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!

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.

Lifetraps – Unrelenting Standards & Failure – Mind Your Mind

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I have really enjoyed writing for Mind Your Mind in the few short weeks I have.  Each week they’ll send out an array of engaging topics, and I go from there.

Last week, I chose to write about the unrelenting standards, and failure lifetraps!  Take a read here, and check some of the other pieces on Mind Your Mind!  It’s a great program, and great site!

 

http://mindyourmind.ca/expression/blog/lifetraps-unrelenting-standards-failure

 

 

Remember When We Were Young…

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It’s been awhile.  A long while, but a good one.  I can’t recall last time I wrote here.  But, whenever it was last, things have gotten a lot better for me.  In the summer, I began going weekly to a therapist to just talk, this has never worked for me in the past trying this experience, but for whatever reason, this time it’s been great.  It’s been more than just me talking and the stranger across the room writing down notes about how nuts I am according to the books they’ve studied in school.  She listens.  Doesn’t judge.  Isn’t arrogant like the rest of them.  And, we work on things, we do different activities to help with what is dehabilitating to me, and it’s working.  I think that in addition to some other contributing things,  my life seem’s to be getting back on track.  My last session with my doctor, she asked me since you’ve been coming here in the summer, if there was one word you could use to describe your life now, that you would have never said then… What would it be.  It didn’t take me long to come up with the answer.  Easier.  Everything just seems easier, even when things are bad, dealing is just easier.  Easy & Yellow.  I don’t know yellow.  Just a color that comes to mind, things are brighter.  In the past… When I would think about my life, the only colors I’d ever see were dark grey, black and navy.  Now, Its vibrant colors.    And, to further prove that things have been getting better…  It’s now May 4th, and I have just now been hit by the fact that it’s May 4th.

For anyone who has followed this blog, or knows me well enough… Spring is the most difficult time of the year.  I am very short tempered, very standoff-ish, alone, very, very, very sad, disorientated sometimes and likely extremely difficult to deal with.  Usually these things will come and go for me from April till May 7th, and even a few days after.  May 7th.  The day my sister took her life, and my life, all of our lives forever changed.

This year has been different, I sauntered through April without any problems.  I knew this week was coming, but it didn’t take me long to shake it off, and look at it as a day we celebrate Jen’s life, and our memories together. It even sometimes brought a smile to my face.  There were times I almost felt guilty that I wasn’t being crushed by the approaching day.  Had I gotten over it? Had I moved on?  I hope not… What does this mean?  Often times, it was confusing… but, it wasn’t hurting, So I kept on.  …Till this weekend, I started thinking about it more, and more. What am I going to do? Go home? Spend time with family? friends? Or, stay in Calgary, spend it with Amanda? Friends? What the hell do I do…. Or, do I just begin to treat it like any other day. Wake up. Go to work. Come home. Eat. Watch Playoffs. Go to Hockey. Come Home. Go to Bed & Repeat.  Because, at some point in my life.  I will need to treat May 7th like just another day, because unfortunately, though I feel like it should, and I feel like it sometimes does.  The world does not stop on May 7th, for me or my family. It continues going. People go to work. Business is done as it is any other day.  Maybe I should just join back in, and not make a big deal out of Wednesday.  Maybe then I will get through the day, I’ll be busy, and I’ll forget.  I’ve began thinking about so many different scenarios, and possibilities about Wednesday. I’ve beyond worked myself up about it, once again… Though at least, on the bright side I suppose it’s only five days in advance I’ve done this, instead of 6-8 weeks like the previous years.  Well, as you can imagine… I came to no conclusion. I’d think long and hard about what to do, and then I’d begin to get standoff-ish, cold, irritated and difficult to be around so I’d try and shake myself.  And, again I was able to snap myself out of it and get back to reality.  Wondering if it was really going to be this easy this year.  I really hadn’t lost it, or completely fallen apart yet.  Was I going to survive this time? Or, am I getting blindsided somewhere soon.

Then today…I don’t know why today.  I woke up, I felt good, I even had a great sleep, and slept in. I was even going to leave to leave the house and go get groceries, which, was a feat considering the last week or so, only time I leave the house is for work, or hockey.  Anyway.  The morning continued on as any other…  I had brunch, sat down watched some VICE, talked to mom and then a buddy about planning a little boys weekend this summer in Sylvan Lake…   Ironically, the exact same thing I was doing the afternoon I found out Jen had passed away, with the same person.  Though, at the time I, of course thought nothing of it. I was excited. Great Sunday ahead. Finished off my episode of VICE, set the PVR for the Hawks/Minny game and set out to Save on Foods! What a day.

For whatever reason.. As I parked, and was leaving my truck, I thought hey, let’s take my iPod and headphones while I cruise the aisles.  Great idea.  I actually enjoy the monthly trip to the grocery store, I am a fantastic grocery shopper. I buy all the fantastic shit Amanda won’t buy.  The kebobs, the shrimp, the lobster tails, the salmon, the beef jerky, the cool labelled  BBQ sauce, funky pizzas… Cool stuff.  So, early on I was having a blast… Take out my earphones to grab a couple spolumbos and kebobs from the deli fella… And, boom.  Now I know exactly why I brought my headphones in.  One of my worst fears was on the speaker. There are a few songs I absolutely can not and will not listen to unless on my own terms.  I will do anything I can to remove myself from wherever these selects beats are going.  Wild Horses. Adia. Angel & the one playing…  I Hope You Can Dance – LeeAnn Womack.   Ah, fuck. First though that came to mind…  Why in the hell would they play this song at a grocery store… I would bet my life, there is not a single person who enjoys listening to that song, or is happy listening to that song. No. It’s fucking devastating.  Thank God, I had my headphones. I threw them back on, grabbed my kebobs and got the hell out of there as if the deli man was the one trying to break me with that song.  No way.  You won’t do this deli man! And, I literally sprinted away from the deli counter and down a different aisle.  Fortunately no one was really around to see this.  So I parked the cart.  Took a few deep breaths, turned up my music and tried to carry on.  I could feel my stomach start to twist, my throat swell up, and my hands start to tremble. I stopped again and had a little chat with myself…

“No… You’re fine kid. Not here.  You can’t here! We only have 3 things on this grocery list, and have only gone down 1 aisle, and you’ve ran down one so we’ll need to cruise again to grab bacon bits… Settle down… Deep breaths… 1….2…..3…. We’re alright. We’ve made it this far. Don’t break.  1….2….3….  Ok, I’m good”  I think.  Pfew.

I took out my phone to make it look like I was waiting on someone, or looking for something so I was less of a spectacle for those passing by.  And, All I got out of looking at my phone.  May 4th.  3 more days. Fuck.  My hands started to tremble a lit more.  My stomach knotted a little tighter.  Breathing was a little more difficult.  I was losing it.  I could feel myself starting to tip over the edge. It had hit me.  It’s 3 days away.  Thoughts of Jen started racing through my head.  Memories of her, and then What was Jen feeling like May 4th, 2008.   Was she grocery shopping?  Was life normal?  What was she doing?  How was she feeling? Were there any signs of what was coming? Did she know what was coming? Can I go back and stop this? Can I stop her? No. It’s too late. I am 6 years too late.  Why did this happen. Why is THIS happening. Why am I here. In the middle of Save on Fucking Foods and I am losing it.  I am losing it. Yep. We’re losing it.  I’m  a mess.  What the hell do I do now.  Do I leave? Do I quit? No. We have no groceries, and I’ll have to just come back anyways.  Soldier on Kid. Come on.   So I tried.  Each aisle was harder than the last.  I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t read what the hell was on the list and then remember what it was by the time I stopped looking at it. I even caught myself going down the same aisles multiple times.  Just circling them.  Taking laps aimlessly.  A complete zombie with a grocery cart.  I looked down and avoided eye contact with anyone.  I thought maybe they’ll see my weakness, see that I am losing it right now, laugh at me, think I am a nut.  It was humiliating.   I couldn’t believe this was happening.  Here. Right now.  Really? I just needed to get home.  I did the best I could getting all I needed, and getting the hell out of there.  Usually, I’ll peruse slowly all the aisles and like I said, grab the coolest things.  Not today.  Just get me out there.  Going through the cashier, my hands continued to tremble, my lip quivering, I felt cold, weak, shaky, I was quiet, impatient and avoidant.  I was falling apart at the seams.  The poor cashier.  She was doing a great job, but had I not felt so weak and powerless, I would have just scanned the damn things myself, ripped them out of her hands threw it all in my cart, yelled thank you and darted out of the store as fast I could.  But, I felt far too weak.  So I stood there. Staring into lost space.  Three times she had to ask me Save on Foods points, or gift card?  What? Huh? Me? Oh… Points please.  I could tell the family behind me was getting frustrated with me.  Or, maybe they were just creeped out that when I was staring into space they were in line of my dead gaze.  Finally, I was on my way out.  I was trying my best to run to my truck but I could hardly get myself to move.  My legs felt horribly weak.  I honestly thought I was going to fall over.  I had to lean on my cart as I pushed it to my truck.  And, of course.  I parked at the very back of the parking lot.  Remember… An hour ago, I was feeling great! …  I unloaded everything into truck as fast I could.  I raced to the cart stable, and threw my cart back.  Good Riddance to you, I’m safe! .. Get into my truck, annnnndddd….Nope.  All throughout the last hour I thought I was really falling apart.  The second my head hit the back of my seat.  I had fallen apart.  That was it.  I lost it.  Uncontrollably.  As bad as I can remember.  I didn’t even notice if there were people beside me.  I thought the world had stopped, and it was just me.  It had to have been just me.  Everything kind of went blank, and dark.  Few moments later… Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a family parked two spots down from me, who probably saw this entire debacle of mine.  And thought, what the hell… why are they parked there!  I began to get frustrated, why are you judging me you don’t know what’s going on, Human!   Then I thought same with that family at the till that was clearly getting frustrated with my dead gaze, and my inability to pay attention.  You don’t know what’s going on.  Why are you even here! Isn’t the world stopping.  Leave me alone, judging humans!

On a separate note, I often wish that you could just stick a sign on your back with small details of your story so others could understand why you are maybe struggling, or a little off today.  I think this would be great only if people couldn’t speak, were unable to judge, and WE ALL had these signs.   On normal days, I find the same thing with myself.  I get frustrated with people, all the time…. but, I often forget to think, maybe there is a reason there are out in space today.  Everyone has their problems, and their own story.  It may not be very different than mine.  I don’t know.  That’s why we should all have these signs! …Had I been another person in the grocery store today and came upon myself the way I was… I would have ran my cart head on into myself.  Wake the fuck up, or go home.  If you can’t handle reality today.  Don’t be in it. But, today I was really that person.  I needed the sign.  Don’t kick me. Please.  I am already down.

I could not get home fast enough.  Thankfully I only live a short way away from the grocery store, because surely I was not in any condition to be driving at the moment.  I was driving just as I were walking, and cruising the grocery store.  Just lost.  Empty. Blank.  I can remember driving out of the parking lot, but I don’t remember the rest of the drive.  Even thinking back now and it was only a couple hours ago. I remember leaving the Save on Foods parking lot… I remember parking my truck at home.  The in-between.  No idea.  Poof.  I had landed at home.

Never ever have I been so relieved to get home, have a drink of water and just breathe.  I felt like I had just gone through a marathon.  Maybe I had…  A mental one albeit.


Now that i’ve somewhat pieced together all that had fallen apart awhile ago, I still continue to be held together by a thread, and I imagine I will for the next week.  Standoff-ish.  Avoidant. Cold. Irratible. Impatient. Empty. Blank. Zombie.   It’s the most difficult week of the year for me, and for my entire family, for obvious reasons.  I really thought this year was going to be different, and it was going to be easier.  but, I suppose it’s not going to be.  I am more confident in my ability to get through the days alive, I wasn’t so much in past years.  I know I will get through this year.  But, beginning this morning, apparently… this is and will be the longest week, these will be the longest, hardest and darkest days.  Even as I sit here and write this on a Sunday afternoon… My hands are shaky, My attentiveness is limited, My body feels weak, I feel sick, my stomach feels knotted, and empty.  I feel like something has been lost, like something is missing. Something is missing.


We lost Jen on May 7th, 2008.  That’s a long time ago.  But, for me it seems like it was only last week.  It seems like only this winter I had visited them in Victoria we hung out, walking along the pier in Sidney, arguing about Hockey Vs. Basketball, playing playmobil, trading CDs.  Talking about our lives when we grew up, and what they would be like.  Never did we say they would be like this.  Never did we say that I’d be sitting here one sunday afternoon writing, and weeping about the very moment we are sharing.  I never ever thought about that.  Never.  She talked about having a family, and what she was going to name her kids, and I thought they were the worst names ever.  I talked about hockey.  Everything about it.  We talked about going to Hornby Island.  When we played playmobil when we were young, we had a huge island piece that we often pretended was Hornby Island.  We talked about all kinds of things.  Hell, we even fought, and we argued about all kinds of things too.  But, we never stayed mad at each other for so long.  I looked up to her like I’ve never looked up to anyone in my life.  She was my hero.  I wanted to be just like her.  I didn’t know at the time she was fighting her own monsters the way she was.  But, looking back now, I applaud her for the strength she had going on, and she did a darn good job of soldiering on.  She did such an amazing job of never letting the way she felt inside, effect the way she treated others.  At least around me, and my brother.  I never knew she was that hurt. I was young, and naive but I always thought she was happy, she had fun, she was popular, had lots of friends.  I can remember her having parties in Victoria, and I so badly wanted to be apart of them. I so badly wanted to be friends with her friends.  Looking back now… I was that really annoying little brother that wouldn’t go away, and wouldn’t leave his big sister alone.  But, she was always so patient, kind, and nurturing.  She’d introduce me to her friends, all these girlfriends of hers that I fell in love with instantly.  I can remember everything.  I can remember thinking I can’t wait to be Jen’s age and have friends like her, and have fun like she has.  I just didn’t know she was hurting so bad inside.  I wish I had, maybe I could have helped. Maybe I could have done something.  Maybe I did help. I don’t know. But, maybe there was more I could do so that we could still share those same memories, and instead of me writing about them, telling them to all the strangers on the internet who will read this… I could call her, hey! remember that time Jen… Haha, yea. I’m sorry I was such a turd.

But… Now we are where we are, and these are only just memories, memories that I have, and the only ones that I have.  We can’t create anymore.  There are only these.  That’s the hardest part sometimes.  These images in my mind, are all that I have left.  I wish I could just hear her voice. I forget what she sounded like.  I forget her laugh.  Sometimes I have dreams with her in them, and I can remember.  Dreams where she is happy. She is laughing, smiling, and at peace.  I think this is her telling me she is okay now, she isn’t fighting anymore, and that we’re ok to let go and be happy ourselves.  We have too.


If you were lucky enough to know my sister, this week is likely equally shitty for you too… and, I know I say this every year, and it’s easy to say this and a lot harder to do… But, try and let go of the sadness this week.  Think about her.  Talk to her.  But do so with a smile,  and a laugh. Not a bunch of tears.  Grab yourself a Stella, or a case of them.  For each one you have… Tell a story you remember about Jen, or something about her you remember.   Even if you are by yourself, or with a group of friends, even a group of friends who didn’t know Jen.  Tell them a story about her.  Hell, even send me a story about her, or a memory you have.

Send me an email b.lystang@hotmail.com, or text me  any memories you have of her.  403 808 3321.

It will help me get through the week.  And, it will be something we can all keep and put together for Abbey.

Even if you didn’t know Jen, wherever you are, whatever you do on Wednesday.  Have a drink, and please, toast to my sister.   Thank you.

 


 

 

I miss you so much Jen.  I love you.

 

 

I’ll Have a Caramel Machiatto – A Personal Compromise

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Going to try something a little different tonight.  Usually when I write, There is something really pushes me to sit down and put something together, usually, I know its going to be one of those creative-therapeutic word-nights by the afternoon, and I generally put something together later in the evening.  Meanwhile, amidst this process, I light some candles, and turn on whatever Matt Good CD is of choice for the night, and I sit there, sometimes I pop a light beer, and I see what I can come up with.  There really is no science too it; if you’re wondering.  However, tonight, there was really nothing poking me to get up and write something, and I decided to put in something different than a MG CD.  My mom was kind enough to give me my sister’s CD book, which is one of my greatest treasures.  I know its something that meant a lot to her. Music has always been a really big thing with our family, especially the 3 of us.  But, I thought, hell, lets just grab a random blank CD out of here and listen to one of her burnt CDs.  It was really cool when I put it in, and the first song played.  Not really expecting much, it really just resonated with me. I could feel Jen; this was her music, a CD that SHE put together… It was almost like it was her on the burnt CD.  It was… one of those weird, yet good moments that I have with her.  There are times where I just know she is with me.  Whether, I am in trouble somewhere, or can’t figure something out, and all of the sudden, things just click… And, it’s so weird, but you just know.  You can feel it.

A few times in the past, In just going through my day, I will hear someone say something nearby, and I swear its her voice.  There are times where it’s actually quite eerie. These things, I never ever forget… It’s probably happened 4 or 5 times in the 4 years where I know I have heard her voice, and I remember every single time like it was yesterday, cause I know it was her just saying, What’s up kid.

When these eerie moments happen, like when I put on this burnt CD… It’s weird; It’s a bittersweet thing.  Its immediately devastating… but, then I always find my mind and my body just kind of stop, and I soak it in…  and it leaves you with on those can’t-stop-grins.  Though, these oddities are rare, I do certainly relish every one of them.  Same thing when I dream about her… I don’t often, but I can remember every single dream. Every one.  And, in every one of them, I can see Jen. Perfectly. She looks the same as I remember – beautiful. And, she is always smiling – always. I know this is her telling me she’s okay now. She’s good. And we don’t have to be sad anymore.  Though, we try. It’s hard. And I think that this is why she doesn’t do this to me often, cause she knows how difficult it is sometimes.

But, every night I do dream about her.  I have the best day. I wake up with the biggest smile, cause I know that in the only way possible, I just hung out with my big sister again. Which, is something I miss more than you can imagine.  Seriously.  Like I said, it’s really one of those weird things, I can’t explain it.  I am a million times happy, and sad at the same time.  There will be nights too, where I can’t sleep so I just talk to her, and ask her to come into my dreams, so I can see her again… Sometimes it happens, sometimes not.  But, I will lay there and think about her as much as I can and hope that she comes.  I miss her.  A lot.

I know that this was supposed to get easier with time, and sometimes I think that it has, but there will be nights where something reminds me of Jen, a song, a picture… whatever, and I just miss her more than I would maybe, any other night. Or sometimes, maybe even nothing ever happened but there are just  nights where you can hear her, see her, feel her…  And, you just really miss her.  Tough nights.  Sometimes when I am going through one of those evenings… I wonder, when I am 35 years old, is this still going to happen, or is it going to occur less… How does this work?

Sometimes I wish there was a real owners guide to overcoming a loss like this.  I guess there a million books, but they all the same, and I can read as many of them as I want, and while I will agree with most, or some of the excerpts… It never truly heals anything. I don’t even know if it is supposed too.  I just know, I really miss her…a lot.  And, that empty feeling in my gut that I have from missing her so much, maybe that will never go away and I will always feel that.  I don’t know.  I just hope the dreams, and the moments I can feel her, never go away, because at least now… I feel like I still have something. Sometimes.

 ———

I do wish that my writings would be more frequent, as opposed to writing once every couple of weeks.  I would like to make this a much more consistent effort.  I am finally getting back in touch with, what is probably the most effective means of therapy for myself.  I used to write a tonne when I was younger, but I kind of lost it over the years.  I don’t know, I guess it wasn’t cool to “write”… Is it now?

I just am really happy that I have gotten back in touch with writing; I think it has probably saved me many a night.  When you struggle with mental illness, you need to find a few things that you can resort too when you are having a shit day.  A day where you just feel like, you’re really just losing the fucking battle, and nothing is going right.  You have to try your best to just have what I call – defense weapons.  (I like to use fighting metaphors…Sooooooo) to get you through the days where you really, literally only want to get through the day, sometimes when you fight a mental illness, going to sleep and waking up to a new day is sometimes a victory.  It really is.  Because, there are times where it is that damn bad.  And, you can’t leave your house, that is, if you can even get out of bed.  For me, I have a couple of things that I resort too…  Obviously this blog has really become that for me, along with pretty well anything hockey.  Those are my escapes.  But, even then, sometimes your days are so shitty, that you can’t even make it to these escapes… These are the days where you just hope to hell to see another sun rise, and make it. You’ll have these days too, I do. I think once you accept that you suffer from a mental illness – that being the initial, biggest success  – but from then on in, its about limiting those days where a victory is just making it through.  Maybe you’ll never truly eliminate those days, cause who knows. Sometimes I feel like it’s an endless fight, but, when you can limit those days as much as possible… you’re hanging in there.  Trust me. And, at times… hanging in there… that’s ok.

goneawayboys has served me well in a variety of ways.   First and foremost, it has been completely therapeutic for me, and is something that truly makes me feel quite good.  Every time I click submit and I watch people view my posts, and comment, follow, like or whatever other term social media has coined as “approval”.  It is an awesome, awesome feeling. And dammit, do I thank everyone of you that do that.  You seriously have no idea how much that means too me, It gives me one of those can’t-stop-grins.

As much as I like to write this blog to hopefully help others, and I hope that I am.  It is ultimately too, like I said; get me through those days where I am losing the fucking battle.  Big time.  I think this blog has too become somewhat of a personal compromise.

Any one that is fortunate, and blessed enough to know me on a personal level 😉 knows that I am a pretty quiet fellow, I don’t say much, especially in regards to my feelings, my personal life and past.  I don’t even like the word feelings. I don’t talk about much of anything – ever. But, I think that this has ultimately led to me absolutely falling apart, or at least it was a significant contribution.  For 10 years, I have been fighting depression, and I haven’t said boo about it.  I’d take my pills that the doctor prescribed me.  And, that’s it. I’d take them, I didn’t know why I would be taking them, and I don’t even think they worked.  It was a robotic process.  Meanwhile, I would take these pills and carry on my day like nothing, like an absolute robot again. I’d never talk about anything.  Even if I was feeling completely fucked up. I wouldn’t say a word to anyone.  We weren’t supposed too, I thought.  Isn’t that the thing about mental illness? Hush Hush – pussy.  So, I never did. I continued to throw everything back into a mental clusterfuck… and deep down, I think I knew that this was a bad idea, and eventually would probably boil over and explode, and in turn something bad was likely going to happen.  I didn’t know what. But, it hadn’t happened then, so as far I was concerned… It wasn’t going too.  Or, at the least, I would cross that bridge when I arrived.  As if I was expecting that I’d have time, and I’d see a collapse coming.  Well, maybe I did see it coming… But, I know what I told myself…. I’ll be fine. Fuck off.  We’re ok.

Well, it was damn close, and I wasn’t okay. That was one of the hardest things, having to admit… I was not OK anymore. At all.

I am not sure if I should be impressed that my way of dealing with things lasted 10 years, or if I should consider myself damn lucky that I had someone kick me in the teeth and allow me to get my shit together when I hit rock bottom after 10 years, before it was too late… ultimately, allowing me to even tell you about this.  Thanks Jen. Everyone was right.  The more shit you keep in, and refuse to talk about… You’re going to fall apart.  And, I did just that.  And, no.  You’re wrong.  You don’t see it coming, and trust me… You won’t.

Although, I will admit I still am a little hesitant to openly discuss my fight with depression, for now, even though I am an advocate for speaking out about it… It’s hard. It’s not something that happens over night, but I do think I am certainly getting better at talking about it personally.  But, this blog, is a place where I can write these things down, then show everyone, and tell everyone.  Although its not the setting of a coffee-shop conversation.  To me, it’s a personal compromise and a stepping-stone to achieving my ultimate goal of being able to freely have a coffee shop conversation about my depression, and your’s too.

One day we’ll get there, and when we do… I’ll have a Caramel Macchiato.

I can’t write love songs when I’m on these things
I’m affable, responsible, but hard to be around
It’s correctible and they’re right you know
It’s as easy as it sounds
It’s all as easy as it sounds

– A Single Explosion –

Matthew Good

– Blair

The Devil in Details

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Hi Everyone!

Sorry it’s been such a long time since I last wrote in this blog.  I am going to avoid the saying “I was too busy” as that is one my biggest pet peeve’s people say is, “I’m too busy” Bullshit, If you want something enough.  You will find time to do it, and will cut the excuses.  And, the something I want out of this is of course, as mentioned, to help myself and others.  However, I did buy a new truck, and that had consumed my mind for quite a few days!  Still, nonetheless. I did fall back into a little lull, where I was just in the biggest meh sort of moods.  I remember my last entry was about momentum’s of mental illness, and I was afraid I was on the edge of falling into those lulls.  Well, I did get into a small one, and I think that had a lot to do with me putting this blog off and off.  I just kinda sat there and did nothing.  Other than buy a new unit. Haha, but really.  When you’re in these “lulls” and some are big, some are small, its tough to do anything.  You know you have these things you need to accomplish, you have your to-do lists.  But, its tough to get through those lists, cause its so easy to just lay on the couch, turn on TV, or have a nap, or play Xbox, and just say I’ll do it later.  I find when I am in my lulls, this is what I do.  Nothing off the “to-do” list gets done.  And, of course, you’re avoidant of these lulls, so the top priority on the “to-do” list should be… get the hell out of this.  But, of course, it’s so tough to see that.  Its difficult to admit this to yourself, so you continue to just lull around and go through an episode and life continues to zip right past you while you don’t seem to progress anywhere.

Then, suddenly… you wake up one day, and you feel better, or you feel something better.  Maybe something happened to help pick your head up, and its sometimes like the snap of a finger, you’ve left the lull you were in, hopeful to never go through one again.  But, struggling with depression…  Its par for the course.  You undoubtedly will.  Just try your best to minimize the opportunity to fall back into a lull, or an episode, and minimize the time you spend in that hole.  But, again, I really think the best thing to get out of these lulls, is admitting to yourself that’s where you are.. And, thats ok. Force it upon yourself to take care of things, go do something active, call someone, talk to someone, don’t continue to the things you would while in an episode. Dont put getting better off.  Whatever mechanisms of avoidance you so too choose.  Denial is not depressions friend, as much as it is an instigator, and an agitator.

Denial is something that I have lived with for so long, way too long.  And it was significantly worse after my sister passed away.  I honestly think it took 4 years before I finally started to accept that she was really gone.  I know they say it’s a typical stage of grieving.  But, for 4 years ? It can’t be.  But, almost the worst thing about denial, is that, sometimes you know your in denial, but, you accept it cause you don’t feel anything. You feel empty.  And, when you feel empty. Sometimes that’s better that feeling sad.  So, you kind of just accept that and move on.  But, it’s a trick. Its not better to feel empty at all.  It’s like taking all the feelings you think you should feel, and you cap them into a bottle.  And leave it there.  Ignore them. And I did that for about 10 years with my depression as it was, and then once I lost Jen, I threw everything and more into that bottle, and closed the lid.  I didn’t allow myself to feel anything for the longest time, and let me tell you, I could not have choosen a more terrible way to deal with things.  I think this had a lot to do with me really hitting rock bottom not long ago.  It just became way too much, and I had no more room left in my bottle, and had nowhere else to put anything.  And, I lost it.  Maybe this is what happened to Jen, I don’t know. I wish I did.  but, I know that when this happened to me, she picked me up, and kicked me in the teeth and told me to get my fucking shit together. Now. For my family, for my relationship, for my friends, and for myself and her.   I think the biggest thing she did was tell me this denial is not going to work anymore for me.  And boy, was she right.  Thus, became the creation of goneawayboys.  Somewhere to put my feelings.  Instead of in the bottle.  Out into the open they go. Where, they belong.  Where they make me feel better, and hopefully others too.  So, while I try to begin and accept my sister’s death 4 years later, and start over, grieving in the proper, more healthier, beneficial way.  I really try to watch out for that bastard that is denial.  But, every now and then, when I land into a slump, lull or episode, whatever you want too call it.  I feel that shitty little thing again.  Denial.  And, it is not only an instigator, agitator, but it is misleading and tricky too.  Like I said, you just accept it, cause in denial, you feel nothing, you feel empty.  And that is sometimes that feels better than feeling sad.  But, No. It’s not. Because, it all builds up, and builds up, and eventually.  It explodes.  And what happens then can be truly tragic and devastating.

I think this is also a factor in why people avoid talking about their depression.  Sometimes they just feel empty, and feel nothing cause they can’t admit to themselves they struggle with depression. Since society has attached such a negative connotation to the word “depression” “suicide” “bi-polar disorder“…etc.  no one wants to have it, cause they feel they are going to be judged.  So, they can’t admit it to themselves.  But, If you’re someone who struggles with the same illness I do, or something of the like.  Be honest with yourself, and let someone help you.  But, you need to help yourself understand first.  and, No. It is nothing to be ashamed of.  As I have mentioned before, It is an actually disease of the brain. It’s not something we can just “get over” or “toughen up”. It’s different.  So please, throw denial the big “eff off” and work towards getting better.

It’s damn hard, trust me. I am trying it now, and I still fall into my little lulls, and have a heck of a time getting out.. But, the best part of coming out about my depression, and my families past and tragedies, is, it allows me to feel better, it allows me to see that light everyone talks about, so I know that better is coming.  Whatever better is. Maybe its only temporary, who knows.  But, I will take temporary, over rarely.  So, I am going to work on it, and this is it, talking.  Not by taking 400 mg of wellbutrin, xanax, or zoloft or whatever other medication you’ve been told to try.  I have been struggling with depression for 10 years myself, and have been on medication for probably 7 of those years.  And, I still have depression.  Maybe I always will. Maybe it’s not something that truly ever goes away.  It’s only something you can have temporary relief from.  But, like I said. I will take temporary. But, I believe that in doing the right therapy, I will beat this.  And, its not taking the same little pill every morning after breakfast I have been taking, just because some doctor shrugged me off and wrote a prescription before he asked me hey, how do you really feel.  Nope.  Depression ? Oh, here up your wellbutrin dosage and try that young fella!  Ok. Thanks doc. You’re a real help.

Talking about it, blogging about it, making it normal conversation, getting out of denial, starting over, has been the best source of medication I have ever taken.  And, I hope you decide to join me in this remedy.  It’s difficult to get out of that denial stage, and admit to yourself that you may suffer from mental illness.  But, it’s much better when that little dosage of denial is not sitting in your pocket, feeling sad, or down is better than feeling empty.  Feeling empty is the worst thing we can do.  Denial, avoidance.  Thats the enemy.  We can’t feel that.  We need to feel.
That’s all for tonight.  I already feel much better just having wrote this entry. I am really excited for everyone to get back to reading my blog. Again, I can not stress enough how flattered I am, and honored that this has reached so many people.  It’s been amazing. I hope that everyone continues to read.  And, I will do my best to regularly write.  I am thinking about writing a tribute entry about my sister.  But, that is going to take a full day of strength, incense, and probably some atavan.  But, I think it will be good for me.  so look for that on the weekend. I will need a full day of preparation to write that.  But, I think it’s important, and everyone will get the chance to learn more about her. She was amazing, and still is as I feel her helping me through mud all the time. Today.

Also, If, I am taking awhile to put in another entry, give me a shot and tell me to get back at it. I had a couple friends kick my ass back into gear over the weekend, and get me back here.  It’s been nice.  Thanks.

Thanks again everyone.

Keep in touch. Tell someone.

-Take Care,

-Blair – goneawayboys

Fun & Active – Someone with depressions dream

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Up again, down again, out of your head.

Happy friday kids!

I’m happy to be back here writing. I gotta get some consistency going again.  I went to the Edson Slo-Pitch tournament last weekend with the boys.  And, if you have ever been to Edson, you’ll understand quite quickly why it took me so long to get it going again.  We left Edson monday at about 9 am. It took me till yesterday at noon till get back to feeling normal.  Whatever normal is for me.  But, physically, you know.

Edson Slo-Pitch is this massive tournament of 270+ teams.  Goes Fri-Mon – We usually show up thurs night to get the extra night in.  But, you camp in a field where your neighbours are maybe 6 inches to your other side. Its tight. We have a big 13 man tent where we throw about 8 of us to pass out.  Its quite funnny too see actually.  Just an assembly line of bodies.  Then, once you’ve gone to bed at probably 5 am after going to the “Hangar” (absolutely massive beer gardens) You’re up at 730 am to play ball, or to listen to everyone else getting up to play. And once you’re up. You’re up. Its hot out. And there’s 200 cold bud lights ready for work. so its on. Early.

Its easily the best weekend of the year, but its easily the biggest challenge, physically.  You have to be prepared for the toll you’re body takes.  And, like I said. Just now I am getting straightened away. Anyway, If you ever have the chance.  Check Edson out. Its a blast.

I am going to try something slightly different today, a little different pace.  After a pretty chill day at work today, came home, made myself a nice dinner; salmon and potatoes…. Unreal right!   But, I cheat. Big time. I bought salmon from Superstore that is already flavored, and already on the plank. So you throw it on the BBQ.  Haha. And potatoes, We got this “potatoe mitt” from Hawaii.  It looks like an oven mitt basically, and you cut little holes in your tate’s and then chuck them in this “mitt” throw it in the microwave and nuke the little suckers for about 7 minutes. So, no, my salmon dinner wasn’t amazing as you first thought. Haha, but for my standards. It was unreal.

I can’t cook worth a shit. literally. I can not cook. On the other hand, I have never really made a completely honest effort out of it either. I just don’t have the patience to do it. And, I think explaining the meal I just had today is evidence to that.  Whatever. I took the stuff out of the fridge/freezer and 20 minutes later was dummying it.  So take your extra half hour for a little more authenticity. Nah. I’ll take the extra half hour I saved, and write in my blog!

Next thing will be paper plates at home. Not kidding. Frig, I hate emptying that damn dishwasher.  I used to run it about 2 or 3 times before I’d empty it, and I’d make sure I ran it the second time when I knew I wasn’t going to be home for awhile, so depending on where I lived. My parents, roommates or girlfriend would do it.  Haha. If this is any of the people I listed that are reading this. You’re going Ah Ha! You little bastard.  The rest of you are thinking, wow.  Genius. And you’ll do it this week. Guaranteed.  But, be stealth.

Next thing I did today was rip over to buddies and grab my xbox controllers and the tiger woods game.  I thought I would do some gaming today, and buddies gone for the weekend so might as well get my stuff back and its the last night of me living bachelor life as the old lady gets home tomorrow.  But, on my way over there, I saw all these people riding there bikes with families, friends, etc and it just looked awesome. Smiles as wide as the street these kids had, parents too.  “Fun & active”.  A kid with depressions dream.  So, once I went to buddies, grabbed my gaming gear and headed home, I saw more of the same. Fun & Active. A depressive kids dream. And more of it. And as I got back into my community. More of it. Fun & Active. A depressive kids dream.  I parked underground, went upstairs, threw the stuff on the coffee table, and thought.. you know what.  No.  I’m not doing this. As much as I enjoy gaming, and so too does everyone. It’s different for me. It’s an avoidance mechanism.  Some people that struggle with depression, sleep all the time, some drink, do drugs, or whatever. Me, I game. And, I don’t even really enjoy it. I feel like such a slob after doing it and not having moved except to grab chips, or a beer. It’s fun gaming with buddies and stuff, that’s different.  But, for me to lay into 10 rounds of PGA Tour, not move, not talk to anyone. It’s me avoiding my problems. Sounds crazy. But that’s what I’d do. Sure, I could be doing worse things, like sleeping, drinking, having sex a million times, partying, whatever the hell else you can do so excessively its damaging, which pretty well anything. But, its the concept of it. I do it to avoid things, and not have to face reality.  Thus, in my self-realization week not long ago, around the birth of this blog. I promised not to do that to myself anymore.

BACK TO THE STORY.  I looked on the deck, and saw this beautiful red “Specialized RockHopper Comp” mountain bike I purchased about 2 months ago…  for a thousand dollars. Yikes.  The first 10 days I had that bike, I rode it 15 times. I felt unreal. Fun & Active. I was doing it. Living the dream. Then, I just stopped for 6 weeks. I think part of it was work got busy, but a lot of it was me making excuses for myself, “ohh im tired” and I’d game, or do whatever and just feel shitty and be down.  So today. I saw that thing, and said fuck it.  I am doing what those kids were doing that I saw on my way. But, its more than just ripping a bike for me. for anyone that knows how I feel.  I truly think it was Jen saying to me.. Hey kid, heres a test. I know what you’re doing, but look what you could be doing.  Do the right thing.  Make yourself better.  Depressed & Lazy V. Fun & Active.  I really think it was her kicking me in the ass again. So I proceeded to take the old Ferrari for a spin.  Thew on the iPod and just went.  And, what an enjoyable time.  For any of you that struggle with depression, you know that being active is one of the most important things for us.  It’s great for the mind, and body just to try and have an active lifestyle.  But, at the same time, when you’re struggling with depression.  It’s so hard to get yourself to do these “active lifestyle” things.  You always feel like the tank is empty, you have no energy. None. So you really have to work yourself up to do things sometimes, and I think that’s when you get yourself in trouble, and it makes it all the more difficult to enjoy it.  You’ve worked yourself up so much to go for a run, or play football, bike ride, whatever it is.  That when its over, its like “meh whatever, wasn’t great” and you won’t do it again, cause it took so much of you to just find some energy.

Well, I am trying to change that for myself. Trying damn hard.  I live in probably one of the most beautiful communities in the entire city of Calgary in Discovery Ridge.  Hell, nevermind. One of the most beautiful in Alberta I’d say….   Wait, well, If its one of the most beautiful in Calgary, clearly it is in Alberta cause I can’t imagine much better in Edmonton, Ft. Mac, GP, Lethbridge… Etc.  (kidding edmonton friends, that was for you)  But, seriously.  There’s so much greenery, parks, and trails, and just seemingly happy folk. If anyone has ever been through Discovery Ridge. You know what I am talking about.  It’s unbelievable here.

Right behind our house is Griffith Woods Park, which is astounding, filled with multiple bike/walking trails weaving through the woods, with little creeks and running waters.  It’s gorgeous. Have I said that yet ?  So going for a bike ride in this place is truly breathtaking, and it speaks to the shape I was in to not be able to go for a bike ride for 6 weeks. Cause, I didn’t touch that bike once in 6 weeks. When you’re struggling with depression, it’s just hard to do these things. so hard.

Off I went through discovery ridge on my Ferrari, through Griffith woods, which, sometimes can be quite frightening.  There’s so many people walking, running, biking, rollerblading, whatever through there and the paths aren’t highway sized paved roads, through these trees, if even paved. There are a lot of sharp, immediate corners that you need to be careful about.  So that proposes one hazard, before you run someone over.

Second hazard, is there are cougars everywhere, all the time… Yes, even the fuzzy cat-like kind.  So you have to watch for both of those!  Today I was riding, and in the woods ahead, I saw the golden thing, and of course, I am always thinking I am gonna see a cougar…(cat kind) so here’s this golden figure, I see. But, I am far away, so for all I know it could be a broken off tree base.  I get closer, the fucking thing moves! OMG I am shitting myself. I have finally seen this damn cougar! I instantly hammer the brakes, look for my phone… too take a picture haha.  realize, shit I left my phone at the condo.  No one is gonna believe this!  So I said screw it. I am gonna fly by this thing. I gotta see it.  So, I zoom by…….  It’s some damn golden retriever playing fetch with his/her owner.  Are you kidding me.  My heart is racing 9,000,000 beats per minute for Air Bud?  Come on.  One day, I will see the cougar.

Anyways.  It was nice to get out and enjoy the fresh air, and be active again.  The last 7 weeks I have been so up and down.  And when I was down, boy was I down.  But, now I am starting to feel better, and I think today was evidence of that.  I took the ferrari out, and enjoyed myself. I was able to enjoy “Fun & Active“, and like I said, that’s a mental heath-struggling kids dream.  And, even if it were something as simple as a hour long bike ride.  when you struggle with your brain like I do, and lot more of us.  You’ll understand.  Thats a lot. Its part of this start to “better-hood”

Tonight… Was a good night.

Thank you everyone!

Hope you enjoyed this read. I know it was a little different, and I hope you still read its entirety and had some smiles. And, if you’re ever through discovery ridge, let me know and we’ll go for one of those serene bike rides and hunt these cougars.  Either kind!

-Have a good weekend folks

Blair

“Ain’t it good to be back home” MG