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A Decade of Changing Lives

As I've stated many times before, I've lived about 12 lifetimes in this short 30 years I've been on this Earth. Because I've lived so many lifetimes, it's sometimes hard for me to see the way some things just "ARE" if you know what I mean.

Like the way I affect people.

Apparently I've changed lives (sometimes for the better) on many occasions I've not been aware of. I mean, its always interesting to find out that someone you knew in school had a crush on you back then, but that's not what I'm really talking about here. A friend of mine Ive not seen in about a year now was one of those people. He admitted to me that he had a 'thing' for me back when we worked together.

No, I'm talking about something deeper; something more profound.


I once was the manager of a restaurant in Arkansas. One of my waitresses didn't have any confidence in herself. Heather admitted to me a while back that the reason shes now successful and actually went to college was because of me. She desperately needed someone to believe in her, and that's when she met me. At first we butted heads, but eventually we grew fond of one another and even grew to love one another like family. She also admitted that had it not been for me telling her about my own mistakes, she would have dropped out of High School in her senior year.

In May of 2006 I got a telephone call from a dear old friend of mine whom I once worked for. Ive not worked for Vic in several years now, and yet he remembered me the second he was in a pinch. He knew that he had a friend in me; someone who would bail him out and do about anything for him if he needed it done.


Vic is the owner/manager of Colombos Restaurant in Eagle Rock CA. Hes a wonderful guy and a great boss. I was amazed that I left that much of an impression on him that he would call ME as soon as he needed a hand! He assured me that he would make it up to me, but he has no idea what it meant to me just to have him ask me for a favor; to know that he trusted me to help him when he needed it. Hes already made it up to me without knowing it.


I've had others come to me over the years and tell me that they had made some drastic, life changing decisions because of me. Somehow I had inspired them to make a change they had been putting off, or they had opened their eyes to seeing things in a whole new light they never thought was possible before meeting me or reading some of my blogs throughout the years (for those who don't know, I used to blog often on Myspace).


A friend I've known MANY years on another social networking site has been miserable in their marriage for over 13 years. After talking with me, getting to read some of my blogs and realizing through my writing that life was indeed too short to waste it being miserable, they decided to get a divorce. Though it's still a struggle to pay the bills, my friend is now much happier in their life and I couldn't be happier for them.


I wouldn't ever tell someone to go get a divorce, but perhaps my blogs are like reading a "self improvement" book or listening to the audio tapes on the drive to work in the mornings. Somehow I inspired this friend to do something to better their own life. If that happened to be a divorce, then at least they're better off.


There's one time in particular that stands out in my mind though... I hadn't been on Myspace for very long, so it had to be in 2003 that this instance happened. Someone wrote to me, telling me that they had stumbled across my page by accident. They saw a quote I had listed on my page that they identified with. After many weeks of thinking about it, they wrote that quote down on a sticky note and stuck it to their fridge. Then they did another the following week and stuck it to their rear view mirror. Before long, he had them posted at work, on the bathroom mirror and on the microwave. He then told me the story of what had happened and why he posted those notes everywhere.


When his wife told him she wanted a divorce, it was the most devistating day of his life to date. He had just recently lost both of his parents in a car accident and she had been there for him the whole time. He knew as he sat at the funeral that even though he had no family left (no Aunt, Uncles, Cousins or Grandparents) his wife and two children would always be there for him. When she crushed that, depression took over and wiped denial clean out of the way. He moped around the house in his stained underwear, not caring about anything or anyone when she left him. She took the kids and disappeared. He went to court to fight for custody, but her family had a lot of money where as his did not. She had a college education, he didn't. Her family were all still living, where he was all alone in the world. Needless to say, she got custody of the children in the end and moved out of the state.

Depression got worse for him. One night as he sat checking his emails, he decided to write a suicide note on his computer and leave it for his ex-wife to find when his body was discovered. He had nobody else left in the world and hadn't seen his kids in months. He had just lost his job. What else in the world was there to live for? He had lost everything precious to him in a matter of two months.

To my Wife -

I've loved you since the moment I saw you. I needed you and you were there for me. I've never wanted anything more in my life than to make you and the children happy. Now that I've failed at that, I feel there's nothing more for me in this world.

I leave you everything I've ever owned, if you want it. Our wedding video is still in the VHS case - I lied to you. I didn't want you to take it because I wanted to see you when you still loved me. I watch it almost every night before I go to sleep. Our wedding photo album is under my pillow. My favorite picture of you is taped to the dash of my truck.

What I'd give to hold you in my arms just once more. Perhaps I didn't tell you enough, but I loved you my whole life. I love you still. Coming home to you was a pleasure and I looked forward to it each day.

If any part of you still loves me, do not cry for me. I'm free from the pain and
I'm with my family now.

I'll always love you,

Gary.

He decided to see if his wife had a Myspace account so he could send her the note he had typed up rather than having her perhaps never see his words of love to her in his final hour. Her name was a common one, and happened to be EXACTLY my legal first and last name. She looked a little like me and he clicked on the picture, thinking the thumbnail was of his wife.

"I'm a fighter. I grow kinder for those who love me. I grow
stronger for those who don't. And I grow wiser as I learn the
difference."



As simple as those words were, those were the words that saved Gary's life. Those were the words that formed the quote on my Myspace page. Gary leaned forward in his recliner and read those words to himself again and again. Finally he read them aloud once.

With a couple of clicks, the suicide note disappeared and he went up to his bedroom. He pulled the photo album out from under his pillow and stuck it in a box. He tossed the wedding video in with it. Then he found the glasses he had saved from every Bubba Gump Shrimp Company they had visited together and tossed them in the box, no longer caring if they broke. He knew at that moment that he needed to grow stronger and wiser, because being kinder was only a slice of the pie.


From my words, he learned that he needed a balance of all things. He needed to be kind, strong and wise - that none was worth anything without the other.


Gary started the next day looking for a job. His new attitude and outlook helped him to land a savvy career in Radio, where he started on his first day with the first sticky note stuck to his microphone. The sticky notes catapulted. People at work asked him about the note, and suddenly Gary was becoming the inspirational speaker for his office. People went to HIM for advice, and he always kept a positive light and an uplifting spin on everything. Eventually he went back to school and got an MBA.

Gary's now remarried to a wonderful woman who loves him dearly. He makes plenty of money and gets to fly his kids out to see him quite often. Their mother still retains primary custody of them, but he went back to court and fought. He has summers and holidays. That works out quite nicely for Gary, now that he's got another little one on the way with Michelle.


Gary contributed all of the changes to me. He said that quote was just the floodgate, opening his eyes to whole new ideas and adventures waiting around every turn. If I could understand so much about life at such a young age and after having been through so many trials in my own life, the least he could do was give it one more honest shot.


So, congrats to Gary and Michelle. All the best to you, you certainly deserve it.

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