100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself: #56.

This one is going to be extremely difficult for me to write so it’s going to be brief but here goes…

#56: Your Father.

Maybe you refer to him as “The Old Man” or “Pops” (if you exist in a black-and-white film). But whatever moniker you choose to bestow upon him, your progenitor should be one of the people in your life whose judgement is always first and foremost in your mind. And why wouldn’t he be?

If you’re female them your dad helps you form an image of the perfect mate, apparently. Personally, I’ve always found this theory icky but millions of humans subscribe to it so who am I to argue? And there’s no denying a good father will show his daughter qualities like integrity, honor, respect and of course, understanding, that she’d be foolish not to seek out when she’s ready to enter the dating arena.

And for males the father figure is key to developing a non-douchey personality. A good man will teach his charge to:

  • Be honest with himself and others.
  • To do the right thing. Always. Regardless of the cost.
  • Always own his mistakes and most importantly, accept their value.
  • Respect his romantic and sexual partners.
  • Be accepting of others, regardless of race, creed and what-not. Even if they like wearing socks with sandals or the Kardashians.
  • A million other lessons I’m not thinking of right now.

The truth is, I didn’t have the childhood I deserved. Of course, neither did billions of others – but they have my permission to bitch about on their blogs if they like.

As for me, I may not be able to speak from experience but I know that if you love your father you’ll consider him when and if suicide ever crosses your mind.Fortunately, I was blessed to have one of the finest men I’ve ever known become my father-in-law; John Fisher helped me become a better father and man in general.

 

Red Forman has always been my parenting template. Yep.

Reach out to the man who helped raise you and if he’s done his job right, you won’t ever have to fear his judgement. I can only hope that I’m a better source of wisdom and understanding than my own patriarch was and that my daughter will never have to hesitate when it comes to reaching out to her “Skippy” for whatever she might need. Like cash. But not breakfast, lunch or dinner. Unless she wants Wendy’s, that is.

See you in the lobby, kids…

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself: #57.

I have a confession to make.

It’s one that will shock some of you and inspire a few of you to utter the words, “Is the Hook serious? How is this even possible?”

The truth is, while I am rarely serious, I am about to tell the truth and trust me, we’re living in the age of trump: Anything is possible. So here we go…

I’ve never tried coffee.

Yes, I swear I’m fully human, my wife had me tested. And yes, I realize many of you are terrified and/or mystified right now, mainly because today’s reason to live holds a special place in your lives.

#57: Coffee.

It’s the drink that keeps the world chugging along; Coffee plants are now cultivated in over seventy countries, proving that there really are some things beyond the need to procreate and wage war that bind us all together. You can have it any way you like:

  • Espresso. (If you’re feeling particularly snooty.)
  • French press. (Whatever the hell that is.)
  • Caffè latte. (If you’re feeling Italian.)
  • With a shot of meth. (Don’t laugh, I’ve known a few guests who liked it that way. I don’t know them anymore, though.)

Visit any workplace in the free world and and you’ll see people who literally cannot function without their first cup of coffee in the morning. And then their second. Then they’re third and so on.

 

Be like Bill.  You know you want to.

Visit any college or university dorm (with a pass, of course) on a Monday morning and you’ll see coffee’s restorative powers revive hundreds of young people after they’ve punished their bodies past the point of sanity. 

It helps moms, dads, nannies, cops, robbers, and virtually everyone with the exception of me get through their day. If the world was a machine coffee would be it’s oil. Indeed, some medical practitioners genuinely believe coffee can help people live longer.

According to java legend, ancestors of today’s Oromo people in a region of Kaffa in Ethiopia were believed to have been the first to recognize the energizing effect of the coffee plant, especially after one of their legendary raves. (Hey, you don’t know they didn’t have raves back then. They probably just included human sacrifice.) The story of Kaldi, the 9th-century Ethiopian goat herder who discovered coffee when he noticed how excited his goats became after eating the beans from a coffee plant (there’s a dirty joke in there somewhere) also became legendary but is surpassed by the tale of Sheikh Omar.

Omar, who was known for his ability to cure the sick through prayer, was once exiled from Mocha in Yemen to a desert cave near Ousab. Starving, Omar chewed berries from nearby shrubbery but found them to be bitter. (What a shock.) He eventually tried boiling them to soften the seed, which resulted in a fragrant brown liquid. Upon drinking the liquid Omar was revitalized and sustained for days. As stories of this “miracle drug” reached Mocha, Omar was asked to return and was made a saint.

This explains the power of Starbucks in the modern world.

A Canadian hockey player built a business that eventually became an empire in more capable hands, around a simple cup of Joe. Tim Hortons is more than a place to grab a cuppa, it’s a part of the fabric of my home and native land.

Coffee is as essential as blood and oxygen to some of us and that’s all right. If you’re one of the many who worship at the altar of the bean make sure you seek out a premium cup when the walls begin closing in. It’s better to be jittery and energized than sad and depleted. I’ll say it again, so get used to it: Take solace in the little things when you need something to keep you going.

I could say more but I don’t want to. It’s difficult for me to write about something I’m not an expert in, which is why you’ll never see a lengthy post from me about DIY, sports or Tantric sex. Thank Dog, right?

I won’t see you at Timmies or Starbucks, but I’ll see you in the lobby, kids…

 

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself: #58.

One of the greatest challenges we face as human beings (besides learning to work the remote) is discovering our place in the world.

To be clear, I’m not interested in launching a metaphysical discussion today. No, today we’re focusing on geography not philosophy. 

#58: Your “Spot”.

For Sheldon Cooper his preferred location on the couch is the “single point of consistency” in an ever-changing world. Oh sure, he rambles on about cross breezes and views of the television from his spot, but at the end of the day he just feels “right” while in that position in the universe. Sheldon may just be a fictional character (my apologies to those of you who believe otherwise) but his wisdom, intentional or not, is priceless.

Sometimes all we need to get us through a storm is a place to hunker down and wait it out.

 

If you’re like me and have been blessed with IBS, your spot is in the bathroom where you literally sit to wait out a shit storm. Yes, this turned dark and icky quick, but if I don’t laugh at my life I’ll spend my days crying – blogging – about it and no one wants that.

It may be your position in the living room or at the kitchen table, but having a locale to call your own can make all the difference in the world. Sometimes that spot won’t be in your home at all.

I hang my bellman’s uniform in Niagara Falls, a city known for it’s breathtaking views that make you want to urinate every twelve seconds. That fact notwithstanding, there a few residents of Niagara that have found outdoor spots to call their own. These spots offer both a serene view of the Falls and unbelievably, peace of mind among the masses with their cameras, devices, and screaming spawn who continually ask why the family didn’t choose to visit a Disney park rather than “a giant hole in the ground filled with falling water”.

Needless to say, these spots are invaluable and not easily located. But they’re worth seeking out. Fortunately, the entire Niagara region has thousands of similar spots and while they don’t all offer views of falling water, they’re every bit as calming and breathtaking.

Of course, you may be cut from a different cloth and prefer the hustle and bustle (whatever the hell that means) of the big city to help you find your center. If so, get thee to a metropolis teeming with mammals and gas guzzling, carbon monoxide spewing vehicles and get your crowd on!

Some of us prefer the track, the gym, our favorite eatery or even the theater or movieplex. Wherever you feel most at home is where you need to be when the metaphorical walls start closing in. It was his day off but one of my bellman colleagues, Peter, decided to join us at work the morning after we finally received word of Rockin’ Ronnie’s ultimate fate.

“I just needed to be here with the boys.” was the only explanation he could offer but it was more than enough. He knew where his spot needed to be on that day and even though the circumstances were tragic he nevertheless found solace in that place.

Being in his spot got Peter through a horrible day. Find your spot and hunker down there whenever you need to, for as long as you need to. Sometimes, not often, but sometimes, it’s a simple as that.

See you in the lobby, friends… 

 

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself: #59.

I’m going to kick things off with a quote from the philosopher Murray:

“When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. “

As always, well said, Bill. But I’m not suggesting winter is worth living for; we’ve been there and done that already. No, I’m merely reminding you that winter doesn’t last forever. Even Phil Connors was freed from his time loop prison eventually.

#59: Spring!

It is intrinsically linked to the concepts of rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal, resurrection and regrowth. There are lots of “re’s” associated with this season, which is a sort of middle child in the seasonal family tree. Spring begins and ends at different points in time depending on where you lay your hat.

In the Northern Hemisphere (like in the land of those would-be world conquerors, the Germans) the astronomical equinox between March 19th and 21st marks the first day of spring, and the summer solstice around June 21st is taken as the first day of summer. In Persian culture the first day of spring is the first day of the first month (called Farvardin) which begins on the 20th or 21st of March.

According to the Celtic tradition, which is based solely on daylight and the strength of the noon sun, spring begins in early February, near Imbolc or Candlemas (Christmas for candles?) and continues until early May (Beltane).

As far as anyone is concerned, you are now a world traveler. You’re welcome.

But getting back to spring, many of us develop cabin fever over the course of the winter and it can suck the zeal out of you faster than a mother-in-law at a family dinner. Our pets feel the effects of winter too; being stuck inside for months instead of being able to roam free (and leave your waste all over my yard) isn’t easy for those with the instinct to run free. Squirrels and most other actual wildlife, whether they be domestic or otherwise, were also born to enjoy the warmer weather.

 

Toby (he looks like a “Toby”, doesn’t he?) loves springtime – and crapping on your lawn.

 

Fun fact: I shovel a path from our front porch to the tree in our front yard every time it snows so our local squirrel population can reach the treats and leftovers my wife leaves for them. She also leaves food out for the skunks, possums, rabbits, cats and whatever the hell else is roaming out there at night or waiting to chase me in the wee hours of the morning when I’m walking to work. Ain’t she the best?

But I think winter must be hardest on plant life. Can you imagine being rendered catatonic for months by your environment? Yes, I realize I just described every federal government employee on both sides of the border, but focus, people! Spring resurrects flowers and other plant life, which in turn gives life back to bees, birds and the homeowners in my neighborhood.

It brings back delicious scents, more hours of sunlight, moderate temps, green grass, vegetable gardens, the human desire to travel, leaves on trees (which you eventually have to rake up!), open windows, outdoor exercise routines, and a bunch of other stuff that I’m not smart enough to consider.

But it’s the rebirth part that should concern us most today. Spring is a perfect time to let hope back into your heart and give life a chance again. Step outside and let the warmer wind blow across the stress lines on your face. Let the sun dry your tears. Breathe in the scents of spring and let them rejuvenate your spirit.

Life is hope and no season better embodies life than springtime. 

See you in the lobby, people…

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself: #60.

It goes by many names: Mother Nature’s tears, God’s spit, Paul Bunyan’s sweat, to name a few.

And even some that are just plain silly. But above all, rain is one of those things that is all things to all people.

#60: Rain.

Yes, rain. Pipe down and bear with me, it’ll be worth it.

It gives life to the earth on which we grow food and is praised by farmers, ranchers, Native Indians who think they’re responsible for it, and every Italian in Niagara Falls with a home garden. And that’s a lot of Italians.

It denies life to dehydrated patches of land, creating crippling famine and is cursed by millions of people in the Sudan, Egypt and other places across the globe. (Though to be fair, God takes the brunt of the cursing.)

It is one of the most valuable resources on earth and is home to Aquaman, Namor the Submariner, Lagoon Boy (a real hero, I swear!), Mera and other superheroes who are constantly ridiculed.  Fish love it, pedestrians traveling too close to the road hate it, and it’s a godsend to freeloading birds looking for a shower.

On the flip-side, it also causes erosion and pisses off ants and other ground-dwelling insects something fierce.

Acid rain can screw with the overall pH level of a body of water and seriously alter the water’s ecosystem, wiping out fish and decreasing the biodiversity in the water in question. Plants that are sensitive to high pH levels can bite the biscuit as well, thus eliminating food sources. Finally, the increased presence of nitrogen in acid rain can also lead to an increase in toxic algae, which can effect the safety of shellfish consumed by humans. So acid rain pretty much bites the big one.

Told you I suck at being positive. Good thing I’m writing a series designed to talk you out of suicide, right?

But rain truly is a gift rather than a curse. Where would lovers in search of a special moment be without it? Sure, unless they’re in a movie anyone making out in the pouring rain is more likely to wind up with pneumonia than a healthy afterglow, but at that spit-swapping moment they’re on top of the world!

And anyone who has ever watched a storm from a lakeside view or a skyscraper knows that rain can leave you breathless. In fact, if you are wavering I dare you to go to an open widow or out on your porch or back deck during the next rainstorm and just…. Close your eyes and listen.

Really listen to the sound of the rain hitting your roof, the trees, the fur of any raccoons dumb enough to be out in a storm. Stick your hand out and feel the rain; let it penetrate your skin and being. And if its’ warm enough, step out into the rain and don’t just feel it… Experience it.

It can be transcendent.

Though I must caution you: Attempting to recreate that moment from The Notebook can be hazardous to your health. You’ve been warned.

See you in the lobby, amigos…

 

Pneumonia is a wild ride, kids.

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself: #61.

As Hawkeye Pierce once said, an egg is an amazing thing.

It is one of the few things in life that can only be enjoyed after you break it.

But I’m being premature, aren’t I? (I’m secure enough in my masculinity to admit that). Let’s do the title thing:

#61: Eggs.

I love eggs. To be clear, there are many things in life that I like, such as sunrises, sunsets, watching old people smile (it’s nice because you know they’re going to be dead soon), eating a cheeseburger, and sixty-five more. But there are only a handful of things I love.

I suck at actually making every variety of egg (I was going to say I suck at actually producing them, but that’s a whole other ball game) but consuming a plate of freshly-scrambled eggs is akin to pure bliss in my books. Some of my fondest memories of my late creator involve her, as she put it, “Slaving over a hot stove to make you a hot breakfast!” (As opposed to slaving over a cold stove.) It may have broken her will, but my mom’s scrambled eggs made my childhood much more bearable. And my grandmother seemed to be happiest whenever we sat down as a family to devour her food, especially her egg-focused breakfasts.

Light, fluffy and smothered in salt. Scrambled eggs and women are both divine when served this way. Yes, feminists everywhere are screaming my name right now, but it’s all in the cause of making you laugh so I’m willing to take the hits.

There are millions of ways to produce eggs, especially the scrambled variety (I am neither a chef or a mathematician so don’t quote me) but I’ve always felt that eggs produced with love – whether they’re from a hen or a family member – taste the best. Food nourishes our bodies and keeps us alive, certainly, but as today’s guest will tell you, the perfect meal, of any scale, will nourish your soul as well.

Paula Roy has devoted her life to helping others see – and taste – the beauty of a simple meal prepared to perfection. With almost two decades’ worth of experience as a food journalist, she has enjoyed considerable success as a freelance recipe developer and spokesperson for national brands. Although we’ve never met in person she is someone I feel comfortable asking for money, and I can think of no better endorsement than that.

I knew when I started this post that I’d need an expert’s inspirational touch and so I asked her for an egg recipe to share with you. I had no idea she’d come though in epic fashion, with no less than five awesome creations. Paula’s creations will bring a smile to your soul that will last far longer than the meal (you’ll devour it in seconds, that’s how good it’s going to be) especially when shared with someone you love. And speaking of love, this first offering will give you a chance to bond with your kids while filling their bellies.

Breakfast tortilla cups

 

What’s that? You’d like seconds? All righty, then!

 

breakfast enchiladas

Make-ahead breakfast enchiladas

 

I’m going to save the remainder of Paula’s recipes/gifts to foodies for another day. Fair warning: Food plays a big role in this series so expect more gastronomical reasons to remain in the land of the living. And I admire anyone who can create dishes that are more complicated than frozen pizza. (Which means I admire everyone in the world except myself.)

Until she appears here again you can find more of Paula Roy’s delicious work here and here.

 

OTTAWA, ON. DECEMBER 9, 2013 — Paula Roy makes delicious edible gifts in her Ottawa kitchen Monday. (Julie Oliver/Ottawa Citizen) #115362. LIFE. Sonia Mendes.

See you in the lobby, friends…

 

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100 Reasons To Not Kill Yourself: #62.

Today’s post is my attempt to turn a negative into a positive; it has nothing to do with my mental deficiencies, I swear.

You buying this?

Either way, here we go…

#62: Burn Out.

Yes, I’m actually suggesting that “burn out” or “writer’s block” if you’re a scribe, can be something that makes life with living. I’ll be following this post up with pieces on erectile dysfunction and mother-in-laws. I just lost half of you, didn’t I?

Come back!

Whew, now that that’s over, let’s get going.

While it’s true that I am indeed feeling a little mentally singed right now there is a method to my madness. Adversity tests our resolve, it pushes us to the brink of despair and while many of us crack and make that final choice of our lives to end it all, there are those who rise up and fight on.

And that’s what I’m doing. By writing an obvious filler inspirational post. Feeling burnt out is something we all experience more and more these days. Between 24-hour news channels feeding us non-stop political debacles, social media posts about every minuscule aspect of human life, more entertainment programs than we could ever possibly watch (on our phones, no less) there’s just too much sensory input for our minds to absorb.

It’s frakkin’ exhausting.

 

But so is life. But it’s hard for a reason… Apparently.

Then there are the usual pressures of life: relationship challenges, raising a child in the age of cyber-bullying, the struggle to earn a living wage, a new strain of flu popping up every nanosecond, and literally a million things I don’t have the courage to consider. I never stopped to judge my friend when he took his life and I’ll never presume to judge anyone who feels so lost that they would rather be dead than alive, but goddammit, life is struggle. We fight to escape the womb and we continue fighting our whole lives.

But it’s worth it.

And the fight, the exhaustion, the burn out, is worth it.

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien channeled the spiritual exhaustion he felt after being thrust into a global conflict to make The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings literary masterpieces. But he took twelve years to do so.

Be Tolkien. take your time. Don’t let your burn out fry your soul, take it as an opportunity to rest and recharge. And who knows? The break may be all you need to rise above and accept one of the most important truths of your life:

It’s okay to buckle under the weight of your existence every once in awhile. Sometimes we lose. Accept it, catch your breath, enjoy a sunset or two and get back in the game. How are you going to learn how to get up if you don’t fall down?

Got it? Great. Now I have to go catch my breath and hope this writer’s block crumbles soon; there’s still a lot of work to be done.

See you in the lobby, kids…

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