QUESTION: How have people, events and/or situations in your life influenced who you are today?
Choice. A wonderful word, filled with political napalm but wonderful nevertheless. Given the chance to totally control my destiny, my choices would result in a secure, promising future. Life being what it is, however, I am sometimes faced with events or situations outside my influence. How I respond is my choice.
When I was 19 years old my parents joined the majority of married couples and divorced. For reasons too complex for children to understand, our family unraveled and spun out of control. My brother was 14 and my sister was 9. Both were too young to choose how to respond. They fell victim to the anger and hatred that grew between my parents. I was old enough to sort through the deception and choose how this event was going to affect my life. My faith in marriage was put to the test. I had watched my parents' relationship dissolve after 19 years. Did I really want to commit one quarter of my life to someone only to end up with nothing?
Perhaps the most devastating event in my life brought the most positive, long lasting effect. I chose how it was going to affect me. If I ever married, I would make sure it lasted. I sought the help of someone five years my senior whom I respected. [Deleted] had known me for four years and was my role model. He took me under his wing and he taught me what made a marriage work. He taught me how to communicate, the importance of honesty and the value of being committed to my word. When I fell in love with [deleted], I was well down the road to understanding how to make our relationship and marriage succeed. [Deleted] officiated at our wedding in [deleted] 1981. This year we celebrated our 22nd anniversary. We have spent over one quarter of or our lives? together.
Shortly after my parents' divorce, I was diagnosed with diabetes. It was the worst of times. The doctors could not even tell me what caused it. So there I was again, swept off my feet. My life changed forever. I faced days filled with needles, glucose testing and no candy! If the statistics were correct, I had a good chance of developing heart disease. Because of poor circulation, retinopathy could take my eyesight and I could easily develop infections and lose fingers, toes or limbs. My future was not very bright.
One thing could save me from these dangers: discipline. I had to eat right, exercise regularly, test my glucose levels daily and see my doctor twice a year. That sounds easy, but diabetes is a shrewd disease. Lose the discipline once or twice and no one will know. Your body does not send up a flare. Lose the discipline for months or years and the side effects creep up on you. There is no grand announcement. You do not notice the disaster just around the bend until it is too late. Within a short period of time doctors must take extreme measures to save your life.
I have lived with diabetes for 26 years. I exercise regularly and referee soccer. I test my glucose several times a day and I see my doctor twice a year. This is the same discipline I established when I was 20. At my last visit, my doctor said I show absolutely zero diabetic side effects. My lab tests are normal and my blood pressure reeks of longevity.
In my life adversity has served as a catalyst, forming my determination to uphold the values that define me. I learned from my parent's divorce the importance of being committed to my word, whether to my wife, a friend, or a business associate. I can trace the balance between my relationship with my wife, my relationships with my children, my professional career and my personal interests to [deleted] teaching me how to make my marriage last. Discipline in my life is rooted to my experience with diabetes. Whether working full time and graduating with an accounting degree, working at [deleted] Company and passing the CPA exam or volunteering as an [deleted] soccer referee and mentor卍iscipline was the key.
Bad things happen but I can choose a positive, constructive response that will make me a better person. Life has taught me that I can develop and mature through the best of times and the worst of times.