Opportunity in Hard Places

Jon Acuff’s book “Quitter” is a great book about being caught in the tension between your day job and your dream job, and the steps you need to take in order to quit said day job to exceptionally succeed in your dream job.  I have to admit that there were some concepts in a couple of his earlier books that I have a hard time with… yet I’ve still read all his books and truly appreciate that he recognized some of the faults in his earlier writing and in his latest book “Finish”, has hit a home run!


For more of Jon Acuff’s writing, blog and his new podcast, visit https://acuff.me/ and follow his Twitter page and Instagram for some good laughs and great content


One of the concepts in Quitter that really stuck with me was the importance of finding the small joys in the daily grind of a job you need before moving to the job you want.  I understand this all to well, even though I had the “job” I wanted when I graduate from Massage Therapy and was beginning my practice, I certainly wasn’t finding joy in the daily grind.  I had to help make ends meet as a new husband, starting a career , and not being very busy.  I had to work various retail jobs, selling shoes and slinging coffees all the while trying to build a clientele.  I felt it imperative to do what was completely necessary in order to begin to feel accomplished and ultimately happy in a profession that certainly took a lot of work to build (especially in a female dominated service industry).  I won’t get into detail on the failures and follies I found myself in along my 14 year journey as a therapist…as there are a lot and they bring with them some heartache and anxiety…I’ll save that for the book in the works…

But here I find myself, 14years as a therapist and dealing with personal struggles that have caused some serious hard places.  I’m finally in a place with my business that I am happy with…I work with amazing people, in a great atmosphere and see a ton of potential for the future…but I’ve gone backwards personally.  So now I find I’m drawing parallel between the idea in ‘Quitter’ about finding small joys in the daily grind that will help me move forward in my career, now trying to implement into my personal daily life.

Call it the Business of Life…

Finding hope in the journey continues to resonate with me daily, likely because it seems so hard to do…even though I’ve written about it in several posts already, I still wrestle with it.

Finding opportunity in the hard places sounds easier said then done and I honestly think my struggle with this has been due to my entrepreneurial side; that part of me looking for that big business opportunity.  The giant eye opening, face melting, thunder punch to the solar-plexus kind of opportunity.  Because I have such a difficult time with self care, my mind and efforts go to my business, as this is the primary way in which I support and provide for my family.

I think I got it a little wrong… or a lot wrong.

I’m starting to think that by changing the focus from a tangible, material opportunity, I should start looking for the small personal opportunities to help guide through the hard places.  As much as it is important, and my goals, dreams and passion for the future of my business are legitimately worth some space in the daily meandering of my mind; if I’m personally not in a good place, but constantly feeling the weight of life’s difficulty, I won’t appreciate, honour and respect the business opportunities that come.  I understand that not all of you who are reading this are business owners, and may be sitting at your desk at the office right now, reading this…but I hope you can see that maybe the daily grind wouldn’t be so grinding, if, instead of focusing on the promotion or the need for the new cappuccino maker in the lunch room (that’s a big deal), that starting to focus on finding smaller opportunities to lift yourself out of the hard places can make the day seem bearable and worth it!?!

It might be as simple as taking five minutes and stepping outside to take a deep breath of fresh air and simply appreciating the opportunity to breathe… or sending a quick message to a friend just to say hi and appreciating the opportunity to be able to speak into someone’s day who may need it… or taking a coffee break (this one is more habitual for me, so more of an opportunity to feed my caffeine addiction then anything).

There is beauty in the misery (sounds like a great band name…some will get that reference).  So I guess I’ll challenge us with looking for the small opportunities in the hard places.  When life feels overwhelming and too difficult to find any hope in the difficulty or mundane mediocrity, appreciate the small opportunities, as rare and sparse as they may seem. I really think that once it becomes a part of our day to find a small moment to appreciate some opportunity we can create a small space for hope and a small reprieve.  It certainly doesn’t make the struggle go away, or that difficult co-worker or nagging boss, or broken coffee maker disappear, but maybe it will make them seem a little less heavy.


There is hope in the journey, you don’t travel alone!  as per usual, my thoughts are with you all, especially those that have shared a little of their story with me.  Thank you for your trust and allowing me to share my story as well.  My phone is always on, so text anytime friends 7058682616

Until next time, keep well.

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Shadows and Worry

These past few months have not ceased to amaze me… Even though I’ve learned a lot about myself, I’m still struggling to understand, process and implement all the things I need in order to be a better version of me.  And to be honest, I think part of the reason why is fear.  Fear of change, fear of the unknown and a huge fear of failure…again.

I’ve failed a lot… they cling to me like a shadow I can’t get rid of!

Yes I have some successes, and I’m not negating that I have five beautiful kids that I wouldn’t trade for anything in this life.  I finally have a business, career and partners that I am extremely proud of (although it took many failures to get here…another post sometime)… but I still have the constant stresses, anxiety, fear, depression and worry.

I spent a good part of my weekend (when I was supposed to spend it with my kids), in the emergency room worried I was having a heart attack…. now, being a health care provider myself, I am usually pretty in tune with how the body works, so I don’t rush to the doctor or hospital for just anything.  For a couple of weeks, things just felt ‘off’.  I’ve had trouble sleeping for months, but was beginning to experience symptoms that I tried to pass off as lack of sleep, but I began to worry.  Over the course of the days that followed, my stress and anxiety worsened as my fear of my increasing symptoms began to become overwhelming….seriously concerning High Blood Pressure, chest tightness and pain, laboured breathing, headaches, dizziness, and a disconnected feeling I still can’t describe!  My shadow grew and felt like it was consuming me.

As I sat in the emergency room being told by several doctors that all my tests for my heart were negative (thank God), I began to worry that it was something else… This couldn’t be all from stress?!?

Years of internalizing emotions, years of stress and anxiety, years of trying to cope by myself while trying to watch out for others had finally caught up to me….but I don’t know how to deal with this now.

I’ve been checking my blood pressure a couple times a day to see if there is a change, but it’s still been very high, compounding my anxiety, keeping my mind in a shadow.

so now enter Worry…  like a thief, stealing my day and consuming my thoughts for the past few days.  I can’t shake the feeling that any minute something else could happen, and what about tomorrow, what about next week, month, year…

Our days are full of questions, doubts, anxieties and worries.  We all have the desire to wonder about what is around life’s corner.  I truly believe that even those that preach about “living in the moment”, have some thoughts and worry about the future.  It’s a part of our human nature to question and to doubt and to worry.  Its the fear of the unknown that captivates our desire to search for answers… and even though I know that I have no clue what will happen tomorrow, or what will happen when I close my laptop and say goodbye to the beautiful Starbucks staff and walk out the door tonight, I will try to hold on to the fact that the sun will rise tomorrow. I will still have the same worries and the same anxieties, I can’t see that changing anytime soon, but what good does it do to focus on the worry.

One thought I do have about how to deal with this mess I have inside my head, and the mess that might be in yours as well…change your focus.  Worry is something we all face everyday, but if we focus on the shadows that follow us, we will remain lost and worried… A beautiful Switchfoot song, “the Shadow proves the Sunshine” plays in my mind…funny coincidence (or not), I pulled out the album (Nothing is Sound) that has this song on it about a week before all this new physical scare started, and my Dad also randomly made mention of it… so I think my new focus will be to acknowledge the stress, doubts, fears and anxieties, but instead of allowing the worry to consume and steal my day, I will try to focus on the fact that the shadows prove that there is sunshine.  That although life is hard and there is plenty to worry about, there is also plenty to be thankful for, that this is a part of life, but I don’t need to let it be the focus of my day.  Some days all I can say is “I’m breathing” and maybe that is enough…

I don’t have the answer to this one… I think this post brings more questions then answers.  But I will try to remember that the shadows are there, but they prove that the sun is also shinning and I’m still alive…so that’s something!

Hang on friends… there is hope in our journey’s, our worries are strong and linger like shadows, but lets try and focus on the sun and hopefully have some brighter days!


text 7058682616 if your shadows are too much and you can’t seem to find the light…I’d love to chat and help…I’m in the middle of the shadows myself and trying to find my own sunshine.


Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.

Corrie ten Boom

In the Journey

“In the Journey is where life is found…”

This quote hit me pretty hard as the recent documentary ’25in24′ came to an end.  It still amazes me how one line in a film or song can have such a huge impact.  I suppose it may have to do with my days lately and how they are a little complicated, stressful and unpredictable, so these small moments become vibrant and carry some weight.

As I sat in a good friends living room (thanks Brent), watching , trying not to have a complete emotional meltdown as life had taken another unexpected turn for the not-so-good, those words seemed to become branded in my mind.  They literally dropped-kicked me right in the feels.

A little background for those unfamiliar with this new documentary, it is a film created by the front-man of one of my long time favorite bands Switchfoot.   Jon Foreman is a true artist and poet and since their debut album in 1997, I’ve been hooked (there are few bands for which I own their entire collection…Switchfoot is one of them).   After each of his shows, Jon would perform an acoustic aftershow in the parking lot or steps of the venue for whoever would stick around.  Intimate, acoustic, nothing plugged in and completely unplanned.  In the same vane, his documentary 25in24 was an attempt to play 25 shows in 24 hours (small 3-4 song shows at venues across his San Diego home town that had meaning in his journey as an artist).  The premise was the embrace of chaos.  As much as you can plan, organize, and deliberately set out your days, anything is possible and anything can happen.  It was beautifully filmed, deeply inspiring and truly made you feel like you were a part of the adventure and chaos of those 24 hours.


Check out www.jonforeman.com for his music and information on 25in24.


I have recently talked to so many people or read so many stories of lives in chaos or in a journey they did not expect…not just my own.  Hearing the line “in the journey is where life is found” really hit home.  The weight of so many stories and struggles has caused a little extra anxiety for me lately.  I’ll be honest, it is a weight I bare and my heart aches.  Unfortunately I can’t seem to shake the need and want to bleed for others.  For those I know that are traveling a hard road, you are not alone.  The unexpected chaos of this life is something we all face, it is how we choose to move ahead that can truly inspire and breathe life into otherwise dyer situations.

Have you noticed that the most beautiful art seems to come from the most chaotic places.  If you’ve ever watched an artist begin a painting or begin to write a song or begin to pen words, it is never beautiful from the start.  Or it starts with the best of intentions with visions and preparation for a smooth journey and during the process, it becomes messy, difficult and frustrating, but the beauty that comes from the hours, days or years of dedication and focus on the end result, is an often unanticipated, beautiful work of art.

In the words of Jon Foreman, from his song Inheritance… “Your Heart is a work of Art”.  Find the beauty in your struggles; the encouragement that we are all going through something; embrace the chaos and find life in the journey.  The end result is unexpectedly beautiful.


 

So friends, please know that I am feeling the weight of your journey.  I believe that a part of my time here on earth is meant to be used to help carry some of the burden, to pray for your hurt and to try and speak words of encouragement and hope for your journey.  This is why I try to continue these little posts.  They might be insignificant and jargon from my cluttered brain and might not make sense, but maybe it will resonate with someone.  Please know, I’m not perfect, I’m not healed myself and I hope that lets you know that I am human too, that I face daily turmoil and struggle, and that I am trying to embrace the chaos and find my life in the Journey.   It is not easy.  If it was, we wouldn’t need others.   My cell is always on…text 7058682616 if you need to talk or someone to listen.

Think Inside the Box

I used to have this theory that the more credentials I have, the more letters behind my name or the more expansive my diversification of skills became, the better and more successful I would be as a business owner.    However, in recent years, as my skills have evolved over fourteen years as a Massage Therapist, with plenty of experiences gained, I have come to learn that sometimes ‘Simple’ is the best approach.  I am certainly not saying that knowledge and continuing education is a bad thing…It is actually a good thing; a very good thing, but for clients, my vast knowledge of my industry is simply overwhelming and can be intimidating and frightening!  We are experts, with 10/10 knowledge while our clients are maybe at a 2.  Yet on the outside, my cardboard shell is the same as someone else’s.  Making yourself relateable and personable is much more appealing.

I was listening to the StoryBrand Podcast with Don Miller (one of my favorite authors) interviewing Lee Lefever (killer name!).  He was discussing this very thought I had about overwhelming clients  with knowledge, terms, and impressive lingo that will make them tune out pretty quick and venture into a boredom that rivals sitting through Seven Years in Tibet (Brad Pitt movie circa 1997…more like Seven Years in the Theater).  He termed this “the Curse of Knowledge”…  this was my confirmation that maybe I should stop putting off writing this post and just get to it!

Here is my take

As I watched my kids when they were younger demolish birthday gifts, like ravenous hyenas chasing a wounded gazelle, I couldn’t help but be drawn to their fascination and full attention to the box the gifts came in!  This packaging, it’s sole purpose to contain within its cardboard walls, some new, bright, loud, or most fashionable toys, clothing or entertainment, was absolutely captivating.

We need to be the Box – plain and simple, yet with contents that can be life changing.

What do I mean by this…

We can look at this in a business context of becoming overwhelming to clients when we don’t allow the attractiveness of our simple language, explanations, and conversations to further the trust our clients have allowed.  Once the relationship is established, then our “box” can be opened and the contents can begin to be shared.  Our knowledge at that point, is extremely valuable as our clients have and will trust and continue to seek our services.  We can also discuss how our verbiage plays a role in this trust and understanding, but I think that deserves its own business blog…

How can we use this in our personal approach??

Within my recent experiences and struggles I have been both the giver and receiver of someone trying to push the contents of their box, and although they (I) may have had good intentions in sharing or trying to help in various situations, the approach was overwhelming, hurtful, and relationships became strained and in disrepair.  Sometimes what we need from others or what others need from us is…

simple

Nothing complicated, no big extravagant expressions of overwhelming knowledge and overbearing depth.  Someone to be real and genuine, even though there is a deep knowledge or experience behind the walls of their packaging.  When that trust is there, when the understanding deepens, then healing and progress can begin to take place.

Some of the most meaningful conversations I’ve had over the last couple of years have come from incredibly knowledgeable individuals who have the experience dealing with situations like mine… however, they have also sat, listened, and asked what I wanted or needed.  If I’m honest, some of the most frustrating discussions and conversations have come from incredibly knowledgeable individuals who have the experience dealing with situations like mine.  The difference? They wanted to tell me how I needed to react, feel, experience and deal with my situation because their knowledge was extensive, and although that trust was there, it was unfortunately used to exert superiority and authority which became intimidating for me and left me feeling more anxious and depressed then before.  Or simply put, they talk instead of hearing, they interject without completely listening.  Listening to respond, not to understand…

The understanding that we are all dealing with something, and sometimes the best approach is simple, uncomplicated, genuine and authentic.  Don’t allow the curse of knowledge to influence the potential you have of being able to help.  Sometimes the simple six sides of a box are more appealing then the complexity of its contents.




 

I have many things to learn, and this is one that I am trying… through this blog, I am attempting to be that simple ear for those that need someone to understand.  I don’t have all the answers and may not be able to completely understand, but an empathetic, listening and hearing ear I can offer.  Text 7058682616

Coffee and Conversations

It comes as no surprise that I like my coffee.  If you’ve followed any of my social media accounts – @joshmartinrmt on Instagram – you will see that I post a picture from my seat at Starbucks every time I sit to write…It’s pretty much my second office and luckily for me, it’s literally a stone’s throw from my clinic (strategic? maybe).

I’ve always wanted to write some sort of coffee related metaphor that would make the average person see life on a whole new level and could transform even the most anti-caffeine, coffee is the devil individual into a full blown addict…but this probably isn’t it…I think it’s a good one, but I’m sure there is something better tucked in the seemingly desolate and barren wasteland that is my cerebral cortex.  There is a book in there somewhere!

For me, the ultimate preparation for that perfect cup of hot black bean water would be the French Press.  It is somewhat of a delicate and detailed process to get the perfect cup of coffee from a press (don’t get me started on the new Clover Press at Starbucks!!).  The grind has to be course enough to not allow grinds to seep through the filter mesh causing the last few sips to be wasted as it becomes a chewy bolus of unforgiving, dense residue.  Yet the grind also has to be fine enough to allow enough water through to not create so much pressure that the sweet nectar of the gods will erupt from the plunger when you begin the press process, thereby scalding the fragile epidermis of your trembling, anxious, anticipating hands. Let’s not forget about the water temperature.  The water must not be boiling, so either it is brought to a boil and allowed to sit before it is poured over the grind that you have now perfected, or you must stop the heating process moments before a boil takes place (about 205°).  There are many analogies I can draw simply from the preparation of the coffee, but that might wait for another day.  For now the focus is on the water and the filtration process.

If you will indulge my words, while you indulge on a beautifully crafted cup of coffee (or tea if that’s your thing), then hopefully this will make some sense to you.

Our words are like water, they flow through our minds and are delivered to someone’s ear with intent, meaning and motive.  Words can be meant to heal, to love or are said with anger to hurt and criticize.   There is a time for anger, for criticism, for love and for healing, however, when our words leave our lips, they are now out of our control.  This is the part of the story that I want to emphasize.  As our words, whether intended for good or bad, are interpreted by those we speak to, their meaning can be altered, twisted, convoluted and the original intent or motive can be lost or misinterpreted.

I will be honest, I have not always been the most honest and truthful with my words, and this has caused some difficulty in my life’s journey, and I have also been the one who has misinterpreted and misunderstood.  I believe that truth is of utmost importance and our words need to convey this, but I also truly believe it is important to consider the filter in which our words are poured into.   Sometimes it will not matter how we speak or what words we choose, they will inevitably be misheard, and we cannot own that interpretation either.  All we can do is take the responsibility of our words and the meaning in which we know they were spoken.  To try and understand how your words will be heard, can be one of the most difficult and stressful moments in any relationship, whether professional or personal.    This has been a source of my anxiety and fear for several years.  As my journey has revealed, my lack of ability to communicate my words properly led to an increase in internalization of feelings and negative emotions that caused a lack of self confidence and self respect.

So I suppose this post is two-fold  – I think trying to understand the filter in which you are pouring your words into is important to ‘brewing’ the perfect conversation or reducing the degree of misinterpretation that can be present, and also realizing that we can’t own the reaction that someone has to our words.  We can prepare for the perfect cup of conversation but inevitably there can be grounds in our cup and a bitter taste in our mouths simply because our words may not be heard in the way in which they were intended.

Conversation is important – Truth is Important – Coffee is equally as Important

if you ever need to have coffee and conversation, let me know, text 7058682616

until next time, be well and be caffeinated my friends

Freedom in Failure

I wanted to write a post on failure, and just how important of a gift it is…but the irony is that I feel like I have, in fact, failed as it has taken me an incredibly long time to write it.  This topic is a bit of a debate within certain populations and people groups.  This idea that a participation ribbon is what our kids need to feel validated, accomplished and become involved, in my opinion,  is a mistake.  Sure, more kids are spending more time then ever on devices instead of the filed or court, playing an active sport, but I also think the same can be said for adults.  I don’t remember the last time I got a participation ribbon for going to the gym or having a good day at the office (do Starbucks stars count as ribbons…I get a reward for drinking a ridiculous amount of caffeine!)?!?  It seems to me that this is where the strong sense of entitlement comes from.  If there is no chance of failure in school or sports, how can an appreciation be birthed for the value of hard work, dedication and loyalty??

I think my next post will cover the dangers of seeking validation from social media, because that in itself deserves its own attention.

I’m going to take a slightly different approach to failure than most, to not enter into the debate above.  I think we have been inundated with the concept that failure is a chance to learn from past mistakes and to appreciate when we succeed… I’ve lived this for the past decade or more.  And although I have certainly learned a ton from my failures, and have an extra appreciate for when things go well because of that learning I did when I failed, I truly don’t think that’s all we can pull from the importance of failure.  I think for me, the difficulty has been getting stuck in my failure.  Allowing my failures to define me; feeling as though all I am is a product of my faults and failed attempts and brokeness.

In my years of experience as an entrepreneur, I have had the opportunity to learn from several failures and broken dreams.  It has always been hard to learn from past failures, as many of those failures came from habitual and personality weaknesses or lack of education and resources.  I wanted to find another way that might allow for some grace to be given to you in the midst of your failures.  After all, we are human, we make mistakes, we fail, we fall and it is certainly important to get up, dust off and start again, because once we get what we are after, it tastes that much sweeter.  However, this can be long, difficult and painful to process and can leave a bitter taste in your mouth…and this has been my experience until I recently thought to change perspective.

Failure as a gift of Freedom

What if we view failure as a gift?  a gift of freedom…I’m a bit of a believer that our past is not meant to hold us hostage, but to shape and guide our future, and if I only see failure as a chance to learn, that failure remains a focal point and can also be used to hold me hostage and sabotage my ability to move forward and guide my path ahead.  I get stuck, I lose my self esteem and it becomes a negative emotion that will control me and ultimately curse all motivation.  But what if I saw my failure as a gift of freedom?  What if I allowed myself the chance to let go of that failure and take the gift of freedom from the past.  It happened, it’s done, I can move on and I’m free from the bondage it has on me?!?  I obviously understand that there are consequences of failures that we must certainly face and we are not absolved of those and we can’t reject the responsibility of these consequences, whether financial, relational, etc…  I suppose I’m simply suggesting a small change in perspective towards failure.  That although we have our consequences, we are free to move ahead without the weight of the emotional and mental rampage that takes place when we dwell on the “what if”, and instead focus on the “what is next“.

I want to go one step further though and allow us to also see that failure is a chance to experience the freedom we can have in forgiveness.  In my personal journey, I am having a hard time with this one.  Forgiveness for self is not easy, it seems to me that forgiveness for others is easier and comes more naturally (maybe this is just me).  However, when failure is a product of my own hands, especially as an entrepreneur, husband and father, there is a huge responsibility on my shoulders.  The weight of my children’s future and my families happiness can hinge on one decision or choice.  As I have struggled through some past choices and decisions that have tipped the scale in the wrong direction, causing many painful years, I have come to a place where I wrestle daily with blame, self hatred, shame, embarrassment, doubt and a multitude of other negative, self destructive feelings.  So as I write this, I feel like I am writing a letter to myself, and hopefully others suffering with the pressure of failure.  It is not easy and you are not alone, but maybe we can try to see what our failures can teach us, leave them in the past, forgiving yourself for those past mistakes, experiencing the consequences as a part of the journey that will ultimately lead to a freedom that can come from failure and forgiveness.

Here is my moment of honesty… I am not there yet.  I still have not been able to forgive myself for mistakes I have made.  Maybe this will take me a lifetime to do and I hope I can get there sooner then later.  I guess when I figure out how to do this, I will write about it!!  My wish is that you can take away that: there is hope that we can all experience freedom from our failures.


text 7058682616 – I would love to chat with anyone who needs it.  We all have something we are dealing with, and maybe you need someone to chat with.  I don’t have all the answers, but we are all walking through our own journey.  Don’t go through it alone.

Until next time, be well…This is life from the Ground Up!

Emotional Self-Sabotage

So I think my Counselor hates me….or is at least incredibly frustrated with my very apparent lack of ability to do anything related to self-care.  As I revealed in my previous posts, I am a people-pleaser.  On the Enneagram Test, I am a hard 2 with a 6 and 3 rolled in… I’m the Helper, with a side order of Loyalist and Achiever. (The Enneagram is a great personality test that really nails it…visit www.enneagramtest.net for a quick, accurate test).  Unfortunately all of these personality traits have led to some pretty destructive and problematic tendencies for me.


My ability to be vulnerable and concerned for myself was lost many years ago, along with my self esteem and confidence.  Recently forced to face my own demons and ‘discover’ myself has been an eye opening and difficult process.  I always knew that my personality was one of someone who cared more for the needs of others than myself.  But I never truly understood the gravity of this until this past year.  During my counseling sessions, I have been told repeatedly that I need to practice “Self-Care”.  My earliest attempts at this included donating blood, clothing, volunteering time, buying coffee for others…these things bring me a sense of joy and accomplishment but certainly are not classed as self care.  It seems rather silly and somewhat pathetic, but this is incredibly difficult for me.  During my latest session, the topic of emotional self care came to light as the possible reason for my inability to truly know what it means to take care of myself.  We both decided that we had some homework to do…to figure out the why and how.

To me it seems counter-intuitive that my ability to take care of others and my keen sense of pain that others might be experiencing has sabotaged my ability to care for self.  During some quiet contemplation, cold walks, evening coffee writing sessions and during my time at the gym, some pieces have begun to fall in place.

Early in my relationship with my wife, I always felt the need to be the stronger emotional partner.  We were very different in our personalities (opposites attract I guess).  There were many times where I felt the need to carry her burden and pain; whether physical or emotional.  Our early attempts at starting a family were very difficult.  In fact, our first two children were in-vitro, as we were told, after multiple miscarriages, that we were unable to have kids naturally.  As a man, I never truly understood the gravity and weight that this has on a woman, not only physically but the emotional sense of loss that was experienced.  Sure we have five beautiful children together, but that journey was long and difficult.  I think it was frustrating for my wife to have a spouse who showed little emotion and understanding.  Little did she know that I was also absolutely broken inside, but to me, my pain didn’t hold the same weight as hers, so for this reason, I could not be weak, I could not show emotion, I internalized my emotional pain as I was the strong one, the provider, the comforter.  I found this same internal struggle and torment when my own grandparents and aunt passed away; when my wife lost her ability to speak due to a small brain bleed after a fall; when her uncle passed away after a tragic accident; When one of my best friends passed away at the young age of twenty-four from a viral infection…  I would not cry for me, my pain was for family; for friends; for their struggle and suffering.  I wondered if my apparent lack of emotion was seen and judged by others…this still haunts me when I think back. It was an emotional cycle that always led to a sense of disappointment and gilt in myself.

I don’t know if this is a general “guy” thing or just a personality trait or the way I was raised.  I am not saying this is only a negative characteristic to have…I think it’s pretty clear that helping others and loving your neighbor is certainly what we are meant to do, however, I think we can take it to the extreme, and this is where my fault begins.

Vulnerability is not Weakness

To show emotion, to be vulnerable and open, genuine and authentic is to be human.  To be weak is to show strength in your ability to be secure in your own pain and struggles.  If we do not learn how to take care of our selves emotionally, mentally and physically, how can we expect to be able to fully take care of others?  I thought I would be able to do this forever, but when life becomes too difficult (and it will), not having the strength left to care for you will lead to difficult places…cue anxiety, depression, insomnia etc…

My hope for this post is to help reveal that although your personality may be a certain type; acknowledging and accepting your characteristics, doesn’t have to make you a prisoner to patterns that can be destructive to your relationships, family, work, and your own sense of self.  We all have the ability to augment our approach to situations and to understand that we are capable of more than we think.

I am still leaning and have a long way to go….but am always available if needed, so text 7058682616

Thanks for continuing to read.  Your support and encouragement is huge.

Josh