Archive for January, 2012

Moments of Change

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

I’ve had so many things happen over the last two weeks that some days it’s hard to make sense of any of them. Unexpected events as well as things I saw coming from a distance have suddenly jumped on my back like the baggage of a traveling circus. Sometimes there’s just no way to hide from it.

I wish I could wander into an imaginary land and sit quietly under a tree. I would watch a red, orange and yellow leaves gently float through the sky after being blown from the trees. I would concentrate on my breathing until nothing else existed. My mind would be free from conscious thought and if only for a minute I would be a peace.

If I could walk into the closet and continue walking right on through it into a dream I most certainly would do it. I’m not sure my dream would be like the Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but I’m sure I would be able to add a few fantasies as I made my way to the Utopian state that I imagined before opening the door.

Unfortunately I can’t do either of those things. Instead, I have to lay my head on the pillow every night. I lie on my back and stare at the ceiling. It has been a long time since I’ve experienced nights like the ones I’ve become accustomed to over the last two weeks. There are people I want to yell out to, but there’s nobody there to hear me. There are others that I want to gently nudge to get them moving in the right direction. Still, there are others who I would like to sit back and listen to as they share their thoughts.

When I eventually fall asleep I don’t stay in that relaxed state too terribly long. By around 2:30 every morning I have to get up because of the nagging pain in my hip. I’m sure it will go away at some point, but right now it’s a nuisance.

By the time the alarm clock starts singing at 5am I know it’s the beginning of a new day. I never know what to expect. Lately it seems that no matter what I do there’s someone that feels they have to judge me. It might be from something I said or it might be from the way I acted during a certain situation. No matter what the reason I can’t seem to escape from it.

I’ve made mistakes just like the next person. Sometimes other people just can’t figure me out. I can deal with that but when some of these people continue telling me why I act the way I act it tends to get under my skin. I don’t purposely hurt people. It’s not in my nature.

I’ve always been the protective type. I try to protect my friends and family. I might say too little or not enough. Although I haven’t always done the right thing at the time I did it I believed I was doing it in the best interest of the person or people I was trying to protect.

I’ve realized that the gap in communication can be overwhelming when a person gives meaning to your actions. Nobody can know why you do what you do except for you. I’ve had angry words said to me, fingers pointed at me and I’ve been ignored by others. In the end it’s all because of one thing. That thing is because I didn’t do what the people thought I should do. I failed to live up to their expectations.

How many of you have experienced situations like that in your life? If you haven’t experienced it you haven’t lived. I’ve always been very quiet by nature. I’ve never talked very much with any of my co-workers or casual acquaintances. I find that it makes my life much simpler. I also go through times when I don’t talk to the people closest to me because I don’t know what to say. I might not even know how to say something if I do have something to say so I remain quiet.

I don’t like drama and I don’t need it in my life. I’ve had a tendency to be really short with people when I feel it coming. If they keep pushing I have a habit of trying to explain myself which leads to more drama. I’ve realized it’s just not worth it. If people can’t except you for who you are, how much you appreciate them and the way you act then you need to look for the answers as to why you let them bother you.

You see, when I jumped into the dream and found myself on the side of the mountain under that tree,  I didn’t have to deal with anything. I focused on my breathing and nothing else. As I exhaled I could see all of the stress and unwanted negativity exiting through the top of my head. Seconds ran into minutes and before long I was so deeply engrossed in breathing that I had no place for any outside interferences to make their way into my being. After all, that’s what meditation is. We focus on every breath. We acknowledge passing thoughts without addressing any of them. This frees our mind and brings internal peace.

My life was much simpler when I chose not to engage in conversations that had no purpose other than trying to expose hidden truths. I’m headed back to that secret place. That place where everyone around me wonders what I’m thinking. Instead of asking for my opinion they’ll steer clear because they know that I’ll give a one word answer. I’m not here to be involved in the battles between people. I’m here to enjoy the relationships I have without finding myself in unfamiliar territory where I shouldn’t be.

Since I’ve been rambling on about changes I’ll leave you with a quote that sums up how I feel tonight. Sometimes change brings bitterness and happiness at the same time. Sometimes it doesn’t affect people the same and causes some tension.

Those who expect moments of change to be comfortable and free of conflict have not learned their history. ~Joan Wallach Scott

With all change comes some type of conflict. The conflict might be within yourself, amongst others or it might be with the people you left behind or the people you have yet to meet.  These moments of change are what define our character. We’re the only ones that can do something about it. In the end it doesn’t matter what other people think about us as long as they respect us. And respect isn’t given it’s earned.

Have You Succeeded?

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

It’s miserable out tonight. I had originally planned on going to see many of my old hockey teammates, but the weather made me change my plans. One of them called me last night and said that they had a game at 7pm. Since I decided my safety was more important than seeing them I guess I’ll have to wait for another night. It will be good to see the guys. With all of my health issues over the last couple of years I had to step away from hockey.

When I blew my right knee out two summers ago I wasn’t sure what the future had in store. After a lot of physical therapy I was able to get back into action, but I chose to stay away from hockey. I miss it because it gave me such a good workout. I don’t miss the cheap shots which led to some broken ribs on two different occasions. That stuff is okay when you’re younger, but after you get past 40 those aches and pains seem to linger much longer than they used to.

Many of you know that I spent last weekend at the Yankee Sportsman’s Classic in Essex Junction, VT. As with all of the shows I’ve done over the last 20 years, it was nice to see people who share the same passion as me. There’s nothing better than listening to people talk about doing the things they love.

I was also able to experience something that has been missing for awhile. I was surprised at the number of people who purchased my second book because they liked the first one. Many of the faces were easy to remember while some of the others took a few seconds to recognize. Sometimes it might be a unique word someone uses or other times it might be their looks that brings me back in time.

When people share their thoughts about your work it’s an unbelievable feeling. There’s nobody out there who doesn’t want to hear good things about himself. When you hear a lot of compliments it makes your work seem like it was worth the effort. I’m not sure if the people like the way I write or if they just like the story format that I follow in my books. No matter what it is, I’m glad they like it.

Many of us occasionally feel like our lives are insignificant. I have friends who are teachers, coaches, therapists, cops, loggers and lawyers.  Each and every one of them has at times spoken to me about his/her life.

Last weekend I realized that I had made an impact on a lot of people. Some of the people I know well, while others I don’t know at all. That’s the beauty of the whole situation! My writing can touch other people. They can carry it with them and discuss it with their friends and family. My name might come up during a conversation on the phone or at a dinner table. One person might recommend my book to another person. At times,  some people might even wish they could meet the author of the book they’re reading. No matter what the circumstances might be I have touched people far and wide. What an amazing feeling. I feel sad for the people who have done the same but don’t have the ability to realize how their contributions have touched others.

Many times teachers will focus all of their energy on the child that just doesn’t seem to get it. As time goes on they don’t realize how many of the other children they’re helping. All of their energy goes where it shouldn’t. That’s when darkness appears. It tempts them to walk into it rather than embrace the light shining off from the other children. Then, every once in a while that one child who the teacher had all of the trouble with ends up coming back to visit years later. All it takes is the face of the child to finally realize how the teacher’s influence went far deeper than she ever imagined.

Some lawyers have a conscience while many others do not. If you’re around enough of them you can see it on a regular basis. Although they’re fighting for their client they feel bad when the person on the other side gets screwed over. Very rarely do they get to extend their hands to the “opponent” but the few times that they do it can be very rewarding when they realize they were only doing their job. I saw a friend of mine apologize for what he did to a defendant during a divorce proceeding. The defendant extended his hand and said, “That’s okay. I realize that you were just doing your job. I don’t hold anything against you and I don’t pass judgment.”  Amazingly the two of them became friends and shared a few dinners after the proceedings were done. Not only had the lawyer made an impact on his own client he gained the respect of a defendant who later on referred people on a regular basis to his office. In some small way that has to make a person feel pretty good about what he does and how he treats people.

The wonderful thing about everything I’ve written is that we all have the ability to put ourselves in these positions. The sad thing is that many people aren’t motivated enough to do it. You have to be motivated and inspired to go above and beyond what the average person does. You have to find your niche and pursue it. You gently push down on the accelerator and steadily apply pressure until it’s on the floor. As you race forward there’s really nothing that can stop you. There aren’t stop signs or red-lights or cops to chase after you. You are in charge of where you’re going. You’re the driver and it’s up to you how far you drive and how many places your influence will be felt.

I realized over the weekend that the road in front of me is clear. I’ve also realized that many people are now standing beside the road waving to me as I go by. They’re welcoming me to stop and visit. They await me in places I haven’t been and they’re glad to be a part of my journey.

It doesn’t matter what you do. If you can see that your life gives meaning to others then you have succeeded. You have found your place. It’s not important whether you’re an author, a musician, a teacher or a big brother/sister. An appreciative smile from a receiver of your work makes every day better than the last.

Expectations Can Lead to Disappointment

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Have you ever seen someone who appears to be quite normal, but underneath you know that they are lost? I’m sure we all know at least a few people like that.

It’s sometimes difficult to reach these people because of the way they react to constructive criticism. While we’re trying to help them they put up a wall and shut down. Instead of letting us help them they become agitated and disagree with us that they need help. We’re left feeling helpless. We love the person we’re trying to help but we can’t do a thing about the demons that control him or her.

Other times the person will listen to what we’re saying but a few weeks or months later the significance of our lecture appears as if it went in one ear and out the other.

People with deep-rooted problems can very rarely identify their actions as a problem. While we can see it as plain as day they’re in an entirely different world. That’s why they don’t accept our hands when we offer our help.

What do you do?

We’re all different so no two answers will be the same. When it comes right down to it we really can’t control anything but our own lives. We need to make good decisions, identify problems and try to work on the things we need to work on to help us become more successful in all areas of life, from our relationships to our jobs to our behavior.

Sometimes our example will lead others to follow. This is a case where being a leader is better than being a follower. Our actions could motivate our loved ones, people we work with every day, or even someone we don’t know. Our influence can travel far and wide if we live what some term “a good life.”

Lately it seems like the walls have slowly been closing in around me. No matter what I’ve done it seems it hasn’t been the right thing. In the end I’m the only one who can judge what is right and wrong for myself. As other people act and react, so do I. I’ve learned that we can never truly understand another person’s actions. If we try to make sense out of their reactions we set ourselves up to be disappointed and hurt. It’s kind of like holding a door open for someone. Most of us expect the other person to say, “Thank You.” However, if they don’t, we consider them rude. We do this because of what we expect. The person didn’t meet our expectations so that person should be held accountable.

Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. Sometimes people are in a hurry so they scurry through the door without thinking. They might have kids in tow and be so overwhelmed that they simply forgot to say thank you.  It’s impossible to know what another person is thinking. At times it should be obvious, but even then it’s still impossible to know.

The next time you find yourself in a situation when someone doesn’t live up to your expectations try to determine why they failed. Sometimes we have to look into our inner being to figure it all out. The answer might be at the surface or it might be deep within our souls.

Our journey through life will be filled with bumps and bruises. What makes us who we are is how we react to these things. Do we let them control us or do we take control of them so the same feelings don’t consistently resurface?

If we don’t learn from every action and reaction we will never grow. Take the positive from what you see as a negative situation and learn from it. Try to understand how the circumstances behind every reaction can be vastly different between people…………………that’s the beauty of life……….we all have different fingerprints and we are all different people…………

Meeting Someone Who Will Change Your Life

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

In our travels through life we’re sometimes fortunate enough to meet some really special people. We might meet them in an airport, at a baseball game, in the supermarket or walking down the street. We also might meet them because people close to us recommend them in order to help us with something.

While I’ve met many incredible people from all over the world, lately I feel very fortunate to have met two people who live in my hometown. When I was diagnosed with diabetes when I was little I had the same doctor until he retired. After that I went to another pediatrician who was well respected in the community. I enjoyed visiting him and he pointed me in the right direction as I moved into the adult years.

When I got out of college I found another doctor who I really liked. He just fit my style. Unfortunately he decided to go in a different direction and get involved in the administrative side of the business. However, he referred me to a woman who is now my primary doctor, Dr. Suzanne Blood. Since my first visit with her many years ago we’ve formed a pretty good patient/doctor relationship. I respect her work and I value her opinions. She has compassion and understanding that so many people in the field don’t have. If I have blood tests done she always goes out of her way to call me to let me know how things look. I can tell that she’s genuinely concerned about my health.

A few months ago when she called me at work and told me we had a problem I was a little nervous. When the doctor calls you at work you know there might be an issue that should be addressed. After a brief conversation she told me that she had put a call into a surgeon who is a friend of hers. She told me that I had a tumor that needed to come out and she referred me to Dr. D’Agostino because in her words he’s one of the best in the business.

Since I know how wired she is I knew that I was being sent to a doctor who is very good at what he does. Since I had to wait a week to see him I asked around to see if I could find anything out. It didn’t take long to get answers. To my amazement he had operated on many people I know. Every person told me the same thing, “He’s really good and on top of that he’s a great guy.”

With all of the positive comments I figured I couldn’t go wrong. Still, not knowing him, I didn’t know what to expect. As I waited in the exam room with my father all I was really thinking about was whether or not he would let me go on the vacation that I had planned since January.

When the door handle turned and he came into the room he didn’t beat around the bush. He said that he had looked at my past medical history. He gave me his opinions on what we were dealing with and told me the choice was up to me. I could have the tumor taken out early the next week or I could go on vacation and have it taken out when I returned providing I was mentally capable of dealing with the emotions if it was cancerous once it came out, although he was pretty sure it wasn’t.

It didn’t take me long to think about it. I figured in the grand scheme of things two weeks probably wouldn’t make much of a difference, so I left for vacation later that day. I can’t tell you that it wasn’t on my mind when I was away. I thought about all the “what if and could be” scenarios.

When the surgery was scheduled the pre-op people from the hospital called. They gave me directions to follow with my medications and I did exactly what they told me to do even though I knew it was going to pose a problem the next morning. I guess you can say that I do what I’m told.

The next morning was a disaster. My blood sugar level was through the roof. When one of the nurses tried telling me I should learn how to control my disease a little better I was not too terribly happy. As the old saying goes, “Don’t judge a man until you walk a mile in his shoes.” When my doctor got there he talked about the situation with me and my parents. He said he just didn’t feel comfortable doing the operation given the circumstances. Then he told me to do what I normally do the following week and we would get it done. That made my life a little easier and less stressful.

The next week came and my blood level was really good up until the surgery before me extended a little longer than expected. That’s when it started to creep up.

Then Dr. D. came in and did something that most other doctors probably wouldn’t do. He said, “Great job with your blood.” For some unknown reason he had the ability to make me ignore all of the nurses and relax. Very rarely do I consider myself any different than the next person, but every once in a while I realize that living with diabetes can be rather difficult. I guess I’ve just become accustomed to following a system and not doing things I’m not supposed to.

When the pre-op girl called me before the surgery she was asking me the questions and she said, “Do you drink alcohol?” I answered, “No, I’ve never had a drink of alcohol in my life.” Since one of my friends works in pre-op she called me later that night and said that her co-worker asked what the heck is wrong with this guy because I said I never drank. My friend laughed. When I was diagnosed they told me not to drink or smoke so I’ve never done either.

The surgery ended up taking longer than anticipated, but I wouldn’t have known the difference because I wasn’t conscious. It has definitely been a little painful at times over the last month, but as with anything I can deal with it.

A few days after surgery Dr. D. called me later in the evening. I guessed that he was probably the only one in the office since it was around 6pm. He asked how I was doing and how I was feeling. In some ways it felt like the doctor I watched on Little House on the Prairie when I was little. The doctor was always concerned for the people he treated and he showed compassion. You just don’t see that too often anymore, which makes it even more significant.

As the days passed I had to see him in the office once a week so he could check on the wound. He called a few times during those first couple of weeks just to make sure things were going well. When he did that I understood why Dr. Blood had referred me to him. They handle their patients the same way in that manner. Dr. D. seems to be much more passive and laid back, but I guess that’s probably what makes him such and incredible surgeon.

Before I left his office on Wednesday I gave him something to read to see what he would have done if he came across a situation like I did a few years ago. I have a feeling he would have reacted just as I did. I’m not sure why but I get the idea that his mother was a very good woman. I know that I get my compassionate and caring side from my mother. I’ve been lucky to get a lot of great qualities from both of my parents but it’s my mom who brings out the soft side in me.

I feel unbelievably lucky to have met both Dr. D and Dr. Blood. It brings me to one of my favorite quotes which reads, “You never really know when you might meet someone who will change your life. More importantly, you never know when your influence might change another life.”

That quote holds true for me for both of these doctors. If I hadn’t met Dr. Blood I never would have met Dr. D. They have both contributed things to my life in their own ways. Dr. D. changed my life my taking out the large tumor that has caused me a lot of discomfort for what I think has been a very long time. Although he can probably see how he has changed lives I’m sure he doesn’t hear as often as he should how thankful people are for his expertise in his field. Here’s to you Dr. D……………………..thank you for taking good care of me and showing compassion during the recovery. It goes further than you know. I’ve heard many people discuss your work and post-op care and concern. Don’t ever think it goes unnoticed.

I’m sure surgeons deal with the negative aspects of the job on a daily basis which at times must make them numb. I can’t imagine having to be the bearer of bad news on a regular basis. At the same time, I would imagine that it’s exhilarating to know that you saved a life or relieved someone from a lot of pain.

As for the quote above, I’m sure my influence probably hasn’t changed the lives of either of these doctors, but I’ve also been fortunate enough to reach many children while doing the motivational lectures at different schools. I’ve done many things in my life and I’ve accomplished a lot in the fields I’ve dabbled in, but there’s absolutely nothing that can compare to touching the life of a young person.

So, as you go from one day to the next try to find what you’re good at and let your influence change the life of another. I’m not a politician. I’m not a teacher and I’m not a surgeon, but I’ve found a way I can help others. Once you find yourself in this special place you’ll never want to return.