February 27, 2018
As a kid I don’t think I gave much thought to my development. I remember having a makeshift growth chart on a door jam in the house. I also remember wanting to run faster and jump higher than my friends when I was in elementary school. I even remember admiring my dad’s “big muscles” and wanting to grow my own.
When in junior high school and high school I cared a lot about impressing girls and having good hair. And if I am really honest with myself, that phase, albeit a little more sophisticated, lasted through college and into early adulthood. My college experience contained some defining moments. It started off pretty rocky but after a couple of transfers I ended up at Pacific Lutheran University. While there I played football for one of the most dynamic men I have ever met and worked as a youth director to help pay my expenses, I finally found a major that, despite it not being extremely helpful for eventually landing a lucrative job, held my interest long enough for me to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.
After that I bounced around from sales jobs to youth work and back again. Despite an interest in Psychology, I didn’t give much thought to development, either generally or personally until I became a father. Observing and participating in the developmental stages of my three sons lives was scary, exhilarating and fascinating but admittedly I gave little thought to my own development.
Over the next couple of decades what has defined me as a person has been mostly my titles as a husband, father, educator. Don’t get me wrong, I know that I have placed at least a reasonable amount of effort in my quest to fill these positions with a certain level of distinction. Only sporadically and until recently have I seriously considered the developmental aspects of my life and questioning my identity.
Truly believing that my life’s work has held meaning and made a difference, I now find myself nearing the end of a long career. In the absence of a “job” to consume a great deal of time and energy I am now facing choices about what to do next. In light of the unknown, I find myself again asking who I am and what will I do to continue to make a difference and fulfill my purpose?
February 9, 2016
When he was 16 years old, my youngest son began an accelerated slide into a rather serious medical situation. Of course we had been aware that this day would come for about a decade but wanted to believe that the advanced care he received and the magic of modern medicine might somehow create a different outcome and preclude the need for a liver transplant. The day that Cayden began internally bleeding because one of his esophageal varices burst marked a critical crossroads. Whether I wanted to admit it or not, this was his day of no return.
The thoughts and feelings that began to well up in me at that time were amazingly poignant. They would come and go and swing from one side of the emotional spectrum to the other. Even at the untimely death of my mother had I not experienced such a broad range of emotions.
Another factor that I now believe contributed to my emotional swings was that I felt the need to exhibit a show of strength, optimism and calm when around my son but in truth I faced dreadful fear and felt immensely vulnerable in private. I would only reveal those thoughts and feelings to my wife and sisters.
Peace and solace were only found in three places. The first was when I walked or exercised. The second was when I talked (which often happened simultaneously with walking). The third was through writing.
It was during this time that I began posting my thoughts and feelings in the form of updates on social media. I also sent informational messages to specific people and groups via email. Someone suggested that I start a blog. So I did . . .
Blogging for me was a way to sort of lasso and round-up the many thoughts and feeling that were running wild around in my mind so I could slow them down and identify them. The writing process helped my make some sense out of the crazy that was buzzing inside of me. Somehow once the thoughts and feelings were put into the blog it was a little bit like getting all of the animals safely into the pen for the night. My mind could rest awhile.
In case you are wondering, Cayden is doing well. My wife, Cayden’s stepmother Amanda, was his living liver donor and aside from a lovely abdominal scar, is healthy as well. Primary sclerosing cholangitis (liver disease) was secondary to ulcerative colitis with Cayden, so he continues to live with that condition and will take anti-rejection medication so that his liver remains healthy.
So . . . . with a new purpose, I begin again. This is the first blog in a very long while.