It’s taken longer than usual to gather my thoughts about The Year That Was. Without a doubt, it was the most challenging of my life; seemingly more downs than ups, stressful and with pangs of sorrow I couldn’t have imagined. But I can truly say that, while the valleys were extraordinarily deep, it feels like I’m cresting the highest of mountains now and can see a really bright future ahead! As I considered how best to describe 2014, the word discovery keeps coming to mind, and that truly captures what the year entailed, discovery.
I discovered that the love of my family knows no bounds
Those who have had the opportunity to meet my siblings, parents, and other relatives would agree that we’re a family. Period. And these days, that’s saying alot. We have had our struggles, personal tragedies, yet we have also been tremendously blessed and strive to bless others. For me, their support was humbling and…humbling. I’ll never forget the emotions of having family drive 2-3hrs just to sit with me during some pretty stressing moments. And while I’ve not figured out how my mom is able to write such eloquent, insightful prose with nothing more than a smartphone, what her text messages may lack in brevity they make up for in their depth of love. 🙂
The relationship between my dad and me, I think he would agree, has become a stronger bond, closer, with more communication and expressions of love and mutual respect. I’ve learned to appreciate his character more as I see with clarity how he carries so well the role of father and husband. It would be a great honor to one day be described as just like my dad.
And my sisters, who have their own lives and families, yet found ways to let me know they cared, were great sounding boards, and offered much in the way of sound advice, prayer, and support. With everything I did put them through as their big brother (I did my job well), you’d think otherwise, but nope!
I discovered who my friends are
“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out” – Walter Winchell
Through thick and thin, friendships, bonds with true friends last. I discovered this year that friendship is not the same as being connected on Facebook, twitter, Google+, etc. It’s the little things that make someone feel appreciated, cared for, loved. It’s in the listening, more than talking. The walking alongside in the not-so-good times. I have friends that, when I was emotionally spent, were there to listen, share an encouraging word, or in some cases do the totally unexpected, making more of an impact than they perhaps realized. I know it can be exhausting, particularly when that friend is having a really difficult time. To my friends, I am grateful and so appreciative of you.
I’m a better father than I give myself credit for
For a long time I felt that I had to fill the gap left in our home, to the point where I was emotionally and physically breaking down. I thought that, if I worked hard enough at being The Perfect Dad that somehow it would make up for a broken home. I can’t, it doesn’t, and it’s not. Instead, what I discovered is that my kids are resilient, well-adjusted, happy; I see more joy in them now than I have in a very, very long time. I’ve discovered that, by giving them a home where they are unconditionally loved, where they are the center of their parent’s life, everything else is just icing on the cake. What matters most to them is that I’m present – my life, our life, is not encumbered with anything more than what makes us a family.
We have a bell in the house now that, whenever someone rings it, dad has to dance. It was funny for me like, 5 times. For them, it’s always funny. And so I dance.every.time. We make up silly songs. Borderline offensive, but still we laugh. If I have Chinese for lunch, all the evidence must be hidden if I think I’m not ordering it for dinner. My boys have my sarcastic humor, which cracks me up, until it’s directed towards me. My girls love me unconditionally. And every night they are quick to remind me that it’s not bedtime until I do at least one round of back rubs. Curiously, my boys decline (“we’re good”). LOL
I discovered why they call it work
This is my career, I know I’m great at taking on big challenges and working with others to create great solutions. Is it easy? Heck no. Am I always right? Hardly? Can I be “difficult”. Guilty. But what I’ve learned is that, like anything else in life, change is not easy nor always pleasant. If it were, everybody would be doing it, right? What sucks is when politics, pride, and personalities clash and what should have been a collective of introspection and resolve turns into scapegoating, backstabbing, and general corporate malaise. It happens, I know. Can’t go back. Onward and upward, I still love what I do and wake up every day excited about What’s Next.
But I’ve discovered that I can turn off the computer and…..do absolutely nothing. Or, something else. My kids love that I’m more engaged, more available. My doctor loves it too. I think – I’m still bad about making appointments. There is some truth in working to live versus living to work. My goal now is to just live, and work at something that I love.
Divorce brings out the worse in people
More specifically, the divorce process. It is cold-stamped from hell to bring out the worse in people. It turns the most innocuous of situations and circumstances into a festering cesspool of litigation. Nothing is in context. It feeds on greed, laziness, pride, and resentment, the most vile, morally abstract actions and accusations. Nothing hurts worse than to be lied about, preyed upon, for no other reason than to cause you and your children pain. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. And that is all I’m saying about that. Ever.
But through this I’ve discovered that I can stay true to my own moral and ethical convictions. That I can take the high road, as it were, and just believe that someway, somehow, truth and justice will prevail. And it has. Expensive? Oh yeah. Insanely expensive. Cabin cruiser expensive. Down payment on a house expensive. And the emotional toll is of such magnitude that I now understand how it can cause one to make drastic, even fatal, decisions. But that’s where faith, friends and family come in. Through it all, I’ve settled in my heart what matters to me. My kids, period. Everything else I can do without or replace.
2015 is going to be a great year
Already I’ve discovered that my “new normal” life is richer than what I could ever have imagined and will only get better. Why? Because I’m going to make it so. I started 2014 unsure of myself, unsure of what would become of my family, my career, my circle of friends. But the Refiner’s Fire has not only changed me, but left a brilliant compass that points to True North.
What’s next? More quality time with my children, my extended family. Using my career to make a difference in ways that, along with a sense of personal accomplishment, somehow gives more than I get back. I’m excited about new relationships, planning more travel, just being present.
Happy New Year