It felt like forever since the last time Alex, Lynnessa, Randy, Rene and I got together. I honestly can’t remember the last time we did. They’re my longtime friends since my University days which means that was over 20 years ago – when we were all skinnier, with a full head of hair and without any gray that we all now try to claim is “fashionable”. In fact, I’ve known Rene since I was in Grade 8 which makes him my longest tenured friend I have.
We sat at the restaurant like old times. You know what I mean…that feeling you get when you get together with people you haven’t seen for a long time and conversations flow as though you never missed a heartbeat from their lives. You almost pick up from where you left off so to speak and there’s not a single ounce of discomfort or getting to know one and other all over again.
That kind of relationship is special – It’s like your tribe, your posse or your family.
Earlier that morning, I had just finished giving a presentation about Anger and Your Mental Health at the Creative Ink Festival. Incredibly, I felt much less nervous about presenting this time. My anxiety was in check and I felt as calm and as natural as I’d ever been in front of a crowd. I attribute that to the delightful audience members who began speaking to me about their stories a few minutes prior to my presentation which gave me that boost of confidence I needed. Once again, I made some wonderful connections in the mental health and writing community. We chatted and shared with each other about our personal stories of mental health. I even had the wonderful opportunity to meet international best-selling author, blogger, speaker and podcaster Adam Dreece (Adamdreece.com) who invited me to do a podcast later that morning to talk about my book Living with the Dragon and my journey that got me there. I really enjoyed my conversations with him in particular because of how candid and open he was about his life, and how his friendly nature was so inviting.
I capped off the day by spending it with my 16 year old son, playing basketball and watching the NBA playoffs at home. We celebrated a dominating win by our beloved Cleveland Cavaliers!
As my day drew to a close, I peacefully sat in my room reminiscing about how fortunate I am. I’m surrounded by great friends and my beautiful 16 year old son (and my cat Inori!) who make me smile every day. I have a great job and am blessed by incredibly hard working and fun-loving colleagues in Jo, Stella and Cat. I live in a beautiful apartment with access to things around me that I sometimes take for granted. And most of all, I’ve been given a gift in my life of self-discovery. Without an ounce of doubt, self-discovery has changed me and the way I think. I thirst for it now because it liberates me from who I was before. My growth reminds me that I’m capable of change and to accept every part of myself, warts and all. I’m not the perfect man, perfect father nor perfect friend – and I know I will continue to make mistakes from time to time, but that’s OK because I’m human too. But self-discovery has given me the strength to accept myself and to learn from the mistakes I make, and to try-try-again. And the longtime friends and loved ones will accept that in me as well, rather than remembering me for my poor choices and mistakes.
This road to receiving that gift of self-discovery was a difficult one, filled with broken hearts, broken relationships, anger, abuse and remorse for what-could-have been, but it’s perhaps one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received and I wouldn’t trade it in for anything else.
The rest of the weekend looks equally as bright for me. It includes my morning coffee, some reading, some blogging, time with my son and some friends. I’m surrounded by greatness and inspiration. I never imagined years ago that I’d become the person I am today to even have that kind of perspective. I think this feeling is what people call happiness.