2014 – What does it mean to you?

2014 – What does it mean to you?

I resisted the urge to write this post in the beginning of the year. I had two good reasons for it:

  1. There was already way too much noise on the “Interwebs”. Nothing that I would say would make an impact.
  2. I thought I’ll write this at the end of Jan after the euphoria of the new year has worn out and people have settled into their lives.

Like everyone, the beginning of a new year is a magical time. It brings with it the promise of a new start, a chance to let go of the past, and to make a real, permanent change in our lives for the better.

“I’ll get in shape this year”, “I’ll quit smoking”, “I’ll get a new job”, “I’ll spend more time with the family”, “I’ll be a better person”…. The list can go on. Hop across to 43Things.com and you’ll see that we all pretty much want the same thing. But there’s one that I don’t see very much…

I’ll come home.

No, not physically. I’m talking about bringing your mind home.

If you’re anything like me and millions of others, you’ll see that our minds haven’t been home for the longest time. Mine certainly hasn’t. It has wandered off to a million places over the past 2 decades.Here’s where my mind has been:

  • It has travelled far for work
  • Been to some nasty places in relationships
  • Been under a ton of stress while raising kids
  • Has been engulfed with the desire for money, success, career, achievement

But here’s the thing… We didn’t really send it to any of those places to begin with. We just woke up one fine morning and it was gone. In the beginning, we didn’t even miss it. And a short while later, we forgot about it. A decade later, we decided “this is how life worked; after all, kids leave home, right? So what’s wrong with the mind leaving home? That’s how things are supposed to work.”

Another decade goes by and we begin to miss it. We coin a new term for the time when it was home. “The good ol’ days” is one that pops up most frequently.

But the one we stick with is “The end of our childhood“.

I spent a fair bit of time thinking about this and came to the realization that we’re deluding ourselves. There’s no finality to our childhood. Or that magical time? Who said there was? On what authority? Or have we simply absolved ourselves of the responsibility for what happens to us on to something “external”…. Something that’s not in our control.

That’s bullshit.

I’m not saying that it’s our fault for letting it go. Not at all. I’m saying we have a responsibility to ourselves to bring it back.

2013 was a tough year for me. Pretty much nothing went right. My personal life, relationships, work life, finances all took a hammering. That’s fine. I’m not complaining. If I’ve had some good times in my life, it’s only fair to expect some bad times. Despite understanding this very clearly, I was surprised that I was angry… a lot! And I don’t normally get angry; I’m not that kind of a guy. I had to figure out where this anger was coming from.

I started thinking about this in late November. I figured I’d have this licked in a month.

I was totally wrong.

December came to a close and I was nowhere close to identifying what I wanted from the next year and what to do with my disturbed mindset. If anything, I was getting angry about not being able to figure out what made me angry. Does that make sense to you?

As January began, I began to calm down and things started registering in my mind. My problem was less to do with my circumstances and more to do with the fact that I was identifying myself with them. I was “becoming” my circumstances. Here was the problem! It became clear that one question needed to be answered:

When was the last time I was truly happy with myself as a person? Not any attributes such as money, career, health… but MYSELF?

I pushed the rewind button… kept it pressed as I went back a decade… and then it became clear that the last time I was happy with who I was was when I was a kid… Maybe 16 or 17. I was fearless. I was optimistic. I was bulletproof. And then, of course, life happened and I allowed myself to be consumed by it.

I don’t know what it will take but I will make sure that this year I travel back in time to find myself and to bring myself home. My instincts tell me that I’m going to have to take some big chances, perhaps even appear crazy to other people. But I’ve spent the past 29 years being like other people and how’s that turned out for me?

So till I try, I’ll never know. Starting this morning… the journey begins.

I’ve been scared of doing a few things… mostly avoiding relationships that may result in conflict. I’m touching base with those people today assuming the conflict doesn’t even exist. It’s what I would have done when I was 16.

If you’ve had any success at this, I’d be happy to know. Leave your comments in the box below.


The Warrior

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Oh man, depression hurts!

Oh man, depression hurts!

I always thought that depression was one of those things that hurt mentally. Heck, I’ve experienced it personally several times over the past year. It hasn’t got better by much, but I’m getting better at fighting it off. Unfortunately, “it” is also getting better at fighting me.

Last night, it upped the ante by escalating into a physical thing. For absolutely no reason, I had a panic attack at 1:00am. I woke up feeling scared as I had trouble breathing and my chest was really heavy. And my body felt completely depleted of all energy. All I wanted was water – lots of it. I downed about 4 glasses of water and the panic subsided a bit. But I still couldn’t breathe.

I woke my wife up (for the first time in my life) and told her what was happening. She listened… but there wasn’t much she could do. She asked if I wanted to go to the hospital. “No”, I firmly replied. I knew where the roots of this were… My old friend – Depression.

I opened the bedroom window and the cold winter air came streaming through. It really felt good, even though it didn’t help my breathing. I looked at my wife who was sitting by the side of the bed groggily looking at me. She was tired as hell too. She’s been having busy days at work. This wasn’t fair on her.

So I figured if I have to solve a problem I’ve never had before, I’ll do something I’ve never done before. I got out of bed, grabbed the duvet from the next room, my yoga mat from the family room and headed out to the car garage. I was going to sleep in the garage. My wife gave me a “Are you friggin’ nuts?” look which I was able to ignore. “I’ll be OK” I said as I walked out.

It was freezing cold in the garage as I lay out my yoga mat and my pillow. My chest still felt heavy, but in about 30 minutes, my breathing improved. I think the biting cold took my focus away from the physical discomfort. I was spending all my energy staying warm to bother too much about the breathing. The only thing that bugged me was the garage light that came on every 20 minutes as a squirrel would scamper across the driveway. I have never cursed so much at a squirrel in my life!

By 3:00am, I was breathing normally. I even managed to doze off a bit. But now that I had things under control, and I got thinking…

I have to get a grip on this. More than anything, I have to believe that I will be able to take control of my problems. The company I worked for closed down in August and everyone got laid off. I have been working for myself ever since, but money is nowhere close to what I was making working full-time. Every now and then, the fear grips me and I think “What if I don’t make enough the next month?”. I then try to push it away by telling myself “You’re worrying about something that doesn’t exist. Cross the bridge when you come to it”.

I’m trying to focus on what’s going well for me – I have an amazing family around me – My wife loves me, my kids are fantastic, and we have enough to get by. So what the heck am I worrying about? I have all I need. In reality, it’s the excess that I don’t have. Do I really need to kill myself trying to get a little bit more? No!

This morning at 6:00am, I walked back into my bedroom feeling a sense of relief. My circumstances were EXACTLY what they were five hours back. But I had been able to change the way I was looking at my life. I felt better about the fact that I wasn’t going to give up on myself. I’m not the first person dealing with depression and I won’t be the last. It will take time, but I will get out of it.

In the meantime, I’ll focus on all the good things I have going to me in my life.

The Warrior

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