Alcoholism played a catastrophic role in my family growing up. The number of times my parents were fighting while at least one of them was heavily intoxicated—maybe hundreds? It was like being in the movie Groundhog Day. However, instead of the hilarious antics of Bill Murray, my brothers and I had to always wonder and worry—was the times things really got out of hand?
I can't remember who told me this when I was in college, but I remember how much it stopped me in my tracks.
Be careful not to live your life on autopilot. Otherwise, you'll drift through each day in a daydream until, one day, you'll blink and wake up 40.
I recently celebrated my 39th birthday, so these words are particularly apropos. I've long known the value of things like living a purpose-filled life and the power of building momentum through unwavering habits.
The past three years have been a painful yet critical chapter in my life. I will never forget it, but this story rented far too much space in my head. It is time to move on. I am ready.
February 5th, 2017. Emily, Evelyn, and I were driving home on one of our typical morning rides because our daughter was always awake and rearing to go before the sun. I received a phone call from my brother. Odd. He rarely initiates a call. Emily and I both shared an exchange of confusion before I picked up.
Well, we could go to Paris for a romantic getaway. But what if... What if we just happen to get there during a protest with the Yellow Vests. We could be walking down the street while minding our own business only to find ourselves on the wrong side of a SWAT team line. An outbreak of violence ensues, and as we try to run to safety. We get trampled over as people flee the tear gas. We barely get up, and then bullets are fired. We just happened to be in the crossfire…
…and then we die.
Young children can be exceptionally skilled at delaying bedtime. What should take all of 5 minutes can take an hour or more if you let it. Excuses can range from basic needs (e.g., "But I'm hungry! But I'm thirsty!") to every want under the sun (e.g., "But I want to watch one more show! But I need to finish building my fort!").
2009 was a year of significant firsts and major changes.
My experience with New Year's Resolutions has always been lackluster at best. The reason? Without any constraints, I'd typically create several dozen goals, which would result in feelings of overwhelm. Worse, it was hard to keep each goal front and center within my mental RAM, particularly when life got busy. When I reviewed my goals at the end of the year, I would typically discover that I forgot at least half of the goals I set out to achieve. Needless to say, this was a discouraging way to end and start each year.
I've always loved this quote by Caroline Myss because it was a key insight for me as to why our bodies can become injured or deteriorate until we heal the trauma in the stories we tell.
A few examples from my history.
About a decade ago, I learned a powerful healing technique called EFT (emotional freedom technique). What fascinated me the most was how often a physical injury that lasted for years would miraculously improve in minutes.
Imagine being a freshman in college and finding out in the newspapers that one of your classmates (allegedly) locked herself in her dorm room and set it on fire. The death of Elizabeth Shin was a horrific reminder of the ongoing mental and emotional health issues faced by MIT's student body. Her (apparent) suicide served as a cautionary tale to other students that were either 1) white-knuckling their way through the pain or 2) unable to find the help and support that they needed.