Chapter 13 of my First book: TWO more shoes fall. Grabbing the oxygen mask. Finally. I could use some oxygen for the Journey that I was about to embark on
CHAPTER 13: Grabbing the oxygen mask. Finally. I could use some oxygen for the Journey that I was about to embark on
Whenever I think of this stage of my Life Journey.
I picture oxygen masks falling from an airplane.
And the airline instructions on the proper use of an oxygen mask.
Put your oxygen mask on YOU First,
Before helping others.
“Taking good care of you, means the people in your life will receive the best of you, rather than what’s left of you.” – Carl Bryan
“The relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have.” – Jane Travis
The day the oxygen mask finally fell in front of me, and more importantly, I decided to grab it.
It was like cigarette quitting time all over again. I mentioned earlier in my story that, after several futile, half-assed attempts at quitting smoking, I had just gone cold turkey one day. It was a spur of the moment decision. It came right out of the blue. It was a sudden realization that came to me, as I was puffing away on that cigarette, that I was increasing the odds, exponentially, that my young children were going to grow up prematurely without a father if I did not quit.
Why that day and not some other day? I don’t know. It is not like I was not aware of the risks of smoking. The pictures on the cigarette packages were quite graphic in those days. The evidence was plain to see. Yet I chose not to. Maybe I figured that it would not happen to me. Well, whatever it was that made me finally see the light on that particular day, and more importantly decide to act on it, it happened again, on another day, not once, but twice.
My smoking days had become a thing of the past. Now my 15 plus years (or 5,475 days) of being overweight and/or obese were about to come to an end as well. It was another day, when, once again, my kids would come to my rescue. Once again, I had come to the realization that my odds of dying and leaving my children without a father were, well, let’s just say, right up there. It was time to make another lifestyle change. If I was not able to do it for me, what about doing it for them? That was my first thought. The first shoe to fall. Then the second shoe fell, and good thing that it did. I was going to need both of them to help me along the journey that I was about to embark upon, and that journey was picking myself up and moving on with my life. Moving on, but along a much more fulfilling path.
August 2013: Looking in the mirror, and not liking, WHO I saw looking back at ME!
The First Shoe Falls: Hey, Buddy. Keep it up and your children will no longer have a father
I do not remember the exact date, but I still remember the day, as if it was yesterday. That day, I had gotten up out of bed, just like it was any other day. And just like any other day, that meant looking at myself in the mirror. I have mirror closets in my bedroom, so, like it or not, I get to see a lot of myself, and often. And although I did not like what was looking back at me in those days I had pretty much gotten used to it.
Sure, I had tried to lose weight on a few occasions over the years. I bought a treadmill. I bought an exercise bike. I bought a bunch of other health related gadgets. I can’t remember a New Years resolution that did not come with some new type of exercise related gadget. Although most quickly ended up finding a new home, complements of the local annual community garage sale, I still had my treadmill. It was in the basement gathering dust. Kind of a sad reminder of what happens when I try and get in shape. A reminder to stop wasting my time and money on lost causes. I should know better by now. I tried it, often, and it does not work. Time to accept it. I was now a lot older and wiser (48 years wiser and weighing in at 238 pounds back then, a BMI of close to 30). I knew better than to waste my money and time on things that just don’t work. Time to make peace with my myself. I am who I am. Time to accept it.
And with that mindset in mind, I started to get used to seeing that dude in the mirror. I got used to seeing him day-in and day-out. He was not the healthiest looking guy. He was not the handsomest looking guy either. Especially of late. He had started to shave his head in those days, figuring that it would dry quicker and, at $10 bucks a pop, it was quite cost effective. And the choice of clothes. Same strategy. Buy them on the cheap. No point in trying to look good if you don’t feel good. Just make sure that they are size XL. I was an accountant, and not a fashion model. You know what, if this is what it has come to, so be it. I can live with myself. I can live with my looks. I can live with my feelings, my feelings of low self-worth. I was even making it EASYer on myself to do so in those days. I was making it a habit. A ritual. A daily ritual. Looking in that mirror had become a daily reminder that I had given up on life.
Well, for some reason, on this one particular day, I looked in that mirror and suddenly it struck me. I cannot live with this life. I cannot live with this lifestyle. I am obese. I am taking medication everyday to control my cholesterol levels, both of which are out of whack, I am self medicating myself with booze, I am pre-diabetic etc. My grandfather had a heart attack and died at around this age, and left behind 3 young sons. One of those sons was my father who also had a heart attack at an even younger age.
Well you know what buddy! You keep this up and you are going to have a heart attack as well.
Unless you change the way that you are living, you are going to have a heart attack and die. You are going to die and leave your beautiful children, My Son (then age 9) and My Daughter (then age 7) without a father. F**k YOU. Get your F**cking act together! Starting now! Wow. Talk about a motivator. Not dying. If not for ME, then do it for THEM. By them, I mean the kids. MY kids. MY two beautiful kids.
The second Shoe Falls: Hey, Buddy. Isn’t it about time that YOU stopped giving up on LIFE
But then, within a few seconds of me deciding to do something about my health, or lack thereof, that is when the kicker came in. That is when the second motivator came in to play. What I call a double tap. Double tap was a recommended approach to killing zombies in the movie “Zombieland”. It was a way of increasing the odds that they remained dead. I was going to use this approach as well, but in order to increase the odds that I was not going to end up, like the zombies, dead. I was also tired of feeling like I was among the living dead. The living who had given up on living.
I was going to use not one motivator but two, my kids and me. So, I looked at that guy in the mirror, I looked him straight in the eyes, and I told him. “Buddy. Your days of giving up on life are over! Your days of settling for less are over! You are going to turn things around! I don’t know how you are going to do it but you are going to do it!”
Wow! What took me so long?
F**k the soulmate quadrant, for now. Time to circle the wagons. And reconnect with family
Oh well, so much for worrying about filling my dance card in my now vacant soulmate quadrant. I could only see three oxygen masks at that moment, two for the kids, and one for me, and that is all that I felt like I could juggle at the time. Speaking of time, it was time to do something that I had not done in a while, and that was take care of myself. It had been so long, that I had almost forgotten how to do it.
I also wanted to spend some more time with the kids during what would likely be a very difficult period of their life journeys. It was time to circle the wagons. And while I was circling them, it might not be a bad idea to reconnect with my family. A little extra support from my family might come in handy right about now. Well, guess what? I never did get the chance. I never got the chance to reach out to them because they beat me to it. They reached out to me. The calls started coming in the minute they heard about my new single status. Calls and visits. Calls and visits, and the energy that comes from spending time with others. I was so grateful. Speaking about healthy lifestyles changes, in addition to moving more and eating better I might want to spend a little more time connecting with others as well. Bye-Bye isolation and good riddance!
So, What did I learn?
How did I make change EASYer on myself 😊 (or not ☹)
Change starts with YOU. It takes time and it takes effort. In the end, it is YOUR choice to undertake change or not. It is YOUR choice to grab the oxygen mask or not. So, when the time for change beckons, especially change of a more daunting kind, and the oxygen mask comes down, well, you might want to make that change EASYer on YOURself by grabbing that oxygen mask and strapping it on. If not for YOU, then for those who are depending on YOU to make that change happen, and to make it stick. And while you are strapping it on, surrounding YOURself with family and friends who care about YOU does not hurt either. 😊
If you are looking at making a change in your life.
What is your catalyst to, not only make that change happen, but to maintain it moving forward?
LOOKING FOR SUPPORT FOR YOUR JOURNEY?