Thank You Canucks.

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Canucks,

I want to thank each of you for the last seven months. I’ve been incredibly fortunate in my coaching career to have had an opportunity to work with some phenomenal teams, and players and I’ve had a blast in many of those years. However, I can honestly say the last seven months has been the most I have had enjoyed coaching minor hockey.  It was funny, the day after we lost out, or maybe it was that night. I can’t remember. I was just sitting on the couch with my wife, watching TV. And I recall just sighing in almost disbelief, and I just muttered… I loved that team. I didn’t expect any response from anyone. I was kind of talking to myself. But, Amanda turned… looked at me, and I could see just how proud even she was of us, and she just said… I know. I could tell all year how much fun you had coaching these guys. I know you enjoyed it. This exchange may not seem like much, but for me… it meant the world, because it was the honest truth.

 

I think back to the spring when I was first asked to coach Midget AA, truthfully, I let my ego get in the way and I declined. Thought, I’ve only ever coached AAA, I can’t do AA. It’s just not for me. Boy, was I ever wrong, and I am so thankful I was called a second time and asked again to coach this team.

 

It was important to me, as it is every year to create a team of character, and good people from good families so I did as much homework prior to the season as I could. Following tryouts, I was thrilled with the group we had, and knew… this is a special group. Now, though our season has ended two weeks quicker than we hoped, I still believe that. I couldn’t be more proud of this team, and every single player. I know for a lot of guys it would’ve been really easy to just pack it in and screw around all year long because it was “Midget AA” and that’s the stigma that’s often associated with Midget AA. But, you didn’t. Not even once. You guys gave us a chance to coach you, and trusted us. Even though I’m sure there were times you thought maybe screw this, or what the hell are we doing. I know we pushed you guys hard, and never once did you guys show any inclination of quitting, though it would’ve been the easier road. You didn’t. Even those late Friday night 8:45 practices, followed by Saturday 10AM practices, you guys gave us everything, and I know that we demanded a lot from all of you.  Everything we asked of you guys, you believed in the process and you did it. From dryland, to continually giving back to the community throughout the year. These aren’t things that should be typical of Midget AA teams. At least not in my experience, but you guys have set the standard in my opinion and I believe it all comes from the deep character of this group. It was refreshing to coach a group of kids who played the game hard, and for the right reasons, for their teammates, and for the love of the game. You just don’t see that very often anymore.

 

I want to thank you guys for everything. I hope that you have been able to learn as much from Geoff, Rye and myself as I can assure we have learned from you guys. Above all else, I hope you guys had fun playing hockey, and have found your love for this great game again and continue to enjoy the game. You’ve spent a lot of time putting in work to this game, and I believe it has the opportunity to take you to great places. Whether that’s on the ice, or off the ice. I truly believe that each and every one of you has an incredibly bright future with whatever path it is you choose. I’ve seen the character, I’ve seen the work, and I’ve seen the resilience. You guys are built for success, and it will find you. As we’ve said all year long, this is a truly special group. This is a group I would go to war with anytime.

 

Lastly, parents. I want to thank you for everything you have done for our team. You guys have been incredibly supportive; it’s been fun to watch. You’ve all done such a terrific job raising these young men. You should be very proud of each of them. They truly gave it all they could this season, and they did it with no one watching except you parents, and us coaches. That is what was so enjoyable. They weren’t playing for anyone or anything other than themselves, and their love of the game. I always believe that a group of parents can help make a team successful, and can often help sink a team even faster. But, I never felt that with this group. I’m sure there were many times you guys were pissed about something, and there were times we made mistakes as coaches but you believed in us and gave us your full trust, and support and I want to sincerely thank you for that. You’ve all done more for this group than you know.

 

I will always consider this group my extended family. I know we’ve been saying this to parents, and players since day 1, and I still mean this from the bottom of my heart, this is truly just a special group. One I will always remember, and always feel very fortunate that I had this opportunity as a coach. You guys have helped me find my passion for hockey, and for coaching once again. I am forever grateful to you for that.

 

Everything we did this year… all the work we’ve put in, all the triumphs from winning the Edmonton tournament, to our fifteen game undefeated streak to the struggles, the injuries we were always overcoming, trying to find our way after the Christmas break, and ultimately our battle with the Rangers that in itself was full of elation, and despair.   It’s all been worth it.

 

It’s honestly been such pleasure, I am forever grateful for the chance to coach this group; I think I speak for Geoff, and Rye as well. Thank you all for the opportunity. It’s been one hell of a ride. Every moment. Thank you.

 

We’ll always be family. Thank you.

 

Coach

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Ohana

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Hi All,

Long time no talk… A few entries ago, I posted a short story my younger brother wrote, it was amazing.  Had lots of feedback from readers how incredible it was, and amazing a 16 year old rat wrote that, lot’s of people couldn’t wait for the next thing from Brody.  Well, I’ve been begging him ever since as he get’s my website hits up.  He claims he is working on another piece with words, but he threw a curveball at me again and sent me these pictures that he drew, and painted.  Have a look (see below).  Remarkable again.  Had no idea the kid was an artist with words, and images.  Very talented.

This blog has provided me many things in my life, it’s provided me solace, happiness and a sense of worth, and some feeling.  But, almost as importantly, it has brought me a stronger relationship with my brother, and taught me of a deeper connection.  We, of course, as brother’s will always have a tight bond, and when you start to count some of the stuff we’ve had to overcome together as brothers, and as a family, that bond is always strengthened, and will always be there.  We’re both wired very similar, and we wage our own personal wars in similar fashions, though likely unhealthy, we often think we can do it ourselves, and we’ll be fine.  Sometimes we are too reluctant to seek help, sometimes dangerously too reluctant.

It’s funny, I remember as kids, though there is a ten year difference between B & I.  I always wondered what is was we’d have in common when he grew up, and what would keep us close like most other brothers you see.  I always thought; hockey, of course.  It’s what I love, and it’s what we did growing up at home.  Mini hockey all the time in the basement, street hockey, I even helped coached one of Brodys novice teams when I was in Gr. 12.  It seemed like the natural course for us.  Connect through sports.

But, now, almost ten years later… at the surface, you wouldn’t think we have much in common, or to connect over other than being brothers.  There’s a wide age gap, Brody is far more masculine than I; he loves outdoors, and hunting.  I don’t know that I’ve ever shot a gun in my life that didn’t fire out Styrofoam darts, and I think my stomach would hurl if I even killed a squirrel.

On the flip-side, I am a hockey, and baseball freak. He’ll sit down and watch the occasional game while we visit, but I know it’s not his preferred activity.  I think for years, I always thought, well what the hell.. this kid brother and I, we got nothing in common.  I loved that he was into different things, I thought it was cool, and it opened me up to things other than a puck, and seamed ball.

But through this blog, I have learned that there is actually so much more that we connect on than a hunting rifle, or a Synergy Si Core.

For better or for worse, our depression.  We’ve both been there, and fought, had days where there seemed like no tomorrow possible.  We’ve both exhausted ourselves fighting ourselves.  We’ve both somehow lived to see another day, to smile another day, and to laugh.  Certainly, if I had a choice… neither him or I would have to live with this illness, and happiness would just come easy for us.  But, that just isn’t the “Courchene” way to do things.  However, it’s has in a unique way I think brought Brody and I much closer together.

Though it’s tough to have your deepest connection with your brother built around your mental illness, it’s brought out so many other things we’ve learned about one another, and been able to share; Art.  Music, words, and now drawings.  As much of a music nerd as I am, Brody is far more knowledgeable about it, plays an instrument, something I always regret not doing, and I am so happy he has chosen to do so.

We share the same passion for music, and what it means to us.  It’s not just a string of words matched to a guitar, it’s not just the bass pounding, or some song about going fishing in your big truck. It’s something far more thorough.

We’ve passed books along to each other of Kurt Cobain, and we have some similar art hung up in our homes/rooms.  Then, you throw the middle brother into it; Kyle and it’s the same thing.  We all have a little Kurt Cobain imagery somewhere in our home spaces.  I think of course… we all love Nirvana, who doesn’t? But, for us it’s more than that…  I remember talking to my therapist about this years ago, that I was freaking myself out with my fascination for Kurt Cobain.  I read tonnes of books about him, had pictures, read online for hours, and went to Seattle basically for a Kurt Cobain tour.  Hung around in Viretta Park for a bit, went to the EMP Museum and took 3,000 pictures.  Amanda had to literally drag me out of the Nirvana exhibit.  When discussing this with my therapist, she said it’s likely Kurt Cobain means more to me than just music,  I am further entwined because it connects me to my sister, because she was a huge Nirvana fan, and that it’s something Jen & I always shared, and can still share.  This made total sense to me, and I think it’s the same thing for Brody, and maybe for Kyle too.  I remember my Dad talking to me about Brody being overly fascinated with KC for awhile too and it freaked him out as well, and I explained to my dad just this, and I think it made sense to him as well.  It’s more than just Nirvana, It’s more than just Kurt Cobain and where he’s from and how he grew up… but, it’s our sister too, and somehow in this weird way that I can’t expect anyone else to understand… but it brings all together.

Beyond the passion we share for music, is writing.  I remember about two years ago, my mom texting me this hilarious story of something Brody said or wrote, something about a house cleaner, I think it was.  I wish I still had this little story she told me, but it was incredibly funny, and clever.  I remember thinking at the time… Man, I hope that kid starts writing.  He’ll be incredible.  Then fast forward to just a few months ago, mom text me “You have to read this story Brody wrote, I emailed it” …  You’ve all read this by now, I am sure, and had that same reaction as me.  Wow.

So while, I spent the first ten years of my younger brother’s life wondering what the hell am I gonna share with this kid, and then forcing hockey down his throat, and longing for us to connect over some stupid sport that I question if I even love anymore… It was all right there in front of me, every day.

We don’t have the relationship most brothers have. It’s hard to say we grew up together, I moved away when Brody was eight years old.  I’ve been home for a summer since, and some weekends.  So things, naturally become a little bit different in our relationship with one another.  Though, we only live four hours away from one another..  we still only manage to see each other a handful of times a year, this is sad when I actually think about it, and write it out, but it’s the truth.  I’d love to spend more time with him, but the same could be said my Kyle, and really, all of my family.  I really would.  But again… just that crazed “Courchene” way.  Together though, Brody and I have been through more shit together than one can imagine is fair for anyone’s lifetime, let alone a pair of brothers 27 & 16.  But, somehow it’s all helped form this unique relationship we have, that I truly believe is as strong as any despite the distance in age, and despite the distances we live.

Though it’s tragedy and darkness.  It’s kept the four of us together. Through the places we’ve come from.  Through where we are today, and how we got there.  Through the music we listen to, and share to connect and feel closer to those we’ve lost.  The war we face every day with ourselves.  Through the words, and images we compose just to try and heal ourselves.

It may be pretty, and it certainly isn’t glorious, or ideal… but it’s brought us here, in a unique, weird, “Courchene” way… it’s kept us all forever entwined.

 

Ohana means family.  Family means nobody gets left behind, or forgotten. 

Ohana.


Take a look at these drawings and paintings Brody put together.

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

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Hey, Mr. Chips,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

… It does get better.

 

The Unfortunate World that has become Spring Hockey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Name
  • Position
  • Previous Team

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let him play with his friends, maybe!!!

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

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

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

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

Have a great year!

Grocery Store Wars – At My Most Chill

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

The single greatest day of my life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

My Beautiful Girl

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

I love you, my beautiful girl.

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

 

 

Fighting to Survive the Gaps in Mental Health Services

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Last week, I teamed up with a mental health awareness program out of London, Ontario to provide some writing material.  Each week I will be contributing to Mind Your Mind on different topics regarding mental health.  My first article with Mind Your Mind was regarding the gaps that are found in mental health services, and the challenges that come with them.  Below is the article, please read, please enjoy, and if you’ve had a similar experience… Let me know!

Keep following along with Mind Your Mind, as they have some excellent writers on board, and have plenty of other unique things going on!

My first article with Mind Your Mind – Click Below!!!

Fighting to Survive the Gaps in Mental Health Services – Blair Courchene

Hope you enjoy, as always, thank you so much for reading.

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.