Something that I feel I could never do enough is thank all of you who read my blog for taking the time to read my posts. It really means a lot to me when people “like” and comment on my posts. I love getting feedback on the things I share.
I know I have mentioned this before, but my reason for starting this blog was to write things that I thought a few of my close friends might have an interest in reading occasionally. I wanted to give them an option for something positive to read on the internet, since so much of the media is focused on negative stories. I am genuinely excited and happy when my friends tell me they enjoy reading my posts and look forward to reading them. What I never expected, however, was for so many people around the world to also have an interest in the things I write. I have been learning over the past several months just how small this world really is. I have been finding out I have a lot in common with people throughout this beautiful world of ours. The interaction I get to have with so many amazing people on here, and the truly wonderful posts I get to read on other people’s blogs give me a lot of hope for our world. We are all individuals and have a lot of differences, but what is overlooked far too often is just how much we have in common. Too many people seem to forget that we are all human beings. We may come from different places, we may speak different languages, we may have different values and beliefs, etc., but there are truly wonderful people everywhere around the world. It has been a pleasure getting to know some of those wonderful people from all parts of the world through this incredible blogging community, and I look forward to getting to know even more people.
Last night, Positively Rolling Through Life passed the 1,500 views milestone. I know that isn’t very many views compared to a lot of bloggers who have been blogging for as many months as I have, but it’s something that is really special to me. Considering I honestly expected about 20 people, at most, to read my posts, 1,500 views seems like a lot.
Once again, I just want to thank all of you who have joined me on this journey of Positively Rolling Through Life. I really appreciate all of you taking the time to read the posts I share. It has been a great few months, but I am just getting started. I can’t wait to see how this thing continues to grow in the future, and I’m looking forward to meeting even more people in this great blogging community. Those of you that I keep in touch with regularly, I don’t know if I could ever put into words how much I admire you and appreciate you. Thank you all!!
Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone out there!! I hope everyone who celebrated this day of love had the opportunity to spend the day doing something you love with the person or people who mean the most to you. As a single guy, Valentine’s Day usually feels like just another day to me. This year, since my main focus in life is to be happy and to love myself, I spent the day focusing on the things I love most in my life. Valentine’s Day isn’t just for couples, it’s a day of love for everyone.
My day was spent at the golf course, and then I spent my evening at Disney World. I am a night owl and have never really enjoyed waking up early in the morning. When you know you’re waking up to go do something you love, waking up earlier suddenly doesn’t seem so bad. For me, waking up in the morning and reminding myself that I am going to spend my day at a golf course and Disney World is a dream come true.
Although my day didn’t go exactly as I had expected I have no complaints. I got to share a few tips with somebody who had never played golf before. Within seconds, he was showing signs of improvement. Golf isn’t the kind of game that people pick up quickly. It takes a lot of practice and hard work to become a good player, but it’s always very rewarding to see the smiles on people’s faces when they realize they are improving and they are having fun as I am teaching them. I love helping people and I love making people smile. It’s a great feeling knowing that I am able to help people and can help put a smile on their face.
When I left the golf course, I hurried to get to Magic Kingdom. I made it just in time to briefly see some people that I really look forward to seeing on a regular basis. I absolutely love going to my favorite place in the world and knowing that some of the people there remember me and look forward to seeing me, too.
Valentine’s Day is a day meant for couples to celebrate their relationship and their love for each other, but the truth is that it’s really a day for everybody. It’s a day for love. Even if you don’t have a significant other, you can still celebrate love. Celebrate the love you have for yourself. Celebrate the love you have for the people who mean most to you in your life. Celebrate your life. Spread the love and happiness to everyone around you. I think it’s really great that there is a day meant to celebrate love, but there is no reason why every day can’t be that kind of day. To me, today felt like a normal day. In many ways, today was nearly identical to yesterday. When you focus your attention on the right people, places, things, etc., every day can be a day of love. Celebrate it as often as possible. People tend to get upset when things don’t turn out as planned, but, if you just go with whatever comes up, maybe things will turn out even better than planned. Whether you’re celebrating with someone special, or by yourself, make the best of the situation. Try to enjoy every day like it’s Valentine’s Day. Don’t get too wrapped up in your plans. Focus on what is really important. Remember, it’s all about love.
I talk to people all the time who tell me that they don’t pay attention to the people around them, because nobody is paying attention to them either. They are convinced that the things they say and do go completely unnoticed, almost as though they are invisible. I think those people would be shocked to know how much the people around them notice, and how closely they pay attention. Anything you say or do in your life has the potential to leave a lasting impression on someone else, and it often happens without you even realizing it.
In the years I spent traveling with a band, I learned quickly to always assume that anytime I was around other people, there was potential for someone to be taking a picture of me or recording a video of anything I said or did at any given time. If you’re in a room alone, you can maybe relax a bit, but anytime anyone else is around, you need to remember that someone is likely paying attention. You need to be mindful of your words and actions. This is something I just learned to accept as part of my life, and it’s something I am very much aware of every single day now that my lifestyle has changed significantly.
Before, I wasn’t someone who was the center of attention, yet I still knew that somebody somewhere could be paying attention to me. Now, the things I do in my life are very much focused on bringing attention to myself. When I first moved to Florida and started working toward a new career and a new lifestyle, I was taught to create an image for myself. If you think of it in a business sense, you are creating your own brand. You need to be sure that your words and actions fit in with the image or brand that you are creating for yourself. That image or brand you are creating is you. The REAL you. People can tell when you’re putting on an act. Figure out who you are as a person and stay true to yourself.
This is nothing new for me, but I have been reminded several times lately that people notice me and remember me. When I go back to the places that I visit regularly, people I have never noticed before will come up to me and tell me that they remember me and that I have made some kind of impression on them. While I will admit that my wheelchair does make me a bit easier to remember than some people, everyone is memorable to someone else for some reason. How many of you actually take the time to stop and think about the impression you could be making on the people around you? While you’re sitting quietly in the corner of a room by yourself, someone in that room is likely noticing you and paying attention to the things you’re doing.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have had people I didn’t recall ever seeing before walk up to me and tell me they remembered me. While I had been focusing my attention elsewhere at some point in the past, I had, for some reason, caught the attention of these people and left some kind of impression that they remembered. This can either be a good thing or a bad thing. I am a naturally happy, positive person, but I also have the ability to make things seem great when they aren’t. The most common comment I get from people is that I always seem to be happy, regardless of the situation. Once again, create an image for yourself. I’m human. I really do feel that my life is pretty great most of the time, but I am able to smile and spread happiness and positivity to other people even when my life isn’t going as planned. Nobody is happy 100% of the time. It’s just not realistic. If they tell you their life is perfect, then they are lying. The biggest reason why I always seem so happy is because I feel fortunate. I know that, even when my life isn’t going as planned, somebody somewhere is in a much worse situation. Why would I not smile and be thankful for what I have? Being upset about what you don’t have in life is a waste of time. Getting upset doesn’t solve anything. You aren’t improving your situation, you’re just complaining.
I have mentioned this before in a previous post, but, for most of my life, people noticed me and remembered me because of someone or something else. For the first time, people are noticing me for ME. That is a really great feeling. Nobody will ever say that I am negative or whiny, because that just isn’t the kind of person I am. It’s not the kind of person I want to be thought of, so I don’t allow other people to see a negative side of me. I have doubts and fears, but I rarely share them with people, because that’s not the way I want people to think of me. To be completely honest, the way I view any situation in life is this… if I’m still breathing, then I feel that I have a chance to succeed. As long as I’m still alive, I have a chance. That’s not something I say just to make myself look good, I honestly believe it. Anything is possible if you keep trying, and eventually find a way to make it work.
People I don’t know at all have told me they could sense my positive vibes and felt like they needed to meet me. That is something I don’t understand, but hopefully I am able to make some kind of a positive difference in their life. I believe anyone is capable of making a positive difference. The only person who can stop you is yourself. Become the person that you would look up to if you were meeting yourself for the first time. You don’t need to try to be a superhero, but remember that someone else needs someone to look up to as much as you do. Why not try to be that person for someone else? Don’t put on an act and be fake. Legitimately become the person that you look up to. Be the person that others look up to. Leaving a bad impression and leaving a good impression take the same amount of time, so leave a good impression on the people around you. You may be surprised to know how much of a difference you can make in somebody’s life. Remember that you are memorable!!
If you wait patiently long enough, life has a way of getting back on track. This journey through life is full of all kinds of crazy detours, but you eventually find your way back to where you’re supposed to be. The past two and a half years of my life have been one giant detour, but I can feel things starting to get back to normal now… slowly.
I still have a ways to go and a lot to figure out, but so much of what has been a big mystery to me for the past couple of years is now starting to feel familiar and comfortable.
When I moved to Florida, I had an idea in mind of how I wanted to live my life and how things needed to happen if I wanted to succeed. Less than three weeks later, I was involved in a bad car accident, and everything I thought I had planned out suddenly came to a halt. Since that day, very little has gone as I had planned, or as I had hoped.
Before I left my hometown to start this new chapter in my life, I dreamed for a long time about what it would be like to be able to live in my favorite place in the world. When I visited Orlando to check out the school I would be attending and to start looking for a place to live, I got a small preview of what was possible. It was everything I had been dreaming of and more. I should have known better, but I just never expected things to get so off course so suddenly. Since the day of my accident, I have felt like I’ve been trying to catch up to where I was in my life in a lot of ways before my detour began. I’m not there yet, but I’m getting closer. In the process of trying to catch up to my initial plans, I discovered who I really am as a person.
Now that Plan A is starting to reappear in my life, I am realizing, once again, that everything happens for a reason. The life I wanted to start living two and a half years ago was a life that I wasn’t ready to live yet. I had to learn a lot about life and about myself before I could live that life.
I remember before I left my hometown I told people that I couldn’t afford to fail down here. I was taking too big of a risk moving across the country to fail. While my reasoning for saying that was valid, it just wasn’t realistic. Life is FULL of failures. It would sure be great if we all succeeded in everything we did, wouldn’t it? That’s just not how life works. We all fail. We all fail often. Learning to deal with failure makes us stronger and helps us to grow. It helps us learn to succeed and truly enjoy and appreciate success. I can’t say that the time I have lived here has been a failure, but it sure hasn’t been as successful as I had hoped.
I am now at a time in my life where a lot seems to be changing quickly. While most people start a new year with a “New year, new me” mindset, I came into this year expecting things to not change a whole lot. Turns out, I was WAY off in my expectations. What is changing the most is what seems to be a second chance to follow my original plans I had when I moved down here. The only difference is that I get to fast forward a bit. I have now been done with school for over a year, and I am able to focus on the other things I planned to do with my life at the time I started school.
I am having flashbacks to when I first moved here. Everything feels new and fresh again. My lifestyle is transitioning back to what it was when I first moved here. My focus is back where it belongs. My goals are back to what they were before my detour began. To complete the “new beginning” feeling, I am moving this week. Although I will have a new home, I am only moving about five minutes away from where I currently live. Everything I have grown to love about living here will stay the same, except I will have a different apartment. This change will be nowhere near what I experienced a couple of years ago. Right now is my chance to kinda hit the reset button on a lot of distractions in my life. This is my chance to do things my way. The life I planned to live down here is finding its way back to me. I just need to let it take over the lifestyle I have been living.
I keep thinking back to the winters I spent in North Dakota feeling like I was trapped inside while the snow was piling up on the ground. Snow and wheelchairs don’t mix. I was just never going to be happy living in that kind of climate. I needed to make a change. Old habits have kept me from fully embracing all of the great things that Florida has to offer. I used to wake up excited about going to the golf course every day that I could possibly play in North Dakota. Golf season is 365 days a year in Florida. In 2017, I played one round of golf. A big reason for that was not being able to afford to play, but an even bigger reason was that I was just lazy. I was uninspired. My life was full of distractions, mostly self-inflicted. The things in my life that are falling into place right now have me more motivated than ever to live the life I planned to live when I first moved here.
I’ve always found that overcoming general laziness takes care of most problems. My newfound motivation has already started to fix a bunch of problems I dealt with in 2017. It’s a good start, but I need to do better. The hardest part of making any kind of change is just getting started. Once you’re in a routine, things become easier and feel more natural. Surrounding yourself with the right people always helps to stay on track and stay motivated, but I already got the nudge I needed to get started. I’m excited to keep working toward the life I had hoped to live here. It took me a while, but I am getting a second chance in this chapter of my life. I couldn’t possibly be more excited for it!! It’s time to introduce the person I have become to the way things were supposed to be.
February has arrived. How did that happen? The past three months or so have absolutely flown by. I think my brain is still stuck in November somewhere. As we begin the second month of the year, I feel like, in many ways, I am getting a second chance on things that didn’t go as planned last year. The way the timing is working out with certain things in my life, right now is very similar to things that happened in January 2017. The biggest difference this year is that the things I wanted to happen a year ago are actually in the process of happening right now. There is action this year, not just all talk and ideas. A lot is currently changing in my life. As I mentioned in a recent post, I used to absolutely hate change. Right now, I am not only embracing it, I’m looking forward to it.
The beginning of 2018 was pretty much terrible in every way imaginable, but I have learned to not let things get to me too much. Life is full of temporary ups and downs. It was a minor setback on the path to getting things headed in the right direction.
The past week or so has been incredibly motivating and encouraging for me. I have been surrounded on a daily basis by people who are truly passionate about what they do for a living and how they get to live their life. These are people who have found a way to turn their passion into a career. The most motivating part of it for me is that I do the same thing these people do. It has made me stop and really think about how many people work a job just for money. It pays the bills. They don’t do it because they like it. I’ve never been that kind of person, and I’ve never understood why others choose to go through life that way. People need to make money, and I understand that fully, but far too many people just settle for any job instead of focusing their time and effort on the things they truly love to do.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say they wish they could do something specific or how they want to do something different from what they’re doing. My question for those people is always, “What’s stopping you?” If you want something badly enough, you can and will find a way to make it work… within reason, of course. Too many people just don’t want to put in the effort to make their dreams become their reality. Some are scared of taking chances. Many people don’t know where to start when they set out to chase their dreams, but, if you go out of your way to tell everyone around you exactly what you want to do, you will eventually run across someone who does know how you can get started. Tell people what you want in life and surround yourself with people who want similar things.
I can’t take full credit for any of the great things I’ve had an opportunity to do in my life. I have always found myself in situations where I have been able to meet the right people. You have to put yourself in a position to succeed.
People aren’t mind-readers. If want something, you have to tell people you want it. You have to ask for it. Don’t be shy. That used to be my biggest problem. I always wanted things, but never felt comfortable asking for them. Part of it was a fear of rejection. But, if you don’t ask, you’ll never know the answer. I lacked confidence in myself for many years. I felt that I didn’t deserve certain things, because I hadn’t earned those things. An important lesson to learn in life is that you absolutely deserve the great things that life has to offer. Don’t ever let anyone (especially yourself) tell you that you don’t deserve better than what you have right now. While we all should be thankful for what we have, we should also constantly strive for better. Keep progressing. Keep growing. Keep improving. There’s no such thing as a perfect life. You can always improve your life.
I hope all of you take a moment to ask yourself what you really want in life. When you know your answer, then ask yourself what is stopping you from making it happen. Most likely, the only thing holding you back is yourself. Nobody is going to live your life for you. You have to get out and live it. We only get one shot at this journey of life. Why would you not want it to be the best it can be?
None of us are guaranteed another day. Make the most of today. Do what makes you happy. Live your life the way you want to live it, not the way others want you to live it. Don’t waste another day being unhappy. Stop wanting and wishing. Start doing. Do what you want to do in life. Love your life!!
Quite frequently, I read or hear comments from people about how unimpressive they are, or how boring they are. Nearly every time, I ask myself, “How could they think that way about themselves?” A lot of times, these are people that I happen to think are really incredible people, for various reasons. I just don’t understand how they don’t see in themselves what I (as well as many other people) see in them. It just doesn’t make sense to me. And then I realize that I do the exact same thing.
The more I think about this topic, the more I realize how often I contradict myself. I am always very proud of the times in my life when somebody tells me I can’t do something, and I prove them wrong. I am very aware that people notice me and pay attention to the things I do. I stand out, and I know that I do. Yet, I am the kind of person who always thinks that nobody ever thinks about me unless we are currently spending time together or talking to each other. I tend to think that the things I do in my life go completely unnoticed, even though I have been told by countless people that they pay attention and keep up with everything I do.
The older I get, the more I am starting to realize the importance of just being myself. Hopefully others are realizing the importance of being themselves, too. Throughout my life, I have had literally hundreds of people randomly walk up to me and thank me for being me. They have told me that I just give off positive vibes and they can sense it when they’re around me. Hearing things like that always makes me smile, yet it leaves me completely confused. I am who I am and do what I do. I don’t try to draw attention to myself in any way. I’ve noticed that being in the presence of the people I’ve looked up to the most in my life has just had a different feel to it. I can feel that I am in the presence of a truly great person. I suppose the people who have made those comments to me notice something similar in me when they’re around me, but I have honestly never considered myself to be special or great in any way. I’m just me. Perhaps the people I look up to would say the exact same thing about themselves. After all, we are all just human beings, not superheroes.
It’s easier to see things from the outside looking in than to see it in yourself, but I think we would all benefit from trying to look at ourselves from a different perspective. Instead of blowing off really flattering comments from others, pay attention to what they are saying to you. If you hear it repeatedly, it’s not just a random compliment and it’s not a coincidence. Don’t let it go to your head and start thinking you’re greater than you actually are, but don’t be afraid to accept the fact that you have the ability to change people’s lives for the better. You have greatness within you. I truly believe that we ALL have greatness within us. We just need to find it and let it shine.
This past week, I attended the PGA Merchandise Show here in Orlando. Several thousand people were at this event every day. On the second day, a complete stranger came up to me and said, of all the people around us, I stood out and she had a feeling that she needed to meet me. I smiled and said “hello” and introduced myself. She started crying and hugged me. She said, “You love life, don’t you? I bet your life has been pretty great so far.” I said, “I really can’t complain. Life is good.” Within 10 seconds of meeting, she said she will never forget my positivity and my natural happiness. I was sitting silently by myself watching golf on TV when she approached me. I smiled as a reaction to a great shot I saw on TV. The lady’s first impression of me was that I was smiling the first time she ever saw me.
You don’t need to go out of your way to get noticed. Be yourself, and people will notice you without you realizing it. You are special to someone else, whether you think you’re special or not. You have something to offer that is unique and really great. If you don’t already know what that “something” is, pay attention to the things people say to you. Pay attention to the compliments you receive. Pay attention to the way people act around you. Certain things will start to stand out.
I am somebody who is able to lead by example. As I said, I think of myself as being “just me”, but others see me as someone who is happy and positive 100% of the time and somebody who can always find ways to overcome the things I face in life. I have fears and doubts just like everyone else, but, if I saw myself the way many others see me, my confidence level would be sky high. Do yourself a favor and look at yourself the way others look at you. You have the ability to change lives for the better. Why not use that ability to improve your own life, too? Embrace the person within you that others look up to, and realize that you really are somebody special.
Over the past couple of months, my mind has been racing. I always take time at the end of each year to look back on the things I experienced that year, but this past year I found myself looking back at previous years, too. The last few years have kinda blended together for me. Things that happened in one year, seemed to be unresolved until the next year. I guess you could say New Year’s Eve ended with a “To be continued…” feel in a lot of ways.
When I think back to the greatest memories of my life, the first thing I remember is who was there, or who was involved. As memorable as the event itself was, the people are what stand out the most in every situation.
In the years that I spent traveling across the country, I had the opportunity to meet a ton of people. I visited a lot of places that I never thought I would get to visit. Those are memories that will stick with me forever. I really did get to live my lifelong dream. I remember when I was younger and attended concerts on a regular basis with my mom, there were a lot of times when the artist we were watching perform would make a comment about how happy they were to be in our city, or they would mention something from a previous show they had played in our city. I remember always wondering if they actually remembered that stuff, or if they just made it up, since most people wouldn’t know the difference anyway. While I suppose both of those scenarios are very possible, I know which ended up being true for me. I still remember every single place I visited over the course of 6 years and over 600 concerts. Some of those places I only visited once, but the ones I got to visit repeatedly are the ones I could tell a lot of stories about. More than anything, it’s the people I remember from those places.
I haven’t really written much on Positively Rolling Through Life about my time on the road yet, but I will get into it more over time. I am so focused on the present these days that I don’t really stop very often to look back to that time in my life. But, when I do look back on those times, it’s the people that I think of first every time.
I never really wanted to get too far ahead of myself back then. I knew that I was living my childhood dream, so I made myself a promise that I would enjoy the moment while it lasted. I never wanted to look past anything or take anything for granted. The band’s schedule was confirmed several months in advance at all times, but I rarely looked more than a week ahead to see where we were going. The show that mattered the most to me was the next one, wherever it may have been.
I was very fortunate to meet a lot of really wonderful people back then. I am still friends with many of them. We don’t keep in touch as much as we used to, but we do still keep in touch, and I always love hearing from them. They know who they are, and hopefully some of them are reading this. I sold the band’s merchandise, so I was definitely not the person that people were coming to the shows to see. When I decided to leave the band and move across the country to start a new chapter in my life, I wondered if anyone would miss me. I wondered if anyone would know I was gone. Although the majority of the people who came to the shows throughout the years probably didn’t notice when I left, it meant a lot to me that the friends I made in a bunch of my favorite cities sent me messages after I left and told me they missed me. It was a great feeling to know that I had some kind of lasting impact on them.
Looking back even further, I remember a lot of random things from when I was young. People I haven’t seen in 20-25 years still cross my mind from time to time. They may not remember me, but I remember them. I still remember the person who took me to the driving range to hit golf balls for the first time in my life. I was about six or seven years old at the time. I haven’t seen that guy in well over 20 years, yet that memory has stuck with me. It has become an even more important memory for me now that I teach golf for a living.
Fast forward to the present. My life is very different now from what I did previously, yet it’s very similar in a lot of ways. I am in a position to meet a lot of new people on a regular basis. We don’t see each other frequently, but we do get to see each other occasionally. The people who play a recurring role in my present life are people I associate with certain places or events, just like I used to do on the road. I know that when I get to visit a certain place or be a part of a certain event I will see those people again, and we will get to catch up. It’s something I look forward to every time.
Living so far away from my family and friends that I grew up with, it’s nice to have some familiarity in my life. I enjoy seeing familiar faces as often as possible. Whether I know the people or not, I just really enjoy seeing someone who is familiar to me. It’s a comforting feeling. Being able to have brief interactions with people who are familiar to me is what has always kept me from getting homesick, especially since I haven’t been able to go back and visit my hometown in nearly two years now.
There are certain people who have no clue how much I appreciate them and how much I look forward to seeing them. I wish they knew, but I don’t know if I’ll ever have the opportunity to tell them. I spend as much time as possible at Walt Disney World, specifically Magic Kingdom. I have gotten to know a few people who work there, but most are just strangers who are familiar to me. Once again, whether I actually know them or not, those people are the reason my favorite place has become even more special to me. It truly is my happy place.
As I have mentioned in a couple of my recent posts, 2018 got off to a brutal start for me. Nothing seemed to go right for a few weeks. Slowly but surely, things are getting worked out. Things always find a way to work themselves out over time, and a few of the things that were stressing me out are now closer to being resolved. The difference, not surprisingly, has been the people I have dealt with recently. I like to be in control of the situations I am in, and I hate the feeling of having to just wait and rely on others to help me. In situations like those, you have to just hope that eventually you will find someone who is in a position to help and is willing to do so. Not everyone who is able to help is willing, but I have been fortunate to find the right people when I have needed them.
If all of you who are reading this take a look back at your fondest memories, I think you will also find that you will tend to remember the people more clearly than certain other details from those situations.
While I still have a ways to go to feel truly comfortable in my current life situation, key pieces of the puzzle are starting to fall into place one by one. If/When everything finally does work out, I already know for sure that I will look back and will remember the people who played the biggest roles in making things happen. We can’t get through life completely on our own. We always have people helping us out along the way. Prove to people that they can believe in you, and they will likely put in the time and effort to help you succeed. More times than not, if you can help someone, then they will help you. People helping people is what makes this world work. I just wish more people would realize that. Making enemies and going out of your way to make life difficult for others is just unnecessary. In any great success story, the people involved along the way make the difference. Remember that. When you’re able to do so, make a difference in somebody’s life. You never know when you may need someone to do the same for you.
When I was younger, I absolutely hated any kind of change. I wanted everything in the world to stay the same forever, and I just couldn’t understand why anything ever needed to change. Although I got a bit carried away, I think people, in general, struggle with change. We struggle to adapt and get used to things being different from what we’re used to. Comfort zones play a big role in life, and most people never take the chances they need to take to really bust out of their comfort zone. But sometimes life happens and you don’t have a choice.
In recent years, my life has changed more than I ever could have imagined. All things considered, I feel like I’ve handled things surprisingly well. I’ve grown a lot as a person, and I continue to grow more every day. One of the greatest lessons I have learned is that you can handle anything life throws at you. If you ever feel like you can’t handle something, then you are trying to handle the situation with the wrong mindset. You need to take a step back and give yourself time, then try again.
I have gone through a lot of ups and downs in my life. The great times have been almost unbelievable. The bad times have been brutal. I have experienced highs that I never would have dared to dream of in my wildest dreams. On the other hand, I have experienced brutal lows that dragged me down into unimaginable depression that seemed like it would never end. What I have learned from all of it is that it’s just part of life. Life happens. Nothing lasts forever.
When I was in college, I felt like my life was about as normal as it could be. I was trying to figure out what to do with my life and how to make it happen. I had no clue that my whole world was about come crashing down on me.
On January 21st, 2008, 10 years ago today, my mom lost her nearly 18 month battle with colon cancer. Anybody who knows me at all knows that I’m a mama’s boy. I always have been, and I’m damn proud of it. I never in my worst nightmares could have imagined I would lose my mom when I was 22 years old.
Although I didn’t fully understand it until after it was too late, basically everything I have ever done in my life was and is for my mom. I went through life doing what I wanted to do, but never stopped to think about why I was doing things that way. Years later, I realized it was all because of my mom and the things I learned from her.
My mom was the kind of person who made friends easily. Everybody who knew her loved her. It’s always easier to see things from the outside looking in than if you’re right in the middle of it. I never fully understood the impact she had on others and how many lives she touched until after she was gone.
Everybody has their own way of grieving. What works for somebody may not work for others. You have to find the way that works best for you and give yourself as much time as needed to cope with losing someone close to you.
When my mom passed away, my family spent a lot of time together, but there seemed to be very little talking. I need to talk about things. I can’t just sit silently and then magically feel fine. The rest of my family may have benefitted from that time spent together, but I needed to get away from everything. To this day, I feel bad for putting my friends through this, but I started going to my friends when I needed to get something off of my chest. I never asked if they minded, I just started talking… sometimes for hours.
Over the last few months of my mom’s life, she wasn’t comfortable sleeping in bed. She slept in the recliner in our living room. When I came home at night, the first thing I did every single night was look into the living room to see if she was still awake. If she was still awake, I would sit on the couch and talk and watch TV with her until she fell asleep. Many nights, I would stay in the living room after she fell asleep and I would just watch her sleep. I knew that it was something I wouldn’t have the opportunity to do for much longer, so I wanted to spend every possible moment with her. Looking back, I’m glad I did that.
In my last post, I wrote about certain things in life that need to happen before the rest of the pieces of the puzzle can fall into place. Although I would give absolutely anything to have my mom back, my life is what it is right now because of losing her. The greatest, most unthinkable tragedy of my life has led me to where I am today. When you’re in the middle of trying to deal with a loss like that, you’re pissed off at the world. Nothing makes sense. You cry, scream, have meltdowns, and just want to wake up from the nightmare that you are living. But then life goes on. One day, you wake up and start to realize that things have been changing gradually over time, without you realizing it.
The best way to describe how I dealt with the loss of my mom is, I ran away from home and started to spend more time away from the life I had lived before. I spent more time with friends. In the process, I made more friends.
I started to realize that I was able to feel better by talking to myself when there was nobody around for me to talk to. I realized how much music helped me to clear my mind. I started to drive around more and listen to music. I started traveling greater distances to go to concerts when a local band that my mom and I loved was playing. The better I got to know the band, the farther I traveled for their concerts. I didn’t want to leave after the concerts were done, because I didn’t want to go back home to the thoughts of my mom being gone. I started offering to help the band pack up their gear after the shows, just so I didn’t have to go home for a little while longer.
I got to the point where I would let out the emotions I needed to get out while driving to concerts, then would have fun at the concert, help out after the shows, and then would let everything out again while driving home. It became like therapy for me. Eventually, I ended up spending six years traveling across the country with the band selling merchandise for them. I always wanted to get into the music industry when I was younger, and it eventually happened… because of the greatest loss of my life.
My mom always told me I could do anything I wanted to do in life, but I know that she would have wanted me to earn a college degree and get a good job. Although she did get to see me on stage with the band one night, and I could tell it made her proud, I’m not so sure she would have been very happy that I eventually dropped out of college to travel across the country in a van with the band for six years.
When the time came for me to start growing up and make some changes in my life, I quit the band and moved to Florida to attend a golf school. If I hadn’t lost my mom, I can almost guarantee I would have graduated from college and found a “normal” job in North Dakota. I would have always wondered what I could have done if I had taken some crazy chances. I would have hated it. I hate the “What if…?” situations in life. I would rather try and fail than not try and have to wonder what could have been.
While I still have a lot left to figure out in life, living in Florida and being 1,500 miles away from my family and friends that I grew up with has given me the chance, for the first time, to start to realize why life is happening the way it is. I now have a college degree and teach golf. I work with kids. Specifically, I work with special needs kids. I was born with a physical disability called Spina Bifida. I met a lot of kids while I was growing up who had special needs, whether they were physical or mental. My mom taught preschool for 20 years. I never realized it until I started teaching golf, but just being around my mom while growing up, I was learning every day how to be a teacher. I was learning how to treat people. I was learning to make a difference in other people’s lives. I was learning to be patient and understanding. Because of my own fear of missing out on things, I was teaching myself to not exclude anybody. I taught myself that everyone deserves a chance to do the things they want to do in life.
My mom taught me that people are people, regardless of who they are. Nobody is any more or less important than anyone else. Everyone deserves equal respect, kindness, and fairness. Everyone should be treated the way you want to be treated.
If you had asked me 10 years ago what I had learned from my mom, my answer most likely would have been, “I don’t know.” Today, my answer to that question is, I don’t know that I can narrow it down, because there is too much to list everything.
Looking back, it doesn’t seem possible that my mom has been gone for 10 years now. She is every bit as much a part of my life now as she was back then. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her. I miss her every single day. I still dream about her. I still want to pick up the phone and call her when something significant happens in my life, or even just to talk, in general. I still feel her presence in everything I do and everywhere I go. I know that she is still with me in some way and that she always will be. I hate the thought that I needed to lose my mom for my life to really begin, but that does seem to be how things worked out. I know that she would be proud if she could see how my life has turned out so far. The things I do from this point forward will be a continuation of the things I learned from my mom.
On a day-to-day basis, very little seems to change. You have to look back at the big picture to realize how much progress has been made. I am amazed every day when I realize how much has happened since that night 10 years ago. Life happened, because life happened.
I love you, mom!!
The first three weeks of 2018 have been a busy, chaotic, stressful mess so far. The old saying “when it rains, it pours” comes to mind. This saying has been a recurring theme in my life. It’s true in both good times and bad. Days, weeks, or months can pass by in which not much seems to happen. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, everything starts happening at once. It can be very overwhelming.
When I started blogging, I typically wrote something every three days. Lately, I have written less often. I never schedule times to write and never force anything. Whenever I have an idea in mind, I’ll write about it.
Since it has been three days since my last post, I felt like I should write something tonight, but had so many different thoughts running through my mind that I couldn’t decide where to start. I started thinking about everything I’ve had going on in my life lately, and all of the things that are coming up in the near future. This time of year, I always have a lot on my mind. I’ll get to that in a post in a couple of days. When things begin to pile up on me, I tend to freeze, at first. I know what needs to be done, but have a hard time deciding where to start.
While lying in bed tonight and failing miserably in my attempt to fall asleep, a solution came to me that I think I have been overlooking just because it seemed too simple… just take one step in the right direction. Take everything one step at a time. All of the ideas that I want to write about won’t suddenly disappear. I can write about all of them over time. All of the things that have been piling up on me recently will all get worked out. I just need to keep moving in the right direction, one step at a time.
Nowadays, we tend to want things to happen immediately. It’s hard to remain patient when we are waiting for something that we want, or need, to happen. Nothing lasts forever. That is something that is important to remember. When you’re in a situation in life that is frustrating, remember that it’s only temporary. Keep taking steps toward your ultimate goals, and things will eventually turn around. Although it may seem like it sometimes, the whole world isn’t against you. I have had some really promising meetings with people over the past week or so that have given me a lot of hope moving forward. As always, nothing is guaranteed. You have to work hard to make things happen in life. But, it’s a lot easier to stay focused when you are reminded that there is hope. Knowing that there are people who are willing to help you makes any situation easier than if you were trying to get through it on your own. Being reminded that others have been in similar situations and have come out of those situations better and stronger than ever helps to approach the situation confidently.
I need to get better about taking my own advice. This is something I have known for years. I’m great at giving advice to others, but struggle when I face a similar situation. I guess it’s maybe just because it’s easier to see the solution when you’re on the outside looking in than to be in the middle of the situation.
The combination of inexperience, indecision, and procrastination can instantly make any situation more complicated than it needs to be. As stressed out as I have been lately, I can’t help but be excited as I look forward. I am a firm believer that nobody ever does everything solely by themselves. If you look closely at situations in life, there seems to always be somebody else involved in making things happen. I am getting to a point in my life now where everything I’ve ever wanted is pretty much right in front of my face waving at me. With the help of a few people, a few of those things could very easily fall into place. The more I learn about life, the more I realize that certain things need to fall into place before more pieces of the puzzle will fit. It all starts with a single step in the right direction. Dream big. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try something new that may seem scary. Focus on your ultimate goals, but remember to take everything one step at a time.
Knowing that certain things in life need to happen before more pieces of the puzzle can fall into place, stay tuned for my next post this weekend…