Let me start of by saying Happy New Year a few days late. I also would like to thank those who are so bored that you actually take the time to read my rambling. I appreciate the opportunity to occasionally put to words some thoughts that help me to feel better and in turn hopefully provide some insight and motivation for you.
Back in April of last year I was a guy who was teetering. From being behind a curtain of darkness to being able to see some light and back again. Read my previous blog to see where I was. Today I write this feeling better than I have since before Lisa was diagnosed with cancer in the spring of 2008.
What’s been the biggest difference? Me.
I’ve made some major changes to my life including selling the house that Lisa and I built. It was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made. This was her dream house and she was extremely proud of it. For the most part, Erik went from being a child to becoming a man in that house. I struggled over the last few years to make the decision. First and foremost I didn’t want to make any changes that could affect Erik. I am amazed at how strong he has been since he lost his Mom, but I worried that taking him out of his environment would have an impact on his emotional state resulting in setbacks. I also was hounded by the sense that if I did sell the house I would be letting Lisa down. I struggled with a sense of guilt every time I thought of selling. I’ve looked at many houses in the past couple of years but upon reflection it was just window dressing to convince myself I was trying. Every house I saw had a problem of one sort or another. It was too small, too big, too far, not in the right part of town etc. You get the picture.
If you read my previous blogs you’ll know that physical activity has had a tremendous effect on my mental health over the past year. Attending Catalyst CrossFit on a regular basis has literally changed my life. It wasn’t just the exercising but the CrossFit community and it’s mentality as a whole. One thing you’ll hear over and over again in CrossFit is “just keep moving”. I had stopped moving on so many levels, physically and mentally that every day the grasp of darkness of sadness and depression was getting stronger. It was time to face one of the biggest decision I had to make it a long time. Do I continue to stand still or do I “keep moving”. I certainly didn’t like what I had become and where I was headed.
At the end of May, after talking with Erik, Brad and Kyle, I decided that I would start moving on the sale of our house. I’ll put it on the market and see what happens. Other houses on the street had been for sale for months, one for over a year. My optimism wasn’t high and I’d bet part of me was subconsciously hoping that I could say “well at least I tried”. Guess what, within 36 hours we had several offers on the house and they were ones that quickly caught my attention. Again I had to ask myself, do I stand still or do I “keep moving”? After some reflection and reassurance from Erik we accepted the offer, the deal was done. It was time to move on.
The other major change was so easy once I decided to make it. The decision to let myself be happy and content was the one thing I most avoided and found hardest to do. In retrospect I feel it had a lot to do with guilt. When you lose someone close to you there is a sense of guilt that goes with it. I can’t explain it, but I felt that without Lisa in my life I shouldn’t be allowed to be happy even though her last literal words to me were “I want you to go on and be happy”. After almost seven years, I finally decided it was time to listen to her words and allow myself to be happy.
How do I do this? I’d been keeping myself down for so long I wasn’t sure how to do this. It started with little steps, I needed to get moving. Finding pleasure in the little things. I needed to relearn how to be ok with feeling good about myself. I started to take pride in small achievements. The sense of acceptance at the gym, going for a beer to listen to a band with a friend even if for only an hour all helped make me feel better. It’s no coincidence that getting my dog, Radar, in March has had a profound change in my attitude. The responsibility of a dog and keeping him active has helped me to “keep moving”. Hard not to feel good about myself when he looks up at me with those little beady eyes and says let’s play! I have allowed myself to have friends again. I’m extremely thankful they are there. I decided to start coaching hockey again. All small steps that put together allowed me to “keep moving”.
I was the type of person who was never satisfied with what I did. I can be my own worst enemy at times. My photos were never good enough, my meals never healthy enough, I could have gone through the workout faster, my pull ups must look like crap. The list went on and on even though I should have taken pride in the fact that people liked my photos or that I was doing things people 20 years younger than me say they can’t do. (We all know there is a big difference between won’t and can’t but I’ll save that sermon for later). Even more so I should have realized that it doesn’t matter what others think. My opinion is the only one that really matters in the end.
Recently I have decided that I no longer need to measure everything against an unrealistic, moving, self-imposed measuring stick. I am still working on this but it’s getting there. I put the scale away, I stopped being so critical of my photos, I quit racing myself when working out. (Still working on that last part) I’ve decided that as long as I show up and “keep moving’ then I’m winning the battle.
I’m a 57 year old guy who is doing things I thought were impossible just a couple of years ago. I whistle a lot now, I smile a whole bunch more (even try to smile when I’m trying double-unders – right Captain), I am in the gym 4-5 days a week and recently I’ve gotten back into both cross-country and downhill skiing. My body aches all the time, especially my old knees but I’ve learned that as long as I ‘keep moving” I’ll be ok. That ache that used to tell me I couldn’t do anything now reminds me I’ve done something to help myself feel better.
Same with my feelings regarding the loss of Lisa, it used to hold me back. Now I’ve learned to turn it into a reason to go do something. I feel I’m honouring her memory now more than ever since I decided to put myself at the front of the happy line. My proudest moment yet? When Erik said that he and his and his girlfriend Jenna notice that I was a lot happier. “It’s weird to see you happy”. Get used to it son, this time I feel it’s here to stay. (DISCLAIMER: Happy is a relative term)
For me new surroundings have allowed for new beginnings. I’m not saying that you need to sell your house but maybe a small change of scenery will help spark a positive sense in you. Go someplace you’ve never been. Do that one thing you’ve always wanted to do. New beginnings lead to new attitudes which can’t help but lead to better days. To get there you just need to get moving and then “keep moving”.
Remember that a speeding train takes a long time to stop!