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2014 In Review: The Good, The Bad & What's Next

2014 has taken its bow after twelve months of highs, lows and some stretches of steadiness. I've been silent for most of it as I've been waging a number of personal battles that consumed so much emotional energy, I simply haven't had the bandwidth to share much of myself via my blog, via photos, via nothing. But in doing this I've learned is it's good sometimes to close the gates, pull down the blinds and focus on self. Because, let's put it into perspective, if you aren't any good or are deteriorating, how can you hope to be of any good to anyone else?

2014 was a year of accomplishments:

1. I adopted my son after many years of saying I would and trying to do so. God allows some things to happen in His time no matter how hard we try to do it ourselves. I needed to mature considerably before I could truly have the right attitude and heart for what it was that I was trying to do. It also didn't hurt that I found a great lawyer to work on our behalf.

2. In December of 2013 my cholesterol was high. My doctor told me to get active or get on cholesterol meds. I'm not a fan of  pills. On January 1, 2014, while vacationing in Fort Lauderdale, I decided I was going to run a mile a day after reading an article on the plane about a man who has run eight miles a day for the last thirty-eight years. Or at least I was going to do my best to try. Weather, health and stick-tuitiveness impacted this, of course. These were the highlights of my efforts

  • I ran my fastest mile in June in 7:41
  • I ran my fastest 5K in December in 27:07
  • I ran my fastest 10K in September in 63:17
  • I ran a total of 52.1 miles in August
  • I ran a total of 300.1 miles in 2014
  • I developed a healthy rivalry amongst a handful of runners
  • I lost 15 pounds
  • I lowered my cholesterol

3. I vigorously paid down my debt following Dave Ramsey's debt snowball system so that, minus any unforseen setbacks, I can declare myself debt free in September 2015. It's an amazing feeling to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

4. At the end of 2012 I pledged to triple the income I made that year. In January 2015 I will be making nearly four times what I made in 2012. It took me two years as opposed to the one I originally thought it would, but my point is by simply staying the course and complaining almost never I'm receiving more than I was trying to achieve.

5. I, or rather through God's help I have experienced a real breakthrough in my marriage. Yes, my marriage was on a flaming, speeding bobsled headed straight to Hell. And it had been for a long time. It landed me in therapy, a place I thought I'd never be. But I fought and fought and fought and fought and met a real good dude along the way who was going through something similar. He became a partner in arms providing advice, really GOOD advice every step of the way. And when I finally stopped fighting because I was too tired to even raise my head to look at the sun I've been blessed to see everyday, my wife came around just enough to let me know the fighting was all worth it. And the rest will be the continuation of our story. There is much still to be done and even more to be undone.

6. Therapy was a place I thought I'd never be. Especially as a black man, pumped up with the false notion that I should be able to pray everything away. It's funny how through most of 2013 my pastor referenced his therapy sessions during sermons and it went right over my head. And ultimately, God makes therapists too. In 2104 enough was enough. I didn't understand me and always knew I didn't. So I sat down with a man who's name and number I had for a long time and he helped me begin to slay the dragons in my head that I actually thought existed. He's taught how to speak as opposed to how I had been speaking and how to view things as not being nearly as terrible as I was making them out to be. 

7. Through all of the above, I found my voice. I learned to speak my mind without concern of what others may think. I also learned how to choose my battles a bit more wisely. And I've learned the power of silence. I also learned the power of saying no, affirmatively.

8. I stepped out of my comfort zone and went with the family on a Christmas cruise. My family and I enjoyed sun, surf and the amazing enormity of the Atlantic Ocean. A clear reminder that we take up no space whatsoever on this immense planet. It's a truly humbling experience I would encourage you to experience.

2014 was a year of challenges:

1. I came to seriously question my purpose/reason for being. This in turn negatively impacted my ability to write (blog) and make it through the day each day at work. This continues to be a challenge for me that hopefully, I'll be writing about this experience with fondness at the end of 2015.

2. Fighting for my marriage has left me with a lot of emotional baggage and a lot of collateral damage. It's stuff I have to acknowledge and work through in order to move forward.  

3. I struggled and continue to struggle with the idea that I deserve nice things and so do the people around me whom I love.

4. 2014 was the year I learned to let go of things I was no longer honestly using by either giving them away or throwing them away. This isn't to say I was a hoarder but based on older relatives I know I have the trait.

5. I failed to create a product I could sell or promote. This is something I have been trying to do effectively to no avail year after year. But part of this had much to do with me not having my voice or knowing why I'm here. I anticipate a change now that these areas have improved.

6. Following Number 5 above, I put many of my passions on the back burner considering them to be failed expectations rather than dreams that have yet to come to pass.

7. My father suffered a stroke right before Thanksgiving 2014. It was mild but it was enough to temporarily change life as my mother and I know it. We also learned that over time my father has had multiple mild strokes. Not enough to kill him but just enough to alter him in ways we currently do not know. I learned a lot about myself back in the beginning of December when I flew home and found my dad in a condition that I would never consider possible for a man of his stature. My compassion, strength, ingenuity, patience, willingness to act and speak up for myself, and faith were all tested and strengthened. The silver lining in all that has happened is that my mother and I now know and know how to get him to his new normal. I'll take that over the alternative of my mother coming home one day and finding my dad unconscious or worse.

In Conclusion

I saw a lot of people move on to the next life in 2014. Both friends and family. I'm becoming more and more aware of my own mortality as my son ages into manhood and my daughter continues her ascent into little ladyhood. I never imagined myself as a dude with a legacy and yet, here I am.

I hope you experience the successes and teachable moments from your 2014, write them down and contemplate how they have helped and hindered you. In 2015 I want you to be everything you determine yourself to be. Don't rule out the help of others. No man or woman is an island and doing it all yourself is not a recipe for success. Speak up for yourself and don't let anyone steal your joy.

I will do my best to be here with you in words and ideas.

Meet Ross and watch his testimony on what it means to be a father..
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