Life is full of fluff

I used to disrupt my classes.

When I was in middle school I could never pay attention to the lessons. I would get distracted, and then start to distract the other kids by talking to them.

Eventually my teacher had a meeting with my mother and they decided that they would give me a tape recorder, and some play doh.

That way I could keep myself entertained in the corner and record the teacher’s lesson for later.

I didn’t think the teacher was saying anything important, so why should I listen?

So much of what we do and say is just fluff.

My friend told me about a Buddhist camp you can go to where you don’t speak for the duration of your stay.

Some people stay there for months.
Wow.

I can’t imagine staying silent for that long. I’m an extrovert with a lot of opinions on just about every topic under the sun. I think being quiet even for a day would make me explode.

Something interesting happens when you stop speaking.

You realize that 99% of the things you say are inconsequential. Your life is more or less the same without all of the small talk fluff.

Only that 1% of the things you say make a difference in your life. When you stop speaking, the absence of small talk doesn’t change your life at all. It is neither here nor there. Neither positive or negative.

smalltalk

The words that do impact your life and the people around you become clearer. Telling someone you love them. Genuinely thanking someone for helping you.

These statements make a lasting mark on you and the person you share them with.

One genuine heart to heart interaction can solidify a relationship, it can be a lasting impression that someone won’t soon forget.

I recently stopped eating…

Well, that isn’t true. I started a type of fast. It has been eye opening.

Just as when you stop speaking, I have realized that most of the things I put into my body aren’t really necessary at all.

Most of the time I’m snacking because I’m bored, eating foods that I “Love” but my body hates and generally indulging more than is needed.

I’m not saying fluff is bad.

No one will ever look at something and say “that’s too fluffy, it’s disgusting!”

But sometimes it is good just to be able to distinguish the fluff from the real stuff. The stuff that is good for you, improves your life and the lives of people around you.

Every once and a while cut away the fluff and spare some focus for that 1%.

“I want to import what’s important, and export the trivial out of my life.
”
-Jarod kintz

 

A little boy who gave me hope

“Hope. Sometimes It’s all that you have.
When you have nothing else, if you have it, you have everything.”

The memories are hazy.

I was laying in my hospital bed. God only knows how long I had been hooked up to this IV.

The procedure usually takes six to eight hours, but because of a mistake the hospital made we were now somewhere past the twenty four hour mark.

I hated this hospital, every time I came here something bad happened. I would always beg my mom to take me to a different hospital but we couldn’t drive all the way to Toronto every time I had to get a transfusion.

I was eight years old.

This was about a year after I was diagnosed with my blood disorder. We made trips to the hospital at least two times a week. It was a very dark point in my life, I felt like I had no hope.

Every time we would talk to the specialists they would throw around the idea of removing my spleen, there was a 50% chance that would put me in remission.

I would have to take pills for the rest of my life. Even at the age of eight I knew that was an obligation I would have a hard time sticking to.

So we tried other things.

We tried natural remedies, a disgusting drink with chunks of something that would have me gagging every time I had to take it.

They put me on pills that made me gain weight and have uncontrollable mood swings. I once broke down into tears while I was watching Sunday morning cartoons.

Countless needles and a year later here I was, laying in this bed.

The worst part was the frustration of being trapped.

There was a needle in my left hand with a board taped to my arm to stop it from moving.

I was attached to a pole on wheels that held all the equipment.
Even going to the bathroom was near impossible.

But something happened that day that has affected me deeply ever since.

A little boy and his mom approached my bed.

The boy was younger than me, maybe five or six. His mom said something like “My son saw that you are sad, and he wanted to give you this.”

He handed me a teddy bear.

I don’t remember what the boy or his mom looked like. I don’t remember their voices, the expressions on their face, or much at all really. But I remember that I felt truly happy when he gave me this gift.

I’m not going to say after this incident it was all rainbows and sunshine, but it gave me something intangible. I’m not even sure what word to use. Call it hope, courage, faith, the feeling of someone caring.

All I know is after that incident, I would find myself seeing things in a new light. Instead of saying “It’s hopeless” I would say “If that little boy can be brave, why can’t I?”

Sometimes I still feel like my eight year old self.

Except now I lay in my own bed. There is no needle in my hand or board strapped to my arm. Instead I am trapped by my fears, anxieties, emotions and worries.

But I still have that teddy bear from fifteen years ago. Every once and while I look at it and think to myself.
“If that little boy could, why can’t I?”

He still gets a chill spot in my bed after 15 years. ILY little buddy.

The habit alchemist

I’m a creature of habit.

I have always had vices that run deep through my life. These were usually unhealthy things that I would rely on to feel better.

I remember one time when I cleaned my room I there were ninety eight empty pop cans.
I counted.

I would binge on cookies and whatever television show I was currently watching. I also had a bad habit of putting passive aggressive posts on Facebook.

When I would take a second to think about it, I hated the fact that I did these things. I would try quitting these vices cold turkey, but the habits were ingrained into me.

I decided that instead of trying to get rid of my habits, I would transform them.

Like an alchemist, one by one I turned each habit into a more positive version of itself. I wrote down the three habits I wanted to change and I got to work.

1.) Drinking pop

2.) Binging on unhealthy foods and shows.

3.) Putting passive aggressive posts on Facebook.

habits

Instead of drinking pop I decided that I would drink tea.

Every time I craved a pop I would make myself a tea. I realized that I didn’t want the pop itself, I just wanted a drink that I considered a treat.

At first I had a lot of milk and sugar in my tea, but eventually the milk started to upset my stomach so I had to transform the habit once again. I switched from regular tea, to green tea. I had heard that green tea was good for you so it seemed like a logical step.

After a while of drinking tea like this I tried switching from sugar to honey. It wasn’t as sweet but people told me that honey was extremely healthy for you. I still have a habit, I have up to five teas a day, but now at least it isn’t five pops a day.

The next habit I had to deal with was binging on tv shows and unhealthy foods.

This was my favorite way to relax. I thought really hard about what I actually wanted from this pass time. It wasn’t the food or the shows itself, it was just something to take my mind off the day.

I tried watching shows without eating anything, but that failed quickly as I realized that I needed to be doing something at the same time or I would get antsy.

I banned myself from buying the snacks I usually ate and instead I bought nuts and plantain chips. To my surprise I enjoyed eating these things while I watched shows just as much as I enjoyed the cookies, and I didn’t feel as bad afterwards.

At this point I still felt like this pass time was a waste of time. I wasn’t gaining anything. From then on, every time I wanted to watch a show I would reach for a book instead.

Now I had one more habit that I wanted to deal with.

I wanted to stop putting angsty, childish posts on Facebook.

Every time I was angry or hurt or upset, I would post some emotional garbage on Facebook. I always regretted it the next day.

Once again I thought about what I really got out of posting these things.

When I was brooding over a situation I would feel like I had no way to release the pressure. That is what these posts gave me. A release.

I picked a different release. Anytime I wanted to post something on Facebook that I would inevitably regret, I would reach for a pen and write something.

It could be a poem, it could be a rap verse, it could be anything as long as I got to express the frustration I felt.

Those writings eventually turned into the blog you see today and largely influenced my decision to try to help others with their own frustrations and problems.

You can mold your habits to help you, rather than hinder you.

Whenever you have a bad habit, think about what it is that you are actually craving and try to find a less destructive way of obtaining that feeling.

If you are a smoker ask yourself why you smoke. Is it to relieve stress?
If so, think about taking baths, listening to calming music, or deep breathing exercises.

If it is because you have an oral fixation, try chewing gum.

If it’s because you enjoy the social aspect of going out for smokes, try just going out and talking. You don’t need to smoke to converse.

habits3

I’ll never be able to live a life without habits.

I will try to use my habits to my advantage. I plan on making them as healthy as possible throughout my life. I’m not saying I am perfect, I falter all the time.

I spent a whole day this week watching game of thrones and eating chips. All we can do is take things one step at a time and be proud of the progress we are making.
Regardless of how slowly we move forward.

 

That little voice in your head

I have a little voice in my head.

No, I’m not crazy. I think most of us have this voice. Usually it’s referred to as your conscience.

It’s the part of you that knows when you are doing something against your moral code.

dilbert conscience 2

In the past I have ignored this voice of reason for months, even years on end.

I thought that it was just one side to the story and that the other parts of me, desires and temptations, also had my best interests at heart.

I have never been good at practicing moderation.

I have trouble balancing things. I’ve always been an all or nothing guy.

This can become a serious problem when you completely shut out your conscience and only listen to your desires.

Behaving this way created a lot of drama in my personal life and I have lost a lot of respect for myself in the past.

The consequences are still tangible in my life to this day.

At the end of the day, you have no one to answer to but yourself.

There is no point in living by anyone else’s moral code.

Their voice won’t be the one that keeps you up at night.
It will be that little voice in your head.

You will have to listen to this voice no matter what. At first it will be warning you, although it becomes much deeper when it is saying “I told you so.”

Don’t worry about someone else’s opinion of you.

When you are making decisions don’t worry whether this person or that person will judge you for it.

As long as you are doing something that you can be proud of, that is all that matters.

At some point you’re going to make decisions that upset people around you.

If it is something you need to do, just make sure you can live with it. That voice can change from a warning to a deep regret faster than we might realize.

The warning can be heeded and avoided. A regret can’t be undone.

As long as you live within your own moral code that little voice can protect you, rather than spurn you.

I never used to listen to that little voice, and I ended up walking right into a heap of trouble. Now I take it’s advice more often, and I have a much easier time sleeping at night.

“A clear conscience is the greatest armor.”
-Chinese Proverb

 

 

Taking the first step

I’m too afraid to take a leap of faith.

When you want to change your life, people will often give you the advice “You’ve just got to take a leap of faith.” This could be good advice that works for some people, but it’s something that has never really worked for me.

Maybe I’m afraid of heights, but whenever I think about taking this massive leap of faith it instantly paralyzes me. I’m not the type of person who can just jump in the pool. I always stick my toe in first.

So if I can’t take a leap of faith then how will anything ever change in my life?

A businessman on a cliff

A leap seems so permanent to me.

You jump off the cliff into the unknown and there is no coming back. With this image in my head I would always try to plan every detail of the jump. I mean, I only jump once and I could end up dead!
I would scheme forever and no action would come of it.

If a leap is too scary, take one single step.

My good friend Leroy and I recently started a YouTube channel called 2HelpfulGuys. We had been talking about it for a while before hand but for some reason we never made the leap.
It seemed a little daunting, at least for me.

Now we are three videos in and the water is great! We are exploring and having a lot of fun with it.

So how did we start?

There was no massive leap into the unknown. We took one step. We put our pinky toe in the water.

We met at his house one day, sat in front of his laptop webcam and talked to each other. We told ourselves “if we don’t like it, we don’t have to post it.”

In front of that webcam I could feel the pressure. It was like a million people were already watching me, judging everything I did. But I just kept focusing on our agreement. “If we don’t like it, we don’t have to post it.”

We were just two guys, sitting and talking. No YouTube channel yet, no one watching, we didn’t even have a name at that point.

Focus on your first step and ignore the perils of the journey.

If you want to write a book, first sit in front of a piece of paper with a pencil. Come up with a character, it doesn’t have to ever make it in your book. In fact, write a little bit about a character and then throw out the paper immediately.

If you are like me and you spend most of your time planning to jump, maybe you should just take a step and keep in mind that it is never permanent. You can always step right back to where you were, and take a step in another direction.