Why It’s Never Too Late

We often hear or read the sentiment that ‘it’s never too late’. It was the first thing I mentioned in the first post of this blog detailing my path towards being better (See From Loser To Legend). I had actually said that I was hoping it wasn’t too late. My reasoning being that obviously there are some things a 43-year-old cannot achieve, primarily things of a physical nature. Like a reformed pothead is not going to win the olympics for example, unless there’s an olympics for joint rolling :/

But this post, which now may seem slightly hypocritical to some but which I view as a sign of growth, is going to tell you that indeed it is never too late. But more importantly, I’m going to tell you why.

Look, technically, if everyone lived to old age, I am closer to death than you. I have less time left to achieve my goals, my dreams. I have less time than you. Especially if you are in your teens, 20s or 30s, and feeling like you’ve missed your chance, or never had one, or don’t think you ever will.

I, like a lot of people, am doing a job I would rather not be doing in a small factory, bending aluminium to make aircraft seats. (But which I still do to the best of my ability. Reason being whatever you are currently doing you must put your best effort into it. It helps cultivate the right attitude. The infamous boxer Muhammad Ali once said: “If I were a garbage man, I’d be the world’s greatest garbage man! I’d pick up more garbage and faster than anyone else has ever seen.” He was telling us something important about attitude).

My ‘wife’ left me almost a year ago. My son is suffering from emotional turmoil because of that. I am hanging on by a thread financially. I’m reaping what I’ve sown.

Truthfully I have never really achieved anything. The reason being as I always took the easy path. Easy doesn’t get you anywhere by the way and never will.

Thing is, despite all this, despite the fact that on paper there are plenty of people who would view me as a bit of a loser. I have never been happier. Oh I have some real tough moments in my life, some real challenges, with no doubt more to come. But now I am ready for them. I have dedicated myself to being better in an all-round sense. A better father, a better friend, a better employee. I am constantly working on my physical and mental well-being. Working on achieving the things I want to achieve. I am still a long way off but that’s ok.

But the reason why I now believe that it is definitely never too late is because that ‘lateness’ doesn’t necessarily apply to your goals. What you want to achieve? Where you want to be in your life? It’s about getting yourself in that right state of mind. The state of mind that puts you, and keeps you, on the right path.

Look, goals and achievements are good things, great things. It’s important to have something to strive for, to move towards. But they are not the be all and end all. The reality is you can only ever live in the here and now. And in the here and now, with the right frame of mind, the right attitude, you can be a positive force for good. An inspiration to yourself and the people you meet.

So if you’re out there and you’re feeling lost, feeling that it is too late, I’m begging you, I implore you, find your strength, find your courage, realise what you want to achieve and start working towards it. Because it’s all about being on the right road, having the right frame of mind. Attitude can be developed, persistence grown. No one is more important to this world than yourself. Why sell yourself short?

So I’ll repeat this one more time. It’s simple. There’s no hoping this time. It’s a statement of fact that is true for each and every one of us. It’s never too late.

 

 

 

 

 

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A Reminder

Anyone out there trying to deal with difficulties, whether self-inflicted or not, can attest to just how difficult it can sometimes be. Especially when your emotions are driving you more than your mind. In those times it helps to have a few reminders.

Reminders can put you back on the right path, make you realise why you have chosen that path in the first place, and why you wanted off the one you used to tread. They can come from anywhere. Yourself, family, friends, or even strangers on the internet! It doesn’t matter because once they get to you, trigger that impulse in your mind. They will have done the job you needed them to do.

I was fortunate today to have had such a reminder. It helped me to remember why I started my quest for self-improvement in the first place, why I have to persevere no matter what, and the attitude I must employ to keep that reality, well, real.

For anybody who read the mess I, and my son, were in (See: Torn Asunder) yesterday you will see it was a most difficult day. I was losing sight, blinded by emotions, not thinking straight, and just wishing for a change and the day to end. That change came this morning thanks to a friendly insight. And from someone I don’t even know. It provided the reminder I needed.

The lovely Gina (Blog: Singledust  alifelesslivedblog.wordpress.com) had told me in a comment that her family had went through something similar and that her kids later confided in her that they felt they could cope better if she was happy and in control of things. This sparked a memory.

The initial months after my ‘wife’ had left my household was very sombre. My boy and I were desperately sad and we were missing his mother so much. It was a dull, depressing atmosphere.

I realised one day that whilst my boy was suffering, I was making it worse. We were feeding off each other, dragging each other down. I’m his father, the one he looks to for comfort, security, happiness, love. And I wasn’t providing enough of it. I determined to myself that this had to change. I had to change. I had to be strong, be positive, lift him up. And I have, for the most part.

Reading Gina’s comment this morning as I was having my breakfast gave me the reminder I needed. It wasn’t long after that my son and I were both running around the house, carrying on, play fighting. The smile was back on his face. His sadness forgotten, at least for that moment.

Even writing this now is bringing a tear to my eye. Gina, if you are reading this, you will never know how eternally grateful I am that you shared that with me. I wish I could look you in the eye and thank you in person. You helped me get back on track, get where I needed to be for my son. There is no greater gift I could receive. Thank you!

That first reminder lifted the fog and as my day passed my own reminders came flooding through. The clarity of why I am doing all this, why I am trying to be better. The steps I must continue to make for the benefit of my son, and his relationship with his mother.

I reminded myself of how far I’ve come. How that even though I struggled yesterday I didn’t even think of smoking dope. I reminded myself that I still did the things a parent must do.

Sometimes all we need is a little kick-start. A little reminder of why we do what we do. I hope that anyone out there who is having their own struggles is fortunate to get their reminders too.

 

Torn Asunder

As we all know life can be filled with wonder. There are times of joy and bliss. Times when the way is all too clear. This is not one of those times.

If you’ve read any of my posts you will see I am all about trying to be positive, trying to improve, trying to find the best way forward. Trying to be better.

Right now, however, my emotions are running high. Fuelled with hurt, frustration and anger. I’m desperately trying to find the right path to take, the right approach to a problem. But my heart and my mind are being torn asunder. Even trying to write this post I feel disjointed, uneasy. Like trying to drive through a thick red fog.

In my last post (Corners and Curveballs) I talked about my son being ill and I unwell, and the possible ramifications we might face because of that. Well, that was yesterday. Today has been much worse.

It started quite normal. I had to visit a dentist at 8:50am so I had to take my son with me. I phoned his school and my work to inform them we would be running late. That was fine. The visit went well. My boy was even laughing after as one side of my face was wrinkle free and my smile lopsided.

When we got home and I got changed for work his demeanor darkened. He still wasn’t 100 percent from the bug he had but I knew that wasn’t it. In fact, I knew all too well what it was as I’ve seen that change in him many times over the past 10 months. He was missing his mum. Thinking about his hurt. How he feels she has left him.

As soon as we got into the car he burst into tears. I tried to console him, feeling helpless, whilst at the same time being oh so conscious of how we can’t be missing this day at school or work. We sat in the car for over 45 mins with his sobs going from mild to uncontrollable. Even though it was cutting through me and my heart was breaking I knew we couldn’t do this, not again. The risks it presents growing ever so much larger.

Then his mum was on the phone: “Has he went to school?”. Once told, I got the same reactions as always, the same obvious statements that I am keenly aware off: “He has to go in”, “The Educational Welfare Officer must be called”, “I’m coming to take him in”. When he heard this it only exasperated the situation and made him more frantic. (A few weeks ago he had said he never wants her to take him to, or pick him up from, school). I tried to remain calm, the stresses still building. I said I would call later and hung up the phone.

I spoke calmly to my boy. I needed him to be strong. We would walk in together across the playground hand in hand. No one will be any the wiser, no one else involved. Mercifully he agreed amidst the sobs. I kept him talking on the way, talked some more as we entered the school. Measuring my words. I could see he was teetering on a verge, but his courage saved us. At least for today.

When I picked him up after and he got in the car the first thing he asked was if mummy was calling this evening. I said that was up to him. The reply was swift. He had decided even before the question was asked. “No”.

We didn’t go straight home. I wanted to treat him. So we drove to an ice-cream place he is fond off, at a seaside town some miles up the road.

When we arrived home there was a text from his mum asking if she could see him this evening. I replied no. Then it was a question of why? At this stage we were doing his homework. So I was trying to help with that as I also tried to be supportive to his obviously saddened mum. As this was happening he then told me how they had to make hearts in school today and how he did his with an angry face on it. Then he showed me a poem he had written (See below). They had to write about love. And it almost broke me.

So I’m feeling upset and sad for my boy. As his mother sends me texts with her woes. How she feels lost and can’t do anything but wrongs. I tell her my heart and my head are fighting a battle, that I’m almost ready to break. Of course I’ll help in trying to fix their relationship. But I cannot make up for her failings. I can’t listen to how she is feeling. My son’s heart is broken and mine too. I can’t make room for the one who cast me aside, cast us aside.

This evening I’ve noticed I have had my face in my hands a lot. A lot of exasperated breaths are being released. I’m fighting with myself. Fighting for control. I have to keep doing what is right. I’m just struggling right now with what that might be. What’s right for him? What’s right for me?

I’m feeling overwhelmed and want to sooth his soul. Let him know it will be alright. But some holes I cannot fill.

So I look at the poem, the word nice purposely misspelt (It’s a meme he likes) and I know to me it is directed. But the last line is the most telling of all.

Thing is, when I am on this quest of being better, and have looked at my failings and failures, and see the steps I must take. That’s easier. I know how to fix me. But when it comes to my boy and his mother I am at a loss.

This is one of those times I just don’t have an answer, and I’m telling you all to show how things don’t always run smooth. Sometimes we don’t know what to do or if there is a right solution? But things always change so I’m holding on for a change right now. Hopefully a change in the right direction.

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Corners And Curveballs

When you make a post and hit publish I would hazard a guess that for most people, including myself, your mind has a little empty moment. All those thoughts that were swirling around got put down, the canvas wiped clean, and that tiny fear of what next comes creeping back in. But then somewhere a spark ignites, a flutter of a butterfly’s wings, and it’s off you go again.

Yesterday was one of those times, and even better. The spark became a fire, the flutter a typhoon, and my head was swimming with inspiration. Ideas were coming to me so fast I was struggling to get them written down, afraid I would forget an important word.

I was looking forward to the chance to get them written up. I had even sneaked out of bed last night when my son was asleep to get a piece written, at least on paper. I was filled with ideas of hope, enthusiasm, inspiration. Moments from my progressive journey that might help others as they have helped myself. How I have seen my mindset changing, and continually so. Even the difference between me now, and me 4 weeks ago.

But, as in this journey of life, a blind corner appeared. Instead of going straight the ball curved away. It reminded me of that infamous, contentious boxer Mike Tyson: “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth”.

See, it’s 9:25am. I am sitting in my work clothes on the sofa in the living room. My boy is currently laying across the rest of it. He wasn’t well all weekend and this morning he had no interest in eating his breakfast. He loves his food, admittedly more than I, and when he doesn’t want any it’s a sure sign something is up. He’s been running a temperature, has a sore throat and an upset tummy. There is a bug going around at the moment so I am not too worried and have taken the appropriate steps. I know he’ll be fine. It’s just one of those things.

The problem is, as I have said in previous posts (See: Don’t Let Your Mind be Your Enemy and From Loser to Legend), his attendance is being very closely monitored and I am on a written warning from work regarding the same issue. This has all been due to the fallout of his mum and I’s separation. We are on a very fine line that only seems to be getting finer.

I am expecting some fallout from this. Unlike before I am not going to concern myself with the unknown, the possible repercussions. They will be dealt with as they are faced. Because right now, I am right where I need to be, where he needs me to be. Right by his side. (Obviously with a pen and paper).

I might be on a path of self-improvement, trying to be better for him and myself, but it would be an empty path if he wasn’t with me. So for now my only concern is my boy getting better. The rest of the world can wait.

P.s.    You wouldn’t have guessed it but I have also been facing my challenges today as I too am dosed to the high heavens. My temperature is up, my head and throat sore, my stomach aches. But like every other single parent out there you must push on. There’s no time to wallow. No one to fall back on except yourself. You have to be your own rock.

I will admit to having a few moments. Moments where I missed the comfort and security from my soon-to-be ex-wife. That bit of extra support. Moments where I too just wanted to lay down and not have to worry and be looked after. Moments where I would read about people talking about love (As it’s that time of year) and feel that empty spot in my heart. Little challenges which have been surmounted.

Thankfully by now (It’s 7:13pm) my boy is well on the mend. His temperature settled, his appetite back. That’s the most important thing after all!

The Cat At The Window (A Lesson To Learn)

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There’s a cat at my window. Another casualty of my failed marriage. When my ‘wife’ and I were together at one stage we even had 4. Thing is, I’ve never really been fond of cats. I merely tolerated them as they were what she wanted. But even though the cat is not mine and I don’t really care about her. She is teaching me a valuable lesson. Persistence. And the value of it.

When I wake in the morning and go downstairs into the kitchen. She is there. Meowing, meowing, meowing.

When I return from work and get a quick cup of tea before picking my boy up from school. She is there. Meowing, meowing, meowing.

When my boy and I come back from school and go into the kitchen to do his homework at the table. She is there. Meowing, meowing, meowing.

In actual fact, almost every time I enter the kitchen, when I am making a cup of tea, making our dinner, or the evening supper. There she is. Meowing, meowing, meowing. Pawing at the window.

Now you might think I am ignoring the cat (She’s called Marshmellow by the way). But if you look at her you will see she is quite fat. She demands to be feed, she demands my attention. Relentlessly, she persists.

Now, as I’ve said, I only tolerate her. I’m not a cat lover by any means. Not a hater either I might add. Truthfully though, if she wasn’t there, I wouldn’t care. Not another thought would she be given. But she is there, always. She persists.

As a result she is always fed. Even that is not enough sometimes. Right after feeding she will be back at that window. Meowing, meowing, meowing. Pawing at the glass. Demanding, persisting.

Then I break and go outside to her. Often she jumps down from the windowsill and sprawls herself on the ground. Meowing, persisting.

She wants attention. I relent and give it to her. Then it’s back to the window she goes.

My point is, just to be clear, I’m not a fan of cats. They were never my thing. But this cat, through damned persistence, gets what she wants. She gets fed and watered, gets the belly rubs she wants. And all from someone who doesn’t really care. Because she persists.

You could argue that I am so weak-minded that a cat can defeat me. And in a way you are right. But the way I see it is that she can teach me a thing or two. Teach us all something important. Whatever you want in life. No matter how tough, no matter the opposition. Persist. Persist until you get what you want. Persist. Persist. Persist.

The fat cat knows.

Give Or Take. Produce Or Consume.

For a long time I have done nothing but take. For the most part I was very self-centred, only thinking about what I wanted, how I felt, where my next bag of marijuana was coming from. It was all very me, myself, I. I did very little for others. It was always a hassle, an inconvenience, a chore. Frankly these days how I was then causes me to feel embarrassed. I was a poor excuse of a person and have no one to blame but myself.

In fact the only real thing I have ever given wholeheartedly to was my son and as a result he lives with me full-time. Custody was never contested when my wife and I separated. Even though she had got to the stage of intense resentment towards myself to the point where she felt her only option was to leave. She still recognised that the only thing I served beyond my selfishness was our son.

When I became a father I decided unconsciously that I was going to devote every fibre of my being to this little empty vessel. To be nothing but caring and understanding, to be always prepared to give my time to him no matter how convenient. As he grew (He is now 10) I made a concerted effort to fill his life with as much joy and happiness as was possible, always a keen believer in creating  good memories for him which I hope would last forever.

But whilst I gave to him, I only took from my wife. Or at the very least wasn’t attentive enough to her needs, her security, her peace of mind. Enough that I drove her away from me, and our son. Creating one of the most horrifying and saddest memories he has to date and will continue to have for some time. That is a terrible burden I will bear. It was the last thing I would have ever have wished for him. I will never let myself forget it and it is one of the reasons why I will continually strive to being better, not just as a father but as a person as well. My only wish is that I could have learned the lesson that giving certainly reaps more benefits than taking a lot earlier on.

I know that some people may think how could a mother leave her child especially given that maternal bond. That supposed great unshakable thing. She is the one who gave birth to him after all. But the flip side also has to be considered. How bad did she feel her life was to have to leave him behind in the first place? I accept my part in her decision as I had become emotionally unavailable to her. Too concerned with myself and my marijuana smoking. I was never abusive. But I was never really there for her either.

I also know that it is something she is struggling with, the distance that now lies between them. And that is something that isn’t good for both of them. For that reason I have made her welcome to visit and sit with him any time she chooses, no matter how emotionally difficult I might find it. If I need to give more, by getting over the unrequited feelings I harbour, so they can try to rebuild their relationship then that is what I will do. Even when she isn’t there I make sure to drop her name in conversations we have, and never in a negative way. And in the real heartfelt moments remind him that his mother loves him deeply. It’s the least I can do.

As important as the above situation is, it is only one example. It is its essence that is the most valuable thing. Are you giving more, or taking? Do you produce or consume the most? If my development over the past months has taught me anything it’s that giving or producing is so much more rewarding and self-satisfying. More warm and wholesome. Good food for the soul.

When I smoked a lot all I really did was consume. I consumed a lot of marijuana, and therefore money. Then in the time away from my son I would sit and consume television programmes or movies or works of fiction. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with those things, they have their place after all, but they were never conducive to my development as a person, as a father, as a husband. Just time wasters that gave me nothing in return. In all those years as a married man I produced very little and felt empty and sad because of that.

Now I am all about the giving, the producing. I give my time as much as possible to those that want it. I give my warmth and happiness to the people I meet and know, in the hope it will rub off on them. Maybe lift them on a low day. I have written more in this past month than I have in years. In fact, even though I am still on the now never-ending path of self-improvement, my life has never felt so much fuller and rewarding now that I am trying to give as much, produce as much, as I can. I have went from bouts of sadness, to bouts of happiness, persistent frowns to smiles of joy. Oh some of my circumstances are certainly difficult to contend with and without a doubt there will be some great challenges yet to come. But in deciding to give more, even if it’s just more thought to the words I use when talking to people. In deciding to produce more, even if that is just a random text to some old friend, I have found that it also helps me in being better. Helps me grow and hopefully helps those I come into contact with.

It doesn’t really take much effort to be this way, just a little thought, a shift in mindset. If I dwelled on all those years where I could have been a better person to my family, my friends, even society, well that doesn’t bear thinking about. That’s a dark path, and one that would swallow me whole. So please, if there is anyone out there too wrapped up in themselves, too concerned with taking, obsessed with consuming, all me, my and I. Please learn from this middle-aged man. Your own salvation can be found, the hole climbed out off, if you just learn to give a little, learn to give back, even if you feel the world has done nothing but take from you. Rise above it, be the better person for yourself. If my experience has taught me anything it’s that you will feel much better for yourself, towards yourself, and that can only be a good thing.

Inspired

Something truly remarkable and profound has happened and I am currently brimming with enthusiasm and buoyed with the thought I am on the right path. It was two little things actually, two little blips of heartbeats in a lifetime’s worth. In the grand scheme of things they would be considered very little but to me they have provided a little glimpse of what is possible, a little taste of an, at the moment anyway, imperceptible cake. And they are thanks to a work colleague and my nearest sister.

The work colleague is someone who just started their job with the same company I work for a few months ago but is someone the old me used to know fairly well. He wasn’t what some people might call a ‘dealer’, just a friend of a friend who, on a few occasions, would have pointed me in the right direction to get some marijuana. Until he started working in the same place I didn’t even know his surname. He’s a young man in his mid 20’s who, like I once did, smokes the dreaded weed. (By the way I don’t think marijuana is a bad drug, quite the opposite, but I do think that for anyone who smokes habitually for no other reason than pleasure or to relieve boredom then it is a problem).

The thing is he approached me a few weeks back to tell me he had a conversation with his mother about yours truly. He was telling her about the fact that I had been smoking for over 20 years and that I had just stopped. It wasn’t just that though, he had remarked to her how healthy I was now looking and that I just seemed to be filled with such energy and positivity. In fact he had become so impressed with my transformation that it inspired him to quit too!

As soon as I heard that I sang his praises. Seeking to further inspire him in making such a great decision. In fact these days that’s what I consciously try to do. Inspire, elevate, get the most out of life. I reinforced to him that he is lucky to have reached that decision at such a young age and that he will be so thankful in the months and years ahead. I even gave him my phone number and told him that if at any time he is feeling weak and having the urge to smoke to just call me first, which he has done, and I will be happy to take that call. He’s still going strong now, and even though it is early days I believe he can do it.

My sister, who is 3 years older than me, has always been a source of strength for me. She was the one I cried to over the telephone in the months following my separation and has always been there for me. She quit smoking cigarettes a few years back and has been steadily exercising since then. She even got a coaching qualification and was training and playing with her hometown’s cricket team.

Just last weekend we were talking on the phone and she said she was thinking about starting a ‘couch to 5k’ running course. She had mentioned this to some other family members who were quite negative about the whole thing, as family members can often times be, and was having doubts. I on the other hand am done with such bad vibes and told her to push on, and push hard.

By the time she was off the phone she was fired up. A few hours later she had her poster designed. A few hours after that she had been posting on Facebook and Instagram and had managed to get more people signed up that she had even expected.

The first session was on Monday. I got a call from her before she set out for it. The nervousness and worry were setting in. Some family members had been annoying her about it earlier in the day and that was playing on her mind also. She had called me to lift her spirits and help her to believe what she needed to believe. She had me on speaker phone and at one point her daughter was laughing at me. Not in an ‘uncle Chris is crazy’ type of way. She was laughing because my energy, my belief, my positivity, had made her happy, made her mum happy, and by the time she hung up the phone she was raring to go.

Reflecting on both these things, helping a work colleague and my sister, has made me realise something very important. I am not even a year into being a better me, not even a year on working on my physical and mental strength, but I am starting to see the signs, the effect, that having a good mental attitude can bring. Not just for me, but for the people I come into contact with. The beauty of it all is that anyone can do this. Not just anyone, but everyone. If we all tried that little bit harder, became that little bit more aware of the effect our words and actions have on others, then maybe, just maybe, we can make this world a much better place, and not just for ourselves, but for everyone.

So today, even whilst I still have my hang-ups and self-doubt, I am sending my love, my happiness, my positivity, to each and every one of you. So inspire yourself and be that inspiration that others might need. It’s our duty to each other. We’ve all got this folks.

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