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.

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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

Your Move, Chief

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Maybe this is too late.  Maybe this isn’t even relevant anymore.  But, last week we lost one of the finest individuals to grace this planet.  No, not just because he was a phenomenal actor, but because he battled for so long, to bring everyone else joy and laughter despite his own misery, and emptiness, despite his own mental obstruction. He was gifted, courageous, and beyond brave.

Upon hearing the news of Robin passing away, I was upbeat, driving home from engagement photos, and on the radio, as DJ whoever began playing his next techno beat, and the beats of this terrible song faded in, DJ whoever let us know that an icon had passed. But, that was all. Into the techno trance the song went. Instantly, I felt sick. I loved Robin Williams. First thing that came to my mind, was… Is this guy talking about the same Robin Williams that played Mrs. Doubtfire? Like… Patch Adams – Robin Williams? Surely, He’d have done more than just say “oh hey by the way folks before we get to this song…” But, after searching my mind for a few minutes for another Robin Williams, I came to the unfortunate conclusion. Yes. It was… Patch Adams. Typically though, as part of my own constant fight with mental illness, I feel nothing. That’s my usual reaction. Nothing. Emptiness. Even amongst the most tragic events. I don’t usually feel an overwhelming amount of sadness, or despair. I don’t…. usually feel anything. Empty. I try too, but I can’t for anymore than a moment.  But, I felt sad. Abnormally sad, I just had a bad feeling.  I felt connected.  Moments later, I got home… and I think I had already convinced myself I knew how Mr. Williams had passed. I turned on the TV, and it was confirmed. Suicide. My heart sunk, and my stomach twisted immediately. I don’t know how I knew. It just hit me close to home, right away. I just knew.  I felt it.

As sad as it were for me to learn about the news of Mr. Williams, I am not on a personal level with Mr. Williams, therefore, I couldn’t allow myself to be overtaken by the news. I can’t try and feel the same pain that his family and friends feel, I don’t want too. I’ve felt that. But, the hardest part for me in moving on from this one quickly, and not allowing myself to feel anything more than a few moments of sadness was… the rest of us.

I’m not one to follow along to celebrities’ personal troubles. I always believe they are humans alike the rest of us, they just happen to be good at their jobs, and the rest of us care way too much about what they’re doing, and put them under these encapsulated microscopes, and we wait for them to struggle, we wait for bad things to happen to them, and we pounce, we have opinions, comments, we have all the answers to the lives of these robots. As if that’s what they are.

As par for the course, when a celebrity struggles, fights, battles anything. It becomes a global issue for a mere 72 hours. Whether it’s racism, poverty, drugs, crime, physical health, and… Mental health. It’s unfortunate that all of the problems that plague our society are only really discussed at the “trending” level, when one of these robots we hold on a mile-high pedestal is identified with of these issues. Though, I notice this often, I am easily able to just shut off twitter, facebook, TV, radio…etc, and I don’t need to really associate myself with the opinons, and views of “us”… But, this time, I associated myself too close to the matter, and let it get to me.  It was too close to home.

Shortly after learning about the passing of Robin Williams, I posted this…

Devastated by the news of Robin Williams. Too close to home for me. An unfortunate reminder that we can all be victim to mental illnesses. No matter how rich, or how famous, we’re all just human. #RIP Robin Williams.

The response was tremendous, reassuring, almost like people understood this time.  I’ve been talking about mental illness through my social media feeds for a few years now, and I do it without any hesitation now, but I still often am thinking about what other people might be thinking when I do write the stuff.  But, Maybe, just hopefully we’ve had this discussion enough times that we have finally figured it out. We have finally learned that mental illness is real. It is real, it is happening, and it is happening to any kind of person, regardless of pedestal, fame, fortune and power. It does not discriminate, in any way, shape or form. And, Robin Williams is a sad, and unfortunate reminder of this. After posting this, and seeing the responses, I felt better, I felt like maybe we are actually making progress towards accepting mental illnesses, and accepting those who fight this as… normal.

A few days had come and gone, and for whatever reason, I just stayed off of social media. It’s almost as if I knew I was being naïve, and it was too good to be true, so I was avoiding what I was afraid I’d see, and what I knew I’d see.  We have not made any progress. Then, all in the same day, I was no longer able to avoid reality, and avoid society.

Around the same time, my mom had sent me a note that had passed along to her from one of my blogs readers, and she then mentioned to me one of these internet trolls had wrote something absurd about depression, mental illness and suicide being a choice. I just couldn’t fathom it.  Really? Someone could say that?  Really?  I didn’t even really respond, because I didn’t allow myself to believe it. My mom mentioned that she had tried to make this ignoramus aware of their own idiocy.   I remember then, debating with myself. Do I want to read what that troll wrote, and join my mom in letting her know my opinions too, or just leave it because it’ll drive me crazy, and ruin my day.  I went with the latter, but then I opened up my facebook page, and couldn’t believe the comments I saw. Albeit, from an individual that I, and many others hold in quite low esteem, but there behold comments like

“I am sick of the media responses about Robin Williams, he made a choice”

And then equally sized morons commenting

“He had all the fame, fortune, money he could imagine, how could he be sad”

“This isn’t the real Robin Williams we know “

“He made a choice, lets quit talking about him, and talk about the real Robin Williams we know!”

… Are you fucking kidding me? Are you seriously that stupid, and that ignorant? I immediately, had completely lost my faith, once again in our people. Again, the host of these comments, and this discussion is not someone I would trust to tell me the difference between grass and snow, but still, all the more reason he shouldn’t be commenting on these types of issues. I skimmed through the comments at the time, and those four I just typed stick out in my mind like a sore thumb, an engrained image. Nauseating,

  • What choice did he make? To live with an illness that he tried to tolerate, manage and fight for so long that it ultimately became intolerable?
  • Right, So famous people aren’t susceptible to mental illness, just all the other illnesses, they can’t be depressed, or have bi-polar disorder. Not Robin. Not Kurt. Not Wade Belak? Rick Rypien? Derek Boogard?
  • This is the one that really gets me. Who is the Robin Williams that we all know? Is it Patch Adams? Mrs. Doubtfire? Is it Sean Maguire? Those are the Robin Williams we’ve seen, that’s the Robin Williams we’ve come to know. Him in his professional life. Not his personal life. We don’t know the real Robin Williams, this is part of the problem.
  • Again, the problem. Let’s never quit talking about him, his legacy, or his demise. Maybe that will stop the next one.

You haven’t the faintest idea what you’re talking about

It amazes me that people can be so ignorant, and so oblivious to these things. These people that are writing these comments, are the exact reason that people like myself, or people like my sister, or Robin, or Kurt Cobain couldn’t feel like they had the power, or strength to talk about their mental illness. These are the people that make the rest of us feel trapped, feel powerless. These are the people contributing to the stigma that perceives mental illness as negative and shameful, something that isn’t real, something made up. The reason these illnesses get so intolerable that, suicide becomes the only thing left, are these people.  It doesn’t take many of them to eliminate any chance of a platform allowing us to comfortably talk about mental health issues.  If only Robin Williams, or Jen could talk about their fight without any fear or repercussion like these internet trolls, maybe they wouldn’t have felt so entrapped, felt so isolated, so scared, they wouldn’t have felt their illness was so intolerable, and then they’d still be hear making both of us laugh today.   But, instead we attack Robin Williams daughter Zelda on twitter, because we can. Because, we can hide behind our keyboards under our fictional internet name,  and our poor grammar, because it allows us a platform to say the cruelest of things without any worry of repercussion. it’s easy, and nothing will come of it. This is where we put our energy, instead of constructively talking about how we can make mental illness an acceptable illness, like anything else… and understand it is not a choice.

No one chooses to struggle with depression. I don’t remember a morning in my life where I decided I wanted to be depressed, I don’t remember a morning in my life where I thought about my afternoon, and thought, ya, around 2:00 after I have lunch, I’ll try kill myself, because I feel sad today.  This isn’t how it works. It’s not a choice, and it’s not just a shitty day where things aren’t going right, so you decide to mop around at home. It’s not just a crappy week at work.

It’s feeling absolutely nothing, feeling empty, it’s not feeling sad, it’s not feeling happy, it’s not feeling real. It’s failure, it’s feeling complete failure regardless of accomplishments, it’s anxiety, it’s denial, it’s worrying, it’s fear, it’s feeling minute, it’s irrelevance. It’s not a choice. It’s “you’re always afraid to take the first step, because all you see is every negative thing ten miles down the road” It’s real.

 

It’s not a choice

&

 

It’s not your fault

Rest in Peace Robin Williams.  Say hi to Jen for me.

Where had my head gone ?

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Well… I felt it slip away.

Good evening all.

First off, Thank you so much for those of you that read my first couple entries, I had a couple friends tell me they enjoyed it, and my mom.  Thanks. It really means a lot.  I am using the blog, almost as way to cope, and to deal with my own personal struggles. So, by everyone reading it.  I see that you are in this war with me, whether simply to support, or if you live these same struggles yourself.  Either way, It is known, and appreciated.

Lately, I have been on the biggest Matthew Good kick.  He is after all, is hands down my favorite music artist, so that does explain some of it.  But, he is also one of the best individuals I have had the pleasure of meeting, and I can not think of a classier, well-deserved and more humbled artist/celebrity that I respect more.  Matt has always been an advocate to mental health, and a voice for myself, my mom, and especially my sister; Jennifer.  The three of us became, and remain the biggest Matt Good fans in the world, and it is only a matter of time till the young fellas develop the same appreciation.

However, maybe its because I, and my family can relate to Matt on a much more personal level.  As mentioned, he is a big mental health advocate, a role model and was awarded the 2008 Mental Health Voices Award for BC, much in large part due to his excellent work just talking about his illness, and struggles with Bi-polarity. It sounds so easy. All he did was talk, and he won an award.  Well, if it were that easy. So many more people would be alive. Maybe even Jennifer; We’ll never know.  But, talking about it, has and will keep people alive, if only we could all talk about mental health the way we do about sports, the way we do about movies, media, money, hell, even the way we talk about monsters.  James Holmes for example.  If there was as much press about mental health, and the social stigma destroying lives as there were about what James Holmes did when he was 12 years old on Christmas Eve.  Why do we care.  Maybe I am insensitive.  But, he is a monster, he attempted to kill a disturbing amount of people, senselessly.  But, the media and us are all wrapped into him.  Why.  I am willing to bet, you could write a biography on this monster, before you could name 4 of the victims.  This is wrong.  But, that is 2012.

Anyways! Whew. Wild tangent there.  One other thing you will learn while reading my blogs. I have a brain that races about 3000 thoughts a minutes.  I go on and on and on. I have a problem with “short and sweet” It took me awhile to adjust to twitter, they don’t allow for my rants.  WordPress does!!!

OK MATT GOOD! Christ.  Around 2008 is when I lost my sister.  Yes, the same year Matt won his award. I don’t know if he won it before, or after this. But, here is a brief (haha me..brief. haha)  telling of the kind of man Matt Good is, and the kind of people, that struggle with mental health are, for all you naysayers.

Not long after my sister lost her battle, She had tickets to for a scheduled MG show in Vic, (I believe, Vic) Of course, a MG show to Jen was simply euphoria for her.   My mom and I then went and got tickets to the Edmonton show.  Later, my mom emailed MG just telling him about Jen, and how much he meant to her.  A shot in the dark really, he is a celebrity with millions, and millions of fans, and his own wealth of problems  Why would he care. Wrong. He emailed her back promptly, requesting her and I to meet him outside the show at his bus.

Hours later, at the conclusion of the show, that was a sincere emotional challenge.  We made our way to MG exquisite bus. Not really knowing what to expect.  At the front of the line we were, and after the bouncer tried to shoo us off, finally he came back, apologized “Matt would like to see you” Off to the front of the bus we went, Matt, in his post concert wear, a Canadians t-shirt and jeans talked with us for quite awhile.  He chatted about his own struggles, our struggles, my sister, he talked about many things.  Most of all.  He just made us feel good, he took the time to care for strangers.  My mom happened to have a picture of my sister and Matt from a autograph session he did in BC.  This I will never forget, He asked if it were OK if he could keep the picture and keep it on his bus.  I was in total awe.  Here is a million dollar artist, that truly cares.  He really does.

After a long chat with Matt, He took the picture of Jen, and left my mom and I feeling better.  It was the first time I had a real conversation about mental illness with someone, despite it being more listening that anything.

A day or so later, Matt asked if he could write a blog about my sister, and he did.  It was really special, and I read it still today and it brings many a tear to my eyes. (will post shortly)

I just watched Matt play 2 shows in the last couple weeks in both Calgary & Edmonton, and after sending him an email to him last week, just thanking him for all he has done for not only my family, but for the entire community that dances with mental illness. He replied shortly after wishing my family the best, and saying how he was tremendously humbled by my comments.

I still wonder if Matt has that picture in his bus. But, some things I do know.  Is, If there were more personalities such as Matt in that world, Ours would be such a better place.

he means so much to my family, and myself.  And, I know my sister is still playing beautiful midnight upstairs, and I can catch us singing suburbia together sometimes.

Thats a real long one for tonight.

I will copy his blog about Jennifer to another post.

Thank you if you read it all.  Thank you if you read half. It means alot.

And, today… was a good day. We’ll see what tomorrow has in store, but we will talk tomorrow too.

– Good morning, Don’t cop out.