2016: A Transformational Year in Review… Look Ahead

With just a few weeks remaining in the calendar year 2016, I find myself being very reflective of the events that helped shape my current and future life. All the while as I keep finding myself evolving as an individual, I look forward to a new day and a new year. During this time of year I keep reflecting on where I am and how I got here.

Before I get too far along, it should be known that this was not a terrible year, just one that is quite unique in comparison to recent years. In fact, by comparison of past years I would have to say that 2013 was one if the the most dramatic year of my life. At that time, our youngest entered the Marines, I was on to a new career path that brought me to Cleveland from Rhode Island, as well as the passing of my mother all occurring at roughly the same time. While these events were the most dramatic, they also occurred in such a quick sequence that it was difficult to reflect on it in real time.  Even to this day I look back at that year and to the present and wonder how my wife and I got through it all.

This year there have also been moments that have altered who I am and who I will be. The most obvious one to those that know me is the physical struggles I have faced due to a back injury. In August, I suffered  a back injury and, troubling at the time was that I was hurt simply by turning normally to grab a towel like I had done thousands of times in my life. No dramatic or glamorous event to cause the injury. After four months since being hurt, I am still working through my recovery in hopes that I will regain the strength and mobility I had before, and perhaps add to that to prevent such an instance from re-occurring.

Make no mistake, this has been the most challenging thing I have had to endure from a personal perspective and it can really humble you. Going from being active to suddenly being relatively idle was tough to manage but though it all, with my wife’s love and constant support I was able to get through the toughest part and am now a stronger person from the experience, while the physical part still is coming along.

In addition to the physical changes there has been a more subtle change in my life, but none the lesser in terms of importance. After years of avoiding “church”, I along with my wife became active members of a new church here in O-H-I-O. It is kind of odd that our activity coincided with a time where I was not really “active”. After a couple of decades of physical absence from the Catholic church, I found an awakening that I didn’t know would occur. Perhaps it was all the work looking for where my (and my wife’s) spiritual home should be based on our fundamental beliefs. It also was helped by my physical inactivity which challenged me to find things to keep me interested and mentally challenged. I suppose that you never fully lose your belief, it is just transformed and focused elsewhere. A lot of time was spent on my part researching (believe me, as a market researcher by education this was right in my wheel-house) who and what mattered most and finding a place where we truly belonged. It has been a rewarding experience that resulted in our joining the Episcopal church.

Over one’s life it cannot be assumed that who/what you were growing up to be would remain throughout your life. While that may be the case for many, the experiences in your life do impact how you perceive things going forward. That is the beauty of being alive, so long as you are curious and inquisitive you are not bound by the foundation your life was build on. Using a commonly understood concept from home improvement reality television, an old home can be renovated into something looking utterly different, even though the foundation remains.

While all this was occurring, something that I really enjoyed doing (sports writing, sports podcasting) sort of fell off the radar. As you can tell from my writing here, I do find expressing opinions on particular subjects to be a fun hobby of mine. From being a Celtics Beat Writer for a start-up sports blog to contributing writer for Yahoo to my own spun off sites, I was able to channel my sports passion and report on the current events, all with somewhat of a personal spin. It was fun doing the work and something that I certainly seek to rekindle. Whether that will mean a resurrection of “Banner Day Sports Radio”, I will have to ponder that further.

Speaking of sports, coming from New England, I have been spoiled with the near annual rite of passage that was the playoffs and winning championships. Not so much in Cleveland where, before this year no professional team had won a championship since 1964. When we arrived in Cleveland three years ago the Cavaliers didn’t have LeBron James, the Indians had a great manager (Francona) but mediocre talent, and the Browns were outright terrible.  This year, the Cavaliers have LeBron and a championship, the Indians still have the great manager along with talent and a trip to the World Series, and the Browns… well two out of three ain’t bad.

All the while, as this was all transpiring around me, there was one constant. My marriage is as strong today as it ever was, and possibly stronger as a result of our life’s experience. I was meant to be on this earth and share my life with someone. It may have taken a few years longer than others, but I can honestly say that I hit the jackpot when it comes to my partner in life (I could have said crime, but I didn’t want anyone to think that we were up to illegal activity… lol). It has been perfect since day one and gotten even better and I look forward to so many great years ahead of us. No matter where we are or where we go, we are home when we are together.

After thoughtful reflection, given all that has transpired I would say that 2016 was a great year, one full of personal, relational, spiritual and professional growth.

So, what does 2017 have in store for me? Well as soon as I get myself corrected physically (and believe me it will happen), I expect to resume my pursuit of improving my health and conditioning. Whether it be Yoga (DDP Yoga that is) to basketball to running, I plan on getting back to the activities that physically exhausted me, while enriching myself mentally. My work life remains steady and will improve when I am more ambulatory. After 3+ years on the job, I really have hit my stride and now am positioned to take a step forward. It may be the same role, but I plan on becoming more indispensable to my clients and the company, leveraging my strengths while enhancing other skills along the way.

Personally, it’s all about mobility and travel. The second half of this past year became too stagnant for my liking. That will change as I get stronger. Go places, see more of the world outside my door. It may be returning to familiar places that have created great memories, and it can include finding a new place to explore. It’s an blank canvas in that area, why not splash some paint on it? Perhaps new experiences will inspire me to something new in my life… you never can tell.

I will likely look for opportunities to re-connect with my writing, with this being the first phase. I certainly do not want to over-invest time at the expense of other things, but there is certainly an opportunity to channel my passion and focus it in an enjoyable way. Too much and it will begin to seem like work. Too little and I will miss it. It’s all about finding that sweet spot.

Relationship? Well, my marriage is strong. Clearly by not being limited physically will take some the caretaker responsibilities off my wife. Mobility will result in being out and about and exploring our surroundings, finding new memories to cherish.

What will my article look like this time next year? I cannot wait to find out. Seasons greetings to all in 2017 and a happy new 2017 and beyond.

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