Hello, all three of my readers. I’m back and I apologize for my absence.
As you probably know, my father died on May 7, 2022. I dropped everything, including this project, on that day. As you can see in my blog, my last post was on that morning. Here was what I wrote in my journal on that day:
5AM: Morning spent playing Civ, writing in my blog, posting on the forum at QuantifiedSelf.com, and running to Mimi’s.
8AM: Grandpa isn’t doing well. Mimi said on our walk this morning that she is calling a nurse to come look at him. She might need to put him in a nursing home. 🙁
11AM: My father died today. Mimi called me while I was driving Lily to Tupelo’s to say she can’t find a pulse. I slammed on the brakes and looked back at Lily. She gasped and looked back over her shoulder out the window. I turned the car around and drove as fast as I could to Mimi’s. I called Carly and she called 911. Lily began to cry. “Grandpa won’t see me turn 10. He won’t see me graduate from high school.” I tried to comfort her but somehow her tears made me feel better.
That was it. I didn’t write again in my journal until June when I began to write notes down for the eulogy. Even that took me a while, despite having written the original eulogy for my father’s funeral service on June 13th (his birthday also). I just couldn’t face it any earlier. It took me months to work up the nerve and energy to face this project and another goodbye to my father, despite how much they both mean to me.
My father and his condition were huge reasons I was doing this project. There was a part of me that still believed I could save him. If he had just had the energy to get up and move around, the weight would have begun to drop off. If the weight came off, he would have more energy and freedom to exercise and get stronger. With strength and freedom would come joy and love for life. With those would come longer life.
But I was too late. Would he have listened to me anyway? Probably not, but I still felt deflated without him.
I began drinking again after three months dry. I gained 20 pounds. I stopped running for the most part. Stopped eating well. All my good habits came crumbling down.
It took seven months of self-destructive behavior and mourning to even begin to feel normal again. I didn’t have another 5 Star Day of energy until November 11th. Two days later, I was able to post his eulogy and begin to work on this post.
I’m going to have to figure out a way to explain the connection between mood and energy. It’s not like sleep where you can see a direct correlation the next day. But if you look at my data, mood is the highest correlation with energy. I hesitate to say it is more important than sleep. If you only sleep three hours one night, you will be a total zombie the next day. But if you are getting at least 6-7 hours of sleep a night, mood will be a stronger predictor of energy than sleep. It’s crazy.
This summer has been a testament to that. I lost it all, due to grief, stress, and anxiety. I realize now, if you only have two foundational things to work on protecting for your energy, focus on sleep and mood.
So how did I restore my mood enough to return to this project? Part of it was just taking the time to heal. But the conscious part was trying to (slowly, haltingly, fearfully) rebuild hope.
Hope is a big part of our mood. When we don’t believe the future can be better than the past, we turn to fear, anxiety, and despair. The world grows small and dark. We clutch at our belongings, cease to share, and cut ourselves off from others. This can become a vicious cycle.
But we can rebuild our hope. At first, I thought, What’s the point? I missed my chance to help my father. He would never read my work, see me get published, or recover. But then I thought, There is still a chance for my son. And perhaps there’s still a chance for me.
The fear in me had suspected I was genetically doomed to follow in my father’s footsteps. Whether it was a predisposition towards Alcohol Use Disorder, obesity, trailing effects of Agent Orange, or some other hereditary trait, I might need to face the possibility I wasn’t getting better (or at least there might be a very low ceiling to my potential improvement, making the ROI on this venture questionable at best).
But my son – my son’s future is worth fighting for. There is hope for him. Whether it is early education about the dangers of alcohol, a better father figure who models sobriety and exercise, or simply a basic understanding of how energy works and where it comes from, I had a chance to change his life.
He can have the energy to pursue his dreams. He can have the energy to get in shape, work hard for his goals, avoid the pitfalls and energy traps I fell for, and live his life to the fullest.
I’m not the best at communicating in person. Words flow better through my fingers than my mouth. I need time to reflect and gather my thoughts. But if I can pass on one piece of advice that can change your life, it would be energy. Without it, we are nothing. With it, we can be anything. So learn to cultivate your energy like the precious commodity it is. Avoid the drugs, food, activities, and people that drain you. Gather close the people and things that energize you. Then focus that energy like a laser beam and carve out the life you want to have.