Every breath is a gift

From the very first breath we take to fill our lungs so we can let out a scream all mothers long to hear, until the last breath we take when we leave this earth. Each and every breath we take in between is a gift many of us take for granted.

No one knows how many times we will take a breath in our lives, but one thing we know for certain, one day we will take a final breath and leave this world. Forever.

In saying that, the gift of life is something we need to cherish, every moment, every single day. No matter how bad we think our day is going to be. We are alive and kicking.

Even though we may moan and groan through our normal morning rituals, we are living and breathing. The other option has absolutely no appeal to me whatsoever. None. Zip. Nada.

But what about the times when things are tough and we feel as if we are carrying the entire world on our shoulders. Do we buckle under the weight or do we find the strength to forge forward?

Personally, I keep pushing forward, no matter how tough it gets. It’s not easy. Every single day is a hard fought struggle. And the struggle is real. It’s not something that I have made up. There are so many people out there who know and understand the struggle. The struggle to keep the black dog at bay.

When we think the dog is safely back in his kennel, we turn around and realise the bastard is nipping at our heels. Snapping away and trying to drag us back into the darkness that can shroud our every waking moment.

The black dog closes in with every step we take. But with the support of our family and friends, we can ensure he stays in his kennel.

Never be afraid to speak up. Others around us may not see how we are truly feeling. And that is the time we are the most vulnerable to the jaws of the black dog.

Is suicide the only way out?

With a number of celebrities taking their own lives recently, I have been left to wonder if that is the only way to resolve life issues. The ending of their life may be the end of their own journey and problems. but what about the remaining journeys of the family and friends who are left to grieve and pick up the pieces.

Loved ones will always be left to grieve for the loss, and will continue to wonder if they had missed the signs or if there was something they could, or should have done to have avoided the loss of a beautiful life.

Without doubt, there will always be a time of darkness and depression in our lives, it’s only natural. We can’t cruise though our entire lives without hitting a few lows. But is suicide the only way out?

Looking around at the people who are suffering and are still with us, it shows there is another option rather than ending it all. There is pain and suffering in their everyday lives. From the moment they wake up, until they go to sleep. There is constant pain. Never ending pain.

It’s a sad thing to know many people are in a place where all they can see is darkness in their lives with no happy future and no way out. Their options seem very limited, and they think death is their best friend. But is it? The fight with the black dog can be a temporary part of life. Death is forever.

In a person’s mind, it may not be the best way to resolve the problem, but in that state, they can’t see any other way forward.

The next week, the next month, the next year might be bad. But none of us know when the tide will turn. And yes, looking that far into the future is impossible, for anyone. Let alone for a person who is depressed.

Family and friends are normally so close that they are unable to see what is really going on under the covers. They may miss the early warning signs and after that, life is like normality to them.

So in many cases, family and friends never get to shine the light and help because they never realize there is a problem until it’s too late. And after it’s done. they torture themselves because they never saw it coming and have no idea why it happened.

Those who feel all hope is gone are very good at hiding their true state of mind from people around them, and those who are closest are often blindsided by the situation. Work colleagues are often in a better position to see the warning signs as they are not as close. Thats why its very important to ask “are you ok”.

In the end all we can do is to be there, look out for the warning signs and help keep the black dog at bay.

If you or a friend feel the need to talk to someone, the following links can help.

www.beyondblue.org.au

www.lifeline.org.au

Never be defined by tragedy. Let it shape you.

When something disastrous happens to us, the very first thing we do is to think, why did this happen to me? What have I done to deserve this?

But in reality, there may have been nothing we could have done to have avoided the situation. Sometimes just being in the wrong place at the wrong time is more than enough for disaster to strike.

So in saying this, I know first hand what it feels like to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Just because I wasn’t doing the wrong thing. I still came out second best when a car cut in front of me as I cycled down along the peninsula on a morning ride.

Metal crashing against metal is one of the loudest sounds I can recall. Especially when the action was upon me and not in the distance.

Having survived a serious cycling accident involving a car, I was devastated and very much broken. Not just physically, but mentally. And in many ways, emotionally.

In this time of darkness, I could have taken the easy way out and given up and not pushed through the pain and frustration. I could have stayed in bed, feeling very sad and sorry for myself for the situation which had been thrust upon me.

But I didn’t. I suffered through every single day until I was able to get out of bed on my own and then fend for myself once again. One step at a time. Slowly I wandered out of the house and to the end of the driveway. Then to the end of the street. And finally around the block.

I’m back to a point now that I am able to complete 10km run and not suffer all that much the next day. I still hurt, but its it’s a good hurt.

What did happen to me has changed the way in which I see things, and it has shaped my life in a way I didn’t expect. It changed the way I look at things and the people around me. I see good in people where others don’t see the same thing.

I see a sunrise in ways that some people would say its it’s just another morning. The way in which I see a sunset is also very different now than it was back then.

It’s because I am still able to enjoy those simple pleasures that are taken for granted.

I no longer try to take life so serious as all it does is add to the frustrations I already have to put up with on a daily basis as I continue to recover.

The biggest tragedy would have been if I had given up at the beginning, and not continued with my life journey.

My journey had taken a few detours, and there are more ahead. But I’m happy that I have the opportunity to take on the detours that life throws my way.

A year is a long time



A year equals 365 days.

A year equals 8760 hours

A year equals 525600 minutes

A year equals 31,536,000 seconds.

All it took was one of those seconds to change my life forever.

With a long and painful year behind me, I can now begin to look forward and set a few new targets as the last of my operations are done and dusted.

When people discover I had a major incident with a car while cycling, i get the standard response of how lucky I really am.

In some ways this makes sense, I am still able to walk and have full function of all my limbs and only with some pain on a daily basis. But yes, I am alive and have managed to get back on the bike and continue with my life in a way I would have wanted.

But, if I had been really ‘lucky’ I would have never been hit by a motorist who was not paying attention to the roads in front of him. I would have never suffered the effects of a broken back and other painful injuries.

Luck has not been the biggest factor in getting back on my feet and eventually back on the bike. Persistence may have had a huge part to play, and the fact I find it rather difficult to accept help, even when I should was another factor.

Unlucky is probably the best way to describe the situation I ended up in. Broken and feeling very sorry for myself at the best of times. Not that giving up was ever an option, even though I have to admit there were times where it was one step forward and two steps back.

Having to go through two separate procedure, shoulder and then my hand, which I was told was fine. I guess the surgeon got that one wrong. So after 11 months, I had surgery to repair my thumb, and the rehab begins from scratch.

So all I can do from this point forward is look forward to a time where I can be happy with my condition and the joys I have ahead in my life.

A second can sometimes be the longest time in a person’s life.

Make every second count as you may not get the next one

Darkness

When the sun finally sets in the horizon, we are eventually shrouded in darkness, but there are times in our lives we can also be in the dark when the sun shines and it’s the middle of the day. There is no need for the moon to be out for us to feel as if we are in the dark, or in a dark place.

There will always be a time when we feel as if the walls around us are closing in and the light that’s shining bright is quickly fading, turning into darkness. It is in this situation, we feel as if there is nothing we can do, or no one we can turn to. But thats so very untrue.

There is always a friend close at hand who will drop what they have and stop by for a chat. Even a quick call to a mate is better than sitting in a room as the walls close in and darkness fills every crevice of your mind.

Even though we think we are in full control of our minds most of the time, we all do have a momentary lapse of reason. This may be for an hour, a day, or even a week. But this doesn’t mean we will never be back in control of how we feel and how we see ourselves.

Whilst we are in that dark space, our outlook on life is somewhat skewed and things tend to seem worse than they really are. But once we rise up and see the day of light, our perception changes in an instant.

The hardest part of falling into the darkness is not knowing how long the dark shroud will cloak us, and our minds. Time and friendship is what will help us see the light, and both are freely available to all of us, we just need to look around to see we are truly wanted and loved.

Never give up hope when darkness clouds you.

Christmas, family and friends

With Christmas barreling towards us faster than a pack of reindeers attached to a sled carrying a big bloke in a red suit, it’s a time of the year when we should be at our happiest.


Family, food and friends are only a small part of what the Christmas spirit has to offer. It’s a time of the year when we see children smile more often and adults become a little more relaxed as the year winds down.


So If this time of the year is meant to bring us nothing but joy and happiness, why is it that I see people on the train with a frown on their faces and what looks to be the problems of the world on their shoulders.



It doesn’t matter how hard we try, we all get a but down during the Christmas season.


Family, work or just the strain of another long and frustrating year. These are the things you want to leave behind and make a memory never to be seen again. Situations that may have dragged us into a dark place, are the ones we want to forget.


But if we sit back and take a good hard look at the year and our own lives, we should do nothing but smile, kick up our heels and celebrate life as we know it. It could have been a lot worse. Much worse.



There are millions of people around the world who are far less better off and they push through every day, sometimes not knowing what Christmas day is and what it truly means.


So with that in mind, take what you have around you, family, friends and loved ones and show them how much you appreciate their love and support.


You don’t need to buy an expensive gift or spoil them with treats. Show them how much the really mean by telling them. Say the words that mean the most.



A shot of whiskey mixed with a bigger shot of honesty will bring a smile to their lips and the year won’t seem nearly as bad as it may have been.



We are fortunate to be where we are and who we are with, so let’s show and tell.

Cronuts, cycling and friendship 

After not having been on a bike for over 9 months,it was time to test the waters and hit a track to see how my mind and body would cope.

So when it came to going off road and getting down and dirty on the Warby trail, there was only one person who I wanted to be by my side as I took the first few turns of the pedals of my trusty Giant mountain bike.



On the day of the ride and waking up much earlier than really required, I checked and then rechecked my gear and then my bike. A few butterflies fluttered in my stomach, but not as bad as I expected.

So once at the start of the track, I slipped on my gloves and put on my helmet and took off with my bro right by my side.


I guess it’s true what they say that you never forget how to ride a bike. It was easy as I  turned the pedals over and the track quickly became a familiar friend.

We chatted and laughed and whatever nerves I had were left at the start of the track. Still some apprehension, but nothing that was going to stop me from enjoying my return to the bike and the scenery it revealed.



With the sun on our backs and a light breeze cutting across us, the distance wasn’t an issue, and neither was my fitness, at least for the first part of the ride.

The return trip was a little tougher on the body, but as we decided to stop off for a coffee and cronut with 10kms from the starting point, I had enough sugar in my body to get me over the line.



Could have I completed the my return ride without my bro by my side? I honestly don’t know. But what I do know is that he would have been by my side whenever I decided to take the plunge back onto the world of cycling.



As miserable as 2017 has been, there were a few happy moments. This was one moment that will stay with me for my remaining days. Not because I got back on the bike, or that i managed to clock up 30 plus kms, but the friendship that helped me get through a dark time for me.


The ride cost nothing, just time spent together. Money can’t buy happiness, but a friendship is worth millions.