Last week, two significant events occurred in my life:
- I celebrated my 25th birthday
- My uncle tragically and unexpectedly passed away
Needless to say, my mind is full of overwhelming thoughts and emotions as I reflect on a quarter of a century of my life and everything my uncle meant to me and my family.
I want to write this post on my reflections- the thoughts and revelations I’ve had in light of these two events. I can’t promise this will be the most uplifting post I’ve ever written. Additionally, a lot of these points are part of my own “processing” of events, so I apologize if I ramble a bit.
Reflections on Uncle Mike
- He was my dad’s oldest brother (only 54 years old, though), best man at my parents’ wedding, father to two of my cousins, and eldest son of my grandparents…among his other roles.
- No doubt about it: he was the family jokester. I can’t picture him without a big smile on his face. One of the funniest stories my family tells is how Uncle Mike showed up the day of my parents’ wedding, as the best man, with hair and eyebrows freshly dyed jet-black. I can’t imagine my mom laughed about it then, but now we definitely do.
- He was everyone’s cheerleader. He was such a big supporter of whatever I was doing in my life at the time. When I started weight lifting and bodybuilding, he was one of the only people in my family not saying things like “don’t get big,” “be careful of too much muscle.” He shared my excitement over lifting PRs, my progress in getting stronger and more muscular and we spent many a family party shooting the shit about fitness. He made me feel validated with my passions.
- He adventured…Cairo, the Himalayas, Nepal, Europe, Yosemite. He was a tourist in the cities and backpacked in the mountains. I believe it was after he finished law school that he (and my Aunt) backpacked around most of the world. He had a passion for nature and culture. Sometimes his priorities may have been questionable…like the time in college when he spent money that was supposed to pay for housing on climbing shoes (then had to live out of his car)…but everything worked out for the better in the end.
- He was passionate…about his kids, rugby, corvette racing, his wife, nature, adventuring, family, music, and so many other, sometimes random, things.
Reflections on Grief
- It sucks the big one.
- I don’t like the word grief. It’s weird. One’s response to loss. I don’t feel like it’s an accurate depiction of what I or any of my family feel. Grief. Sadness, confusion, anger, numbness, emptiness, shock, devastation, sober, pensive, pained, preoccupied, distracted, heartbroken
- Everyone says how important it is to let yourself feel, to “process” emotions associated with such occurrences, but, to be honest, I don’t really know how to even begin to do that. What do you do? Sit on the couch all day? Make yourself cry looking through old photos? Part of me doesn’t feel like I deserve to be as affected as others who were closer to hom. I was just one of his nieces, not someone who talked to him often, grew up with him, or saw him daily. A lot of my sadness around my uncle’s passing comes from empathizing with my family members’ pains…my dad’s, my grandma’s, my cousins’. Seeing my dad’s reaction to losing his brother, my grandparents’ pain from losing their son, my cousins’ heartbreak from losing their dad. These are the realities that affect me the most. I’m sad for their sadness.
- Relationships and time are the most important aspects of life. Who matters to you? Do they know what they mean to you? How does your time reflect who is important to you? I know I definitely need to devote more time to cultivating relationships with my parents, my sisters, my friends, other uncles, and my grandparents. Life is too short to put these things off just because I’m busy with work or too caught up in my own world.
Reflections on being 25 years old
- I bought myself 6 bottles of red wine for my birthday.
- I feel old even though everyone I know who is older than me says I shouldn’t feel that way.
- I feel so blessed to have such a close family and a fantastic boyfriend. My family has grown so close as my sisters and I have become adults. Our family dinners are truly the best and are frequently spent laughing, telling stories, playing games, and just having a great time together. My boyfriend and I support and compliment each other well. We both love working hard and playing harder. We both have our own businesses but make time to go climbing, back packing, shooting, surfing, sailing, hiking, to the movies, and to do all other kinds of things together. I’m so lucky and so blessed to be with him.
- I’m frustrated to not be in or committed to a graduate program. I still feel like I’m in this “transition” phase in which I don’t know where I’ll be or what kind of job I’ll be doing 5 months from now. I am taking steps to remedy this, but it’s just a slow-as-molasses process. I’m not done learning. I’m eager to begin the “career” part of life, but there is so much more I want to learn.
- I have a few major accomplishments so far in my life: 1) I was a member of the Santa Clara Vanguard for 2 years 2) I ran a full marathon 3) I worked as an EMT with UCLA EMS 4) I graduated from UCLA with my B.S. in Physiology.
- On my own I’ve learned a lot about:
- Motivational/Habit-Forming Psychology
- Running my own business
- Physical Therapy
- In the last year, especially, I’ve realized that a healthy mind is just as important (if not more so) as a healthy body. Achieving these is not something that happens over night nor is it something that one can just give up on. Both are essential for a high quality of life. I will never stop trying to be healthier today than I was yesterday.
- I don’t know everything. Actually, I don’t know much at all. What am I doing?
- I’m not sure what I want to do for my career. Some career paths have well defined names: physical therapist, doctor, writer. More and more I find that the people I look up to and aspire to be like have less defined titles. Eric Cressey runs two athletic training facilities, writes articles for multiple websites, publishes books and training programs, and speaks in conferences and seminars. Ben Coomber owns 4 businesses, runs a nutritionist certification program, has an amazing weekly podcast, speaks at tons of venues on nutrition, creates supplements, and plays rugby. James Clear publishes articles, writes books, speaks at events, travels the world, and lifts heavy weights. Bret Contreras writes a lot of great articles, does a lot of impactful research, is finishing his Phd, and runs a successful coaching business. So I guess I want to be an entrepreneur? A fitness professional? Create a career where I can do all the things I love that help people get/stay healthy and active? Impact as many lives as I can. Unfortunately, there isn’t a how-to book available on that kind of career. It’s a lot of touch-and-go, trial and error, work your butt off, try and try again, and take things a day at a time.
- I’m grateful that my parents allow me to live at home with a low rent…..but it’s really hard to grow as an adult under one’s parents’ roof. It’s really hard. I’m an organization nut, and the fact that I don’t have a functional, organized office space to work in, with white boards, etc drives me cray cray. Sharing a fridge and pantry with the fam is a challenge, as is spending most nights at my boyfriend’s place but having to come back home in the morning for clothes/food/etc. I do my best to create and environment where I can be successful, but I also crave my independence on the daily.