Death, Disease, and Trials – Endure Them Well

I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens. ~ Woody Allen

WinterSpring_Copyright Pete Ferguson 2010

by Pete Ferguson

‘Tis the Season to be Jolly – so why such a seemingly dark subject within a dozen days of the Celebration of Light and of Christ?

Yesterday afternoon my wife and her friends went to lunch at the local Del Taco where  our children play together and the moms get to unwind and revel in friendship. They were not prepared for what they encountered, however. A young family – just returned from the hospital – were now deprived of their mother after what was supposed to be a routine surgery.

Four young children never to see the face of their mother in physical form within mortality again. A grieving father. Distraught grandparents who felt to approach my wife and give her a heads up that the children within the play area would be talking of the death of their mother amongst our children.

As I contemplate, I internalize the situation. I put on the shoes of the husband. I apply the consequences of this news to my children. I feel the pain and loss of my hero, my strength, my confidant. My Stephanie.

The act of dying is one of the acts of life. ~ Marcus Aurelius

But birth and death are the only 100% guarantee in life (and taxes of course).

Fame, fortune, success, peace – all are conditional and seemingly spread out to strange people. We may experience any of these fleeting emotional states. The media seems to unjustly don these appellations upon the unworthy.

But death we will share with trillions of the earths inhabitants. And we will all equally be emotionally and physically connected with a physical body in one moment – only to be disconnected with it the next.

So why is there so much sting and pain associated with the concept? Perhaps it is the seeming theft of opportunity in this case. A mother robbed of seeing her children grow, experience new things, get married and have children of their own. We infer that she has been taken in her prime and robbed of its potential?

Or is it the seemingly hopelessness of a father which I can attach to and thankfully only imagine the grief, loneliness, and abandonment he must feel?

I have really only lost two grandfathers as a reference.

Others I’ve known have died, but they did not have an ongoing involvement in my life. I grieved for their families. I miss seeing them at certain times.

But my grandfathers were both influential in my life and an example to me of how to live life and both taken before my 20th birthday. And I did feel robbed – yet I’ve been paid back in spades as I look to their examples in difficult moments of my life and have felt strengthened by the legacy they left behind.

Three years ago my wife lost her father. He was not in a good mental or physical state. It was odd because there was a sense of relief, while at the same time a mourning that he never really lived up to what we supposed was his potential. That winter felt as though it would never end. Yet Spring came and then Summer.

And once the “firsts” (first Christmas, first birthday parties, first Father’s Day) turned into seconds, the sadness and loss faded away and what remained were the lessons to be learned of his life.

The submissive soul will be led aright, enduring some things well while being anxiously engaged in setting other things right—all the time discerning the difference. ~ Neal A. Maxwell

When examining life and death, I can only lean on my beliefs. The big lie of life is that we are all supposed to be in bliss, living the “American Dream.” Equal in all things. And never oppressed.

And what a lie this is! It robs us of all growth and ability to learn to endure it well as we subjugate our desires to a greater good and power. To become more than just self-centered and focused on immediate gratification.

Enduring well is not to brush over trials and tribulations as though they are just words. Quite the contrary – it is to lean into them, accept them. Play them out and realize we have the power to get through the darkest night, especially when we reach out and above to Him whose birth should be celebrated and relished more than a new television, x-box, or other fleeting and soon to be obsolete items on a gift list.

Ignorance and fear of death overshadow life, while knowing and accepting death erases this shadow. ~ Lily Pincus

This Christmas will be a very lonely and sad time for many families. Unfortunately this is the second death of parent taken before their time in our little community. Last week, however, quite the juxtaposition, a father and police officer took his own life within his home, leaving behind a family now with more questions than answers.

And so I am even more grateful for the blessings in my life. Five healthy and talented, well-adjusted children with a sixth on her way (or his). A good job and a home we love to be in. And a desire to help others also achieve happiness.

I have my own trials and tribulations to own up to and to lean in to. And in so doing, the pain is not welcomed, but when reflecting back, I am grateful for the pain because it stimulates growth, wisdom, and experience. It provides me with a greater abundance of empathy towards others and allows me to focus on the success of others rather than be discontent with a perceived lack of success of my own. And I see all of this as a great investment which will pay dividends when I will need it the most as I experience heartache of my own or am called to be in support of those close to me seeking comfort.

Perhaps the realization of being in God’s hands comes fully only as we ponder the significance of the prints in the hands of our submissive Savior. ~ Maxwell

As we ponder the meaning of this time of year, we must accept that He who is greatest of all suffered greatest of all, and in so doing, is able to understand any pain or affliction through which we must endure. And in so doing, He is able to lift the seemingly impossible burdens which we may feel trapped beneath and help us see the sunset after living through the darkest night.

As we endure our trials and tribulations well, we receive the ultimate gift. The gift of additional strength, wisdom and knowledge. And with that I wish you an early very, Merry Christmas.

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Where I Stand

While I am proud of what I’ve accomplished with music and songwriting, what I’m most proud of is my happiness. ~ Jewel

by Pete Ferguson

The past year or so has been an amazing journey. It has also been very personal – which makes writing here more difficult and why I’ve slacked off a bit.

It is easy to post a contrite “why you should …” blog, but much more difficult to dig deep and reveal the inner workings of one’s mind, heart, and soul.

The posts that are most popular seem to be the “seven reasons why you should …” or “ten things everyone should do better.”

But the reality is that I’m likely not going to do all seven, or ten, or three. I’m going to incorporate what works best for me.

And that is where happiness lies – in our ability to be ourselves, to be in the moment, and to have a vision of what we want to do and move in that direction.

Happiness is always there with us in the moment. We just have to make the shift and choose to see it … But being happy doesn’t come from the things we achieve or how far we’ve come. It comes from being present and enjoying the journey. ~ Peter Clemens

Mistakes come easily. That’s just life. We like to hold our heroes up high and pretend they did not make mistakes – or that they made big ones early in life but then turned it all around and never looked back.

But is that really reality? I’ve met multi millionaires who’ve said their biggest goal in life is to have a family that gets along better.

I’ve seen senior executives who’s greatest quest in life is happiness in their personal life. The success as work is a mere byproduct of that quest.

And what I’ve learned is simple. You have to be your best self.

FergFive

I say best self because being just “yourself” can lead to a lot of base behavior. The natural man or woman would likely sleep all day, eat a lot, and be quite selfish.

To be your best self requires momentum towards a vision of how your individual contributions to life will make a better life for those around you.

And for me, the journey does start right back where I started – with myself. I have big dreams: to transform the security world, to reveal the Tooele, Utah, valley as a great music hotbed of talent, which it is.

But the most important dreams I have are to see my children succeed. Just as my father worked hard to improve our lives over his own, I too want my children to have access to things which were out of my reach. I want them to be firm in who they are, and to help them realize their dreams with more ease – but not without learning from the trials and obstacles that will surely be in their way.

I want the words “can’t” and “impossible” to be a laughing matter and not a debilitating roadblock and dream killer.

And at work I want to extend that vision to others who are just starting their career and may feel stuck in an accidental career. I want to pave the way for them to be successful quicker, faster, and smarter than I have been. So they can take the torch I’ve carried and move it much farther into the future.

And that is where I stand.

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Joy is Not the Absence of Conflict

Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them and you have their shoes. ~ Jack Handey

by Pete Ferguson

Okay, so maybe the opening quote isn’t quite related to the article, but it is really funny – and for a morning that is 5 degrees above zero on a day I chose to wear shorts to the gym, funny is good.

Over the weekend, my wife and I heard a discourse with the quote “Joy is not the absence of conflict.” We know the couple who delivered the message well, and they are two of the happier people I know. I also know that they have dealt with a great amount of conflict.

Two people who have developed joyful characters will navigate through problems and be sustained by a daily sense of joy. ~ Valerie Layton

Along the lines of yesterday’s blog on the “7th rep,” it is true that for muscular gain, maturity, and mental and spiritual growth, the lessons usually come after the trail.

When a budding Monarch butterfly first emerges from its cocoon, it is not in its majestic form. Its body is swollen and its wings appear too small to fly. Through a slow and methodically flapping of its wings, blood is forced from the body into the wings and they begin to enlarge as the body shrinks.

Our friend suggested the following three things to overcome adversity and find the joy in life’s challenges:

  1. Rejoice – Whether large or small, celebrations allow us to focus on the positive and give ourselves credit for overcoming struggles.
  2. Be honest. Allow emotions out of the dark recesses of your mind. Understand things as they really are – don’t make assumptions, but take time to work through your own emotions and understand where others are coming from.
  3. Be thankful. Grapple with problems with confidence, knowing that you will make it through the storm and focus on the blessing you have received already.

I’d add to the list: Don’t make assumptions. Even if your assumption is right, it does you little good and if you are wrong, it makes you look foolish. I’ve wasted a lot of time on assumptions, so I speak as an authoritative figure on this topic.

Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die. ~ Malachy McCourt

I’m grateful for the conflicts I have in my life – but I’m not usually grateful for them during the storm. I’m working on this, because a life without challenges is a bit pointless, really. Leaning into the pain allows for more control, less resentment, and a quicker recovery.

What challenges are you grateful for today? Are you in the depths of the storm, or are you able to look back and find the lessons learned?

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BE. DO. HAVE = The Formula to a Happy & Successful Life

Success Formula

by Pete Ferguson

What if I told you the formula to a successful and happy life is the order in which you place three words? Would you believe me? Please read below and tell me what the difference is between these two formulas:

BE –> DO –> HAVE

HAVE –> DO –> BE

I saw two grandfather’s die of cancer and not live out the second model. They toiled in hard physical labor their entire lives, saving for retirement (the HAVE) when they could sit back and enjoy life. They were diagnosed with very painful cancer shortly after retiring and died within less than a decade. They were both good men, but they both put off many of their dreams for “some day.”

If you are over the age of 35, the formula you have likely inherited is the latter as well. The mantra our parents instilled in us is “get a good job, pay your dues, build the pension, and when you retire, you will finally deserve to enjoy the spoils of life.”

Last night as I drove home from work, NPR reported that USA General Motors is going to buy out 10% of their pensions. They currently have $134 BILLION dollar pension obligation. Staggering. That’s larger than the GNP of many nations in the world. And also the reason why many businesses are moving away from the pension plan.

Like Social Security, the pension plan only works if people agree to die early. And the Baby Boomers are refusing to die as early as projected, thus bankrupting pension plans. Which means you can no longer count on Big Brother to finance the “HAVE –> DO –> BE” mentality.  So start BEING today. We are Human BE-ings after all.

The mentality of most self-made millionaires is the first formula proposed and title of this blog, BE –> DO –> HAVE.

Anthony Robbins often tells the story of writing out his life goals at the age of 20. Completely broke. No education. No job prospects. But a dream. A huge dream. And it was written down and had an action plan. Last I heard, he reports he is five years ahead of his plan. He has been extremely successful financially – with a few bumps along the way. But he has been living his dream for 20 years.

Two weeks ago I sat in author and life coach Dan Miller’s “Sanctuary” – a converted barn where Dan works, blogs, podcasts, hosts weddings, parties, art classes, and live events – and Dan talked about how he and friend, now radio host and author Dave Ramsey, sat down twenty years ago and dared to dream. And they dreamt big. And twenty years later, Dan notes he and Dave are right on track. But if you look back at both of their histories, they are doing a lot of the same exact things today they were doing when they were penniless. They just have more resources today and have a much larger audience.

I have a good friend who shared the quote “money does not change you, it reveals you.” Think of the news today. Athletes with million dollar contracts are in serious legal and moral trouble. Former rock stars are now penniless. What do they have in common? Like you and me, they were waiting for “some day.” They received their financial reward easy, quickly, and without learning life’s lessons, and now the amount of trouble they are in is really big. Or they are dead, leaving a trial of destruction and despair to those around them.

I’m about to hit 40 this year. I’ve been preparing for it for several years. I’m in better financial, physical, and hopefully mental condition than I have been in for the past 20 years. In my 20s and early 30s, I was a dreamer – always thinking of what should be. Now I’m becoming a dreamer who is also a planner. It is a lot more satisfying, because each day I wake up, jump out of bed, study, read, and write, and I’m living my dream. Today. Not in 25 years.

What’s your dream? What’s your plan?

Learn: Take time to write down your dreams. Then write down a plan.

Photo Credit: gwbootcamps.com

Act: If you get a bucket full of crabs, according to author Robert Kiyosake, when one tries to crawl out, the others will grab him and pull him back down. Surround yourself with people who are achieving at the level you want to be. Steer clear of those who will tell you you can’t. They can live their lives miserable in the bottom of the bucket. It is time for you to run on the beach.

Share: Use the five-foot sales rule and talk about your dream and plan with anyone who will listen. Make the connections, read and reply to blogs online. I’ve been amazed that my traffic has jumped from 2-3 readers to a peak of 27 this week. Thanks for participating in my sharing of my dream.

Start BEing today. Start DOing today. Enjoy what you HAVE, today.