Archive for the ‘LIFE’ Category

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By Jason Sutcliffe

My son and I have our moments, moments where it is clear that he loves me. However, we have these other moments where he forces me to call on the memory of our happy moments to remind myself that he does love me to some degree.

Now, I understand that as far as his needs and wants are concerned I am pretty much here to take care of his wants. There are not many of his needs that I take care of at this point, or at least not to his knowledge. I do the obvious like, buy food, pay the rent and bills, basically do my part financially to make sure that he is alive, and well, but he has no idea about any of that.

As far as feeding him, sleeping with him at night, and generally comforting him—he does not want much to do with me. Truth is he freaks out if I even try. To this point it is safe to say that he is a momma’s boy. In my defence, I would love to feed him, but sadly I have no breasts. However, I did feed him for the first time the other day, now that he is eating some regular food.

His wants—I am all over those. He wants to laugh, and I am there, he wants to crawl around, or climb me while standing on my lap, and again I am all about that.

Things happen though; he does things, things that are just mean. He is sitting/standing on my lap and everything is beautiful, then he stops smiling, stares at me, at which time I ask, “What’s wrong buddy” (In that cute baby voice every one of us uses when we talk or play with a baby), and then it happens…he tenses up his whole body, grunts and then smacks me in the face.

Unsure how to respond to such a blatant display of disrespect, I do what any parent of a 6-month-old does, I say, “That’s not nice, be nice” (In that same ridiculous voice), which he responds to by laughing, then grunting and giving me a double smack with both hands, followed by an eye-gouge. Now, the double punch fine, but now my eye is watering, it stings, my vision is blurry, his little fingers managed to get right in the corner of my eye, and he is laughing at my obvious discomfort, which apparently is bloody hilarious.

Now with one eye squinted shut, and both hands occupied; holding him upright, he sees his opportunity. For what you ask? Well, I will tell you—his opportunity to move in and bite the end of my nose, and not just bite it but to pinch the little nerve at the end of it. You know the one? The one that makes both your eyes water, and hurts just enough that you have to laugh, or you might cry. He follows that up by grabbing a handful of my face, and digging in his tiny nails.

At this point, I am a defeated man. He has left me a mess; my face is stinging from the tiny cuts that his little nails have left, the nerve in the end of my nose is less than comfortable, my one eye still shut, stinging and both eyes are watering. He has left me mess.

It is at this point that he looks at me, makes his sad face, and starts to cry and reach for his mother. He has a nerve to act as though I have done him an injustice of some kind. I pass him off to mom, and he stops crying, looks back over his shoulder at me, and hugs his mom.

While writing this he woke up crying, so I went, picked him up, and he looked at with an inquisitive face and fell asleep in my arms—I guess there is hope for us yet! Children are a blessing, and I love my little blessing very much.

Jason Head_Shot[1]

By Jason Sutcliffe

On October 20th, I will face a very difficult challenge. I will be participating in the Scotia Bank Waterfront Marathon. Normally I am beyond physically prepared for events such as this one. I have put in the work and made the training far tougher than the race itself, and it is just a matter of staying focused and running my race.

This time it is a little bit different; I have had a lot of things going on personally and with school. I have not been able to train like I would have liked to, or should have for that matter. That being the case this race opens up a whole new set of challenges, but challenges that I look forward to overcoming.

I am going to learn a lot about myself in this race as I am not as physically prepared as I would like to be. It is going to be a mental challenge. I am going to need to be tougher mentally than I have had to be in the past. There are going to be points of the race that are just excruciating, specifically the last 10 kilometers.

Anyone who runs marathons or marathon distances will tell you that the last 10k is when the race starts. That is when runners must call upon their physical fitness, physical abilities and mental strength. This time I am going to be relying heavily on my mental strength. Do not get me wrong I am in good shape, but a marathon calls for runners to be in great shape.

I am looking forward to challenging my mental toughness; this is going to be the first time where I am this physically unprepared. I know that this probably sounds crazy to some people that I am even considering running a full marathon when I am openly admitting that I am not as prepared as I would like to be, but I embrace challenges like this.

It is easy to claim to have the mental toughness to pull through moments of adversity, but it is a very different thing to prove it. I pride myself on being strong mentally, I have lost many, many, many times in my life, but I have never been broken mentally. I have never allowed someone, or something to break me to the point where I quit. This challenge is going to put that will to the test like never before.

This is obviously not the ideal situation for me to be running this race, but I will make the best of it, and embrace the challenges it brings.

Jason Head_Shot[1]

By Jason Sutcliffe

I have to tell you there are a lot of things about our medical system that I just do not understand, and some things that are just puzzling.

My Dad had severe nerve damage in both of his feet and legs but, mainly the left leg and has been living in intense pain for a couple of years now. In that time, his doctors have placed him on a high dosage of Oxycodone, Percocet and many other medications.

He was admitted into the hospital last week to have his left leg removed. The surgery was a success, and he is now beginning the rehabilitation portion of the recovery process. Given the fact that the primary source of his pain has now been removed, he wants to minimize the amount of pain medication he uses daily and how often he takes it.

You would think with the addictive properties of these medications doctors and nurses would be supportive of anyone trying not to take them…not quite.

Yesterday I was visiting my father and his nurse came in the room at 6 o’clock with his scheduled pain medication (2 Percocets). He told her that he did not need them right now because he was not in that much pain. To which she replied, “you should take them because you might be in pain later, and you will not be able to get any until 10 o’clock.” Might be in pain later? I was unaware that people took medications for things that might happen.

My father must have told her at least 5 times that he did not need him, and every time she had a different reason for him taking them. Reasons that varied from him possibly being in pain later, to the fact that she had already signed them out, and they had been scanned and recorded as taken.

I have a lot of respect for what Nurses and Doctor’s do. However, it blows my mind that with the number of people who become addicted to and abuse these drugs that any doctor or nurse would try to persuade a patient to take them when they have said they do not need or want them.

Doctors and nurses are a significant part of the problem surrounding the abuse of these drugs. They are too quick to hand out and prescribe these narcotics to people and leave them to their own devices.

It is a massive money grab for the government because if people should happen to become addicted to these drugs, than the doctors will turn around and offer them methadone to help them kick their Oxy habit, which is just replacing one drug with another one. It makes me sick that while these people are suffering they just sit back and profit of both the hopeless addict, and the people desperately trying to get their life back.

The government needs to start thinking and acting on what is best for the people and not what is most profitable for them. There are unbelievable amounts of people who are fighting addictions, and these people trust their doctors to have their best interests at heart, and are failed horribly.

family at the Goodlife Marathon

By Jason Sutcliffe

On a few occasions I have written about running marathons and how much I enjoy them. For the past couple of years I have frequently thought about attempting to run across this beautiful country of ours. I would like to start Newfoundland and head west to British Columbia.

Recently my father had to undergo surgery to remove his left leg and with his heart issues it was a life threatening surgery. We had three weeks as a family to prepare for the surgery. At some point during that time I decided that if my Dad survived the surgery I was going to make that run.

It is approximately 8200 kilometers from coast to coast, and the plan is to cover that distance in 120 days maximum. That is approximately 69 kilometers a day.

I have absolutely no delusions about how challenging this is going to be. I know that it is going to take every ounce of determination and mental strength that I am able to muster. I am prepared to do that.

There are a number of things that I am going to have to have in place, which will allow me to be in the best possible mental state during that run:

 

  • Most importantly I am going to need my family there with me. That is a must I will miss them way too much to maintain the required focus during something this rigorous. My wife and my son for sure, also my mom and dad they have been their for everything really important that I have ever done. I hope my sister, nephews and a few others can be there for at least a portion of the run.
  • I need to do this for a cause, something that inspires me to push forward when things get tough. Most likely something for children, the Make A Wish foundation perhaps, or something like that.
  • I am going to need an RV, comfort and rest is going to be very important.

 

There are going to be a lot of other things that will need to be taken care of, but those things are going to be the most important as far as my mental state while running.

Physically that is going to be on me. I know that it is going to be tough on my knees, ankles and hips, and that I am going to have to take very good care of myself in order to see a challenge like this through.

I am not looking forward to the ice baths after each run in order to speed up the recovery and prevent lactic acid build up and the pooling of blood in the muscles.

After all of those concerns are dealt with and I am mentally and physically prepared than I can concentrate on the things that I am really going to enjoy about taking on a challenge like this

 

  • Helping grant a wish to some kids who more than anything deserve to have a wish granted to them. That is the most amazing thing that I could do for those kids and I will be proud of that until my dying day.
  • I will not be the only person who has crossed the country running but I will definitely be on a list of a select few, which is something I will take with me forever as well.
  • My parents, my wife and son, sister, nephews and the children in our families next generation will be able to look back with pride and say my son, husband, dad, brother, grandpa or great uncle ran across the country.
  • I will get to see the country and meet a whole lot of people in the process.

 

This is going to be one of the best and most challenging accomplishments of my life, and I cannot wait to meet it head on. I am really looking forward to making some children’s day by raising the money to have their wish granted! It doesn’t get more rewarding than that.

daddy and Jaxen

By Jason Sutcliffe

So we are finally there, at that point where my son has begun to move—uh oh. It is awesome. I am so proud, but then I realize that it has started and from this point forward I will be chasing him around making sure he does not kill himself.

Just tonight I went in to check on him while he was sleeping, and he had moved himself so that he was facing the other way and was almost three feet from where he started. I was like, how long have been able to do that?

It happens so quickly! One minute he is so frustrated, unable to move and the next thing my wife and I know we look over, and he is army crawling across that mat onto the floor. We have had one little head bump on the floor, which he felt less than great about, but it has not discouraged him from getting right back at it. I am not sure, but I think that has made me prouder of him than the moving around (laugh).

I am sitting in anticipation, waiting until he is moving around enough to set up the little hockey nets in the living room and start getting down to some hockey night on Gamble Ave. Of course, then I will have to start thinking of excuses we can give my wife for why everything in the house is broken. Hmmmmm I should probably start thinking about that now.

Then again she is easy-going enough that we may be able to get her to ref the game! She is pretty great like that.

There is a time frame for all of this stuff and all I can do is sit and patiently wait. I suppose I have to wait for him to learn how to walk before I take him skating or to play hockey, he is probably going to need to walk before we play soccer, and it makes sense that he can stand before I teach him how to dribble a ball or catch one.

Just watching him grow and develop in under 6 months, from a little guy who could not even hold his own head up or fart on his own, to being able to hold himself up and army crawl across the floor has me more than excited. It seems like forever, but in all actuality time flies and it will be a blink of an eye before we are playing hockey in the living room, and on our way to Dieppe in the evenings, for a little shinny. I can not wait for that!

I have never been as proud of anything as I am of my little guy. I love watching him grow and develop, he has his own little personality and he is getting better at communicating it every day. He is my little buddy!!

Toronto

By Jason Sutcliffe

I love my city! Toronto is my home, and it always has been. I love everything about it. Since I was a kid I have grown up in a middle class area of East York, and I appreciate my city and community for everything that it is.

The multicultural element to the city is second to none. International cuisine is one of the many gifts our city gives us. We have Greektown, Little Italy. Little Portugal, Chinatown, Koreatown, Little India, and many others where we enjoy the best culinary dishes their countries have to offer.

Toronto has all kinds with street festivals and events; Ribfest, Taste of the Danforth, Beaches Jazz Festival, Taste of Little Italy, Gay Pride, multiple concerts at Dundas Square, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), which draws a number of global celebrities, and many more.

When you live in Toronto, you will experience sport fever like never before. There is not a city in North America that supports every one of it is sports teams the same way we do. We are not just fans we enter a marriage of sorts with our teams, and often until death does us part. We will support them regardless of their success or lack of success.

When Hockey season starts our city goes nuts. We packed the stadium every home game for ten years without making the playoffs once. The Raptors are the only Canadian team in the NBA. Why? Because, even when they are not winning, we buy tickets, show up, buy paraphernalia and scream our faces off in support. This is a sports city, and as a sports fan there is not a better place on earth.

Toronto is cleaner than most other cities its size. We have a valley that runs right through the middle of the city, with a bike path that will take you from one end of the city to the other. In fact, our city is known as a city within a park. It is beautiful here.

It is not perfect like any metropolis there are things make it hard for some people to deal with, but those are the same things I have grown to love. I need the drunk teenagers making noise walking down my street, the police, ambulance and firetruck sirens at all hours, the mentally ill lady at the top of the street who calls me an asshole every morning after I say hello to her.

I can not live in the country; there is no excitement, and I can not sleep at night when it is so quite, it drives me nuts. After three days, I need to get back to the city. I used to think it was because I was sick of the country, but I eventually realized it was because I loved and missed my city

Marathon

By Jason Sutcliffe

One of my favourite activities is long distance running. I love it. I love the challenges and obstacles it sets in place. Marathon running is one activity that will teach you a lot about yourself.

“The person who starts the race is not the same person who finishes the race.”~unknown

That is a true statement! No matter how much preparation you do it does not completely prepare you for what you are about to experience, both mentally and physically. I was happy and loving the race when it started, and right up until I hit the 20 mile mark, but then everything changed. The last 6.25-miles were quite possibly the most challenging experience of my life.

I had blisters on my feet, chafing on my legs, hamstrings that wanted to snap, exhaustion and my ankles and knees were just screaming. I had experienced all of those things before but individually. Simultaneously it was surreal, and by far the most uncomfortable state I had ever experienced—ever.

The only thing I knew was that I had already run 20-miles, and there was no way I was going to stop or quit at that point, no matter how much my body wanted to stop. When I hit the last 800-meters is when the feelings of accomplishment started. I had been running for 3h 24min roughly, and it was about to end.

I felt a rush of adrenaline, and all of a sudden those aches, pains and blisters were non-existent. I had an ear-to-ear smile, and remember saying to myself, “Wow, you did it!” It was a high for sure. I felt a sense of accomplishment and knew there was nothing I could not do if I put my mind to it.

I remember being proud, and seeing my family at the finish line and seeing how proud they were. It was one of the single best moments in athletics I have ever had.

I found a quote that describes the feeling perfectly: “At mile 20, I thought I was dead. At mile 22, I wished I was dead. At mile 24, I knew I was dead. At mile 26.2, I realized I had become too tough to kill.”~unknown

If you had asked me at the 20-mile mark if I would ever run another marathon again it would have been no for sure. However, after crossing the finish line, I was in, I fell in love with that rush, and I have vowed to run one a year until either my knees give out or I am too old to do it anymore.

Long distance running has become a lifestyle. There is nothing I enjoy more than my 20-plus kilometer runs a few times a week. I plan to travel once a year with my family somewhere in the world and run a marathon while I am there. Running has improved my health and my life.

“Motivation remains key to the marathon: the motivation to begin; the motivation to continue; the motivation never to quit.”~ Hal Higdon

Jason Head_Shot[1]

By Jason Sutcliffe

St. Aubyn Rodney, Tahj Loor-Walters, O’She Doyles-Whyte and Kwame Duodu four friends, all dead. In the last 6 months, there has been 5 shootings in the Jane & Finch area 4 of them fatal, and none of the victims older than 17.

What do we do to bring an end to the senseless violence? There are a lot of things that need to happen in my opinion, and from all angels. We need to identify the real problem; how are these guns getting into the hands of children? They certainly did not bring them over the border, or walk into a store and buy them.

There needs to be a better relationship between the police and the people of the community. Also, the community needs to do a better job of working with the police.

As adults, we need to close the gaps that are young people seem to be falling through in our communities. We have children murdered in the street, and nobody is willing to step forward and provide information. Police have not done enough to create a positive relationship within the community. That is not going to happen over night, but we need to work towards it.

People in our city for the most part experience negative interaction with the police. Police are public servants. They should act like it. Say hello to people walking down the street. Smile and get involved in a positive way. Stop and talk to the neighbourhood kids on the corner instead of searching them, calling them names, or chasing them, Introduce yourself stop and talk to people sitting on their porch without having to be called there.

People do not trust the police—period. They have very little confidence that the police can keep them or their loved ones safe. It is funny to me that people bash the police, complaining that they are not doing their job, but when these kids get gunned down, nobody saw anything, no one has any information. They are literally on the news, begging people to come forward and get nothing.

It is a two way street, the police can not expect people to trust them, or work with them, without some positive interaction. We as citizens can not expect the police to solve crimes and clean up our neighbourhoods without our help. They are not magicians. So if we want something better than we have now we better acknowledge that there is work to do on both sides. Then maybe our “at risk youth” will not be so “at risk”.

Jason Head_Shot 2[1]

By Jason Sutcliffe

Okay straight to the point, I am getting old! I am not old yet, but I am well on my way. How do I know?

1) I am closer to 40 than 20 that is never a good sign.

2) When I listen to the radio retro hour is everything I grew up on in middle school.

3) When someone says anything about ten years ago I automatically think of the 90’s not 2003.

4) When I see what the in style is now, I am not willing to do it—ever! Skinny jeans look ridiculous, the same way my sagged out jeans looked ridiculous to my parents when I was a kid. That is a bad sign.

5) The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is 44—WTF!!

6) When I was talking about 9/11 in my college class and the class was just staring at me I quickly realized they were between 6-8 years old when that happened, and I was 20—uh oh!

7) Salt and Pepper is not a rap group it is my hair colour

8) I graduated high school 14 years ago.

9) When I get down on all fours to fix something, I make weird noises when I get up.

10) My knees make noises, and I am not even doing anything.

11) When I finished my run last week a teenager asked me, “how do you stay in that kinda shape at your age.”

12) My favourite athletes are 5 to 10 years younger than me.

13) Tupac died 17 years ago—No f#%&ing way.

14) Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky are both in their 50’s

15) I am no longer wise beyond my years. I am just wise.

To everyone born in the early 80’s it is true we are not old yet, but we are well on our way.


Jason Head_Shot[1]

By Jason Sutcliffe

Try and imagine for a second that at 18-years-old you are arrested for the murder of 3 eight year old boys. A crime of which you were completely innocent. Then not only are you arrested but you are convicted and sentenced to the rest of your life in prison.

Convicted with zero physical evidence, but rather on your choice of clothing, music, reading material and a manipulated confession from a suspect with a mental handicap (Jessie Misskelley), which has more holes in it than Swiss cheese, Sounds like your worst nightmare, right? Well for Jessie Misskelley, Jason Baldwin, and Damien Echols this was their reality.

In 1994, the three were convicted in the murder of three young boys in West Memphis, Arkansas. During the trial, the young men appeared very relaxed and sure of their innocence. At one point during the trial, a reporter asked Damien Echols what he thought of the charges brought against him and his friends. He replied, “They are bullshit, and I can not wait for this to be over”.

Well, it would not be over for 18 years. It would take 18 years, numerous advocacy groups, documentaries, and a group of unexpected Hollywood celebrities including Johnny Depp, Henry Rollins, Eddie Vedder and the Dixie Chicks, before the judicial system would acknowledge they had made a catastrophic error in sentencing these three to life in prison.

The courts were not willing to admit they made a mistake. Instead, the three were forced into using an obscure law known as the Alfred Plea. The plea would require them to maintain their innocence and acknowledge that the courts had enough evidence to convict them.

One of the most significant things to remember about a situation like this where people get railroaded by the justice system, is put best by Henry Rollins when he said, “It could be have been anyone of us.” I believe this is the reason these groups reached out to help.  They identified with these young men, and the fact that they were targeted due to their taste in fashion, clothes and music with zero physical evidence.

Since their release, the three men have worked hard to put their lives back together. Misskelley has moved back to Arkansas in the same area he grew up in and has been doing some carpentry work, Baldwin is working towards his law degree, but has had difficulties with a triple murder on his record and Damien Echols has written a book, but has issues travelling due to his record.

The justice system did not only let down these three men, but also Michael Moor, Christopher Byers and Steven Branch—the three young boys that were found dead in the woods. For those boys there has been no justice, instead more tragedy.

The justice system’s failure to re-open the case, and attempt to bring justice to the cold blooded killer(s) who still walks the street is a slap in the face to the three young boys, their families, and the three men wrongly accused.

Many lives were destroyed by these events; from the victim’s family to the wrongly accused and their families. Damien Echols had an infant son when he was sentenced to life, one he never got to know.

His son had recently found himself in trouble with the law; charged with Shoplifting and failure to appear in court. I can not help but feel like he is just another victim in the ripple effect of this case. All we can do is hope all the people involved are able to find peace and happiness in their life.

This story has inspired the recently released motion picture the West Memphis Three, and the soundtrack titled West Memphis Three: Voices of Justice, with music by Eddie Vedder, Marilyn Manson, Bob Dylan and more. Without all of these people and their willingness to fight for justice, Jessie, Jason and Damien would still be sitting in a cell, serving a life sentence for something they never did.