As another year rolls to a close during this journey called “life”, most of us take time to look back and reflect on what happened in our lives over the previous 12 months; our triumphs, failures, the glories of success, the beginnings of something “new”, whether it was a job, a relationship, new surroundings, marriage, divorce, birth, and even death. And most of us look forward to the “New Year” full of promise and hope, thankful that we even made it this far. I’m no exception.
What you’re about to read is REAL. It’s also going to be somewhat graphic, dark, but I’m convinced by the end, you’ll be more inspired than ever that whatever your circumstances are, there’s always hope, there’s always light, there’s always a better way to propel yourself to new ways of living and thinking. I’m also aware that there’s a fair amount of personal risk in what I’m about to share, and which I’ve been cautioned about by those closest to me. But this is bound to come out sooner or later. It’s inevitable. It’s also practicing my own principles. It’s living out loud at both its least complimentary AND it’s finest. This story, however, goes back further than 2011. It starts on December 31st, 2007, a “moment in time” when life was about to transition into a period that could only be described as the worst train wreck you’ve ever seen and the most awesome and inspiring fireworks show you’ve ever witnessed, all rolled up into a 48 month time span. Up until that point, the previous 25 years were marked by a series of events not un-like anybody else’s life. There was success and there was failure of all types; marriage, children, unparalleled personal and professional glory, yet heartache, doubt, despair. But what was about to happen over the next few months once the calendar rolled over to 1-1-2008 all the way to TODAY, December 31st, 2011, four years later, would make anything else prior mild in comparison.
As you read, let your imagination take you “there”, to a time and place where there is no hope, no inspiration, nothing meaningful and worthwhile that wakes you up in the morning which brings you happiness, enthusiasm, and joy. As mentioned, it’s late December 2007. You’re alone. Completely and utterly alone. You have no one. By now, you’ve immersed yourself in your own self-pity and self-medication so deeply, even your own family can’t “reach” you. Falling further and further into the depths of despair, you awake each day, look in the mirror, and say “this can’t keep going on like this.” You go through the motions of everyday life. You shower, dress, go to work, come home, and the cycle repeats itself. Day after day after day.
And then one day, you wake up and, for whatever reason, maybe it was the shakes from the previous night’s binge, maybe you thought “I’ll just not call”, everything, all the pain, would just go away and somehow the next day, this nightmare you’ve been living in for so long will magically disappear. You’ll wake up and it’s over. Or maybe you just simply gave up. So you don’t call. You don’t call your employer to say, “I’m sick today”, as you’ve done so many times before, and you’re certain it sounds like a broken record to the person on the other end. The next thing you know, the job you’ve known for the previous 20+ years with the same employer, the one where you reached the pinnacle of success, has gone up in smoke. And then, one day in mid-February 2008, still alone and trying to drown the pain, you hear a knock at your door. There, stands two of your sisters, one of home had driven hundreds of miles across two states, along with a local “peace officer”, all of whom had arrived to take you somewhere to get help. You refuse. And yet you agree to go with one of your sisters for a month, just to see if you can pull yourself together. But you don’t get it together. In fact, the first night with your sister, you suffer a seizure and nearly die. Still, even that didn’t “awaken” you from the pit you’re in. But soon, a rapid series of radical and life-changing events would.
And it would do so in a BIG way. And by the time it’s over, you find yourself as if you’re born anew. Colors seem brighter. You can “hear” birds sing again. You watch children in awe and admiration. You begin to discover a NEW way of living and thinking that totally turns your world around, bathed in a light you never dreamed possible. You begin reconnecting and building relationships with people from your past, people whom you knew 30 years prior in high school. People that you met on Facebook. For the first time, you discover there’s something called “texting”, even though you’re 50 years old, it’s early 2009, and that technology has already been around awhile. Don’t laugh. That’s how rudimentary your life was. Before, it was nothing but work. Your life is about to take off like a flaming rocket ship and you’re still not aware of it. But, as mentioned, you’re still not awake. There’s still more branches and leaves the Master wants to prune from the tree before He decides you’re ready to form new blossoms and LIVE again.
And that’s what happens. He strips you of nearly everything, all of your possessions, your freedom, and you nearly lose your life two more times. All in the not so pleasant confines of a 270 square foot concrete and steel cage you’ve come to know as “home” for 158 days beginning in mid-2008, after you’ve finally tested the legal limits of what society will allow. And it’s there where life begins to flicker again inside of your heart and soul. So, by the time you emerge into the light in early November 2008, the Master has prepared you for the world to discover, and for you to discover a NEW world.
Everything, every single “moment” since those two fateful days in 2008, one in mid-June, and the other in early November, continues to astound you on a daily basis. People have come into your life whom you never expected, two of whom you came to love, and although the first was there for just a very brief period in the big scheme of things, the second was one who you were certain was meant to be with you forever. She arrived in May 2010, a gift from above, a soul that illuminated the banquet room of dozens and dozens of people where you first met. 18 months later, it was over. The light of the flame you once knew together, snuffed out for reasons you’re still trying to piece together, but really, you’re just thankful you were alive to love at all.
Most of all, you’re thankful for all that’s happened since December 31st, 2007, all the NEW people who’ve come into your life that gives it purpose and meaning, all the NEW places you’ve seen that have lifted your spirit, and all the NEW accomplishments you’ve achieved. A previous client of yours, the biggest one you had while you were in banking, a man of great wealth, character, and more importantly, a great man of faith, becomes one of your biggest fans, giving you a job while you’re still searching for a NEW path. You went back to school at the ripe age of 51 in March 2010 and completed two year’s worth of studies in 12 weeks, and you survived. You’re now an important and key ingredient in the birth and success of a nonprofit organization that’s designed to help widowed parents with surviving dependent children, acting in the role as its Chief Financial Officer. You’ve embarked on a NEW adventure with a private coaching and mentoring career. You’ve begun the process of publishing your first book; “Inspiration at the END…Discovering NEW Beginnings.”
And then there’s all of YOU who have read this tonight, all the NEW people, over 6,000 of you on my Facebook page called “Gusto”, the one that has grown from just over 100 on December 31st, 2010, all the NEW followers of my website and blog, which has been viewed nearly 15,000 times by people representing over 50 countries around the globe.
Finally, and most importantly, you remain humbled and grateful for those who have reached out to you for your wisdom, support, and advice, some of whom have reached their own personal bottom and look to you now to help them find the “new” NEW in their life. These are the people who inspire you the most, who keep you going, who, when they send you messages, make you realize that your life has meaning and purpose now. That you’re here for a reason. That you’re here to help. That you’re here to give your world HOPE. And you wish them all a Happy NEW Year!