Saturday Morning Random Thoughts; by Chuck Duboff

VACATION TRAVEL BEST OF THE MIDWEST

“Is this heaven, no it’s Iowa.”  Field of Dreams.

© Chuck Duboff

  • It’s March, the month in which Manitobans can experience all four seasons in one day!!!
  • Big shout out to the Winnipeg Jets for the support they gave to Tyler Myers and his family during a very difficult time.  If you haven’t seen this video, take a few minutes…it’s a reminder of what is important in life:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKAzXhxc1zk
  • Moments of clarity are fleeting; yesterday afternoon and evening provided me with a peacefulness and understanding rarely felt; it was tangible and quite a new feeling.  Grateful for those moments.
  • Though the Jets won’t make the playoffs this season, wins at any time of the year are part of the growth process…I would like to see Roslavic and Conner called up for the balance of the season in order to get a feel for hockey at the next level.Ros
  • So Brian Pallister takes two month winter holidays to Costa Rica; took a 20% pay increase last year…and now he is gutting and slashing every program in Manitoba. Hope everybody is enjoying the PST going down from 8% to 7%!!!  NOT!!
  • What a very special night it was on Thursday evening watching the Jets game with Laine and Ben; non stop commentary, hi jinks, cuddling and just having a great time!!  #grateful.

    Ben, Laine and I playing

    This picture was from the spring the Jets came back to Wpg; 6 years ago and still having fun together!!

  • Watching the World Baseball Classic, it sure makes you appreciate the talent of the players from the Dominican Republic, Venezuala and Puerto Rico; those lineups are power laden…would be interesting to see what would happen if the Mike Trouts and Bryce Harpers of the USA decided to compete.  I think it would take the tournament to another level!!
  • Celebrating mom’s 92nd birthday tomorrow…her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will all be here!!
    family
  • This brief moment of clarity, in a life so filled with angst and confusion, has given an incredible insight into so much of what I have to be grateful for; though always aware of the good fortune I have in life…there is a real sense today of what all that means.
  • In all my years of being a New York Yankees fan, I have never seen them have a good spring training…I would attribute that to George Steinbrenner and his boys signing star players in their 30’s who take their time to get ready for the season and the Yankees ending up with a poor spring training record.  I looked at the exhibition game standing yesterday, and low and behold there are the Yankees with the best record.  With so many young kids in the lineup trying to prove themselves: Sanchez, Byrd, Judge, etc, suddenly the Yankees are winning games and shining a light on a bright future.  If the Yankees had more depth at starting pitching, they might compete this upcoming season!!
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  • Once again, I love the team that Goldeyes skipper Rick Forney is putting together; I’ve mentioned this a few times, but with each season, it seems like Rick is signing higher calibre players.  I’m sure his connections to organizations have increased dramatically over the years and he is able to sign the type of player that he is looking for…training camp can’t start soon enough!!
  • Doofus head meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel; she with a PHD in Physics, he just finishing reading Dick and Jane; the misogynistic, serial liar makes more unfounded claims about wiretapping, but ups it one more by claiming that Merkel was also wiretapped; she looks at the media with a “who the fuck is this bozo?” kinda look:
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  • There is always one benefit to the Jets not making the playoffs; I budget money all season for possible playoff tickets.  Once it became clear that playoffs were not in the picture for this spring…I went ahead and booked “my cabin” in Falcon lake for five days in May…filled with such gratitude that I am in a position to take another holiday this spring:

Straps and demeaning words leave life long scars…by Chuck Duboff

©Chuck Duboff

I was always afraid.  My mom would finish her wooden spoon ritual, a few more nails broken on my fingers and then she’d utter the words “wait until your father gets home…” Try going to school feeling fear all day; try concentrating on the provinces and their capitals, while at the same time worrying about getting the strap from dad.  What was it this time? I only got a B+ on a subject rather than an A…that certainly warranted the wrath of the strap.

I was always afraid.  “Do you think money grows on trees?  Who do you think you are going out with girls and spending money?”  Nothing I ever did was deemed acceptable.  School not good enough.  “you’re too fat, we have to buy you special clothes.”  Too fat, too “stupid”, waster of money, “you’ll eat that food the way it’s made, I don’t care what you like”

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I’d escape into baseball.  I’d read magazines, create my own games and leagues.  It was my temporary escape from the insanity of my house.  I’d be the shortstop for the New York Yankees for a few hours; I’d be the starting pitcher in the World Series.  Baseball helped me to escape.  My body would be in horror “waiting for your father to get home.” while I dreamed of being Mickey Mantle.

When he’d get home, I’d hide in terror in my room.  Sometimes under the blankets, other times just lying staring at the ceiling waiting once again for the punishment.  Some nights he’d be too tired to come in and destroy me, while other nights he’d enter and unleash his frustrations and failures upon me.  I cried for hours and hours and hours.  There never seemed to be an end to it.

Fast forward five decades; “now you know why I am so fucked up Carly”  To this day I feel the pain, the hurt, the worthlessness of those terror filled nights; those demeaning hurtful comments which are seared into my soul. “you’ll drive me to Selkirk”  I walk around aimlessly filled with the question: “Why, what did I ever do…” I always tried to behave, to be the good son, but even today it doesn’t matter what I do.  I am still begrudged any happiness…”why would your student get up at 3 in the morning and drive you to the airport?”  Maybe because my students saw the good side of me that you and dad never did mom.

Your straps and mean words forever scared me…and I still live with that pain today.

Part 2 of Josh Alen’s story: “I have overcome physical, mental and sexual abuse…and there are many people I would like to thank for helping”…by Josh Alen

© Chuck Duboff

Editor’s note: Upon first reading Josh’s writing for yesterday’s blog, I anticipated that there would be a very large number of reads and a positive response.  That is in fact what ensued, with 219 reads of Josh’s story.  It took a lot of courage and strength for Josh to share…and today we get to read a little more of what Josh has been through.  When you see him at the ballpark this summer, stop by and say hi and tell him how very proud we all are of him.

The Winnipeg Goldeyes are much more than just a baseball club.  They are our local professional baseball team, positive role models, community supporters and a place where people come together on hot summer nights to laugh, share, cheer and cry.  This has been evidenced in so very many different ways…most importantly, they are an organization which cares deeply about its fans

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© Josh Alen

Chuck asked me yesterday if there was anything I wanted to add to the piece that I’d written.

 There are a few things I’d like to touch upon.

First, is how painfully much I miss Luis, every single day.

How much I miss feeling like a kid in a candy store every time I watched him go up to bat, whether it was the first time I ever saw it in person, or the millionth time, the feeling was the exact same, magic without a doubt.
I miss the pre-game chats. I miss the times where I was so overwhelmed with feeling that I couldn’t catch my breath long enough to even muster a simple hello.
I miss getting to watch my favorite player every night all summer long, and getting to congratulate him on every single great game, and every milestone or record set.
I miss hearing his walk-up songs, and having my heart skip a beat, every-single-time.
I miss all the times he made me laugh until I cried, (“la loca” is the one that I’ll honestly never forget). I miss getting a full summer to make all those memories.
I miss counting down the days until open house, and the best and biggest hugs you could ever imagine, seriously, the hugs…have I mentioned his are the greatest in the world?
I miss every single tiny little thing about him being my favorite player.
Everything about this past baseball season was hard, at times even agonizing, including the championship victory, and it will continue to be hard in his absence for a very, very long time to come.
There is nothing in this life that I would not give to have my Louie back.

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Secondly, I would like to take a moment to say thank you to a few people:

First and foremost to Luis, for simply being one of the most incredible people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. I can never express in words how grateful I am for all the summers I got to spend at Shaw Park with you, or how truly honored I feel to share a last name with you. Thank you, for everything.
To sections S & R. Alex, Angie, Jim, Carole, Kerri, Miles, Sue, Karsten, thank you for taking me in and making me a part of your group. You folks gave me the family that I’ve spent my entire life looking for.
To Annette, Cheryl, and Sean, thank you for being some of the first to start chipping away at the rubble.
To Daniel and Reggie. Damn, thank you both from the bottom of my heart for taking me under your wings all year and taking such good care of me. Thank you both for all the hugs, the love, the support. The two of you both have very special places in my heart.

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To the Winnipeg Goldeyes organization as a whole, you are collectively and individually some of the most unbelievably incredible people on this planet. The amount of passion and sincerity that you all put into everything you do, the way you all pour your entire hearts and souls into this organization, that’s what makes this what it is, that’s what’s given a kid a second chance at life. I’ve never experienced a more loving and genuine group of people, keep up the fantastic work, thank you all!

To Chuck, thank you for believing in my story, and giving me the opportunity to put it out there. I’ve been reading your blogs for so long, I never imagined getting to be a part of it. Your dedication is unreal, and your writing is something I look forward to every day, especially in the offseason. Thank you!

Lastly, I’d just like to say, for anyone that read my original piece, or that is reading this one. You can do it!
At twenty-three years old I have overcome it all, abuse-physical, mental, and sexual. I struggle with, and overcome daily the crippling effects of BPD, Anxiety, PTSD, and more.
Three years ago, I came out to my friends, and later my biological family as a transgender male, and while that’s agony most days, it’s so beyond beautiful to finally find yourself and to find people who love and accept you for everything you are, and even everything you’re not. 

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I promise, even if it feels hopeless or impossible some days it isn’t. You will find yourself, you will find what you were meant to be on this earth for, you will find people to call family. I promise, it’s out there, and it will be the most overwhelming joy you could ever imagine feeling. Keep going, even on the days that you feel you cannot, just keep going. I promise you, it is worth it. I promise, I promise, I promise.

Not a baseball story, but rather, a Winnipeg baseball fan courageously shares a very painful part of his life…by Josh Alen.

© Chuck Duboff

Editor’s Note: I have known Josh from a distance at Goldeyes games; he has always seemed like a very devoted fan…yet, I didn’t really know him.
Josh regularly reads my Goldeyes blogs and leaves commentary.  I was very impressed with this young man, yet still, I didn’t know his story.  Little pieces would come out, but it was still a puzzle.
Recently Josh posted some very personal thoughts on Facebook about the challenges he has faced in life.  I reached out to him and asked if he’d like to share his story on the blog…I sensed at first some hesitation, but with time and thought, Josh eagerly agreed to share his story.
What follows is the story of a transgender youth trying to find himself.
Well done Josh…very proud of you for having the courage to write this.  I know Luis Alen is proud of you also…as are all your friends and Goldeyes family.

 

© Josh Alen

Sometime in the spring of 2007, my local indy-league baseball team brought a rookie bat catcher onto the roster, a little guy from South America with decent numbers. His name was Luis Alen, and I guess that’s where this story starts.

I didn’t know the first thing about baseball back then. I followed the Winnipeg Goldeyes casually, solely because they were the hometown ball club. That changed pretty quickly after that signing.

You know that feeling when something happens, and you feel a click, as if to say this is going to be important? That’s the feeling I got, reading that press release.
It would end up being six years before I got to see that kid from Venezuela play a game in person, but man, was it ever worth the wait.

I went to my first Goldeyes game on March 18th of 2008, my first words? “Where’s Alen?”
“Oh, he doesn’t play for us anymore.” I was told.
Needless to say, that was a disappointing summer. I didn’t end up going back for a while, but the reasons were unrelated.

In May of 2012, I was reeling from years’ of mental illnesses, abuse trauma, and a couple failed suicide attempts.
I didn’t want to live anymore, let alone go to a baseball game. I did anyway.
It was the 30th, just days before my nineteenth birthday. The night was warm, the breeze was perfect, and the sunset was one of the more beautiful ones I’d seen in a while. I didn’t know it at the time, but it would end up being the first day of the rest of my life.

“Just one game” I’d said.
That “one game” ended up being close to fifteen or twenty by the time September rolled around, and turned into becoming a season ticket holder by age twenty-one.
I don’t remember much about the 2012 season,
I remember that first game though. I remember finally seeing Luis in person, I remember seeing him interact with fans, how kind and sweet he was, how genuine he seemed, I remember watching him walk up to bat. It was like being a kid on Christmas morning again. I remember watching him hit, hit after hit, after hit…it’d be a while before I saw him strike out. He was a genius behind the plate too, called the game like few others.
That game set the stage for the coming years. I don’t remember if we won or not, it wasn’t important. I remember feeling, a certain safety, a sense of home (there was that click again).
I’d continue to feel that throughout the rest of the year, as I became more familiar with the team that was quite quickly becoming mine.


Everything was so new, and so fun, getting to know some regular fans, some of the staff, and some of the players themselves.
It was refreshing to have something to look forward to, something exciting, that was bringing me out of my shell after so long; the championship run that fall certainly didn’t hurt either.
Still, the best part of that first summer was watching, awe-struck every time #18 walked past, or went up to the plate.


That would be the case every year. I’ll never know exactly why, but nothing else ever seemed to matter quite as much. Maybe it was simply how good he was on the field. Maybe it was how he carried himself as a professional athlete, or how humble he was. Though it could have been that in getting to know him I’d come to find that the kind, gentle soul I’d seen interacting with kids on that night in May wasn’t the same act that most athletes put on to impress; but in fact just who he was. It was likely a combination of all those things, mixed with a little of the world’s best hugs.

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Whatever it was, it kept me coming back, not just in 2012; but every year that followed.
Life didn’t just magically get better after one summer, no. That has been a lengthy process that has lasted up until this day, and will continue for as long as I live.
There has been hurt, there has been heartache, there have been more mental illnesses, there have been my first steps in the world as a transgender male, there has been loss, so, much loss.
Though, no matter the mud that I’ve been dragged through, no matter how far past rock bottom I’ve sank, there has always been a light at the end of the tunnel, I’ve always had my boys. Even when I didn’t have “my” boys, even when every other player I’d liked had left for whatever reasons, when a large portion of the friends I’d made in years past had decided to not return; there was always, my catcher. That was what got me through even the darkest nights and back through the doors of my beloved ballpark every spring.

Until one day, he wasn’t anymore.

That’s when it became real.
That was the point which I had to sit back, and reflect on the years I’d spent telling myself that this one, amazing player had kept me coming back long enough to love a team that I kept claiming saved my life. I came to a crossroads at which I was forced to look at whether or not those claims were true, or if they were just the rugs under which I’d been sweeping my problems.
It was agonizing, to say the very least.
I was convinced that I didn’t have a chance in hell at recovering from the loss of the person who’d been there from the very beginning, who was the catalyst for all the friendships, all the happy memories, the person who none of this could be at all without.
I did have a chance though, after months of self-destruction and doubt I overcame, and I conquered with such tenacity that even as I write this a year later, I still cannot fathom.
I spent the last three hundred and sixty five plus days moving one of the most enormous mountains that life has ever dropped in front of me.
I didn’t do it alone though, not for a single second.

On a frigid, January morning the safe, familiar home that I’d built for myself burst into flames, and burned to the ground; leaving me buried so far beneath the rubble that I was rendered virtually unrecognizable. At the time I was thought that everything I’d come to know was over, when in reality it was just beginning. Slowly, everything that I had gained from the interest in baseball that a catcher had sparked a decade prior started to unfold everywhere I looked. All the happiness that reminded me of why I started this chapter to begin with, the memories that I’d miss making, the love that would be left over with nowhere to go should I make good on my “resignation” from my Goldeyes, the friendships that I’d come to cherish that would likely be lost.
That last one was the most important, and ultimately what has gotten me to the place I am in right now.

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The friends that I had made and continue to make, the people who found the multiple feet of rubble, and chipped away to find me at the bottom. The people who pulled me out, and dusted me off, the people who held me up and showed me not only how to stand again, but how to walk on my own; those who stood on all sides of me, and picked me up every time I fell, every time I still fall. The people who believed in me, who loved me until I could be myself again, the people who ended up showing me what it meant to belong, and to be truly accepted.
The people who I would never have met, had it not been for the love I developed for that rookie catcher from Venezuela, who I’ve now come to call My King.

I will not forget the bad that came with this last year.
The sheer terror on that morning, the devastation I felt when walking away seemed like the best and only option, or the weeks I spent lying awake at night, most of the time fairly intoxicated.
However, I will also not forget the good.
The leaps and bounds I made towards recovery after so many years, the obstacles that I laughed in the face of, as I surmounted them.
The night before my twenty-third birthday; on which I summoned the courage to tell the man that started this all, a watered-down version of this story. The same night that I asked him for his blessing to take his last name as my own (I should mention that he said yes, and I’ve never been more proud of anything in my all my years).
The new people I met along the way that help each and every day to shape me into the man that I hope to eventually become.
Oh, and the championship run at the end of this season wasn’t too shabby either.

14424708_258700601196799_3623375460493997764_oI have learned so much about the mental strength that I did not know I possessed, about perseverance, and resiliency. I’ve learned what it means to truly love, and to be truly loved.
I’ve learned about taking risks, and making the most of every precious moment you’re given, how not a single one of those moments should be taken for granted, and making damn sure that you tell the ones you love that you love them while you still have the chance.

I’ve had proven to me the meaning of fate, and destiny. I learned to trust that click, to trust the feeling of this was meant to be. If something screams “this is your purpose, this is what you were meant to find” for a decade, you should probably stop being stubborn and just listen.

I am finally on a road to a real, and long-lasting recovery after over a decade of suffering, I am on a path to becoming the most authentic me I can possibly be; none of which could be possible without the environment that a small sports organization in downtown Winnipeg creates for their fans

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Sometime in the spring of 2007, my local independent-league baseball club signed a soft-spoken, catcher, with a heart of gold, and one of the most beautiful souls this world will ever know. His name was Luis Alen; and he, along with his team changed my life forever.

Clara Hughes: “Education is the most crucial component to breaking down the stigma attached to Mental Illness.”…by Chuck Duboff

EDITOR’S NOTE:  I suffer from depression; I have been blessed with many who have stood by me and helped me through the difficult times.  I believe this is a very important blog…I thank individuals like Clara Hughes, Michael Landsberg and Howie Mandel for being just a few of the many individuals with mental health issues who have chosen to speak up and help de-stigmatize this disease.  I ask that you please pass this blog on, so that others may learn from it…I know in the past, when I have written blogs about my own depression, I have received many private messages from former students and friends thanking me for opening up and talking about my challenges.  I ask that you share this…and if someone reaches out to you or is struggling, take the time to try and understand what they are going through.

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© Chuck Duboff

“Every single day I struggle, I have those thoughts.”  Howie Mandel.

Mental illness, depression, bi-polar disorder, OCD, anxiety…they have all been stigmatized throughout history.  Individuals who exhibit traits synonymous with mental health issues have been ostracized, belittled, laughed upon and shunned from society.

Speaking as an individual who has battled depression throughout my whole life, my most common refrain is that far too many people assume that individuals who suffer from mental illness, choose to live their lives in this manner.  Whether it is family, friends or outside observers, it saddens me that individuals will get upset, castigate, belittle and shun me when the illness takes control.

I have been fortunate to have several individuals who have stuck with me, not given up and have tried to understand what I go through.  The respect and appreciation I have for these individuals can’t be put into words.  Knowing that these people are not giving up on me, helps me to get through the “difficult days”.  Though they may not fully understand what I am experiencing, they do recognize that it is not something I choose, but rather a disease which I live with.

Thankfully, through much hard work by many individuals, those of us who suffer with Depression and other mental illnesses, have felt safer sharing our stories with the world.  It truly helps when I know that individuals like Carrie Fisher, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Gwenyth Peltrow, Billy Joel,  Jon Hamm, Clint Malarchuk, Stephane Richer, Darryl Strawberry, Angelina Jolie, Catherine Zeta Jones, Charlie Sheen, Britanny Spears, Terry Bradshaw…and so many more…all struggle with this same debilitating disease…

There are three Canadian individuals whom I must single out for their efforts to improve, increase and positively accentuate the understanding of Depression and Mental Illness.  Clara Hughes, Michael Landsberg and Howie Mandel have become the “noted” spokes people for the annual Bell Let’s Talk campaign, a day dedicated to increasing the understanding of what individuals with mental disorders go through.  On this day, for every tweet and other social media interactions, Bell Canada will donate 5 cents to Canadian Mental Health.  I know that this day is making a tremendous difference in the attitudes which individuals are exhibiting towards those of us with Mental Health Issues.

I thank Bell Canada, Clara, Michael and Howie and all the others involved in putting this day on.  You are making a difference…writing this blog today is a lot easier than it would have been even five years ago.

Saturday Morning Random Thoughts (with several important Thank You’s included); by Chuck Duboff

© Chuck Duboff

  • Thank you to Clara Hughes…while laid up in a hospital bed after surgery, she took the time to encourage me through a difficult week.  You are a champion in so many ways Clara…most importantly, you are an inspiration to all of us who face the daily challenge of Depression.  Your being so open about the challenges you face with Mental Health Issues…you make it easier for all of us.clara huges
  • Al and Geoff…thank you for last Monday afternoon.  Thank you.
  • Completed watching Breaking Bad, all 5 seasons, for the third time.  Walter White and Jessie…daymn, it doesn’t get much better.
  • As I said yesterday:  “Winnipeg, where you get up in the morning and check the wind chill, -29, and you go: YES!!…now that’s better.”
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  • I say this to friends and family of those who suffer with Depression; it must be difficult to watch someone you love struggle and make decisions which seem irrational; but, I would ask you to ask yourself this question: “Would someone like Chuck, a supposedly educated man, consciously choose to go through what he went through last week.”  The next time you get frustrated, upset, angry with them for doing something which you can’t understand…ask yourself that question.
  • Given all the injuries the Jets faced in November…and the heavy schedule they were given…it’s amazing they are still at.500…playoffs may be tough…but, I think, if they could beat Buffalo today, making it 3 in a row, they could go on a roll.
  • Think about this: Scheifele, Ehlers and Laine…just those three, 51 GOALS!!!!!
  • The beaches of Puerto Vallarta, the ocean, the mountains, the hot sun…are now within my getting excited time!!!  Two weeks away from this frozen city!!!
  • In the midst of a very difficult birthday on January 1st, the birthday wishes kept pouring in on Facebook…don’t have the words to express what that day felt like, but I do want to thank those that took the time to send their birthday wishes.
  • The Russians, Vladamir Putin, manipulating the American election, is beyond believable…if a direct link to Trump’s campaign is exposed…Trump should be tried for treason and there should be a re-election.  Woodward and Bernstein…go get ’em boys!!
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  • These two leaders are destroying the very foundation of Democracy.
  • Watched the Secret Life of Pets with Laine and Ben; man did I ever enjoy that!!
  • Bell Lets Talk…January 25…a day of discussion and understanding about Mental Health Issues…leaders like Clara Hughes and Michael Landsberg, who face the daily challenges, have been courageous in bringing this debilitating medical issue to light.
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  • Thursday evening, December 29th, I went to the Jets game with Laine; we had a fantastic time; came home in a great mood.  Woke up Friday morning, December 30th; within minutes, I knew!!  I felt it!!  Ten minutes later I wrote this blog; reading it now, it just blows my mind how the Devil (Depression) can take hold and not let go.  https://chuckduboff.com/2016/12/30/the-devils-death-grip-by-chuck-duboff/
  • Brian Pallister, hope you’re having fun down in Costa Rica plotting more ways you can cut jobs, salaries, services in Manitoba.
  • Been in a Led Zeppelin headspace for weeks now…Page, Plant, Jones and Bonham!!led-zeppelin-ii-1400175028
  • Thank you Al; thank you Geoff; thank you Clara.  I’m writing today, because the three of you took the time to be there for me.
  • Al inscribed the copy of his book, Saskatchewan Farm Boy, that he gave me; some important words were said: … “the best and longest of friends are those who accept each other for what they are.”
  • This is classic, couldn’t resist:esl

Saturday Morning Frigid Random Thoughts; by Chuck Duboff

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© Chuck Duboff

  • Waking up to a Wind Chill of -41 freakin degrees!!
  • Why mom, oh why, when escaping Russia in the early 1900’s did some of your family go to Philadelphia, while for some inexplicable reason, the rest of the family moved to Winnipeg!!!  Then again, we’d be looking forward to President Trump…I guess handling -41 wind chill is more tolerable than the thought of Herr Trump.
  • Had just a great time with Carly, our Laine and Ben at the Jets Skills Competition last night!!  What a fun time…and seeing the expressions on the kids faces is pricelss.
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  • That kid Laine…hit all four corners of the accuracy shooting in just over 8 seconds…he makes everything looks so easy.
  • That would be 11 now…hard work, but getting to the goal!!
  • Well, Matha Ticklebottom got me again…
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  • I guess Trumps idea of draining the swamp in Washington meant to fill all his cabinet positions with billionaire white men whose philosophies are right out of the 1950’s.
  • Vladamir Putin has Trump so deep in his pocket that he will be calling all the shots on American policy around the world.
  • MRI results on Wednesday…what a relief, blessing, lesson.  The lesson which the Big Guy has now tried to teach me in powerful ways twice this year…2016…living in the moment and not dwelling on what was and what will be.  The anticipation of the results from the MRI had me imagining every possible outcome…relief and blessed.
  • Nice first signing by the Goldeyes.  Wes Darvill, a Canadian boy from BC, played a solid 3B last season and his bat only got better as the season went along.
  • It’s a Beatles, Jethro Tull music listening season…always has been.
  • Breaking Bad…Walter White and Jesse Pinkman…my all time favourite show; watching the full series for the third time now!!  Great writing, plot, character development, setting..
  • Congrats to my pal Al Bryski on the publishing of his first book, Saskatchewan Farm Boy.  You can pick up a copy of his book at McNally Robinson Book Store for $19.95
  • Nice to see the Goldeyes and Jets making life just a little better for those less fortunate…I know the Bombers are also great at helping out around the city.
  •  The provincial NDP is in such a mess…making Brian Pallister look good.
  • Watch out for Kevin O’Leary folks…watch out…it can happen here too.
  • Nice chat with Winnipeg Goldeyes ace from last season, Kevin McGovern.
  • A Very Special Thank You to Clara Hughes who is very open is talking about the struggles she faces with Depression.  An Olympic champion and inspiration for so many…she has given me the strength and courage to talk about the effect that Depression has on my life.  Thank you Clara…have a peaceful day.
    clara huges
  • 66, 520 views of this Blog since its inception almost three years ago; and 1,244 followers who receive this blog everyday in their e-mail.  So very humbling, but also very inspiring.
  • Workouts have been fantastic the last few weeks…first 30-40 minutes on the weights and then 30-40 minutes on either treadmill or bike.
  • So very sad about Alan Thicke…really enjoyed pretty much everything he did.
  • The Goldeyes players, management and staff all received their championship rings this past week…what a great season the team had.
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Leonard Cohen talks about the struggles he had with Depression…by Chuck Duboff

leonard-cohen

“My cover story is so good, people say: what’s he got to complain about.”  Leonard Cohen

I have heard those very words so many times in my life: “Chuck, you’ve got such a great life, what are you depressed about?”

I’ve always had a  very deep connection to Leonard; his books, his poetry, his songs…the words always spoke to me.  At times I felt hypnotized by the lyrics of his songs, the depth of his poetry and the path along which his novels traveled.  I attended three of the concerts he did over the years in Winnipeg and each time it felt like a spiritual experience…a piece of me opened up; I understood things more clearly and was moved at a level which I did not know existed…

Interesting that Leonard that it wasn’t his dark days which inspired his writing, but rather his words were a Victory statement, that once again he had defeated the demons.

Take a moment and listen to Leonard talk about is life and his battle with depression:

A letter to my dear friend Lisa; it’s been one year…you are missed, so very much …by Chuck Duboff (reblogged)

It’s now been two years since Lisa left us; she has been on my mind so much these past few days…couldn’t sleep last night thinking about her…and how much I miss her.  I could be so real with you Lisa..I could share the pain with you that I knew you understood…your empathy was genuine and when I needed a swift kick in the ass, you gave it to me!!

PLEASE TAKE A MINUTE TO READ MY WORDS FROM ONE YEAR AGO…

I MISS YOU TERRIBLY LISA!!

© Chuck Duboff
Lisa S

Lisa. I walked into the gym this morning and you weren’t there. You weren’t there yesterday either…and I’m pretty sure you won’t be there tomorrow morning. I keep waiting for you to say: “Chuck, we came here to workout, not listen to you sing!!”. I’d give anything to hear that one more time, to see “the look” one more time.

Lisa…it’s one year since you left us. Deep in my heart I knew the unbearable pain you were in. When I heard that you had had enough, I was shocked, but not surprised. You were such an intelligent, beautiful woman who lived her life filled with pain, self-loathing and insecurities.

Lisa…our friendship was so very special and unique. We understood each other at a level that most people couldn’t relate to. One minute you and I were making plans to go to 529, the next minute you were yelling at me that you didn’t want anything more than hello’s from. I understood…I go to the same place Lisa; you knew that…and you understood that…you understood me as I understood you.  You understood me as no one in my life ever has.

Lisa!!!

There are evenings when I just lie in bed and think about you and the tears start; sometimes for the fun things like the floppy hat by the pool or the debates we got into about favourite ice cream flavours. Other times the tears are for the dark days we helped each other through; I remember the sadness in your voice when you talked about my angels Laine and Ben…I know how very much the thought of not having a family pained you. The tears really start when I remember how much you helped me get through the nightmare of Tannis; you knew how to get on me, to raise your voice, to elicit the words that got through to me. I miss that Lisa…

Lisa: I put on Leonard Cohen singing Hallelujah when I started writing this letter; last September, while I was in a state of shock about your suicide…I listened to this song over and over and over. Somehow the words, the music, Cohen’s voice helped.

I listen to this song Lisa…and it brings tears…I listened to it for weeks on end after you left us…it’s cathartic.

Lisa: you know this more than most anyone…there are days when I wish I could just join you and see that smile one more time. But, I am so very blessed with my kids Carly, Matthew, Chris, Laine and Ben; they keep me strong, they give me hope, they give me that one thing that I know you missed in your life. I will be with you one day, that we both know.

Lisa: I still have your self-written obit on my kitchen fridge; the other day Laine and Ben were over. Laine asked what happened to you and I simply said that you weren’t well. Laine commented how very beautiful you were, while Ben said: “that is so sad Zaida Chuck..she looks so young.”

Lisa: it’s a year now since you left us. There are days when I simply can’t process you being gone. You’re on a holiday, right? You’re having a difficult time and just staying in your condo, right? You’ve gone to a facility to get help, right? There are days when I hope and pray that perhaps you will walk into the gym in the morning.

Lisa: I still say a peanut butter crunch blizzard is the best; I sure hope that where ever you are that they are serving you the absolute best ice-cream.

Lisa: I miss you so very much. The special love we had for each other will never change…when I’m going through difficult times, I hear that voice of yours getting after me. Big hugs Lees…love you.

In his new autobiography, Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen talks about his Depression and Clinical Depression…by Chuck Duboff

© Chuck Duboff

Bruce thinking

“Over the years, Springsteen has been forthcoming about the fact that he is prone to depression, for which he has sought relief through both therapy and antidepressants. In the book, he delves more deeply still into the subject. There is his clinical depression itself, he explained to me, and then a compounding fear that he is doomed to suffer as his father did. “You don’t know the illness’s parameters,” he said. “Can I get sick enough to where I become a lot more like my father than I thought I might?”

He acknowledges in Born to Run that his struggles are ongoing, and shares stories from the not-so-distant past. “I was crushed between sixty and sixty-two, good for a year and out again from sixty-three to sixty-four,”

This is from a Vanity Fair article which profiles Bruce Springsteen and discusses his forthcoming book, Born to Run:  http://www.salon.com/2016/09/06/bruce-springsteen-opens-up-about-clinical-depression-you-do-not-know-the-illnesss-parameters/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=socialflow

I have always felt a strong connection to the Boss; understood his words, his pain, his dark bedrooms…”I was crushed between sixty and sixty-two” he says, much like I am experiencing now.

Does it make life any easier knowing that people like Bruce Springsteen, Jon Hamm, Duane “the Rock” Johnson, Winston Churchill, Clara Hughes, Michael Landsburg, Robin Williams, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Gwenyth Paltrow, all had to face the demons which render you helpless.  At some level it does, at a different level I ask myself…if they struggle with depression, what hope do I have?

Watching a dear friend battle depression and take her own life just a few short years ago was painful.  At 44 she could no longer live with the demons which controlled her life.

 

pitt

Bruce has fought this battle his whole life; he lived with a father who was verbally abusive and crushed his spirit, much like I did.  “I think it’s great for him to write about depression. A lot of his work comes from him trying to overcome that part of himself.” says his supportive and loving wife, Patti Scialfa.

It’s a battle, it it’s a 24/7 battle; and when life is peaceful and good, you know that at any moment that switch can be flipped and suddenly the demon is back in control of your life…

The most painful part of depression is when you are judged by others, who take no time to understand the unbearable struggles.  For people who struggle with depression, it is not a choice.  “hmm, I think I am going to be depressed today.”  It’s not like that at all; life can be good, flowing smoothly, when out of nowhere the demons arrive, take over and you are caught in their grips for as long as they decide to hold on.  As Brad Pitt stated: “I couldn’t wait to get home and hide out.”

My connection to Bruce has been for a life time; his words, his music, speak to me.  To write a very public auto-biography detailing his depression and clinical depression took an immense amount of courage…I look forward to reading Born to Run when it is released.

A club I’d rather not be a part of…those who suffer from Depression; by Chuck Duboff

© Chuck Duboff

The monster known as Depression has grabbed hold and not let go of me for about ten days now.  Below you will see a quote from Brad Pitt who also suffers from Depression.  He talks about coming home every night and just wanting to hide out…

I would suggest the hardest part of Depression is not the actual suffering, but rather the judgement from those who do not understand the hell that is Depression.

It is NOT A CHOICE that is made; “oh, I think I ‘m going to feel depressed today”…it is a moment when a switch is flipped in your brain and the monster will let go when it decides its time.

Below are pix of  some  other members of this club: (sadly, a few are no longer with us, as the monster decided it would never let go.)

Brad Pitt

Terry Bradshaw

Rowling

The Rock2

famous-women-with-postpartum-depression

jon-hamm-depressed

johnny-depp-and-his-social-anxiety-battle

Lisa!!!

Robin 5

Bruce thinking

ernest-hemingway

Me

Brad Pitt 2

kurt cobain

clara huges

Landsberg

A tough week battling the monster; thanks to those who supported me…by Chuck Duboff

© Chuck Duboff

It was a tough week.  It was a really tough week.  The monster arrived, uninvited and grabbed hold with a grip i had never experienced before.  I have a sense of where it came from this time…I really think David Bowie and Glenn Frey passing away within a week of each other attacked my subconscious and fuelled the arrival of the monster. Additionally, all last week I was worrying about two very close friends who were dealing with health and family situations.  Two friends who have always been my rocks, my supports…who have helped through my most difficult of times.  Then, to add further fuel to the fire, the Bell Let’s Talk Day also took place.  A day for the discussion of mental health issues…I get actively involved on that day, and as much as i believe it gives me strength, I’m sure there is a subconscious part of me which is so pissed off having to deal with such a debilitating disease.

clara

When the monster takes over, rational thinking goes out the window; reality is skewed and the monster’s voice is all that seems to make sense.  It is during this time when you find out who really understands, who really cares.  I am completely aware of the irrational thinking and speaking, yet it is impossible, yes, impossible to stop that voice which is tormenting you.  I am truly blessed to have so many friends who care and stick by me; I really think without the checking up, the “are you ok?”, the “what can I do?”, the monster would hold on for a longer period of time.  Knowing there are those out there who are concerned for my well being makes a huge difference; at the same time, receiving brutal messages of criticism, acts of punishment for being in that state, just feeds the beast.

I am proud that I can sit here and write this and express my gratitude for so many people who care and go out of their way to make sure I am safe and ok.  For your friendship, I am truly blessed.  Thank you…

A confluence of David Bowie, Glenn Frey, 2 special friends and Bell Lets Talk Day…all conspired at a subconscious level to allow the monster to take control of my life; yet, it was the love of so many great friends which allows me to write this today…and to look forward to a great two weeks in the hot sun of Puerto Vallarta

DB

 

Lisa S

Eagles

#BellLetsTalk…battling the stigma of Mental Health Illness…by Chuck Duboff

© Chuck Duboff

#BellLetsTalk has become an annual event which attempts to eliminate the stigma of Mental Health Illness.  Two noted Canadians have taken the lead in this initiative;  TSN’s Michael Landsberg and Olympic athlete Clara Hughes both suffer from Mental Health Illness.  They have demonstrated that it is possible to succeed in this world despite the burden of mental health issues

robin-williams-dead-600x450

#BellLetsTalk

Jon Hamm of Mad Men, Owen Wilson, Catherine Zeta Jones, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Stephane Richer, Darryl Strawberry, Heath Ledger, Gwenyth Peltrow, Chuck Duboff, Winston Churchill, Brooke Shields, Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, Terry Bradshaw, Kanye West, Rick Rypien, Howie Mandell, Robin Williams…and so many, many more.

Clara Hughes:

 

Our very own Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has stepped up this year and is speaking out about mental health.  His mother, Maggie Trudeau, has suffered from mental health issues her whole life and Justin has spoken about the need for family to be there as a support.

#BellLetsTalk

Michael Landsberg:

People like Michael and Clara have given me the strength to openly speak about the depression I suffer from.  I have learned that sharing is both cathartic and leads to less of a stigma being associated with the disease.  Michael has made it clear that this is not a weakness of mine, but rather an illness like any other.  My very good friend and writing partner, Geoff, suffers from diabetes.  Were he to not take his medicine, it would lead to serious health issues; the same is for me.  I take my medicine every morning…and have learned that exercise, healthy eating, talking and writing, all go hand in hand to battle this debilitating disease.

#BellLetsTalk

I lost a very dear friend over a year ago to depression; she couldn’t handle the demons which take control…and she committed suicide.  To this day, I still can’t process her being gone.  I miss you terribly Lisa…you gave me strength.

Lisa S

Having the Winnipeg Jets take Mental Health so seriously means so much; the Jets family lost an important member the summer of the Jets return in 2011.  Rick Rypien, who fought Depression his whole life, committed suicide.  I shake when I write that…when I watch the video which follows, I see the pain in Jets Assistant GM Craig Haisinger, who was Rypien’s rock.  I am blessed to have several Zingers in my life…grateful beyond words.  I ask that you please take a few minutes to watch this video:

TODAY, FOR EVERY TWEET, PHONE CALL, TEXT MESSAGE WITH THE HASHTAG:

#BellLetsTalk..BELL WILL DONATE 5cents TOWARDS MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES.

My Childhood…by Chuck Duboff

©Chuck Duboff

My Childhood

They called me Fats,
Laughed,
Punched,
Belittled a little boy.
They called me Fats.

At home the strap,
Verbal abuse,
Emotional abandonment,
Physical isolation.
The wooden spoon
The strap.

Sexually abused,
Just a little boy,
No one listened,
No one believed.
Sadly,
Sexually abused.

sad-little-boy

No escape
From the pain,
Everywhere
I turned,

They called me Fats,
Used the strap,
Broke me with harsh words,
Isolation,
Sexual abuse.

They called me Fats.