From my dyed blonde roots down to my skinny pinky toes, I'm a full-on, child of the 80's. One of my favorite old songs is Journey's "Don't Stop Believing." It's just one of those songs that whenever you hear it, wherever you are, and whatever you're doing, you want to sing it at the top of your lungs—at least, I do!
Of course, when I look back on my life back then, life seems pretty good. Sure, there was the usual teenage drama and what not, but there was never a day when I didn't think big and make plans that were so much bigger than I was. I felt invincible, like Rocky Balboa dancin' around the ring getting ready for a big title fight. All was good. Every day was a new day.
Then, . . .
Life entered the ring and the fight was on.
All of a sudden, the fight that I didn't anticipate came at me and caught me off-guard. It blindsided me with a blow that knocked the wind out of me. Wait just a minute . . . This wasn't the fight I signed up for. It wasn't in my "plan" and my "life by design plan for my life." But Life didn't care if I had signed up for it or not. It was merciless; and for five solid years, it delivered crushing blow after crushing blow. I was knocked down, but I wasn't knocked out, and so I stayed in the ring.
After the onslaught of combination punches that were hurled my way, another fighter entered the ring. I had never in my life been in the ring with Depression before—ever. Little did I know how heinous and cruel he could be. No, he didn't deliver the blows; he just held me down and crushed my spirit, so Life could continue delivering devastating punches at me. Depression smothered me, choked the spark of life right out of me, and robbed me of my ability to dream. Those days of dreaming were non-existent, like someone you met when you were four years old and now you're grown up. You might know them by name, but by name only. Only a remnant of their memory, if that, even exists.
The day I stopped dreaming was the day I started dying from the inside out. And, like most fickle fans, those who were once cheering my name and there to enjoy to good, were long gone and on to find their next champion. Yes, they said with their mouths that they would always be there for me, but they weren't. I felt so alone, so sad . . . so insignificant.
Only one stood in the ring with me—my coach. He couldn't defend me, because it wasn't his fight. All he could do was comfort me after each devastating blow and try as best as he could to stop the bleeding. He followed through with his vows, "In sickness and in health . . ." Yet, as much as he tried, I still felt so alone.
Of course, I'm not counting Life and Depression. They were my opponents. They weren't for me; they were against me. But believe me, they stuck by me closer than a brother and made more noise than anyone else could. Any "light at the end of the tunnel" was just the freight train that was barreling straight towards me.
Finally, after a long and brutal five-year fight, something happened. Something, in me, changed. An incident happened in our family that gave me the ability to thrust Depression off of me. It gave me the ability to get my power back and got me on my feet again. I was still broken and bruised, and it would take a while for me to become a real contender again. Never in my wildest imaginations would I have ever thought an incident like that would be the driving force to make me get up and start throwing punches again, but it did.
As I got stronger, Depression quit the fight. He knew he had lost. That left me with only Life to deal with—and I could handle Life with my coach in my corner. Depression was such a sneaky opponent. He didn’t play fair. Neither did he come straight at me with a punch I could defend. He came against me by crushing my vital areas: my boys and my hopes and dreams and life plans. By knocking them down day after day, he thought he had finally won because they couldn't get back up again. But now, they were getting stronger and stronger by the day. Dreams came back into my line of view and as I grew stronger, I focused in on them more and more. It wasn't overnight, but it was all-consuming.
Today, the bruises are gone, but the scars are still there. A gentle reminder that what was meant to take me out of the ring—DIDN'T! I am stronger than I ever was before . . . and wiser. My dreams—they're bigger than they ever have been before. That's right! I'm in this fight to WIN! Never again will I EVER stop dreaming! I’m a contender!
(The whole story is found in my new upcoming book release, A Passion to Live For.)
I love life. I love people. I love helping people love life.