Happy Birthday DAD! Today you would’ve been 61! How does that feel old man? You Never enjoyed celebrating your birthday. You’d have rather let the day skirt through time without anybody noticing. But we always noticed, and we always let you know. You were loved on that day, this day, and Every day. Even in death you cannot escape this Love.
Loss. Grief. Death. We all know it well. Sometimes we pretend like we don’t need to talk about it. I used to completely shy away from it. I couldn’t bear the thought of losing my mom or dad, or anyone close to me for that matter. Now, I think about it quite frequently.
It is that imminent last breath. The moment we close our eyes for the last time. The Goodbye. We will all share this moment. And the void will separate us, through the passing, as our moments occur in different space and time. So, How do we connect now? Can I still reach you? Are my efforts wasted? Should my efforts only be focused on those that are here, now? But what do I do with ALL of this LOVE I have for you?
I feel like it’s time to express the turning point in my life that is not so far away. Four years ago I experienced the death of my father. We all experienced a great loss. His passing was quick and yet painstakingly slow to witness. There was nothing I could do but sit next to him and watch the world turn around us. They named it cancer. Stage 4. Terminal.
I had a dream eight years ago. A call to action in my Life. I was not living at optimum levels. I had sunk into conscious quitting mode, becoming a detriment to myself, and a burden on the hearts of those around me.
The dream was to get up, Stand Tall and Strong next to the greatest man I knew (who also happened to be my father), work together, and with others, to create a sustainable life. Whether that was hiking, fishing, traveling, or developing a farmstead. Looking back on this dream now, I don’t think I was the only one who wanted to stand next to him.
From where I stood eight years ago, I saw how completely incapable I was if the opportunity of this dream came tomorrow. And so the physical transformation really began. Initially, all the fitness, nutrition, strategy and planning was to shift my ability from incapable to capable. To be able to stand next to my dad on the top of a mountain we hiked together, carrying my share of the packing. Not just for myself, but for us.
It was something that made sense to me. Understanding sustainable living on the land, triggered me to create sustainable, optimized living in my body. I saw the beautiful majesticness of nature and realized we are just as much a part of nature and can work with it as it works with us. It is a partnership and collaboration. It is Love.
So, I focused in on the things I could change in order to optimize my role in the vision I saw. I lost the weight. I quit the drinking. I changed my mind set. I allowed my Heart to expand by letting it out of the prison I’d locked it up in.
The Transformation worked! The initial vision had gotten me to this optimized place. I began thriving in life, at work, through relationships, and ultimately moving everywhere in my life with a pay it forward mindset.
But then, the One thing happened that I never saw coming.
My Dad died.
It broke my heart into pieces.
I was stopped dead in my tracks.
His Love permeated such a vast landscape, through so many places, and people. His Life was one of the most magnificent transformations I’d ever seen.
He was able to come from nothing, feeling no love, and turn it into the most expansive love that touched numerous lives in multitudinous ways.
You know who you are when I say this. You can still feel his Love.
Utah feels like a promise land every time I reminisce about his time there, and the moments I got to be a part of. I can literally feel the love spreading through the connections of people, community, friends, and people he loved and that loved him back. I learned about family in the most expansive way. Everyone was welcome in our house, and in turn, we were welcome in everyone else’s house. I was taught that judgment never upheld a true vision. That what I think I thought about someone and what they were doing was never really the truth about what or why they moved. I learned how to clear the path to truth. How to ask more questions, and listen deeper.
He lead with a sharp hand, and a bright mind, but his actions Always moved through his Heart, which time and time again gave him the clarity to see people’s true intentions. It was a craft he mastered through observance and presence. Even when he saw dirt, or experienced brashness, he reached out a hand to help anyway. Not like a doormat, but through tough love, standing next to an open door, showing you just how open it is and encouraging you to walk through it. He taught me that there is ALWAYS a CHANCE. Anyone can change at any time. But the reality of this statement rang true in his life. He helped others actualize their own chances and moments at greatness. He changed a lot of lives just by being who he was.
He remained humble until his very last breath.
Why are they here?
Why do they want to see me?
He asked on his death bed…
I am just a man.
No, Dad. You’re not just a man. You are a great human being who shared his love. They’re here because they love you.
He knew what he had done. To him, it was just about living life to the fullest, seizing every moment and opportunity, diving head first into every interest and passion. And so he smiled as they came through. It was about the last thing he had to give at that moment in time. He gave anyway. Breath escaping his ravaged lungs, and yet he spoke with each individual as if they’d carry on the conversation tomorrow. It was never goodbye. It was always talk to you later.
When I was a kid, I asked my dad Why I was here, Why we are here, What is all this for? Life…
He told me, We are here to help people, to give of ourselves. It was a loaded answer to a loaded question. Back then, all I heard was help others. So, I started opening and holding doors for everyone, stepping back out of line so someone else could get in, throwing smiles at the darkest of grim faces. As I continued to do those things, I forgot about myself, I didn’t know that I needed to also cultivate my own being. And so through my initial acts of giving, I also emptied my giving pot. Which led me into my own questioning. Why am I doing this? What is this for? If I am to give of myself, I need to know myself, Who I am, for the pot of giving needs to always be full, so that the giving can continually expand. Refining it into this zone is a multidimensional action of being. Some people call it fulfillment. I call it Living IN Love. Abundance. Harmony.
I really have focused/dedicated the last 10 years of my Life to just “Showing Up.” It was Enough. I was Enough. I had to learn how to Embrace that. I AM ENOUGH.
It took mass amounts of courage to show up and be clear. Not mask anything. No alcohol to mask the fear, boredom, or overall uneasiness. No weight to “protect”, distance, or hide my true feelings. I’d bottled everything up, literally, emotionally, and physically for far too long.
So, I peeled back the layers that had produced Numbness throughout my Life. You probably know the layers that are operating in your life. I cleared the path to be able to acknowledge and experience the rawness and realness of my own true vulnerability. I was lucky enough to have recognized and embraced this opportunity in time to fully experience the death and loss of my father as I knew him. It was gut wrenching. Heart Breaking. Cries came from the bellow of my soul.
But I was clear and present for it.
I felt ALL of it.
This is one of the things that I am truly grateful for. My Dad got to see and experience the absolute shift of abundance from my being (into) my being. The shift that he always knew I was so very capable of, that everyone is capable of. He saw the actualization of my transformation and I feel like that gave him peace knowing that I would be ok. He always told me, “Everything is going to be ok LA. You’ll figure it out.” I always heard him, but I can’t say I always believed it to be true, until I started allowing the experience of the Truth into my Life.
Who I have become through ALL of these Transformations is the most Authentic I’ve ever been in my adult life. Seizing the opportunity in every moment. Growing, learning from my mistakes, hoping for the best, pushing that boundary of what is ‘my best’.
“There is no perfect. There IS Progress.”
Sometimes making a mistake IS the Best thing you can do.
Learning the difference between right and wrong, and all of that gray area in between. Learning how to optimize what Resonates for me. I never knew I had so much power in that choice. To take what works for you, and leave the rest. It WORKS if you work it. The Power is in the work, in holding yourself to that progressive, excelling, standard to ONLY accept what works for you, and opening your mind to continually broaden and expand new ways that can work for you. And to really, Let Go, Release, Leave the Rest.
I know that I cannot go on in this Life feeling like I am empty and at a loss without my father here. At times, the tears overwhelm me and this is the pervading feeling. I’ve come to a place where I just allow myself to cry and move through it. But then a breath comes over me, and in an instant I am able to see and feel that the only reason it Feels So Empty at times, is exactly because of How Full My Heart Really Was, and Really Is. It is this moment that my Heart feels full of Life and Love again. When I focus on the Love that Was there, is when I feel his Love, his presence, here with me Now. Then it expands as I acknowledge all of my current connections to Love, right here, right now. And I become grateful for the Joy of having known this kind of Expansive Love, and THAT is what I carry with me.
And so I write, carrying Love. To express these feelings, these thoughts, these transformations of beliefs about what this all means. That is my progress in action now. Writing it down. Sharing it lovingly. I’ve lost the weight, yes, but I’ve also lost my father. The more I reflect on our time together, and all of the moments I have with people now, the more I find myself and become this expansive being of love.
So Dad, on your birthday, and every day. Know that my love is with you, as your love is with me. And while you are not here in ways that I grew so accustomed to, know that I am still inspired, I am still transforming, optimizing, and doing my best. We all are. And that is enough.