The Man I Aspire to Be


My Pop Pop was the best man I have ever known.  He the was strongest, kindest and most selfless person.  The type of man who didn’t need to demand respect because it was always given to him.  I can rarely finish a sentence about him without tears pouring down my face.

I don’t know as much about his life as I would like.  Unfortunately he was taken from this world at the young age of 58.  He died of Liver Cancer.  I was only 10 at the time.

What I do remember is how much he loved me.  He spoiled me and treated me like I was the most important person on this earth.  I’ve never felt love like he showed me.  To this day he still has a huge impact on my life and I mourn his passing.

Pop Pop had the most amazing, deep, belly laugh.  It was so loud it would fill a room.   His laughing almost always ended with him running out of breath and coughing due to how much he smoked.  I can hear his laugh in my head as I type these words.  Nothing I put on paper to describe it would do it justice.

He smoked like a chimney.  Three packs of Kools a day.  I remember telling him he smoked too much and he should quit.  He never quit, but he cut back to one pack a day after my comment.

He had a sordid past, much like myself.  He was a State Police Officer in his younger days.  He was also an alcoholic who was arrested on several occasions and even ended up in jail.

In his 30’s he joined the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War and became a drill sergeant.  He used this time to turn his life around and became clean and sober.  He educated himself, taking courses to be an addiction counselor.  Eventually getting his degrees and certificates to work in the field.

Working with addicts and alcoholics was his passion.  He understood the message and purpose; paying it forward helping 1000’s of those afflicted with the disease.  He worked diligently in New Jersey, fighting to better the lives of others.  In his obituary a friend described his passion for what he did by saying, “The man just didn’t know how to mince his words when the bottom line issue related to the quality care for and alcoholic in treatment and the ability of the facilities to deliver that care.” (more…)

Dealing with Crippling Anxiety and Fear This Morning

I went to bed last night feeling well and free looking for to the day ahead, but my mind and my dreams had other plans.  I woke up in a mental prison.   I was covered in sweat feeling like the flu hit me.  It wasn’t the flu that had me paralyzed to the point I couldn’t get out of bed.  It was my mind. My fear and anxiety crippled me.  I was pretty sure the day was over before it began.  The Struggles with my life I have been facing had apparently snowballed overnight.  They all flooded me at once.  It was too much.  Thoughts were racing through my head about my business, my life, my ex.  Thoughts of how the stress is eating up my muscle causing me to lose weight and get ill.  The stress is causing my already thin head of hair to fall out quicker.  Over and over again the same thing replayed in my head.  I’m lost and I’m not making progress!

After about 90 minutes of laying in my bed, tossing back and forth, I decided I had to get up and drink my morning shake.   As soon as I swallowed the last gulp I stormed back into the safety of my bed.  I cuddled with my dog for a little bit.  Finally I couldn’t take it anymore and I got up and sat on the couch.  My hands and body were trembling.  It was as if I had done too much speed.  My brain was causing the rest of my body to get totally out of whack.  I knew I had to take action an do something to get out of my head.

The first step was to try the mindful awareness app that had been sitting unused on my phone for months. My therapist had recommended it as a way to  to help center myself.  The app made a slight difference, calming my breathing and allowing me feel the spots where the anxiety was resonating from.  It wasn’t enough to get me off the couch.

Next I went to YouTube and looked up motivational videos.  I watch a few until something clicked.  This video spoke to me for some reason.  I played it repeatedly until I worked up enough energy to take a shower and head to the gym.  I literally listened to this video for the better part of two hours.  The strength I found in the words I heard got me out my house and through my workout.

The most impactful part of the video for me was when they discussed “yet.”  The speaker talked about how people put in the effort and they keep pushing and pushing, but they aren’t getting to where they see others or where they want to be.  They are giving it there all and putting everything they have into their life but it just hasn’t happened “yet.”  That three letter word, yet, gave me hope.  It fueled a fire inside of me to do my best with what I had today.

On many days like this I would look at how late it had gotten before I got out of bed and given up on the day.  Before the day had even started I would have looked at it at a failure.  I would tell myself tomorrow would be better.  Then I realized all was ok.  There was still plenty of time in the day to make it great.  I can still accomplish and build today.  there is no reason to trade today in and take a mulligan. I Forgave myself for feeling defeated.  In my head I made the choice to make the best day I was capable of.

This morning allowed me to revisit several principles the world and others have taught me over the years:

  1. Even though I hurt like hell it didn’t kill me
  2. My life is much better and more fulfilling than I give it credit for
  3. I do not have the answers to my life right now and that’s ok
  4. The human mind is so powerful that it can be my best asset or my worst enemy
  5. I can’t always control my feelings but I can control how I let them affect me
  6. The only way to get out of my head and feel better is to take action

Even though I didn’t know what to do or how to make myself feel better, I still took action.  That was the only cure for my situation. Action allowed me to change my outlook.  If one thing doesn’t work I have to change my approach and try something else.  I needed action to get out of my head and refocus my thoughts.  To give me the strength and energy to get through the day.

The universe, God or whoever; taught me a valuable lesson today.  Like most experiences in life I need to look at the pain I went through with gratitude for the knowledge I have gained.  Now I have a plan for tomorrow or any other day in case I wake up feeling the same way.  I have created a contingency plan.  I know the steps I can take if I feel this way again.  I have the app ready to go and I have new motivational videos lined up to to watch.  If those things aren’t enough I have articles ready to read, podcasts to listen to and people who I can talk to.

It was a reminder that every day I need to create, build and live the best life I can.  Some days little victories like getting out of bed are a huge success.  I have to take these little successes and allow them to accumulate to bigger successes.  Before I know it life has a way of shifting itself from fathom to abundance.  When I look at very successful people I know, they key seems to be humbleness and humility.  To do the right things on both parts of the spectrum and to show appreciation and gratitude for the life you live.