You can rarely control what happens to you. The best you can do is control your response.
From cradle to grave all of us experience life events. Sometimes they are little things that create indelible memories. Other times, they are major events that change our life’s trajectory.
Little Joys and Life Events
As an example, I remember the joy I experienced after teaching a neighbor how to tell time on an analog clock when we were both about seven or eight years old.
In the great scheme of things, it was a little thing. But at that young age, I was given insight into at least part of my life’s mission. I enjoyed this knowledge transfer thing and this experience helped me realize that I wanted to teach.
Jobs and Careers and Life Events
Thankfully, this desire to teach bubbled up in me throughout my life. I ended up teaching for about seven years during my 22-year Navy career.
After retiring in 2001, I became a traveling trainer providing training to a wide variety of professionals around the U.S. While being a traveling trainer sounds romantic at first, it didn’t take long before I realized it was more a matter of lost or delayed luggage, canceled and delayed flights, and canceled or misplaced hotel reservations. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed most of the traveling trainer experience, but at some point, the challenges overcame the joy I enjoyed as a traveling trainer.
Langley had a contract trainer position that opened up and I jumped at the opportunity. I provided hundreds of classes to military and contractor personnel on a wide variety of technical topics including Microsoft courses, basic PC maintenance, networking, and security courses (such as CompTIA Security+ and ISC(2) CISSP topics).
During this time, I also began technical editing. I was lucky enough to connect with a great agent – Carole Jelen – who helped me land multiple contracts as a technical editor and then as an author.
After teaching Security+ from one book for a while, I concluded that I could write a book better than the one I was using. However, Carole told me that the market was saturated and she didn’t think she could find a publisher willing to publish another Security+ book. I frequently joked that this was the best rejection I ever experienced. I didn’t give up the idea but instead chose to self-publish the book. The first book was for the SY0-201 book and I’ve since upgraded the book for the SY0-301, SY0-401, SY0-501, and SY0-601 certification exams.
Marriage and Life Events
Marriage is another life event that most of us experience. My wife, Nimfa, and I will be celebrating our 30-year anniversary on April 24, 2022. I’ve treasured our time together and I’m very grateful she agreed to share her life with me.
We’ve traveled quite a bit over the years and I directly attribute much of it to her. Without her picking out some of the places, I doubt that I would have ever gone to them.
Additionally, Nimfa has been nothing short of an Angel as my health has slowly deteriorated. She doesn’t constantly ask me “How are you doing?” or “How are you feeling?” There simply aren’t easy answers to these questions. Instead, she asks “What do you need?” or “What can I do for you?” These are questions I can answer.
Sickness and Life Events
Of course, Covid isn’t the only illness or disease out there. People are getting sick all the time. It’s part of life. And for some, these illnesses progress to death becoming our last major life event.
Sometime in early 2021, I started to feel ill. Unfortunately, doctors remained puzzled for quite a while. Some even indicated it was all in my head and I was making it up. Eventually, I connected with the right doctors in late 2021. They gave my illness a name – stage IV dedifferentiated liposarcoma. That’s just a fancy name for a relatively rare cancer.
I explained to doctors that if I was given the choice, I would much rather enjoy a good quality of life to the end of my days, rather than go through procedures that may extend my life but sacrifice my quality of life. I also wanted to enjoy my last days at home with my loving wife rather than in a cold hospital setting.
A Full Life
I’m grateful that I have lived a full life. After serving in the U. S. Navy for 22 years, I retired as a Master Chief. I’ve been able to pursue my life’s mission of teaching – first in the classroom and later through the written word in books. I’ve written over 40 books sharing my knowledge with tens of thousands of people around the world.
Nimfa and I have traveled and vacationed around the world at places such as Machu Picchu in Peru, London and Paris including the Chunnel Tunnel, the Great Wall of China (it’s nothing like the movie), glaciers and spawning Salmon in Alaska, the Matterhorn in Switzerland, and much more.
Last, I’m on track to leave millions of dollars to charities after Nimfa passes. Like most people, I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth. Instead, I came from a lower-middle-class environment so I’m especially pleased that I’ll still be able to help so many people after I’m gone.
Surgery was never a viable option for me and chemotherapy didn’t seem to be helping. My oncologist switched me over to an immunotherapy drug. Immunotherapy attempts to stimulate the immune system to treat cancer. The goal is to improve the immune system’s natural ability to fight the disease.
It’s too early to say whether this is working or not. It could be that I pass peacefully in my sleep tonight or this drug reduces the tumors in my body and I live an enjoyable life for several more years. Time will tell.
The biggest side effect for me seems to be a lowering of my red blood cell count. My most recent hemoglobin (HGB) count was 6.5, which prompted another blood transfusion. The doctor ordered two units, but due to a blood shortage and local protocols, the hospital was only able to give me one.
If you want to contribute to something truly worthwhile, I encourage you to give blood. Perhaps you (or your organization) can even host a blood drive. One person can help save hundreds of lives by doing so.