There is no question that this past year (2014) has been full of its ups and downs. Its highs and lows. Its peaks and valleys. And, quite honestly... as I reflect, there have been more times where I was down than up, more lows than highs, and more moments in which I have felt like the valley was going to be a permanent residence for which I would live out the rest of my life. This is not to say that this past year has not had its share of amazing, encouraging, exciting, and wonderful moments... mountaintop moments--- it most certainly has! Do not get me wrong... I am grateful for those moments. I am humbled for any gift and opportunity that has been given to me. I am grateful to be the father of two precious children. I am honored to have a wife who loves me unconditionally. I am thankful for friends and family who support and cheer me on. I was given the amazing opportunity to serve as Principal of the Eakin School this past school year. I have a doctorate. I have presented to hundreds at conferences and grown my circle of influence. Relatively speaking, I am in good health. My Commodores won the College World Series :). I live in a GREAT city! I own a home, have two cars, live in the top percent of wealth in the world and so much more. There is absolutely so much for which to show gratitude.
At the very same time... those moments of greatness during this past year have been overshadowed at times by the low moments, the times in which sadness smothered, darkness hovered, anxiety crept in, stress became the most noticeable character in my life, and my focus on the good things in life took a back seat to the stress and pressures in life. Quite simply... 2014 presented itself to me as my toughest year I have ever experienced. For the first time in my life, at age 35, I experienced emotional breakdowns, panic attacks, physical pain from stress, fear, and so much more. There were nights in which I awoke in the middle of the night in cold sweats of worry. There were tears. There were doubts. There has been hopelessness.
As I have grown older, I am constantly learning the serum to these low moments is not avoiding them, but confronting them head on with honesty, transparency, courage, and a sense that I cannot do this alone... therefore I confront the valleys with other supports such as therapy, counsel, family and friends. I am also learning to embrace the struggle, to not run away, and to not resent the valleys. I enter 2015 with a realization that I need to continue to work on myself, lead myself, create balance and margin, and be grateful for each and every day, each and every season in life... even the valleys. After all... the valleys allow us to appreciate the mountain tops experiences. I invite you to join me this year while I give thanks for the valleys while looking to the top of the mountain. I want to encourage you with this excerpt from Andy Andrews work in which he elaborates on the importance of the valleys in our life:
wants to be on the mountaintop, but if you'll remember, mountaintops are rocky
and cold. There is no growth on the top of a mountain. Sure, the view is great,
but what's a view for? A view just gives us a glimpse of our next
destination-our next target. But to hit that target, we must come off the
mountain, go through the valley, and begin to climb the next slope. It is in
the valley that we slog through the lush grass and rich soil, learning and
becoming what enables us to summit life's next peak.” This quote by best-selling author, AndyAndrews
May you... may we all enjoy a wonderful 2015 while seeking to "summit life's next peak" on the mountaintop while giving thanks for the arduous times in the low valley where growth takes place.