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

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Hey, Mr. Chips,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

… It does get better.

 

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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.

The Significance of Music & My Hall of Fame List

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After writing a rather difficult entry tonight “Praying for Newtown & Mankind”  I thought I’d go in a different direction to cap off a rather good night.  I’ve wanted to put together a blog entry on the value music has on me.  But, I just have never really got around too it, for a multitude of reasons.  A) I’ve meant to write about it, but I go in 14 different directions. B) I am in the midst of a struggling 2014-15 season with the Edmonton Oilers in NHL 13.  Major Stanley Cup hangover.  I guess it even happens in video games.  Damnit.  But, before I get going on my frustrations with there, and it begins with my goaltending.  Pathetic.  Haha.  Ok, Music.

Music is, and always has been something that has been of significant sentimental value to me.  I don’t go anywhere often without listening too it.  Work, Working out, driving, gaming, even writing in this blog!  It often is inspiring and gets me in that mood so i can become an absolute wordsmith (kidding)  I have been fortunate enough as well, to have been raised around good music.  While, I may not have known it then.  I certainly appreciate the hockey road trips too and from Cold Lake, Lloydminster, Spruce Grove or wherever the hell else we were going where my mom would blast what I thought to be shit at the time.  Elton John, Alanis, The Hip, Paul Simon, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan… even Matthew Good, though I always liked him when I was younger, I could never admit that I liked music Mudder liked.  Now, much of the music I listen too now, is much of the same I had to listen too then.  Thankfully, her music tastes wore onto me.  Music is something that I am so passionate about, that I simply can not handle shitty music.  There is no quicker trigger to me being more fucking miserable then having to hear a shitty song.  Basically anything by Pitbull, or any other song where you only need to hear half of it while it comes on the radio station at the mall…  And while it is muffled and quiet, you still know every word next time the song comes on the radio…1 hour later.  Too me, good music is not that.  This is why when Amanda and I drive anywhere, I drive.  For the simple reason that, I can control the music.  No one else.  No one dare messes with my stereo controls!  It’s a bad habit, and selfish habit.  But, I get so easily annoyed, and frustrated when someone is playing horrible music around me.  I am sorry, but a song about the DJ pumping you up at the club… That isn’t music.  It’s a bunch of shitty noise.  Good music is well-written, it’s clever, it’s resonating, plus it sounds good.    Music that you need to listen too a few times to maybe understand what it means.  Music that is just well put together, as a whole.  Thats good music.  Something that sounds good, and lyrics that keep you involved, and every time you listen to the song, you pick up on something else, or it triggers something for you.  These are the songs that mom and my sister used to play when I was 11, 12 years old and I hated them because they maybe didn’t sound cool back then, or because the artist wore purple glasses with star lenses.   Now, I appreciate that.  Thankfully I grew up.  A little bit.

Another reason for my extreme passion in song, is just the sentimental value it holds.  It was something that was a huge part of my sister’s life.  She loved music.  She was always playing it.  and while, I was younger, I would pretty well listen to whatever it was she listened too, because I thought it was cool & hip.  She just had such a wide-range of taste in music.  Taught me too really open up my tastes in music, which I never could in the past. I used to be a 1-2 genre kind of person.  Now, if you were to ask me what I like, I would ask you first what kind of mood do you want me to answer for, because it changes.  I can be listening to Garth Brooks one morning, too anything by Maynard Keenan by the afternoon, and then 2pac in the evening.  I never used too be able to do this, I would never open up too it.  I think it’s something that my sister really taught me, and I sincerely appreciate.

Music is something that is extremely important too me, it is at times inspiring, sentimental and therapeutic for me.  But, if you ever want too see my lose my shit.  As I said, Turn on Amp 90.3, or any station of the like.  I will instantly turn from the happiest fellow, to the worst.   This truly is the only thing that can, and will make me the grumpiest man on the planet at the push of the seek button.  I think a lot of people could vouch for this.  I just turn miserable, grouchy and gutless.  What can I say.  I hate shitty noise, and that’s what it is!  While, there is “bad music” that I do like.  And, I recognize that it is bad, but I don’t mind it.  It’s typically short term.  Ie.  Nickelback, Drake, the odd techno-house-dubstep…. whatever it is called music.  I do like some of that stuff, but it’s more of “in-the-moment” thing, and it certainly doesn’t hold any sentimental value for me.

So, in conclusion.  I thought I would create a list of some of my favorite all time songs.  These are some MY all time favorite songs.  I don’t give a rats ass if you like them or not, or where they are on your list.  Because, we are not the same.  These songs qualify  for my list, because they are songs I heard many moons ago, and I still listen too them regularly today.  This too me, is how you qualify a “favorite song”  Favorite songs take time.  A song that came out this summer, has not been out long enough to qualify as a favorite.  If I still listen to it in 4 years… Then, we call it.  It’s like getting into the Hockey Hall of Fame.  Dirt Road Anthem is certainly waiting!  Additionally, they are songs that just mean something too me.  Whether, its a lyric, or a sound that brings a special moment too mind.  And, most of these songs…  Are songs I was introduced too by mostly my mom and sister.  (Sorry Dad… but, I just don’t care much for AC/DC & Jerky Boys) Although, Garth certainly came from you!  Thanks old man.  And maybe Kickstart my Heart. Which, makes the hall.

In no particular order.

  1. Drinking in LA – Bran Van 3000
  2. Yellow Ledbetter – Pearl Jam
  3. Round Here – Counting Crows
  4. Wild Horses – Rolling Stones
  5. Outside – Aaron Lewis
  6. Hello Time Bomb – Matthew Good Band
  7. Kickstart My Heart – Motley Crue
  8. Smells like Teen Spirit – Nirvana
  9. Ironic – Alanis Morrisette
  10. Suburbia – Matthew Good Band
  11. Nautical Disaster – The Tragically Hip
  12. Tiny Dancer – Elton John
  13. Bennie & the Jets – Elton John
  14. Bobcaygeon – The Tragically Hip
  15. The Dance – Garth Brooks
  16. Rodeo – Garth Brooks
  17. Silver Jet – The Tragically Hip
  18. Fiddlers Green – The Tragically Hip
  19. Judith – A Perfect Circle
  20. You Oughta Know – Alanis Morrisette
  21. The Fall of Man – Matthew Good Band
  22. Champions of Nothing – Matthew Good
  23. ….  Just add basically any Matthew Good song to this list.  I will just say that instead of adding them.
  24. Jesus Christ – Brand New
  25. Everything You Want – Vertical Horizon
  26. If You’ll be my Bodyguard – Paul Simon
  27. Inside Out – Eve 6
  28. Suburbia – Matthew Good Band (Had to acknowledge this song – Was one of Jens favs)
  29. First TIme – Finger Eleven
  30. Hey Jealously – Gin Blossoms
  31. Unwell – Matchbox 20
  32. Lightning Crashes – Live
  33. Fast Car – Tracy Chapman
  34. 46 & 2 – Tool
  35. And, about 35 more Tragically Hip songs!

That’s my elongated list of my favorite songs.  You might not like some of the listed songs, and may argue, but, thats why it is my list, and your opinion is completely irrelevant.  However, by definition of “good music” I am confident, not a single song listed could be argued.  Sooo. Pound sand.

Thank you too my mom, my sister and my dad for bringing me up around good sounds!

….  Brody, I will teach you soon!