As I reflect on the past year I realize how fortunate I have been. How the people I love have supported me, the amazing trips I have been on, and the amazing health care team that I have. I have learned a lot this past year, things about myself, things about life, and things about relationships. So in this post I thought I would share some things I have learned so far. Some of these thoughts are new and some I have written about before. I can say for sure, most of them come from my beautiful wife, the wise one of our partnership.
Turn Your Smartphone Off - To be honest this is something I suck at, but I am able to say I am getting better at it. When you have worked, played with your kids, and cooked dinner it is easy to just sit down and space out in front of a screen. And while sometimes it’s exactly what you need to do, often it is not. What you need to do is crack it in half, sit down on the floor, and setup block towers for your kids to knock over, and over, and over. I have to reiterate that I am still working on this.
From time to time, my wife Kim and I check in, and often she reminds me that I am checking out and need to engage. Recently, she explained why I need to engage with the kids. She said that she want’s to make sure that our kids get the version of me that she fell in love with. That she wants my son, who is very much like me, to get as much of me while I am still around. That she desires me to show my daughter how important she is, and how strong of a person she is and will become.
So turn off your phone from time to time and spend time with the ones you love. Give them the best version of yourself that you can give.
Chill The Fuck Out - I wrote a post on how we easily get worked up over little things. People that merge later than they should, people that don’t jump on the gas, or a person that brings a full cart to the express checkout. Yeah, they can be frustrating situations, but I am often surprised how worked up I can get about them. How often I catch myself, and remind myself it is not worth the tension. Or how often I have to remind myself I don’t know the situation that the other person is in.
I recently put this into action while driving down Pikes Peak. While driving down the speed limit was 20 mph and 10 around the hairpin turns and I would find that people would tailgate and thus annoying me. I then reminded myself to chill out, go the safe speed, and when able, to pull aside to let people pass. Once I started doing that I was able to fully enjoy the grandeur that is Pikes Peak.
So if someone does something small that you get a bit to worked up about. Just step back, take a breath, and let the tension go. I got a feeling you will feel much better.
Love Others - “No shit Sherlock, way to be so profound,” that would be my normal response. However, the reality is, this is something that is easier said than done. Why? Because other people can be assholes, because I’m an asshole. Trust me when I say in the past year I have said things to people I dearly love that was like spitting venom. And the reality is that while in the moment it can be much more fun to put yourself before others, you realize that it becomes very lonely and unsatisfying.
It may sound weird to read this statement, but I find myself happiest when I am working hard to live this very simple truth. So maybe connect with someone that is just a bit harder to love, or take some time to serve others in need.
Love Who You Are Right Now - This is not to say don’t work on things that you want to improve. But if you are trying to fix things about us out of disgust and not out of love for yourself, then you won't have much success.
In an earlier post I wrote about how the first time I lost a lot of weight I was getting counseling and one of the things we discussed was exactly this. If I didn’t accept myself for how I was at that moment I was most likely not be able to grow in the ways I wanted. Since I was able to figure that out I was able to lose 50 pounds and enjoy the process.
So just love yourself for who you are at this moment. If that takes counseling, do it. If that takes some quiet time reflecting on life, do it. I know that when I do, I find that that other things in life are just better.
Make Alone Time A Priority - This is something that I would say my wife and I started prior to my diagnosis, but after it became even more important. Kim needs to get in her studio to get a break and dive into her artistic endeavors, and I need to get in the garage or sit down and write.
I think this true for all people, but I do think it is very important for people that are in relationships or are married. When Kim and I got married we kinda got lost in each other and didn’t do well at giving each other time to pursue our personal passions. I would say that since doing so we are much happier, and are able to enjoy each other more.
So build sometime in your week to be alone, to pursue something that you like on your own. I know you will be happier for it.
As I approach the year anniversary of my surgery I wanted to share some of the more poignant lessons I have learned, or relearned, so that you can benefit from what I have gone through this year.
Assignment: I think I have given this assignment before, but go to your favorite place for a drink. Whether a bar or a coffee shop, go there on your own and get a drink and relax. Think about this past year, and ponder what you could do with this coming year. Life is short, so live it.