I can’t die, I still have to… (excuses/reasons to live) REDUX

write a book

publish a book

publicly admit that I write poetry

own an antique typewriter that works

inspire someone If I inspire you, let me know, it’s not your praise I seek… I just want to help. 😉 In fact, let each and every person that inspires you know that they’ve helped you in some way before they are gone and can no longer smile inside their hearts knowing they did something great.

leave a letter in a book at the library for someone else to find

start my own business

successfully run a business

use my successful business to give back to the world in some way

learn to play the guitar

relearn to play the piano

start my own web community

write over 500 blog posts

give a TED talk

own a record player

run walk in and complete a 5K

quit a job that I really hate.    link

find a job I love

climb to the summit of a mountain

travel to Egypt and see the pyramids

graduate from college

survive student loans

find a job where I can wear jeans and comfortable shoes to work

buy a house

lose 300lbs   I currently weigh 220 and I love it!

build an old fashioned library for Laura and

fall in love.

stay married. (in progress, thanks Laura!)

have children

fly a plane

fire one of the rifles from my video games

ride a gondola in Venice, Italy

ride every adult-sized roller coaster in the United States

have a vegetable garden

have a vegetable garden, successfully

time travel

send a message in a bottle

pay for a random person’s dinner without waiting for the thank you

learn to paint on canvas

pack some clothes and go on a random road trip to meet random people in random towns all while writing a book incorporating the stories of little American towns

utilize the same trip to find the best local food

dance in the rain

choose education path

take the GRE

submit application for Masters

submit application to Ph.D. school

become Dr. Sedberry (not medical, just an expert title)

survive cancer 

code a text adventure game

try something new once a month for the rest of my life

cook more often than eating out

write at least 6 handwritten letters before 2015

write a song

revive the MFTT story

spend time with friends

make new friends

make an effort to talk to new people

choose our own adventure

have children

Donning New Perspectives

I’ve read this story before, long before I wrote these words. You see it often when people have slammed into a wall and been greeted with their own mortality. In my case, the wall was cancer, a word I never expected to hear that day. Yet, I think it was something I had been preparing my whole life to cope with.

I have jokingly told my friends that I made a deal with God to live forever for as long as I could remember. It was my way of deflecting my mortality and believing that I was ready for anything. I wasn’t, of course. At some point, before the word cancer, I began donning a new set of perspectives.

If you’re like most people you have a need to control every aspect of your life. You guard yourself from being hurt, from change, from anything that doesn’t fit your ideal circumstance. You may not admit it, or even see it, but there it is guiding your every movement through life. Most of the time, you don’t even notice this particular perspective. You’re so used to it that it seems perfectly natural to hide in the safety of it.

I realized that I didn’t have control and more importantly didn’t want control. Life is beautiful in the way that it moves like a river, either carrying us along or moving around us if we get in the way. You can drown in that river or you can go with the flow. We’re told that going with the flow is a form of weakness. It is actually the most sincere form of strength to allow life to grant you opportunities to seize.

When you allow life to carry you along, you begin to see that you have a purpose that life intends for you to accomplish, to change, grow and meet new challenges with a fresh perspective each time. My wife shared with me a beautiful narrative about change that demonstrated personal transformation through the eyes of caterpillar.

Change. Caterpillars go into themselves and melt, reprograming each and every particle into a part of the butterfly that it will eventually become. That melting stage is crucial, that’s the stage when you question all that you are and use it to build the person on the other side of the perspective shift. That’s what I’ve been going through lately.

Laura, my wife, bought me a book titled “Believe” while I was in the hospital. The following quote really touched me.

“We won’t always know whose lives we touched and made better for our having cared, because actions sometimes have unforeseen ramifications. What’s important is that you do care and you act.” ~ Charlotte Lunsford

Cancer saved me from a life that I would hate, in a career that I would despise and allowed me one final opportunity to let go of the puppet strings of my life. While sitting in the hospital listening to the stories of all the nurses, doctors, and family members visiting their relatives I changed a little more each day. Is it crazy to be grateful for cancer? Maybe. I’m applying to pursue a doctorate so that I can follow through with becoming a professor, so that I can make a difference.

Make a difference. Today.

Life and how to write one great song: My cancer journey

Life has a strange way of sneaking up on us. Laura finished her Masters in Social Work back in December. Laura had to do a full semester of an unpaid practicum at the Children’s Bureau. I carried her through her degree and so we agreed, I’d quit my job at the Rotary Club of Indianapolis to pursue the final semester of my degree.

We don’t know for sure when or where the symptoms started because given the past couple of semesters with Laura and I both subsequently out of a job for a period of time and a self-inflicted psychotic semester it would seem only natural that there would be a certain amount of stress, headaches, and exhaustion.

The week before Memorial Day, I felt like I had strep throat, scratchy itchy throat with an enlarged lymph node. We already had plans to spend the weekend with Laura’s family and I wanted to get checked out before we went in case I was contagious.  So we went to the local MedCheck/UrgentCare facility. The MedCheck doctor determined that my lymph node was a bit more enlarged than normal and ordered a CT scan and determined that I had a goiter. Odd, but, alright. I was told to follow up with my family doctor who scheduled an appointment for the next Friday and asked that I get an ultrasound done before the appointment.

We had a great weekend with Laura’s family. I couldn’t ask for better in-laws. We always have a great time, eating, drinking, playing games, it’s the perfect picture of how family should be and I love them for it. In fact, I wish we could go back to that weekend, play some more Dominion, drink a few more Blue Moons, and eat a few more chips and pretend none of this ever happened.

Laura and I left early to give us a little downtime before we started back to our normal routines on Tuesday. We had a good night together, on Tuesday, I had a scheduled interview and landed the job, I started that job the very next day too.

Tuesday night, however, I had a rather painful headache and took some medicine. We don’t know for certain that the medicine or anything I did that night exacerbated the situation. Within about 15 minutes of taking that pill, my neck swelled and I started having difficulty breathing and when I started talking with a higher pitch than Laura (it was quite amusing from my perspective) she made me go to the emergency room. They assumed it was an allergic reaction and sent me home for the night.

Wednesday morning, I went to an eye appointment and the ultrasound and off to work.  I wish that the ultrasound tech had made some sort of indication of what he’d seen while running his scan. I worked late that night to make up for missing part of my first morning, but hey, I was trying to make a good impression on my new employers.

The days after Wednesday really just blur for me. I tried to balance learning a new job, repeated tests, phone calls, appointments, etc. It’s all dizzying in my head. I just remember getting a phone call from a doctor to tell me that he was referring my case to an oncologist and that I should get a bag together because I was going to be admitted to the hospital very quickly. It ended up being Sunday before I was admitted due to a scary set of headaches involving loss of vision on the right side.

I’ve been in the hospital ever since. It’s been something like 3 weeks, I’ve been scanned, prodded, loaded with chemo and as I suffer through some of the worst feelings I’ve ever had in my life, I’ve also been given a chance to see my world in a whole new light.

Laura, as you may now know, means more to me than anything in this world. As I watch her cry, be terrified and suffer in the wake of this thing, my heart wretches in pain for her.  I will make it, I’m going to survive this, and we are good to go. I used to tell Laura that I had a deal with God to live forever. Now I get to remind Laura that having that deal doesn’t necessarily show all the things you can live through and grow beyond.

Laura’s maternal grandma used to have a comment about being aware of what to pray for was simply a matter of knowing how to pray without strings attached. A woman prayed that her son would come back to church only to have him arrive in a coffin. I liked the simple notion behind it. You cannot expect God to do all the work and then be mad at him because you made no effort to be specific with it to. You have to carefully guide and create the fortune behind you.

Because that’s what I have, a small fortune in family, a garden grove full of friends, and some of the best times you’ll ever have, all because of this little journey. I welcome the road.

Under a Cheshire Moon

We’re all quite mad here,
Under a Cheshire moon.
There’s too much confusion,
Mind drowning out in tune?
Up too late accomplishing little,
Gyrating ‘round the words.
Laziness, corporeal madness,
Brain splitting into thirds.
Stacked ideas in a deck of cards,
You can’t build a house, they say!
But arrogantly, I acquiesce,
What peace can be won in play?

Dear 16 Year Old Me…

Dear 16 Year Old Me…

There is so much that I want to tell you right now. I can’t and won’t spoil all the surprises but I think you’d benefit from knowing a few things. First and most importantly, you are currently dwelling on certain things that will inevitably fade into obscurity:

  1. In less than two years, you will have nearly died three times. These near-death experiences will teach you the value of life and permanently curb the childish lack of responsibility you feel now. No, I won’t tell you how to avoid them. They are some of the best things that ever happened to you even though they won’t feel like it at the time.
  2. The girl you’re with now… she’s going to wreck your perception of life in a way you can’t even begin to imagine. Your friends will all tell you how horrible she was, at the posthumous memorial of your relationship. Sorry Don, she really is that fucking crazy, but you already knew that and at 16 it’s already too late to avoid it.

    We all dated someone like her. Don’t lie.
  3. Your heart will be broken more than once. You will break a few hearts. Your best friend will betray you. Don’t worry, it inevitably bites him in the ass and you’re still friends today. He will always need you even if he doesn’t think so for about 5 years.
  4. Your mom will suggest a hairstyle involving a curling iron. She is crazy, avoid this at all costs.

    bad hair day
    Don’t do it!
  5. You really don’t need that extra slice of pizza in the cafeteria line. Stop eating so much! Did anyone ever figure out what they put in school pizza? It can’t have been sanitary.

    Yes, yes you are.
  6. Your family will separate into factions and acclimate for war. You will remain neutral. Stay that way because it is not your fault.
  7. You will never have the relationship you want with your father. He is incapable because his father was incapable. He will pass away without ever having known you and frankly, it’s his loss not yours.

Secondly, without spoilers, these nuggets of knowledge might help you along the way.

  1. You are going to have this amazing idea of becoming a writer. You will fail to follow through with it until you are 30 years old. Don’t give up your passions so easily. You are full of great ideas; you may not have faith in yourself right now, but for me, for us, pursue them.
  2. Not everyone is worthy of your faith and trust. Give yourself honestly and fully only to those who deserve it.
  3. When a girl suggests you get a tattoo while you are drunk… just say no!
  4. You should enjoy the company of Donja, while you can. She will not last forever but you will remember her always. Especially on very dark and stormy nights.

    Quite possibly the best friend I’ve ever had.
  5. At some point in the future, you are going to have to acclimate yourself to alcohol for a second time. You are going to do it wrong and embarrass yourself. Be thankful for the great friends you have to save you.
  6. Don’t feel guilty about not knowing what you want to do with your life. You won’t figure this out for some time. You’re not the only one who doesn’t know. I still know people who don’t really know what they want to be. When you do figure it out, it’ll have made sense all along. Your passions will guide you.

Finally, a few things you might have sincere trouble believing but trust me. I am, after all, you.

  1. You are uniquely talented. Stop questioning it and just believe it.
  2. You are not as clever as you think you are right now, but you will be.
  3. You aren’t always right; however, you are most of the time.
  4. You will eventually meet a woman worthy of your affections, you will not be good enough for her but she’ll forgive and marry you anyway.
  5. Vegetables are not disgusting; you will learn to like many of them including zucchini.
  6. You will become the man most women wish they had, short of the harlequin obsessed ones.
  7. You will grow into a confident, successful and generally great guy.
  8. The anger will fade and you will be loved for your even-keeled sensibilities.
  9. You will get published, small steps first!
  10. You are never further from your dreams than the exertion of a little effort.

I realize that you are 16, you know everything, you’re cocky and arrogant, maybe even a douchebag by my standards today. You will humor me by reading it to the end only to respond with a sneer and a laugh at the audacity that I make such claims; but one day, not long off, you will sit before this keyboard and type an “I told you so.”

With love and understanding,

Future Don

What would you tell yourself if you could send a message back? Tell me about it!