photos: Line drawing by Dennis Chernyk

Being happy vs. being successful

Vancouver vendor Dennis Chernyk muses about the stuff of life.

Get on your megaphone

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If this is in front of you, perhaps it’s because it’s supposed to be.

The most important thing in my world is being okay, being happy. This takes hard work—it’s an inside job.

I’ve been in therapy for years to go full circle. As soon as I received my cat, my blood pressure went back to normal. Co-co and I became good friends, and many other advantages.

I believe that cats, dogs and horses have a soul, however, they operate on different frequencies. Their senses of smell and hearing are amazing.

Next, let me talk about success. It’s possible that success can lead to greed and cause stress-related illnesses and ailments, such as high blood pressure, lack of sleep (insomnia), etc. We think we’ll be happy with circumstances. “If only I had money,” we say, but it’s all vanity.

Now I’d like to spend some time to write about time management. How we spend our time is crucial to almost everything we do. My biological clock is different. I enjoy late nights. I even feel more creative in the night time. 

Time management is about changing our bad habits into a positive routine. It involves asking ourselves what it means to us. It involves remembering things such as taking time for ourselves, doing what we enjoy, and finding out what we enjoy. Because my biological clock is so odd, it wasn’t always good for me. I found out that I do best when I paint or write because I can make my own hours. 

Again, because I’m on a fixed income, I managed to find things to do that don’t cost so much. With good time management, we can learn more about ourselves.

Having proper healthy meals is another way to take care of ourselves, but it can be a challenge, especially if you’re on an fixed income. But imagine that we are machines: A machine needs good, clean fuel—in this case, fuel being food.
Proper nutrition is important to nourish our bodies and minds. I recommend eating smaller portions, and eating more veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds and whole grains. I’m mostly vegetarian, however I will eat meat, eggs and cheese occasionally. They are more expensive, however.

Places like Quest have cheaper food, but in order to get a Quest card, you will need to show them a social services card or disability statement. Sometimes they have good food at lower prices, so I’m passing this information on.

Learning to cook is great, especially if you have a stove. In order to make soup or chili-con-carne, a hot plate may work well. A big pot is also needed.

I’m lucky because the building I live in has a courtyard which also has a garden. Fresh basil, onions and tomatoes grow in the courtyard, so I’m grateful.

The basics for a healthy meal are beans and ground veal or beef. Plan ahead so that it goes well.

I wash and soak kidney beans the night before. Small navy beans work well too. Also remember this is an all-day project. Make enough so that you can freeze some. And chili is even better the next day.

What I do is cook the tougher foods first and build upon that. So what we need are tomatoes, garlic and ground meat; chop and fry onions until brown; and add peppers—hot and bell—carrots, celery and mushrooms. This is just a foundation. You don’t have to follow it exactly, you can put in other ingredients.

In closing, I hope this will help someone.

Dennis Chernyk grew up on a family  farm just outside of Edmonton. He is the eldest of five sons.

“I was very protective of my brothers,” he says. “If they were in a fight, I stepped in.”

Dennis says his childhood years on the farm “were some of the best times of my life.”

He moved to Calgary in 2002, but always wanted to come to Vancouver, and did in 2004. He’s lived in Mount Pleasant and the Downtown Eastside, where he currently resides.

Dennis has been a Megaphone vendor for a little under a year, selling publications near West Hastings and Granville Streets, where “a lot of people seem like they’re in a big hurry with nowhere to go.”

In addition to his work with Megaphone, Dennis enjoys writing, drawing, gardening, cooking and spending time with his black short-haired cat Co-co. 

When asked how old he is, he just grins.

“Old enough to know better and young enough to do it again,” he says. 

Paula Carlson photo. 

Get on your megaphone

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