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.

What’s a hug?

The Oxford dictionary defines a hug as the following.

Squeeze (someone) tightly in one’s arms, typically to express affection.

But is that all a hug really is? There is so much more to a hug than just squeezing a person who is close to you. It means you not only care for them when they are in a time of need, but because they mean something more to you than just another way of transferring some body heat. Although, this can normally be the case in the long and cold winter months.

A hug is very much a two way street. Well, a real hug is. There are some hugs that are meant to be for show only. These ones are normally, quick and they feel like a cheap imitation, just like a fake Ming Dynasty vase. They look great from an outsiders point of view, but the real truth can be seen upon closer inspection. They are just plain fakes.

So what does a fake hug look or even feel like? That’s hard to define, but a fake hug resembles a ‘cheek air kiss’. Close to a kiss, but not really hitting the mark. A fake hug can be spotted when only one person is really hugging and the other one is just following suit for appearance sake.

A real hug is something that is not forced, its given freely, anytime and anywhere. In the kitchen, on the front doorstep, and even in a lift in an office building. They are real hugs and are meant for much more than body heat. They express gratitude, understanding and love.

Sometimes an unexpected hug is one of the best things you can receive. And in many cases, giving one will bring warmth and happiness to someone who needs that very personal ‘pick me up’.

Hugs cost nothing to give except for a few moments of your time. And that time is well worth the effort for all parties involved.

Give a few hugs and make someone’s day. It’s so easy and there is always a benefit when giving one. Because there is a very good chance it will be returned tenfold.

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

Is honesty the best policy?

From a very young age, I have always been told to be honest and tell the truth. Honesty is the best policy I was told. Time and time again. And it has been something that has been ingrained into my mind.

So as I have grown older and supposedly wiser, I sometimes have doubts about the entire truth is the best policy motto. I’m not saying we should always lie, but at times a small white lie may be the best way to ensure everyone is happy and no major wars begin.

So when people ask how I’m.feeling, it’s easier to smile and say that everything’s just fine. Sometimes going into detail would only bring the mood down, and if there is no real benefit in others feeling bad about things that can’t be easily changed. Why tell the truth


And there are so many thing in life that can’t be changed, so we just put up with them. Don’t we?

So after a while we begin to lie to ourselves, until we believe the very same white lies we tell the ones around us. And in the end, the lies becomes part of our very being. Melding into our lives and eventually, we are unable to distinguish the truth among the lies.

Even after all is said and done, deep down I know that honesty still is the best policy. But it may come at a price.

It takes guts – to leave the ruts

As time progresses, all of us become very comfortable in the way we do things, the way we live and the situations we end up putting up with for much longer than we really should.

I understand this is human nature and once we are in a comfortable rut, we don’t make a huge effort to change the situation. If any effort at all. Even though we know there is something better and another way to move forward in our lives and not be stuck in the same place just spinning our wheels and not going anywhere.

I have discovered that even the simplest of things in life become second nature to us. But what has really happened is that a rut has set in. It’s something that slowly happens over time and we don’t realize until it’s either pointed out to us or the realisation hits us like a ton of bricks.

It can be as simple as taking the same running route every time you head out for a walk or a run. I have noticed that with my walks and runs. I now take the same route when I head out in my running gear.

Not that the path I take is any easier than others in my area, I know that turning left at the first street would be less hilly for the first few kilometres and then I would get the hills, rather than struggle with hills at the start of the run. I would still be covering the same distance, but I would have some slightly different scenery as I puff and pant my way through the run.

The same applies when I head out on my road bike. I can go anywhere I want and end up in so many wonderful locations and see sights I have never seen before whilst out cycling. The world is truly my oyster. But after checking my Strava account, it really seems that I am a true creature of habit.

I have logged hundreds and hundreds of rides over the years, but a majority of them seem to take a very similar path. There may be a slight detour here and there, but the end destination is the same for more than 95% of my rides. Boring perhaps?

It’s not that I don’t have an adventurous streak in me, I know that’s there and has been proven on many occasions, some occasions more stupid than others, but it’s there, waiting to be set free on a regular basis.

Then there is the daily grind which can easily become a rut as we don’t make an effort for ourselves and for our family and partners. The people who mean the most to us also become a rut. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Getting out of a rut that has well and truly set in takes effort. Sometimes a lot of effort. It’s not going to happen on its own. We need to make a conscious effort and get off our butts and take the first step to leave the rut behind.

That one first step becomes two steps. Two steps become four. And before we know it, the rut we were in so far behind us we can’t see it anymore.

As simple as it sounds, it will take effort. If the rut that has set in involves more than one person and has just about been set in stone, effort and patience is required. By the truck load.

In the end, we are the only ones who can pull ourselves out of a rut that is holding us back from achieving greatness.

We owe it to ourselves to to keep moving forward and leave the ruts behind.

Not all tinned tuna is equal

They say blood is thicker than water. But somehow raw fish doesn’t run through the veins of the same family members.

I always thought I had an educated palate and enjoyed a huge variety of foods from all corners of the globe. Well, as long as this food comes in a tin with good quality olive oil and its sole contents are tuna.

Not all tinned tuna is equal.

For a guy who is not a huge fan of seafood, I tend put away so many tins of tuna per week that my mercury level must be at its upper limit and pushing the boundaries of safety. But despite all the articles I have read regarding the possible impacts of mercury poisoning, it doesn’t stop me from scoffing up to 7 tins a week for lunches and mid afternoon snacks.

Tinned tuna makes work lunches a no-brainer. Toss a tin into my bag and find some rabbit food to go with it and lunch is done and dusted. Many people may say this is as boring as bat shit, but they may not be aware of the multitude of flavours this staple of the sea come sealed within.

But over the years, my taste buds have refined. If it’s true, a person’s taste buds change every 7 years. So with that in mind, I can no longer tolerate most brands of tinned tuna, and am very selective on what I purchase. Is there such a thing as a tinned tuna snob?

A number of the no name brands I have tried end up as dinner for my cats, as the contents of the tin resembles mushed up cat food more that it does tuna for human consumption.

It’s also a sad day when one of my kitty cats curls its upper lip and looks up at me in disdain when I place the cheap tuna in her bowl. I guess this just goes to proves my cat has good taste in tuna.

Now one would think that with such a huge appetite for good quality tinned tuna, I would happily indulge in feed of raw tuna. But alas, my gag reflex comes to the fore and does not allow me to swallow the freshly sliced fish.

But, as the saying goes, ‘there are more fish in the sea’. And as long as that fish is tinned tuna, I will continue to be happy.

The Simple Things

The more I look at life and all it has to offer, it becomes very obvious that the simple things are the ones that make us the happiest

From the delights of sharing a simple meal with friends all the way through to sitting on the beach with a loved one and watching the sun set over the calm waters. Watching the sunrise is just as spectacular, but there is the fact you do need to be out of bed rather early.

We are all very different, and what makes us happy is a very personal thing. Dining at a fancy restaurant, staying in bed all day and bumming around in pjs for the rest of the day, or getting up at the crack of dawn and cycling about until the legs scream for rest. It’s these very simple things that make life worth living.

And then there is the one other thing that makes us truly happy? To hear words of love and affection from the people who are closest to us.

‘I love you’ are the three little words that make life special to all of us, no matter how hardened we think we are. They make us smile, even if that smile is an internal one.

Tell someone you love them today, as tomorrow is never promised. And what if you don’t love them? It’s best they know that as well.