As this year nears the end I wanted to share with you some revelations that for me have turned into what I consider life lessons.
As we rolled into my wife and I was still dealing with the void and impact from the death of our friend and roommate. Doug who was for all appearances a successful promising lawyer, an adventurer who loved the mountains and photography. A retired Navy pilot, his life was not boring my any mean. Yet most did not know that Doug was dealing with inner demons destine to take him down. A troubled soul that battled depression while working hard to put on a positive show for the people around him. Then on a cloudy day while grabbing a coffee I received a phone call. It was the sheriff telling me my friend took his life in the park next to a monument that represented peace.
Doug and I had several personal conversations before he passed and reinforced the importance of enjoying what you do as well as the importance of feeling respected for your contributions. At that time I had been working for a major online company and Doug’s passing just gave added clarity to that decision.
The decision was made that I was going to resign when I reached my 1year anniversary. It was very important that I leave on my own terms or as much as I could set the direction of the departure that was within my control. I discussed every step with my wife and a very tight circle of friends. I had my wife's full support which was critical in this decision because it was about our lives and not just my life. The day I walked out the company door I had a feeling of peace like I had not felt in a long time.
Life Lesson: you must enjoy and find peace what you do because that is where you will be spending most of your time. Only you will know when to stay and make a difference or know when it’s time to pull the ejection lever.
With work going in the wrong direction, there were a few relationships that I had focused on with people that were important in my life. I was feeling like there was tremendous progress that was being made. Then literally overnight those people that I care for and loved decided that they no longer needed a relationship with me. I looked inward and though what did I do what could I have done differently? In the end, I felt I gave it my all and I could only control what was happening in the present and the past was already in the rear-view mirror.
Life Lesson: There was a point when I tried to figure out where or why these relationships fell apart. I still loved these people and wanted the best for them but after a certain self-analysis it becomes detrimental and eating you from inside out while sucking the positive energy away that can be used for greater good. You can only control what is within your power and the rest as they say you give to God.
Shortly after resigning from the online company, I took a trip with my daughter. A trip that was long overdue and it gave us the opportunity to visit with family. Now the bonus was we were able to have a short visit with my ex-wives mother and Brittany‘s grandmother Mary. My ex-wife and I had divorced four years prior and had not spoken with Mary till this visit. During Mary and I both agreed that we thought of each other but neither of reached out to discuss the situation or find closure.
Life Lesson: Although you may not talk to someone on a regular basis, it does not mean that you stopped loving them or thinking of them and praying that they are well. Life is too short to stop loving or caring for people just because circumstances change, often those people are innocent bystanders.
My wife Justyna who is from Poland and we went to visit her family during a summer vacation. It was my first trip and became a reunion that was nine years in the making. For her and the family it was an overwhelming experience. I found true joy in just watching Justyna and her Mom shop for dresses are shoes. It is those experiences you have with a parent that you don’t truly appreciate till you can’t do it anymore.
Poland a beautiful country that is deeply rooted in Catholic faith and tradition that had been ravaged by war but all around you there are people that truly understand the meaning of love, family and what is important in life. Upon just meeting me her family welcomed me with open arms. Everyone wanted to make sure I had enough to eat, to drink, or to make sure I was having a good time. The food was fresh, organic, homemade and as with the vodka, plentiful. Although the Polish language by all accounts is a very difficult language we found a way to communicate. I observed Justyna’s parents who have been married for 40 years. These two people are still in love, they are not monetarily rich but my God they have something that most rich people fail to ever obtain and that is a true appreciation of each other and that the little things in life are just little things.
Life Lesson: As we visited and met most of Justyna’s family I commented to Justyna that her that everyone was so genuinely kind and giving. Her response will stick with me forever. “The Polish people may not have much, but they will give you all they have”. We need to take time to realize all we are blessed with; opportunities, family, friends, food on the table and adventures and if you overcome little things in life you will achieve big things together.
As summer moved into fall I was fielding phone calls about job prospects. Although there was a job opening in my area where I would have like to stay since Justyna, my home the dogs and friends are there but there was an opportunity in the San Francisco East Bay area. Quite honestly, I was trying to contain the anxiety I was feeling about a possible move to the Bay area. The cost of housing is through the roof, traffic, and crime is also things that needed to be considered and then there is the fact that Justyna and the dogs would remain behind in Fresno for the interim period until some critical career goals for Justyna were accomplished.
Life Lesson: Sometimes you have to jump in life. Standing on the edge is scary, you feel insecure, you’re thinking what if I fail, it might hurt and what will others think? The parachute may not immediately open, there will bumps and bruises and you may not make a soft landing but if you don’t jump how will you know? At least once in your life, you have to jump!