Hump Day: Humility is great, but tooting your own horn is OK, too!

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017
Moncton Times & Transcript

Being proud of one’s accomplishments is often frowned upon as being un-Canadian. We value humility. It’s best to let others brag about you rather than brag about yourself.

With the arrival of a particularly boastful leader of the country to the south of us, the ability to be humble has never been so valued, I think. While constant bragging and arrogance obviously appeal to some people, it’s always turned me off.

But you know what? Sometimes we do have to be our own biggest fan. How else do people overcome adversity – whether it be minor or major? How does someone who grew up in extreme poverty become financially stable? Obviously, they had to think they were personally worth it in order to acquire the gumption to overcome it.

If you quit smoking, obviously you feel you were worth it enough to do so. The same can be said for achieving weight loss, reducing high amounts of debt or correcting other reversible health issues. At some point, we have to respect ourselves enough to make ourselves a priority. Everything else must come second while we focus on something that will make us better – either physically or psychologically.

We’ve all been told not to boast. Of course we shouldn’t! We all know someone who’ll tell you their every achievement whether you like it or not. Have you ever sat down with someone and immediately regretted it after having to suffer through a half-hour one-sided conversation on what a tremendous person they think they are? We’ve all been there.

Recently, I hesitated about posting something online about how proud I was of a particularly achievement, specifically what I call ‘The Purge of 2017’ in which I emptied my primary living space of clutter. I finished the enormous first phase of the project over the weekend and still can’t believe I did it. (Subsequent phases will involve the furnace room and garage.)

I received many congratulatory comments on it. I even received several messages from people who said that I’d inspired them to do the same. My enthusiasm was motivating them. As I provided my garbage bag count to the landfill (over 50!) and my various donations of ‘stuff’to charities, more and more people chimed in – and more people thanked me for encouraging them to get down to work themselves! Yeah, just call me Oprah Cormier!

The first day of a diet is the worst. The first workout session of a new exercise regime is the hardest. The first day without booze or drugs must be unbelievably difficult. Whatever your first step is in that journey you want to take, it’s well worth it. For me, that first garbage bag was the worst one to start. Then, I just went crazy. Now, I find myself walking around my tidy house in disbelief – and with a ton of gratitude and pride that I took on the project.

Yeah, I’m going to say it again, I’m proud of myself! It had been driving me crazy for years. And you know what? I’m not going to be a typical Canadian and be all humble about it. It was hard work, both physically and mentally. It was time consuming. It was also worth it – oh so worth it! I’d do it over again in a second.

It’s OK to be proud of oneself for accomplishing something. It’s even OK to talk about it – at least up to a certain point. I’ve talked about ‘The Purge’ enough for now. Now, it’s time to tone it down and move on to other things.

But it’s a fine line to walk, isn’t it? The line between being proud of something in a good way and then driving everyone crazy by never shutting up about it. My clutter has taken up enough real estate in my mind, physical space and conversations. Now, it’s time to move on. Yeah, I’m proud about it. Now, shut up and move on to something else, like getting cheese-grater abs in time for Speedo season this summer at the beach!

Being confident in oneself means you have to be proud, but it doesn’t mean constantly talking about yourself. Let others do that. It’s OK to accept compliments. We all act like we shouldn’t, but an honest and heartfelt compliment is always nice to hear and we should be thankful for receiving them.
The only thing worse than getting a compliment, after all, is never getting a compliment.

Humility is a beautiful thing but sometimes we just need to toot our own horn a bit and be proud to do so. Happy accomplishments encourage others – and there’s nothing wrong with that!

Hump Day: Nothing is safe in house possessions purge!

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017
Exclusive online edition

Late last year, I wrote a couple of columns about getting rid of clutter. Good for the mind. Good for the soul. Must do it. Will do it. Promise.

Well, promise turned into “maybe” – which never came. The clutter continued to dominate my thoughts. There was so much of it. Office papers and files everywhere. A disastrous pantry. Kitchen cupboards full of stuff I’d dragged along with me for years. Clothes I hated 15 years ago and which were still there. A dining room table that had turned into a ‘junk drawer’ for unwanted stuff. Piles of read and unread books. CDs I’ll never listen to. DVDs I’ll never watch. One word: overwhelming!

If some of that sounds familiar, I feel your pain. Let’s not judge each other, OK? Do we have a deal?

Yes, I know we should tidy up as we go. And don’t get me wrong, some of us do! To you, I say, “Congratulations! I’m jealous!” For many others, though, myself included, we wake up one day after years of managing messes and piles of stuff only to discover that it’s not doing us much good. In fact, it’s driving us completely bonkers.

I would walk into other people’s tidy houses and seethe with admiration at how everything was in its place. Well, maybe not everything, but a good 90 per cent of everything. If you’d seen my house lately, that’s pretty good, actually! I would never bring a client over to my office. Just the thought of them seeing the international headquarters of Brian Cormier Worldwide Empire and Cat Hair Inc. would cause me great anxiety.

Indeed, it got to the point where I couldn’t stand it. It was affecting me. I bought an audiobook called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo. She has a very precise order of cleaning up. Now, to be honest, I didn’t exactly follow it faithfully, but just listening to the audiobook got me incredibly motivated.

Motivated? You tell me. In the past 10 days, I’ve discarded or recycled at least 30 bags of garbage. Keep in mind, this is from my office, bedroom, kitchen pantry, refrigerator and the deep freezer downstairs. Actually, a good friend told me that my deep freezer isn’t actually an appliance – it’s a tomb! Yes, he is accurate on that. Anything that goes into that freezer never comes out – including the three garbage bags full of containers of homemade soup I’d stored in there several years ago. My intentions were good. Don’t waste! My follow through, however, was lacking.

Tack onto those 30 bags of garbage: two trips (so far – there will be many more) to Habitat for Humanity’s Restore; a number of trips to Encorp Atlantic’s very convenient re-centre with a number of bottles that had accumulated in the basement, including a bunch of cardboard boxes and e-waste; six boxes of shredding; nine (yes nine!) boxes of books, CDs and DVDs; three garbage bags of used clothing to charity; and six grocery bags of unneeded canned goods from my pantry to the food bank.

I donated where I could. I recycled where I could. I threw things out if necessary. I was merciless. I was vicious. I was unkind. I was an emotionless decluttering zombie. Like the book said, if you don’t love it, toss it! Bye! That went, as well, for a number of household decorations which had served their purpose. My dining room table is now empty. Empty!! I can’t believe it!

This week, I just have to go through my kitchen cupboards and drawers which are chock full of gadgets, dishes, glassware and other stuff that will be culled back massively. Do I really need all that? I can only use one plate and glass at a time. And how did I end up with six bread pans? For the love of all that is holy, I don’t even bake bread!

Thirty years of accumulating stuff has caught up with me. My legendary (at least to me) 2007 purge was pretty impressive, but it will pale into comparison to this one. As the book convinced me, just simply buying more storage containers to stack on top of each other in an orderly fashion won’t solve the problem. That’s my 2007 purge in a nutshell. Much was discarded, yes, but also many storage containers were purchased. Wrong.

This time, I mean business. I’m no minimalist, but being able to walk around my house and feel good instead of cringing at the clutter is such a fantastic and liberating feeling. I don’t regret the effort for one second!