Over this last weekend I had the great fortune to spend time with some good friends.
I was invited to the wedding of my friend Chris Ciaccio. Chris and I have been friends for nearly 30 years. I will turn 38 this December, so to me that is a long time.
I went to this happy event with no expectations other than spending a pleasant time with friends.
But as usual, I was surprised to find myself learning some profound lessons and remembering the importance of other lessons.
I would like to share those experiences.
Please bear with me.
I am sure I will head off on a tangent to get to the point.
Chris and I grew up playing sports together here in Gloversville, and he and I have stayed in touch through the years.
One of the most valuable things he and I share is that Chris and I were blessed with incredible families.
Our parents were involved in our lives as well as our grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins.
We also grew up with an expectation that we would be good to others and work hard to accomplish our goals. Our family believed in us and supported our development.
Over the weekend, I noticed how important such a support system has been for Chris and most certainly for me.
It helps so much to have a rooting section behind you.
Over the last few years, I have felt how valuable this really is, not just in my family but also with friends and certainly with this community.
Every week, a different person thanks me for the opening the Wellness Center.
Every week, someone says he or she enjoyed the articles I wrote. Every week, I am blessed to have people around me that care and who are genuinely rooting for my success and well-being.
It is amazing to feel that kind of support and it is why I try to express my gratitude in as many ways as I possibly can. I sincerely believe that a support system is the key to a successful life.
Chris and I have also helped each other through some rough patches.
We helped one another get through the messes we have created.
Because of our support systems we have made it through each and every obstacle thus far. In the end, he and I share the love of learningwe have really learned from our "lessons" and try to avoid repeating the same "lessons." (I am careful to avoid the term "mistakes" because I truly do not view the "lessons" as mistakes.)
I have tried to guide my own kids through this process as they experience frustration and difficulty with what they are learning.
Last week I was in the car with my kids and I said to them that when they were really little, they fell down hundreds of times before they learned to walk.
When learning to ride their bikes, they fell down before they were able to keep their balance and just ride.
Then I said this, "Falling down is how your bodies learned what 'not' to do. There were no mistakes, it was just practice "
That's what life is there are no mistakes, just opportunities to clarify what it is you want to do and what you don't want to do."
This applies to our physical and emotional/psychological bodies as well as our spiritual lives.
When we focus on a "mistake," we tend to miss the opportunity that comes from it.
As I have said in my last two articles, all we know for sure is "maybe."
I remembered this weekend how important a perspective shift can be.
Looking at the same event through different eyes helps us to see things a little differently.
This is what allows us to find what it is we don't want for our life and allows us to clarify specifically what we do want. Having a support system certainly makes it easier to find the lesson.
This is what I was taught by my parents, just in a different way.
My parents would tell me to be a leader instead of a follower.
You all know that saying, "If your friend jumps off the bridge, you have be smart enough not to follow."
The point of support is exactly that support.
Others are not supposed to do it for you, in fact, they can't.
The best we can do for others is to offer a hand to help guide them or simply be there to hold their hand while they go through what they need to, to grow as a person.
I can only be responsible for what I say and do.
Sure, we may want to blame others and we try to find fault in others, but when you really look at the situation, the best we can do is take care of what we do to ourselves and for ourselves.
Chris and I both had this great support and I know he believes that it's what has made him who he is today.
I also believe without a doubt I have been blessed with the same gift.
I also recognize now that Chris is a good man because he is a good man. Yes, without a doubt he has support and love surrounding him, but there comes a point in everyone's life where we have to be accountable for our own actions and decisions.
For some, this can be a difficult and even scary proposition.
Just like my kids need have me and my wife nearby when they do scary things, adults need a support system too.
My daughter wanted to go play with some kids when she was younger and wanted me to ask them for her.
I said, "No I won't ask for you, but I will go over with you and hold your hand while you ask." She did, and now she runs off without my help. I did not force her or pressure her, I merely guided her to do what she knew in her heart she wanted.
Support around us makes it a little safer perhaps, but there comes something from within that is ready so we can stand on our own.
This is what drives us to change our situation and to seek Wellness with our mind, body and soul.
We get the opportunity to look at what "lessons" we have experienced and we get to decide whether we have to keep going through the same "lesson" or not.
We get to decide if we are going to use the support we have to rise up and be the people we were put on the planet to be. We are accountable for our decisions and reflecting on how we handle situations helps us the next time a similar situation comes up.
We keep getting these opportunities to learn from them until we finally learn what we need to.
Family and communities have a lot in common.
The more we help one another through the "lessons" of life, the more we are able to endure and thrive from.
I want to be sure that people understand that quality is far more important than quantity. What I mean is that a single individual may be the only support you need to rise up and stand firm in who you are as a person. A small candle in a large dark room still illuminates the room.
One of my new favorite quotes is, " You may only be one person in the world, but to one personyou may be the world!"
My life has been filled with people who have reached out for me when I needed it most.
Because of that, I am able to stand up and be who I was born to be. I understand how valuable this gift has been in my life.
As a way to thank those who have helped me personally, I offer my hand to anyone out there who needs help.
I will do my best to help the best I can.
I have been blessed to be included in this community of friends and family. I get to live this every day.
Focusing on what you lack or what isn't working for you distracts you away from the lesson that is there to learn from.
Take a minute to notice those around you who have helped you along the way. It may be your parents or grandparents. Maybe a brother or sister helped you. Maybe a teacher or a neighbor supported you.
There is someone out there who wants to see you do well and to be well.
If it's hard to find someone who has supported you, then re-read what I said earlier- my staff and I are ready to try our best to help.
I realized that what makes us strong are the people around us and our own internal drive.
I have lived this and witnessed this in my friends.
I am certain it is true for our community, too. To be well, we must first start with our own lives.
Then we can reach out to offer support to our friends, family and community. Collectively, we can learn from our lessons and walk a new path toward Wellness.
Matthew Goodemote, a Gloversville native, owns Community Physical Therapy & Wellness. His Health & Wellness column will answer your questions and discuss topics that are relevant to your everyday way of life. If you would like to ask a question, e-mail Matthew at firstname.lastname@example.org.