Friday, December 30, 2011

Some 49 Year Old Wisdom…

At the 2011 Tour of California
I think birthdays are a good time to look back at the year that was, and ask a simple but profound question: so what did you learn in the last year?  For me, I would have to say 48 was a definite time of transition, and a good one at that.  Why? Because I was back to taking some risks once again.

*** Recall that about this time last year my marriage was ending and life had been a raging roller coaster for the 3-4 months prior.  But thanks to some great counsel – friendly and professional, and the occasional prescription pharmaceutical(!) – I had accepted my fate and was moving forward with my new reality.

For me the risks in 2011 came in two main ways: physical and emotional.

The physical one is the easiest… I had already made great strides in coming back from being in the worst shape of my life when I was 47, and continued to make solid progress working out and making better choices.  But part of our credo at LIVESTRONG is, “…cancer may leave your body, but it never leaves your life.” And so continued my odyssey of after effects (abdominal hernias and complications) from a big cancer operation back in 1996. 

Following 2 operations and 2 infections / complications I rolled into the end of the year with a distended abdomen, was told to wait six months and see what’s what, but I just knew that something wasn’t right.  Again, I fell back on what I’ve learned at LIVESTRONG and trusted my gut (figuratively and literally) and instead got three more opinions, ending up in a great surgical experience that I think has finally sorted things out.  And in the process I once again reaffirmed in my faith in humanity as several friends, old and new, really stepped up to support me, as well as the incredible positive messages that poured in via Social Media.  Had I not take that final risk of yet another procedure, it could have been much, much worse when things literally came apart.

The emotional risk taking was a both easy and difficult, because it involved facing personal “fears” and then acting against them anyway.  The reason I chose to use the word “fear” is because I think when you’re coming out of a relationship that you thought was going to be, “happily ever after, till death do us part,” (even if in hindsight you see that was truly not the case), you have some legitimate concerns.  The difficult part was acknowledging those concerns, things like: will anyone else ever like me? what have I learned / how have I changed? am I ready to date / be in a relationship again? and will anyone else ever really like me again?!

But once I started to get past these concerns – are more-so be aware of them – it became easier as life went on.  Friends introduced me to friends, I branched way out of my comfort zone and joined, and in the process of 2011 had two relationships that were solid life experiences despite the fact that they ultimately didn’t work out.  Still, risks well worth taking…

And that brings me to the one main thing that I learned over the last 365 days, and that is that the old axiom really is true: time heals all wounds.  There’s no escaping it, and in 2011 I experienced it both physically, mentally, and emotionally.  So if you’re going through some things that are tough to bare, my semi-sage advice is to stick it out, do your best, always take the high road, and eventually things will work out.  Might not be the way you want it to, but it will work out, and usually for the best.

Ciao for now, my friends, cheers to another year in the books and may you and yours  have an amazing 2012! – Cb….

Monday, January 31, 2011

Getting Personal with Responsibility

Just participated in a quick response on Tiny Buddha, the question being: How do you minimize drama in your life?  Many of the responses were focused on breathing, not being around negative people, etc.  But for me it came down to one of my favorite topics: personal responsibility.  Hence my reply:

I think it's not enough to just say you try to stay away from negative people / those who cause drama. The drama only comes into our lives when we let it. While it's easy to observe drama from a third party view, we have to take personal responsibility for when we let it into our lives.

It’s no secret we’ve become a blame-the-other-guy society.  Our litigious attitude towards anything under the sun is off the chart.  Your coffee’s too hot?  Time to sue.  There’s a hair in your soup? Where’s my lawyer?  I’d be afraid to deliver a pizza in over 30 minutes at the rate we’re going.

And it needs to stop.

Think how refreshing it is when we see someone in the public eye take responsibility for their actions, whether it’s fessing up to something wrong they did, or taking the heat for not accomplishing what they set out to do.  Think about that – we’re genuinely surprised by that, and feel good to see there’s a glimmer of hope.  That’s really not that good when you consider it should be the norm, not the exception.

For me it’s a matter of being able to look into the mirror and know that the guy looking back at me is responsible for his actions, good, bad, and otherwise.  In the military we refer to this as having honor, but it’s not a boastful thing, it’s just the right thing to do.  And it doesn’t take much, more so doing your best and then taking personal responsibility for the successes and the losses.  Like I said above, you’ll find you’re the exception – the honorable exception at that.

Ciao for now – make it happen! – Cb…