#projectreflect12 ~ December 4: Mistakes Made, Lessons Learned

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December 4: Mistakes Made, Lessons Learned

We all make mistakes, but sometimes those mistakes shape us as people. Was there a mistake you made in 2012 that taught you a major life lesson? What advice could you give to someone about not making the same mistake?

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We certainly all, as a human race, make mistakes. Those same mistakes shape us as people, because the consequences of our actions/mistakes can stay with us for the rest of our lives. That being said, I wrestled with the idea of sharing this mistake with the world or picking something more trivial. Until now I’ve been in denial, trying to convince those around me & myself that it was the right decision. I can now with out a doubt say that it was undeniably a mistake. I will forever live with the decision made and I’m not even sure how to come to terms with myself.

You see I lost my grandmother this year. Some in the family would agree that at her advanced age and diminishing health it was for the best. For all intensive purposes it was expected and I had tried to ready myself for it. I think this is where I lost my way. In the process of coming to terms with death and because of my success at desensitizing myself to it. I simply chose to stay away. Even as I type this I fight back the emotions that have weighed me down since her passing.

I was at work and received a call from my very grief stricken mother. I suspected the worse and waited to hear that she had passed. Instead it was to implore me to head over in efforts to see my grandmother perhaps for the very last time. It took everything I had to tell my mother I couldn’t bear to go. I hadn’t even disconnected the call when my aunt who was by my grandmothers side called to give me the same news.

I did not/could not bring myself to make the trip to see her. I cried myself to sleep that night. As I thought about my mothers pain. As I pondered the blow my entire family would take from this loss. I called over and over also hoping to get an update saying everything was better. That my grandmother was OK, I now see the selfishness in even wanting that because of the pain she was and had been for sometime.

Bottom line is that I was too weak. As I fought to remember the vibrant woman who had helped my mother and father raise from the time I had reason, I reverted back to the child she use to coddle. All my bravado and heart full of resolve was crushed with the weight of my impending loss. When the call finally came, I told myself I was ready and tried to be there for my mother. After all death makes you really take account of what is going on in your life. I still thought I had made the right decision.

The day came when we said our final good byes and as I walked to her side and saw her body there lifeless it hit me so hard I could hardly breathe. I knew the moment I saw her and that smile, that had always been there for me even when others were crushed at her not knowing them, would never be there again. I will never forget that I had a chance to see her even if just for a few minutes so I could tell her one last time how much she meant to me.

I will never forget how many different people told me I should and I a grown man refused to listen to reason and behaved like a child. It is not lost on me that in a style true to her she’d teach me something so valuable for the rest of my life as an adult where many I love will leave me as I too will leave some loved ones behind. I can only hope to share this knowledge before it’s too late for someone else.

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#projectreflect12 ~ December 3, 2012: I’m Glad We Met

December 3: I’m Glad We Met

People come and go from our lives. Some people stay for the long run, but some stay for a short period of time and leave us when we’re most vulnerable. Have you met anyone this year that changed your life forever? Did you rekindle a friendship/relationship this year that you thought had died long ago?

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I turned 31 one this year. For my 31st birthday I had to work. I had told myself that since I did not do the crazy 21st birthday I would get a redo on my 31st. Yet 10 years later my life is completely different than it was when I turned 21. A pretty crazy, amazing, turbulent and memorable decade has sped by.

This year as I fell asleep the night of my birthday I felt a sense of peace I hadn’t felt for a very long time. For one I woke up and quickly heard my wife wish me a happy birthday followed shortly after by my son also wishing me a great day. I have to say my commute to work was pretty great but nothing compared to my commute home. 

I’d been using public transporation for about a month at that point. I’d been out of work for so long that we decided as a family that it was not worth the trouble or money to maintain two cars as the cost of maintenace and insurance far outweighed the benefit of a second vehicle. Here we are 10 months later and I can make some great points as to why that has to change this upcoming year but for now I’m grateful I was on the train on Valentine’s Day 2012. 

My day at work was fine and flew by because of my anticipation of dinner with my wife and son. I walked to the bus that would take me to the metrolink station. In a short few weeks it had become routine and I’d been observing the regulars and their little pre ride routines. This day I noticed a pair of children playing on the bridge above the train tracks. I clearly remember startling them as I towered over them when the elevator doors opened. I rode the elevator down and that’s when I met her. Rhonda.

I watched for a few minutes the joy on her face as she watched her children play high abover her. I apologized to her and told her that I had frightened her children. She laughed at the idea and said they deserved it for giving her mother such a hard time. We waited for the train together for a few minute but I can honestly say that it felt like we’ve know each other forever. The kids rushed down the stairwell to say bye because they’d seen the train approaching.

We boarded the train and our conversation continued as naturally as could be. She told me more about her family and of her meeting her husband for a Valentine’s Day concert and I shared with her about my crazy adventures of endurance racing and fundraising. I could tell the more we talked and the farther we got from her children though that although there was happiness in her that there was also a deep pain. I knew why but only because I’d seen those sad eyes on others I’ve seen stricken by this unbiased disease.

Before we parted we’d exchanged information and I knew then I’d keep in touch and keep her in my thoughts and I’d be begging she made it through the trying times ahead. A long and grueling process was ahead for her and I would hear on and off from her at least about once a week. I marked on my calendar when her treatments were and when the big surgery day would be and I reached out with what I hope would be words of encouragement for her.

What I truly wish I could have conveyed is that she, in the few heartfelt minutes we shared on that train, made an incredible difference in my life. That very night I was inspired to help a fellow father that for one reason or another was having a diffucult time at the register of the little mexican place I chose for dinner as to avoid the long lines and wait times every where else would have on Februrary 14th. He was grateful as I had been to meet her and I was glad to have shared so much with her this year even from afar.

In the grand scheme of things I’ve only know her or of her for a very short time. Yet I can’t/won’t ever grow tired of saying I’m Very Glad We Met! As I write this my wife reminded me that it had been some time since I heard from her and that too is OK. 

#projectreflect12 ~ December 2, 2012: It Happened for a Reason

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December 2: It Happened for a Reason

Different things happen for different reasons. Some of them happen to make us stronger, and some happen to make us better people. Describe one thing that happened this year that challenged you to be a better, stronger person, against all odds.  How did this affect you emotionally?

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I started raising money a few years back for a very important cause. I won’t even bother getting into the details of why it was dear to me. Some friends dear and close to me know why but I won’t talk about that now because it’s become so much more than when I first kicked off on my “mission”. Now, I’ve written before that although I loved my time in the service I refuse to let it define my entire life. Instead I will carry the lessons learned and apply them to the rest of my life.

If I am to live a full and colorful life then I hope my time im the service will only be a chapter in the storybook that is my life. I don’t mean to dismiss all my experiences but I hope to God that I made it through trying times so that I could do some good and make or at the very least inspire some change in someone/anyones life. After leaving military service, that mindset and need to be part of a bigger group did not easily fade and I quickly found yet another positive outlet. The above mentioned “fundraising group”.

2012 is when this relationship has come to an end. I can now say that it happened for a reason. I find myself stronger not just physically but mentally. At first though it was an emotional weight that crushed me at first and it took all my will and help from friends that I made via the group that I finally came to terms with my decison to leave said group. I went from anger to self doubt and finally arrived at feeling peace because I believe I did a lot of good with my efforts. Now one can ever take that away from me. I also made some amazing friends that I hope will be a part of my life in some capacity.

Once that peace was reached I was even able to move on, as is the case with any relationship. I’m an ambassador for a New Year’s Race which is a sort of resolution race for a lot of people I’ve met since coming onboard to promote the race. I’ve ran a few races even after beginning to train on my own and so that fear of not being able to venture out on my own is gone as well. I had an incredible year of racing in 2012 at a variety of different events. I look forward to kicking of my 2013 and sharing that medal pictured above with a couple thousand folks that are also looking to make a difference in their own life that might resonate with the world around them. 

 

#projectreflect12 ~ December 1, 2012: Coping

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December 1: Coping

We all have ways of coping with the stresses of life, whether it be cuddling with a cat or curling up with a cup of tea and a good book. Describe one thing you did this year to cope with your day to day, to escape from reality. How did this one thing come about?

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This year more than ever I feel that running is what helps me cope with my day to day. When I’m feeling tired it helps as sort of physical pep talk. When I’m anxious or stressed it calms me down. It’s not just the training for races (I participated in at least one race every single month). It’s the time I get to spend completely alone. I’ve even started running with out a wrist watch or music. It’s been liberating and taken care of a lot of self imposed pressures. 

I originally started running as a way back to shape after a period of self imposed inactivity and in hindsight I’m certain all the problems and troubles that arose were all in direct correlation with that time. I’ve grown to love it more than I ever thought possible. 

Running is my coping mechanism and when at times this love of mine has brought me pain I’m reminded of the “pain” my life had become before I laced up my running shoes and got back out there. I like the peace of mind it brings me and now my only concern is how I will cope when the day comes I can no longer run, although I’m hoping that’s a few thousand miles from now.