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I’m already sick of the whole Lance Armstrong story. Here’s my view on it. He lied. Then he sued people who said he lied. He’s worth $100 million dollars… for lying. People who don’t lie, or cheat, struggle to get by while this clown lives in a massive mansion in Texas. Google it, you’ll be impressed. Speaking of his house, he once used 330,000 gallons of water for his acre of gardens and swimming pool, at a time when Texas was going through a dry spell. When asked about it, he said that he didn’t know; “I’m a little shocked,” he said. “There’s no justification for that much water.” He added, “I need to fix this.” Really???

And to those people who say, “You have to respect him for admitting it”, I say “No, no I don’t!” He is still lying. He has only admitted to doping and PED’s up until 2005, because the statute of limitations has expired on any of the crimes he committed before that. He denies doping since 2005 because he could still be prosecuted. The USADA, however, has found “that it was not only likely that Armstrong used banned substances in 2009-10, but highly probable. In the view of USADA, Armstrong’s test results provided a “compelling argument consistent with blood doping”.” (from TSN Website)

Lastly, to anyone who says “but he has done so much for cancer research”, I have two words for you; the first word is Terry and the second one is Fox.

In other news, I can’t quite bring myself to keep up with the Manti Te’o story, but I still have an opinion. There are enough idiots out there pretending to be someone else that I believe anyone could get duped. How many fat, lonely, middle aged guys go online pretending to be a hot guy or girl? Did he make it all up? Probably. But is it possible that someone pretended to be Lennay Kekua as a joke, but then took it too far? Yes it is. I just wish I was interested enough to find out the whole story.

On a lighter note, the NHL is back. I hate it when people say “Hockey is back!” Hockey didn’t go anywhere, the NHL did. Anyhow, can someone tell me why I should care? If my wife left me 3 times in 10 years, I’d tell her not to come back. If your friends treated you the way the NHL has, you’d end the friendship, yet people are flocking back to the NHL in droves. Most of these people are the same ones who, a month ago, swore they were done with professional hockey. I guess the NHL has a grip on Canadian culture and consciousness that cannot be loosened. I don’t know if I will stay away from the NHL forever, for I do truly love the sport of hockey and, unfortunately the NHL is the best hockey on the planet, but I will forever refuse to refer to the product the NHL puts on the ice simply as ‘hockey’. It is a business first, entertainment a distant second, and lastly a sport. But it is not hockey, at least not in the context I was raised to believe hockey should be. And it will be a long time before they get any more of my money.

Conrad Bain died this week. It went largely unnoticed, but he was always one of my favourites. He was best known for Diff’rent Strokes where he played a man who took in two children from a completely different background and raised them as a loving father. I was in a foster home when Diff’rent Strokes was on, and I could sympathize with the ordeals of Willis and Arnold. However, I wasn’t treated nearly as well as Mr. Drummond treated his boys, so I looked up to him as a ray of hope. Later on, as one of his TV children faced serious legal issues, and his other two children from the show died, I couldn’t help but think of Mr. Drummond, and how destroyed he would have felt. Few people know he was Canadian born, and an accomplished Shakespearean and Broadway actor.

One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to blog more. Believe it or not, but I’ve had a few people prodding me to write more. It has been a long (but good) week, so this is all I could think of. I sometimes feel like I need a theme, or a direction. My older brother Ken writes a great blog about his journey of healing and self discovery. (Check him out, he has a wonderful message and some great insights – http://kenjaques.com/) But that’s not me, at least not yet. I write what’s on my mind. Not everything that’s on my mind, and you should be thankful for that. I have my struggles, and my beliefs, but my biggest struggle is that my beliefs aren’t reflected in my lifestyle. It would be like a vegan being told they have to eat meat to survive. Thankfully my “issues” are not fundamental in scope, or dramatic in nature, but they do drive me a bit batty at times. Still, my point is, I should, and will, write more.

I am not going to wish you a Happy New Year, but I will wish you a successful one. “Happy” is a subjective state, and can change hour to hour, day to day. But success is measurable, be it financially, emotionally, spiritually, or other. Successful people are, generally, happy people. And so I wish you much success in 2013.

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I suck at small talk. Seriously, get past the weather, and maybe the latest news story, and I can’t think of anything to say. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just that nothing comes to mind. If you’re a sports fan, then there’s a chance I can keep the conversation going for a few more minutes, but it’s always destined to wither. Which is sad really, because we all have something interesting to say, but bringing it all up in a “small talk” situation is often difficult. That’s what’s so great about blogs, I don’t need to talk about the weather, politics, of what restaurant serves the best burger. I can just say what I want to say!

So, what to say…? Well, I love learning about people, and culture. When I travel, it’s not to see the sights as much as it is to meet and learn about the people. Since I can’t learn about you here, I am going to tell you some things about me, some things you probably didn’t know, and some things that make me an individual. Some good, some bad, some happy, some sad. But they all make me ME. If you are still reading, I am going to assume you are still interested, and/or you care. Thanks!

1. I’ve hitchhiked across Canada… in January! OMG the cold!!! I left London, ON on Jan.4, 1991, and arrived in Vancouver 5 days later, in a heavy snow storm. I wasn’t impressed! I had always wanted to see Vancouver so I thought it a good idea to come out here for 6-12 months, make some money, and move back to Ontario. That was 21 years ago.

2. I was a homeless person. Seriously. From the summer of 1990 to Jan. 1991 I didn’t have a home. It was totally my own fault and I was far too embarrassed to ask for help. Trust me, pride had nothing to do with it. I slept in an old car behind a garage, and did a few odd jobs for food money. I never begged for money, except one time I needed a quarter to ride the bus to a job interview. (To this day I have a very difficult time asking for money, even if it’s owed to me)  I remember one time I hadn’t eaten for 3 days when I found a half a bag of popcorn outside of a cinema in Waterloo. That was one of my better days that year. Like I said, that experience made me who I am today. And I know the value of a dollar.

3. I have taken a swim in 3 of the world’s ocean. And I have stepped foot on 3 continents, plus Oceania. 4 more continents, but only 2 more oceans to go, and I will swim in them before I die. I just hope that it’s not the last thing I do…

4. When I was 15ish I was at a church camp, and we had to make a list of goals. I wasn’t terribly keen on the importance of goals, so things like money, family, or a career weren’t on that list. At the time  goals meant dreams, and I didn’t really put much stock in them, thinking them unreachable. Most wqere fantastic or unreasonable (I don’t think I’ll get to walk on the moon) but the top three things on that list have been accomplished! 1. See Vancouver, 2. Learn to Scuba dive, 3. See the Taj Mahal! If you knew the simplicity of my childhood, you would understand how dreamy those goals were. Number 4 was to write a book… I’m sorta working on that. 5 was to be a professional baseball or hockey players. I don’t think I’ll achieve that one.

5. Something I have always wanted to do since I was a small child was to see the Olympics. More specifically, I wanted to see Canada win a gold medal at the Olympics. I was lucky enough to enjoy that privilege when I was able to watch the Canadian women’s hockey team beat the Americans 2-0 at the 2010 Winter Games. The best part was that I was with my family, and my girls got to see something at 6 and 2 that it took me 42 years to see. That was really cool!

6. I grew up in a very “hick” part of the world. As children we knew very little of the world, and I don’t think I saw a non-Caucasian person up close until I was in high-school. On top of that I don’t ever interacted with an Oriental person until I was in university. It was just the time and place I grew up in. Yet, I ended up marrying a girl who was born in India and raised in the Middle East. Two of my best friends growing up married girls from Iran and Argentina. That may not seem like a big deal these days, but I still look back at where I was 30 years ago and think that’s pretty darn amazing.

7. I grew up in a foster home. From the age of 6 until the age of 13 my brother and I were sheltered and fed by a foster family. 6 years were spent on a farm, doing a lot of farm work, growing corn and soy beans, and raising pigs and chickens. To this day I hate working in a field.

8. I’ve been shot. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

There is more, of course. All of us have stories that would impress others. It makes us who we are. Now, I would love to hear a story from you. I have opened my book of life to you, and would love to see a page or two of yours.

We had to give up our puppy this week. It was very hard on the girls, especially considering it was their Christmas present, but there were just too many health issues with asthma and allergies to keep her. I am optimistic they will forgive me one day, especially considering their breathing and sniffling has already improved dramatically. Well, their sniffling has improved, it has diminished. I think “improved” sniffling would be a bad thing… but I digress. 

Although being in a house without a dog is a terrible thing, I know that I will be just fine. A canine companion is, after all, a privilege, not a right. This got me to thinking, ‘What else could I do without?” Whenever one hears that questions, material goods invariably come to mind, to which I say “BULLSHIT! All of it!” I happen to love my 42″ LCD, and all the educational programming it brings me. My PS3 and its wonderful ability to let me shoot people without remorse or grow rich without work is a wonderful gift that technology has bestowed upon me, and I am determined to keep it. My car is a lot more comfortable than a bus seat, and my smart phone is being surgically attached to me as soon as I can find a surgeon who will do that for me. So, after a lot of thought, here are 10 things that I could do without, in no particular order. 

  • The Kardashians. Okay, I know I said “no particular order” but there is a reason this is the first thing on my list. These camera whores have absolutely NOTHING to contribute to society, yet they make more money than all the teachers in an entire school district. In my opinion, the Kardashians (and the Hiltons, the Snooki’s & Situations of the world, etc) are really what’s wrong with Western Society. If people put the time, money, and effort into feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, or helping the elderly that they putting into these pseudo-humans, the world would be a much nicer place. 
  • Politics. As some of you know, I grew up with a passion for politics. I even studied in university, until Mulroney got a second term. I am not as ardent a follower now as I was then, but I still love it. Yet it seems to me that the lines between parties and platforms is getting blurred. It’s more about them than us, much more than it ever has been, and it’s much more about the have’s than the have not’s. Furthermore, it seems that they all went to the same school, and the dean of admissions was P. T. Barnum.
  • The internet. Ironic, eh? I used to be a fairly avid reader of all types of books: fiction, historical biographies, history, science, and fantasy were my favourites, but the internet is making us dumb. Now if we want to know something, we look it up, quickly, but no one seems to consider the factors behind things any more, or the consequences of things. Plus, we are so eager to Tweet (follow me @kerriejaques) and Facebook, that we don’t talk to people any more. I try to talk to someone in their 20’s and it seems they have no clue how to make small talk. Sorry, but I don’t want to talk about booze, babes, and parties any more. Sure I spoke of those things when I was 20, but I could also hold up a conversation with pretty much anybody. 
  • Ice cream. I jest, I just couldn’t do with ice cream. 
  • Sweating. Seriously, why on earth did we evolve (or be created) to have sweat glands in our butt cracks. Is this an evolutionary joke?
  • My right leg, below the knee. I’ve broken, fractured, or chipped 7 different bones in unrelated incidents in my right foot, ankle, or shin in the past 3½ years. Plus I’ve had Plantar Fasciitis, ligament damage, 2 sprains, and a lost toe nail in that same time. 
  • Driving. Is it me or are GVRD drivers the worst? From what I can tell, a yellow light means ‘gun it’, a red means that at least 1 or two more cars can go, and green means ‘ride the brakes”. Stop signs are simply meant to add colour to the neighbourhood, and that stick on the left side of your steering column is used solely to turn on your high beams… and never turn them off. They are not meant to indicate what way you want to turn, or that you want to change lanes. Oh, and shoulder checks are obviously unhealthy because very few people do them. 
  • Snow. Having spent a good chunk of last winter touring around India, I think that living in the cold is nothing more than a burden. Shoveling snow is, let’s face it, a pain in the arse. And no I don’t ski. Skiing would imply that you spend most of your time on your skis. What I do should, therefore, should be called assing. 
  • Grumpy people. But I think that’s universal. 
  • The legalization of pot. I am, in principle, actually in favour of legalizing marijuana, but if you go down to any assembly who objective it is to legalize it, and look at the people protesting most fervently, you will see my point. Do we really want these people having 24/7 access to pot? (like the don’t already) We pay enough of our taxes to EI and Welfare as it is. Now, if they legalized it for people who hold legitimate jobs, that would be different. 

It goes without saying that I could stand to go without a few meals now and then, but that’s not likely to happen. 

Seriously though, I am truly blessed. My life is richer than I could ever have imagine. Like Cheryl Crow said in ‘Soak Up the Sun’, “It’s not getting what you want, it’s wanting what you’ve got.”

I want what I have… although a winning Loto Max ticket would be nice…

 

Today, in Canada, it’s Bell Let’s Talk Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness and putting a face to depression and mental illness. In that spirit, my first ever blog will be about my depression.

Last August, after a series of injuries and illness, I was feeling as low as I had ever felt. At the time, I thought I was just feeling the effects of months of bad luck. Then, on August 15th, I heard that Rick Rypien had committed suicide after battling depression for years. For reasons I can’t explain, I suddenly knew that what I was feeling was clinical depression. I also knew that I had, in fact, been struggling with depression for more than 20 years. A little bit of research had me convinced, but I was not yet willing to do anything about it. Unfortunately things only got worse from there. I would start crying at work, for no reason. I would lose my temper at the drop of a hat, and the smallest of things would bother me for days. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t stop eating, and I often felt incredibly powerful urges to hurt myself. I was truly miserable, and although I did not seriously consider suicide, I felt that life was not worth living.

Now if you know me at all, you know that my life revolves around my daughters and my wife. I am truly blessed when it comes to family, but even that couldn’t pull me out of the pits of despair I was feeling. Although I had not considered suicide, I began to understand why so many people with depression take their lives. It has nothing to do with TV’s over-cliched “you have so much to live for”. It’s simply a fact that depression HURTS! It is all consuming, and it is incredibly draining. I really can no longer criticize anyone dealing with it for ending their life.

In November I finally approached my doctor about what I was experiencing. He confirmed that I was experiencing depression, and began the healing process with medication. He also recommended counselling, meditation, and exercise. This has helped. Life has a way of kicking you in the balls when you feel like crap, so it’s an ongoing struggle. I still have some very bad days, but I am learning to cope. And I am truly optimistic.

I have had several people tell me that I am the funniest person they have ever met. Those same people are usually in complete disbelief when I state my mental illness. “You?” they say, “But you’re always so happy.” I think that when my brain is in good shape, and everything is in balance, I am a truly jovial person. I can see the good in the bad, and I can laugh (and usually) do, at anything. That is the most real thing about me. When depression grabs a hold of me, I can still laugh and smile – I think it’s  instinct – but even the “funniest people” can suffer mental illness. After all, 1 in 5 do.

From the Bell Let’s Talk website: (http://letstalk.bell.ca/en/participate.php)

What are symptoms of depression?

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Loss of interest in things that you used to enjoy
  • You are tired all the time and don’t have any energy
  • You find it hard to concentrate
  • You don’t want to eat or eat too much
  • You are sad and easily upset
  • You have lost or gained a considerable amount of weight

There are more symptoms so if you, or anyone you know, is experiencing any or all these, please seek professional advice. It does help!

I am getting better. I’ve gone through a very rough patch lately, no doubt made worse by my depression, but I now have a few tools that help me cope. Sometimes I have to remember that old saying “This too shall pass”, for that is all I have to hold on to at times.

I think the only thing that really scares me about all this is the fact that I will likely always have depression. It may not always be evident, but it will always be right there, under the surface, waiting to bubble up. I remind myself that it could be worse! I have two amazing daughters, a wonderful wife, and some incredible friends who will be there for me to lean on if I have to.

I just hope that’s enough.

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