Learning To Count To Five – Guest Post by Kevin Haggerty

Today, I have the privilege of presenting a guest post by Kevin Haggerty.  Kevin and I have become friends over the past few months thanks to the wonders of the blog world.  His writing at The Isle of Man is generally humorous and he often shares thoughts in his daily posts that stretch me.  I’m honored that Kevin would consider sharing his Stretching story here on the blog with The Stretched Community.  I’ve included a short bio for Kevin at the end of the post.  Please visit his blog, add his blog to your regular reading, leave him a comment, and tell him that I sent you.  Thanks!

[If you’re interested in sharing your Stretched story with the rest of The Stretched Community, leave me a comment so we can connect.]

Learning to Count to Five

About a week ago, Jon asked me to write a guest post for his “Stretched” series. It was kind of comical to me, the timing of it anyway, because I’m currently going through a period of my life where I’ve never felt more stretched.

Here’s the brief rundown, for those of you who don’t know me:

  • In October of last year, my wife, Kim, and I bought our first house, after being married for two years.
  • In December, we received the incredible news that Kim was pregnant with our very first child.
  • In March, I found out that I was not going to be offered a contract to teach next year at the school for which I’ve worked for the past six years. Essentially, I was going to be (and have been) laid off.

That’s the short version.

It certainly isn’t how I drew it up, but when does life ever work that way? We don’t get the 12-month forecast for our life. Though, that would be nice, and if that were a website, I’d totally add it to my RSS reader subscriptions.

Instead, we generally get hit with life-changing news, then we have to adjust on the fly, like a hockey line change.

You don’t get advanced notice. You just have to make it up as you go.

So, at 32 years old, I’m at a place where I’m having to really figure things out. It sounds torturous, and in a lot of ways, it is.

But it’s also an awesome opportunity.

I have the chance to start over, in a lot of ways. I have the chance to take all the things I’ve learned and experienced and use them to branch out in a new and exciting direction.

Currently, on my blog, I’ve started a series of posts called “When Life Karate Kicks You in the Face.”

It will feature multiple volumes and will go until I’m done. Yesterday was the beginning of the series and featured Volume 1. I’d love it if you checked it out. Tomorrow, I’ll be posting Volume 2. It’d be great if you were able to read that too, and maybe even share in the discussion as it unfolds.

In the meantime, I want to share with you some of the things that have encouraged me during this down period.

There are two things I’ve used to help me when I am tempted to give into the demons. Maybe they’ll help you too.

Advice from Jack Shepard

In the hit television series, LOST, one of the main characters, Jack Shephard, gave some advice on how to overcome adversity.

In the very first episode, Jack tells Kate (also one of the main characters) a story to help her deal with the fear she is facing, while she is in the middle of stitching up a wound on his back.

Jack can tell the story better than I can, so why don’t I let him tell you instead:

It seems corny and cliché, but there’s a lot of truth to it. Jack was faced with a circumstance wherein he could have run for the door, and allowed disaster to overtake him (and the poor girl on the operating table), or he could have got a hold of himself and fixed it.

In life, often, those are our only two choices. Fight or Flight. Sometimes, I run away. But I can’t run away from this one. My wife needs me. My unborn son needs me. I could run, but I’m not going to.

Encouragement from a Friend

During all of this, my friend Shawn Smucker has been an incredible resource and encouragement to me.

If you’re unaware, Shawn wrote a book, Building a Life out of Words, about his decision to walk away from his business as a contractor, to follow his dream of being a writer, all as a married father of two young children.

Shawn made it work for him, but it wasn’t easy. Not in the slightest.

Shawn has been aware of my journey. I’ve talked to him a lot, along the way. He’s given me advice and really helped me a lot as I’ve been trying to decide just what to do.

One day, he e-mailed me. He asked me how I was doing. It was one of my “bad days.” I was honest with him. I told him I was depressed. I told him I wasn’t doing well, and that I was considering abandoning my dream of being a writer to do something “safe.”

Here was his response:

Hang in there, man. It’s a long road. There’s no time for feeling sorry for yourself.

I saved that. It meant a lot to me. I’m so grateful he had the courage to reach through the internet, grab me and shake me when I needed it.

There’s no time for feeling sorry for yourself. Sound urgent, doesn’t it?

It was urgent. It still is.

What will it be for you today? Will you give into the fear? Or will you count to five, face the terror and then take the control back. It really is a choice.

What will you choose today?

Kevin Haggerty is a 32-year old husband and expecting father. He runs and writes for a humor blog called TheIsleOfMan.Net. For his full-time job, Kevin is a middle school teacher and basketball coach. He also writes for a mixed martial arts (MMA) blog called MMAMania.com. He’s the oldest of seven children, a continual skeptic and smart people think he’s funny (at least that’s what he tells himself).