Category Archives: Hump Day

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!

Hump Day: Medication warnings often scarier than the illness itself

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017
Moncton Times & Transcript

Like most everyone, I’ve had to have prescriptions filled from time to time. Some of them are only once, while others are for a period of a few weeks. And some for longer than that. Thankfully, any side effects have been very minor or not even noticeable.

But sometimes, side effects can be horrible. One need only think of chemotherapy as an more extreme example of that. To be well again, sometimes we need to get even sicker first. Contradictory, I know. And there are many other medications with serious side effects, too.

I can’t imagine being very ill and being required to take medication that I know will cause havoc with my body. If it weren’t stressful enough already, you then have to deal with a whole new set of ‘booboos,’ so to speak.

I subscribe to Entertainment Weekly, an American entertainment magazine. Yes, I’m one of those rare people who still has a subscription for a magazine that’s actually printed on real paper! This seems to be more common in American media than Canadian, but pharmaceutical companies will often advertise new medications for a variety of ailments, including diabetes, congestive heart failure, psoriasis, etc.

The ads must cost a fortune, but obviously the uptake more than pays for the marketing or they wouldn’t be doing it in the first place.

Often, an ad will be one page of creative and two full pages of warnings in type so small that you need a magnifying glass to read it. I’m sure the reasons for it are due to government regulations and public safety – and that’s a good thing – but two full pages of disclaimers about taking the product? I guess that’s what happens when one lives in a litigious society like the U.S. where lawsuits are as common as leaves on trees.

And if you listen to satellite radio, you’ll often hear commercials about new medications followed by a disclaimer that is sped up so fast that it is practically indecipherable to the human ear. It’s quite astonishing. Clearly, because the voice is sped up so fast, it’s simply there for legal purposes, not for the listener to actually understand. Why bother, then? Oh yeah, it’s all about avoiding that lawsuit, eh?

Let’s hope this pile of pills helps him despite the warnings they likely carry!

Like I said, I hope I’m never sick enough to have to resort to some weird new drug which I had to learn about on television or the radio, but if I do, I’ll have to skip the mandatory warnings. Way too scary!

‘CureYa will make your booboo go away, but it may cause instant death, complete hair loss for you and everyone within a 10-mile radius, your left leg to fall off if you cough more than twice in one day, and all your skin to explode into a powder-like cloud if you sneeze.’

‘Furthermore, CureYa offers no guarantee that your booboo will get better but hopes that you will be the one per cent of the human population who benefits from the medication. We also hope that you’re not part of the 99 per cent of the population who spontaneously combusts within the first minute after taking a CureYa pill, or someone who sleeps for 23 hours per day for six months after your first dose. The manufacturers of CureYa suggest stocking up on adult diapers while you’re filling your prescription.’

‘In rare cases, CureYa may cause patients to instantaneously grow chicken feet out of their foreheads and cause everyone within earshot to forget how to count to 10.”

I don’t know, but that all sounds like scary stuff to me. And I’m only half exaggerating. Have you ever listened closely to those scary warnings? I seriously don’t know what I’d do if I actually read all the side effects of some new medication I was forced to take.

But that’s just me – and it’s all hypothetical at this point. There are so many people out there suffering from terrible side effects from medication that is keeping them alive, pain-free or what have you. Sometimes, the cure is worse than the illness. If you’re like me, you’ve likely heard of people who refuse chemotherapy treatment for a second time because they can’t bear the side effects.

I consider myself very fortunate. I’ve never had to make one of those terrible decisions about a bad quality of life with medication or an even worse quality of life without medication. What a terrible quandary.

Medical science is evolving all the time. I pray that any medication I’ll need in the future isn’t toxic. Besides, I wouldn’t look good with chicken feet growing out of my forehead. But then again, I’d be alive.

Hump Day: New lease on life for two deserving little creatures

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017
Exclusive online edition

Last week, I wrote about my poor little cat Cindy who went to the Rainbow Bridge on Jan. 3. She would have been 15 this year. I’d had her for nearly 14 years. But as you know, with pets, a dozen or so years is what we get – more than enough to love them to bits and miss them forever.

After writing the column, I decided immediately that I wanted to adopt again sooner rather than later. The house was empty without a cat. The sunbeam on my bed was lonely – and the dog is too small to jump that high to enjoy it. The bed is one those high ones. I practically need a ladder to get into bed every night. God help me if I ever fall out!

When I mentioned online that I was looking – perhaps for a bonded pair – a couple of people sent me a link to a pair through Sasha’s Cat Rescue. Their names were Mina and Meadow – a mother and daughter pair. A previous attempt to separate them (which would have increased their odds of adoption) did not go well since Mina was extremely attached to Meadow and could not live without her – literally.

Mina (mother) and Meadow (daughter)
Mina (mother) and Meadow (daughter)

I saw those messages about Mina and Meadow as a bit of a sign from above. They started showing up in my news feed, too, after I’d liked Sasha’s Facebook page. I went back to look at their photos often. Without telling anyone, I’d started referring to them as “my girls” – at least in my head. For me, they’d already been adopted emotionally. From then on, it was a matter of paperwork, adoption approval and a visit to their foster home.

They’d come to Sasha’s last summer from an unsafe situation outside of Moncton. Poor little Mina had several litters by the time they managed to rescue her and get her fixed. Thankfully, they got Meadow before she’d had any litters. They were both spayed and put into a foster home.

This was last summer. Fast forward to January and they were still waiting for their forever home. Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of them needing a permanent home, even though it was quite apparent that their foster mother was taking good care of them both physically and emotionally. They’d come out of their shells and had become quite happy and content.

I scheduled a visit along with my son and the dog. When we arrived, Milane (the dog) ran right up to Meadow to say “Hi!” and Meadow promptly ran under the sofa. Well, this started off well. Milane was so excited to have some little friends around. It was cute, but she wasn’t helping.

Eventually, we dug them out from under the sofas and I managed to pet them. I knew they would be very timid, so I certainly didn’t hold that against them. I would give them all the time they needed. I decided right then and there to adopt them.

I picked them up on Saturday and so far, so good. They’ve been hanging out in the basement, mostly, and have been coming upstairs to eat at night. As the days pass, my son tells me that they’re warming up to him (his living space is in the basement). They love watching his big fish tank. They stare at him a lot. Each day, they get closer and closer. Meadow has even tapped him on the leg a few times. She’s probably checking to see if he’s safe to play with.

Meanwhile, I’m upstairs dying of jealousy. What am I? Chopped liver? Well, maybe if I was actually chopped liver they’d be upstairs with me by now. I even resorted to tuning the TV to the Aquarium Channel to compete with my son’s fish tank. How sad is that? I need help.

I know… I know… It’s not about me right now. It’s about them. The adjustment is going according to plan. They’re spreading their wings (or paws, I should say) every day and becoming more comfortable. Hey, I’ve got the next dozen years (hopefully more) with them, right? This will all be but a distant memory soon when they’re sitting on my lap getting their faces scratched (cats love that!) and their bellies rubbed.

Mina and Meadow, I hope you live long and happy lives here. I can assure you that I’ll do everything possible to make it so. And may you discover the sunbeam on my bed soon. He’s been lonely since Cindy left – and has lots more warmth to give to two little creatures so deserving of love and security for the rest of their lives.

Hump Day: Best way to mourn a pet is by adopting anew

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017
Moncton Times & Transcript

If you own a cat who’s getting on in age, you’ll probably hear those dreaded two words from the veterinarian at some point: kidney disease. I heard them in 2015 about my late boy Casey.

A few months ago, I heard them about my girl Cindy. I didn’t know what to expect the first time. It was certainly a learning experience. The second time, I knew what to expect – and that it would end badly for poor Cindy.

Cindy was my first pet as an adult other than fish several years before. My son convinced me to adopt a cat in September 2003 from the Greater Moncton SPCA. I was very hesitant. I wasn’t fussy about cats but agreed that it would add a bit of life to the house.

As we visited the cats at the shelter, one got my attention – first because of her colour, a very dark orange which I would describe more as red. Actually, she was a rare female red tabby. Most are males. Every time we walked by her kennel, she would rub up against the cage trying to get our attention. We chatted about her and then went back a few days later to check out the cats again – and there she was rubbing up against the cage practically demanding that we adopt her.

It worked – and we adopted our new cat. Within a few minutes of arriving home, she was kneading the sofa cushion out of pure happiness, ecstatic at the softness and comfort of her new abode. She would look at us and meow, which freaked me out because I thought there was something wrong. Eventually, I figured out that she was just saying,“Hi! Thanks for adopting me!”

Several months later, we decided that Cindy needed a friend. In April 2004, we adopted a large male tabby named Casey from the SPCA. Cindy was not pleased, to say the least. She didn’t understand why we brought this intruder home, but she eventually warmed up to him and put up with Casey chasing and wrestling with her for the next several years.

In November 2015, Casey’s recently diagnosed kidney disease caught up with him and we said a tearful goodbye to him at the vet. We were worried that Cindy (or my dog Milane) would mourn Casey, but everything seemed to go along normally. In fact, Cindy practically held a ticker-tape parade down the hallway when Casey went to that great cat castle in the sky.

Cindy (2002-2017)

With no feline competition, she became much more affectionate and outgoing. Talk of getting another cat was silenced quickly. Clearly, Cindy really enjoyed being the only cat in the house. We owed it to her to at least give her that privilege in her final years.

Fast forward to mid-2016. Cindy wasn’t herself, so a trip to the vet was scheduled to check out what was wrong. Tests were carried out. Unfortunately, it was kidney disease. It wasn’t as bad as Casey’s was when first diagnosed, but kidney disease in cats – at least in my experience – is unpredictable. Some can live for years with proper treatment. Some don’t last long at all.

As any pet owner with an aging pet has likely experienced, what followed was months of special food, medications and vitamins to try and keep her stable and healthy. In mid-December, though, she stopped eating as much. Just before New Year’s Day, she stopped eating completely. I’d been through this before. I knew it wasn’t good.

Another trip to the vet for follow-up blood tests. This time, the news was dire. Stage-four kidney failure. There was no hope. It was time for Cindy to go to the Rainbow Bridge.

I like to say that Cindy had a ‘cat movie star’ death. I held her and rubbed her tummy. She even started to fall asleep at one point. I could tell she was very ill – and ready. My son and I were with her. It was peaceful. She passed away with two grown men crying for her while being held in my arms. It can’t get much better than that for a former shelter cat, eh?

There will be more feline companionship very soon. Milane, the dog, is now an only fur child – and we can’t have that now, can we? There are many cats waiting for adoption – and to honour the many years of love and companionship that Cindy and Casey provided, I’ll definitely be adopting again.

Rest in peace, my dear little Cindy. You’re the pet who started it all. Because of you, there were more – and there will be more. I’ll miss you forever, sweetheart. Godspeed.