Advertisements

Reflections on “The Alchemist” Part IX

“There is only one way to learn, it’s through action. Everything you need to know you have learned through your journey.”

Some people are frozen when having to make a decision. Whether it be what type of beer to drink at a brewery or what major to choose in college. I make decisions mischief easier now than when I was younger.

There is only one asset that has a limit and that is time. All other assets are potentially limitless.

I recently went to a brewery with friends. They had a ton of beers on tap. I could’ve spent my time deciding what beer to try while standing at the bar and my friends were at the table discussing life. Why bother?!

Time is more important than a few dollars at that point in the weekend. The amount of time that I would’ve been away from friends that I only get to see but a couple times per year wasn’t worth it for me to be standing at the bar.

I spent a few dollars more and bought a flight of beers. It cost only $3 more than buying one of the 50 beers that they serve. The $3 was a risk I was willing to lose. I only drank one of the 4, but at least tried them all for one sip. I was very satisfied with that decision even though I left 3 beers on the table (mind you I don’t really enjoy drinking to begin with so I would’ve had to ask a lot of questions just to order one beer).

I was able to enjoy conversing with old friends and make memories. That was worth the $3.

I think many people struggle to make decisions because they don’t look at what is lost in the time to make decisions. I recently started learning about decision fatigue and try to make fewer and fewer choices throughout the day. Essentially, my day is very structured (it’s both good and bad, but it’s a trade off). It saves me a lot of time and prevents any sort of stress in decision making by keeping a routine.

This same strategy of weighing cost to benefit works for me in all decisions. I discuss this with all students going into college and professional school. Is the decision to go to college worth it?

The student should have a pretty good stronghold on what they want out of college before signing up for school. Otherwise, that person is spending tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars on an education that they may not use or enjoy the benefits/wages.

There are plenty of trades that one can join at a low cost of entry. If a person is unsure of their life’s purpose, they should do something with a low cost of entry because there is little to keep one from walking away when the time comes. A high cost of entry, not paid for in cash on hand, causes a person to make different decisions and to feel stuck in a position because they will have to pay off the debt that accumulated prior to jumping into a different profession.

I wish this stuff was talked about in college preparatory courses. Unfortunately, many learn the lesson the hard way through decisions that they would not have made if they were 20-30 years older.

Advertisements

Reflections on “The Alchemist” Part VIII

“The secret is here in the present. If you pay attention to the present, you can improve upon it. And, if you improve on the present, what comes later will also be better.”

This was hard for me for so long, until Natalia was born. She really put life into perspective. I loved life for big goals. I would be so focused on the future, that the present was just something that I had to get through in order to reach my goals.

Lenna is our oldest, but it was different. Anita, my wife, is amazing at what she does. She can juggle so many balls in the air at the same time and still manage and take care of Lenna. I never had to worry about that one.

Natalia was different, and not just because she has Down Syndrome. It’s a radical change going from one child to two. Ania needed more help. I spent a lot more time with Natalia, when she was a baby, than with Lenna. It’s the same with our third now, Adam. I spend maybe more time with Adam than Natalia when she was a baby.

That’s only because Ania usually takes care of the other two and I only have to take care of one at a time!

Having Natalia made me slow down a little. I appreciate the cartoons, coloring with Lenna, helping Lenna with her “sight words” (if you don’t have young kids then this is a foreign concept), and working on homework with her. It’s because of the youngest two that I spend more time with the oldest.

Enjoying the present makes me realize the WHY for the future.

Reflections on “The Alchemist” Part VII

“My heart is a traitor… It doesn’t want me to go on.

Naturally it’s afraid that in pursuing your dream, you might lose everything you’ve won.

Well then, why should I listen to my heart?

Because you will never again be able to keep it quiet.”

I have a couple of big picture drivers in my life.

1. Have no regrets

2. Don’t do anything that would bring shame to my dad.

In 2008, my brother died. He died from an overdose of Benedryl…(I hear it all the time, I didn’t know it was possible…me neither).

He had his demons…we all do. He was a great guy, but again, he had his problems. He had been imprisoned for DUI and just got out. He started joining me at the gym and he was making great progress in the gym. He couldn’t squat more than me, but that bastard deadlifted 405 on his first attempt. (I say that out of love because it took me years to lift 405).

Anyway, we would have conversations about serious things every once in a while (we shared a room growing up. I worked overnights and was going to school and at the time he wasn’t working, so the bed was his at night and mine during the day).

Aside: those that know me, know that I am like a tornado. Wherever I go, I organize things so that they make sense to me. This usually means a bunch of separate piles with very clear distinctions between the piles. (It works for me!) Mike, on the other hand, was just a slob! He loved candy. It wasn’t uncommon for me to come home after working overnights and going to school in the morning, only to find a ton of wrappers in the bed and a full cup of coke on the floor. It was like living with a big kid at times (usually that’s one of the ways I get described, but Mike took it to an extreme). I used to think that if I just pushed it all on the floor that he would clean it up…Nope. Just a new pile of wrappers the next day! I miss my brother. He was a good person and was very good to me growing up. I’m going to keep reminiscing a little because…why not?

I used to love to sing Karaoke and was actually a DJ for a while. It paid good money, but I’m glad I stayed in school because: who goes out to sing Karaoke anymore? Mike had a problem with alcohol. I’m not saying anything bad about him, it was just true. It didn’t make him a bad person, but like I said, he had demons. We went out to the bar (mind you, I didn’t drink at the time), after working out (the bar was right next door to the gym). I sang some songs, bought him a Long Island iced tea (I had no clue what this drink was prior to that night) and he listened to me sing a couple of songs. The car ride home (I’m the little brother, obviously not by size). He said, bro I’m proud of you. You grew up in the same house we all did. You can go out to the bar and drink orange juice and have a good time. You work full time and go to school. You’re going to be great at anything you do. (This memory always brings tears).

I was a new grad physical therapist. Not even practicing for a year when my mom called me in the middle of the night to scream through the phone that “I lost my baby!” Those words and that conversation is burned in my brain. That whole night at the hospital was like a haze. Hard to believe.

What’s harder to deal with is that 10+ plus years have passed and how much he’s missed out on. He was great with kids. He would’ve loved my kids. I think of all that he could’ve done and seen. He always wanted to go to Alaska. I made a copy of one of his pictures and carried it with me while we honeymooned in Alaska. I miss my brother.

I learned one thing…life is very short and don’t have any regrets.

The second big picture ideology that I try to live by is to not bring shame to my dad.

You’ll hear me say it frequently that my dad is my Superman. He knows that, which was very important for me to make sure that he knows I’m proud of him and the life he lived and continues to live.

He served as a medic for the 101st Airborne, the Screaming Eagles, in Vietnam. He stated in Vietnam longer than he had to in order to ensure that his younger brother didn’t have to go to Nam. He came home and worked in the family business (construction) for 30+ years. He divorced my birth mom (whom I have no contact with, which is why I say birth mom) and took care of all the kids as best he could. He and Aida worked hard to move us to a quieter area with less shootings. They made the decision to send me to Providence. Essentially, all of the good things I have came from that man.

I disappointed my dad one time. I was 13 and was a shoplifter. I would steal anything just to see if I could.

I got caught at the old Cub Foods on Larkin Ave. I was stealing magazines and baseball cards. I was with my cousin at the time (and I still believe that he got caught, but water under a bridge). I was fined $2,000 and was out in handcuffs, but wasn’t arrested.

I got home that night (understand that my dad typically would wake up at 3 AM to prepare for work) and it was about 11 PM. My mom told him what happened. I was never really punished (aside from paying back $2000, which at the age of 13 wasn’t easy to make…thanks to Norm Fanning for getting me a job shoveling manure). He said that “I’m disappointed in you son”.

I worked my tail off to pay back the fine by the end of summer.

It’s been 25 years and I’d like to believe that I haven’t done anything since that day to bring shame to my dad.

The moral of this story is twofold.

1. Have no regrets.

2. Have a role model in which to look up to and live up to.

Thanks for reading.

I got to go see a man about a horse.

Reflections on “The Alchemist” Part VI

“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second encounter with God and with eternity.”

This rings true in my life. I thank my wife for supporting me in my decision to do more as a PT.

I had fear of jumping out of the position I had and jumping into a new position in a different city with a new company.

We played out worst case scenarios and you know what?…

Worst case scenario played out.

The clinic loses due to issues outside of my control and I was without a job.

The work that I put into trying to make the first clinic a success is what landed me the second job. The second job came with a substantial raise, but no time off of work. Those that know me, also know that this is not an issue. I enjoy my profession so much that I give back to the profession free of charge most nights. Working more hours is not an issue, at this point in time.

When I speak to students or those looking for their life’s meaning, I typically spend some time playing Devil’s advocate. I will use my best logic and knowledge to dissuade someone from following their dream. If I can convince someone that they should not do something within a 30 minute conversation, the reason FOR doing that something was not very strong.

Usually, the argument that dissuades people FROM making a decision is MONEY! I’ve found that when money is the driver, it’s easy to help that person discover what they really want.

1. Why does salary matter?

Because I want to make enough to support myself

2. What experience have you had that led you to believe that life is harder without money?

Xyz from childhood

3. Could you live on $60K/year?

Usually the answer is yes.

4. How many professions pay at least $30/hr?

They do a little research and then things start to open up a little more regarding what they would like to do or other options.

When money is the driver, it clouds our judgement.

If you believe that money buys happiness, I’m sure you’ve made decisions based on finances.

Sometimes it’s as simple as living on a few dollars less than you make. That becomes a lot easier to manage.

I’m reminded of stories from the Dave Ramsey Millionaire hour. Many people making less than $75k per year go on to have millions because they followed that one simple concept: spend a little less than you make.

Follow your passion! Follow your purpose!

Money is easy to get, but happiness and satisfaction in life…not so much. Too many other aspects cloud our judgement.

Love your life or change it!

No regrets!

Reflections on “The Alchemist” Part V

“Most people see the world as a threatening place, and, because they do, the world turns out, indeed, to be a threatening place.”

This is very applicable, especially in the healthcare profession.

Patient’s expectations and beliefs seem to be a major driver regarding outcomes.

Bad things always happen. If you believe that bad things will always happen, instead of good things, then when bad things happen reinforces your bias.

If one believes that good things will always happen, when bad things happen it’s a deviation from the norm. It’s only a blip in the radar. It is not life consuming.

Changing outlook is not easy. In physical therapy, we are consistently striving to change a patient’s belief system in order to create an actionable change in their health.

I believe that this outlook on life is a learning year. I continue to harp on my parenting, but my father is amazing. He has lived through a bunch of shit, and yet he still has a positive outlook.

When I say he is my superman, and that I have large shoes to fill, I mean it. My father has lived in Vietnam as a medic. He lived with divorce and was left to raise five kids by himself. Yet he still has a positive view on everything.

At that point, who am I to have a negative view, when I have seen this man go through hell and still pull through?

Another thing that I believe needs to happen in order to change outlook is perspective. Had I had grown up in a perfect household, Leave it to Beaver style, my perspective maybe different room getting out into the real world.

I’ve known many younger than I am up in the bubbling, and when entering the real world were slapped in the face. Their perspective change their view to a negative outlook and a woe is me perspective.

I spent this weekend in Atlanta visiting some friends. Part of my time was having a conversation with a homeless person in Atlanta. When you see how the other side lives, whether high on the hog or down in the streets, it gives you perspective and it either makes you feel grateful or resentful.

I am glad that I am extremely grateful.

Reflections on “The Alchemist” Part XIV

“There was nothing to hold him back except himself.”

Self-limiting beliefs.

I am a ….

I do …

I can’t do….

Why bother?

Once a person labels themselves as something, that label becomes restrictive.

For a long time, I was an employee. I clocked and and clocked out. I went home and read more about the profession to educate myself. I worked at work and avoided work at home.

As a business manager, I work at work and work at home. I am in more control of my destiny than when I was only an employee.

Although I am a business owner, it is a one-man show. In order to make money, I have to leave the cave…kill it and bring it home.

It’s a different perspective than that of an employee. When times are lean, it’s the owner that takes the hit. The employee still gets a paycheck. When times are bountiful, the owner has to put away retained earnings to save for the lean times. Unfortunately, many employees see the bountiful times as a period to ask for more money.

I had to change my mindset, because I was that employee. Now as the business manager and owner, my perspective is changed. I hope that it doesn’t take me another 12 years to become the investor mindset.

I am the limiting factor though and I realize this. The spending that I did in my twenties and thirties affects the savings in my thirties and forties. I know better now, but still make mistakes.

In the end, I think that as long as we own our decisions, successes and failures…learn from them for future decisions…we are on the right path.

Reflections on “The Alchemist” Part IV

“The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world, and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon.”

The back story on this was to fill a spoon with oil. While walking through a castle the person was to make the best effort to avoid spilling the oils from the spoon. In the process, the beauty of the castle was missed.

I think many of us do this, me included. I have an obsessive personality. I know this about myself. It’s a major strength for my profession, but a liability in life.

Going back to the story of my middle child. I was so focused on the diagnosis and trying to be prepared, that I was in a fog for a while. Everything I did was to learn more about Down Syndrome. I listened to podcasts, I read research, I watched videos, I read books. It was exhausting. In the meantime, when I see pictures of my daughter during her first few weeks, it’s hard for me to recognize her. I was so focused on getting prepared (not spilling the oil) that I missed the beauty of the castle (my daughter in front of me).

Again, this is one of my major regrets in life.

It’s a balancing act for sure. Trying to perform responsibilities that need to be done on a daily, while still feeling awe at the sight of a rainbow, sunset, caterpillar, etc.

It takes structuring priorities to make it to my daughters kindergarten graduation. She may never care or remember that Ania and I were there, but seeing her hold up the “I want to be a dentist” sign waving to us when she saw us, is one way for me to stay focused on the oil and still see the important things in life.

Reflections from “The Alchemist” Part II

“Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.”

Are you happy?

Do you love your profession?

Are you satisfied with the time you spend with your family?

Matthew 7:5

You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

This is the first passage that comes to mind when I think of the above quote.

I’ve met many people in my life say I should’ve been a lawyer, I should’ve gone to medical school, I should’ve done this or that. A wise dumpster diver, turned scholar, turned flight attendant by the name of John Patrick Luby III used to say “Never should (shit) on yourself!”

All that really matters is that I’m happy in life and content with where I’m at as a professional. When I introduce myself and people say what do you do you I said I do physical therapy. I rarely say that I’m a physical therapist.

As much as I do for the profession and within the profession, I never want the profession to define me. I am a father. I am a husband. I am a son. I am my own person.

Lately, I have been spending time counseling others on clear pass. I try my best to stay unbiased and to not give my opinion as much as I try to receive answers and ask questions to those that are looking for their careers. I do my best to give an objective opinion regarding finances, regarding passions, regarding job stability, job, but most importantly happiness.

It’s not my job, nor my want, to try to push someone into a direction. I personally feel it’s my responsibility to help those that are seeking assistance in finding their own career path I never do this by pushing them in a direction, but instead help them to see where their passions may lie.

I’ve met many people that are dissatisfied with how their life is playing out, but what they fail to see is that it’s now until they’re no longer living, they are free to make choices to affect the outcome going to change their future is the president. Their past Cano want to change it, but the choices they make today will affect the outcome as of tonight and tomorrow. I making different choices they can choose to take a different path in life, but many have difficulties making those decisions. There are outside forces that may hold people in certain positions in life, such as golden handcuffs, family responsibilities, stature and such.

Ultimately, it is not my job to direct others, not other’s job to direct me.

Reflections from “The Alchemist” Part III

“… for her, every day was the same, and when each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises.”

This is so true. There are few regrets that I have in life. One regret that I have is how I responded when my daughter Natalia was born. It was a very stressful situation for us at the time.

She was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. We had no forewarnings or time to prepare.

To make matters worse, my wife was alone when she received the news. This is a major failure of that particular healthcare provider.

I was home with my two year old at the time, so that she could sleep in her own bed for a couple of hours and I could take a shower.

When I got the call from my wife, she didn’t say what was happening, only that there was a problem. (Every time I tell this part of the story, I can’t help but get choked up and tear up).

I grabbed my daughter and ran down the stairs to leave. In the process, I tore my Achilles’ tendon.

I spent the first two weeks learning everything that I could about Down Syndrome. In the meantime, I was missing out on the first weeks of my daughter’s life.

There is not much that I feel guilty about, but this is one of those times.

Be grateful for the blessings in life. There will always be things to complain about. There will always be hardships. Once you can look past the hardships to see the blessings, life is much easier to navigate.

Reflections from “The Alchemist” Part I

“That was what made traveling appeal to him that he always made new friends, and he didn’t need to spend all of his time with them. When someone sees the same people every day, as had happened with him at the seminary, they wind up becoming part of that person’s life. And then they want the person to change.”

This is a very pessimistic view of society. At one time I used to believe this is true. But when you love someone, you love someone for the reasons that they are that person. Should you change that person, you may not love that person again.

I think it’s a very dangerous path way to try to change someone into something that you believe to be a better person, when you truly love that person as they are. I think there is a difference between trying to help someone become a better version of themselves, versus trying to help someone become the better version YOU believe they should be for YOUR own sake.

Good or bad, I believe that I was parented very well. My dad could give two shits about what I do for a living. All that mattered to him was that I was happy. When I told him that I was going to college, he didn’t care as long as that’s what I wanted to do. Because when that’s the case, that’s what he wanted me to do. When I quit jobs and started new ones, he didn’t care as long as I was happy. When I got married, and then divorced, he only cared that I was doing what I thought was right for me. That’s love. That’s not trying to change someone.

My mom is the opposite. She will try to interject herself into what she feels is best for me because she wants me to be happy and believes that by interjecting herself that it will hall me become happy.

I have always been my own person, so I usually brush off anyone or thing that starts to take control away from my decisions…u less it is something that is prioritized over the decisions that I make.

For instance, I had a good job, not a job I loved because it wasn’t challenging for me, but a good job. Great pay, great benefits, tons of vacation time, but I wanted more. My family is a priority, but so is happiness. I wouldn’t have been happy had I stated because it became the same thing day in and day out. I needed to change.

I made that change and it was a poor decision in hindsight. The change was right, but the way it happened and the preparedness that I had for the cha he was poor. I don’t regret making the decision, even though my wife cautioned me at the time, because I would’ve been in a great job for the wrong reasons.

I am really happy now.

It’s easy to not to want to change someone when there is nothing but love for that someone. Once there is anything other than love for the person in front of you, the thoughts of “I wish you would…” start to rise in your head. These thoughts can become powerful and take the place of the love that was once there. Unchallenged, resent sets in and love is but memory.

All I want is for people to be happy. It’s a byproduct of my parenting and my experiences.

These passages can be found in this book, which I highly recommend.

“That was what made traveling appeal to him that he always made new friends, and he didn’t need to spend all of his time with them. When someone sees the same people every day, as had happened with him at the seminary, they wind up becoming part of that person’s life. And then they want the person to change.”

This is a very pessimistic view of society. At one time I used to believe this is true. But when you love someone, you love someone for the reasons that they are that person. Should you change that person, you may not love that person again.

I think it’s a very dangerous path way to try to change someone into something that you believe to be a better person, when you truly love that person as they are. I think there is a difference between trying to help someone become a better version of themselves, versus trying to help someone become the better version YOU believe they should be for YOUR own sake.

Good or bad, I believe that I was parented very well. My dad could give two shits about what I do for a living. All that mattered to him was that I was happy. When I told him that I was going to college, he didn’t care as long as that’s what I wanted to do. Because when that’s the case, that’s what he wanted me to do. When I quit jobs and started new ones, he didn’t care as long as I was happy. When I got married, and then divorced, he only cared that I was doing what I thought was right for me. That’s love. That’s not trying to change someone.

My mom is the opposite. She will try to interject herself into what she feels is best for me because she wants me to be happy and believes that by interjecting herself that it will hall me become happy.

I have always been my own person, so I usually brush off anyone or thing that starts to take control away from my decisions…u less it is something that is prioritized over the decisions that I make.

For instance, I had a good job, not a job I loved because it wasn’t challenging for me, but a good job. Great pay, great benefits, tons of vacation time, but I wanted more. My family is a priority, but so is happiness. I wouldn’t have been happy had I stated because it became the same thing day in and day out. I needed to change.

I made that change and it was a poor decision in hindsight. The change was right, but the way it happened and the preparedness that I had for the cha he was poor. I don’t regret making the decision, even though my wife cautioned me at the time, because I would’ve been in a great job for the wrong reasons.

I am really happy now.

It’s easy to not to want to change someone when there is nothing but love for that someone. Once there is anything other than love for the person in front of you, the thoughts of “I wish you would…” start to rise in your head. These thoughts can become powerful and take the place of the love that was once there. Unchallenged, resent sets in and love is but memory.

All I want is for people to be happy. It’s a byproduct of my parenting and my experiences.

Link to book

Vince Gutierrez, PT, DPT, cert.MDT
Movementthinker.org
815-210-4869