talking about it, and it hurts.  I’ve lost all connection with Christmas since we’ve lost Jen.  I can’t even try to understand that level of excitement, and joy people experience throughout the holidays.  I can’t.  It’s almost as if I expect everyone else to avoid it, and skip it too.  My fiancés family is extremely tight, which I admire fully. And they are planning to come here for holidays and “do” Christmas, and I am already trying to find a hole somewhere I can lay in over those couple days.  I love her parents, as if they’re my own.  They’ve been so good to me, as has she.  But, It’s just too hard trying to fake it through Christmas when no one else gets it.  And, I don’t want anyone else to get it…I want people to enjoy the holidays, I just can’t anymore… and nothing is worse than trying to enjoy them, and truly “doing” Christmas.  This year will be the first year since Jen passed away that there is going to be a true Christmas celebration that I will be present for, and I want to go through this experience like I want to be hit in the head.

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do Christmas again, and I have accepted that, as hard as it still is.  I think the only way I can do Christmas, or at least survive it… is to be with my family just like we used to in Victoria.  In my reindeer pajamas, I wake up in the morning because I only slept two hours, and I run to the kitchen, throw some marshmallows in my hot cocoa Grandma made me, and I ask where everyone else is…of course they’re still sleeping, so my Mom I will go and wake her up, no problem…but, Jen, I don’t want to upset her… so I will just mutter around outside her room until she gets up.  Then, once I’ve finally accomplished waking everyone up.  I’ll run back downstairs with my hot cocoa, tell Grandma we’re ready, everyone’s up…  We’ll sit by the tree with Christmas, next to one another in a circle, while Grandpa hands out gifts.  We’ll laugh, we’ll smile, we’ll celebrate, and we will be family, together again.

But, this will never, ever happen again, and knowing that… hurts.

But, I can’t steal another Christmas from my rock.

The next few weeks are going to be hard.

– See more at: http://www.mindyourmind.ca/expression/blog/holiday-hard-times#sthash.LHTvjsjQ.dpuf