National Bandanna Day

Today (October 25th 2019) is National Bandanna Day, a major awareness and fundraising campaign for cancer. Especially how it affects young people. Canteen is a service that has helped me personally. I connot recommend them enough, if you have lost a family member, have or are going through your own battle reach out to them. They have a fantastic group of councilors and programs, geared towards youth from 12-25.

Just a short one today, if you feel like you need to contact canteen you can find them at: canteen.org.au/getsupport and you can buy your bandannas to show your support at: https://www.canteen.org.au/bandanna-day/shop/

See you on the mats

Carlos

Values and Canteen

Been a minute but I am back. I have been having a bit of a quarter-life crisis, funny enough it all came to a head on my 25th birthday. I was looking for a job with a digital agency, as I was looking at some of their work and stumbled onto the Canteen site. For those of you that don’t know, Canteen is a cancer support organization for young people, from 12-25. They provide a number of support programs and services including counselling and connections with peers and other young people in similar situations. Canteen is not just limited to people who have experienced cancer themselves, but to young people who either have a loved one with cancer or who have lost a loved one to cancer.

I suppose that I started to relive a lot of what happened to me, which I have detailed in my battle, but I broke down. Then my mind was drawn to the fact that why didn’t I know about this sooner. It’s not like I didn’t know they existed, I just never knew that I would need their help. I ended up reaching out to them, and I have been going to counselling. It has got me thinking, maybe other people out there are going through something similar and could use some of Canteen’s services to help them out.

I guess I have had trouble talking about my feelings with friends and family. It may be because I am doing fewer posts like this. Not putting my feelings and thoughts into words on a page. Anyway, back to the story. With my counsellor, I have come up with some values that I would like to live my life by. In no particular order they are:

  • Mindfulness
  • Courage
  • Humility
  • Freedom
  • Fitness
  • Self-development

I have my values on post-it notes around my home office to help remind me how I want to show up in the world.

Why am I sharing these with you? Not sure, maybe because I need to put it out in the world to make it real. Maybe its because I want to let others know how I intend to lead my life. It might give you the reader an idea to create values to live by.

Values are not like goals, they aren’t achieved once and then that’s it. I like to call them the undercurrent of how you wish to live your life. They dictate how you show up in the world, how you respond to life’s challenges and how you treat people and situations. What are your values?

I suppose in this post I am trying to do two things. Let others know about Canteen, if you or a family member is dealing or has dealt with cancer and you just want someone to talk to about how you are feeling then please reach out to them. The other thing is, what values are you wanting to live your life by? I will include a list if you need some help with coming up with some values. Write some down, post ’em up, live by them.

Personal-Values-List-table-for-web-site

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See you on the mats.

Change and Growth

I have written about change before. Relating change and how often we fear it and how to combat the fear by coming up with our worst-case scenario and then deconstructing it. Fear-setting as described by Tim Ferris. I pretty much wanted to share with people something I had found to be useful. However, this post will be more personal as I will recount how I have been able to utilize change and take on the challenge of loving change.

Like I have said before change is inevitable, life is always constantly changing. You may hear news of a family member having their first child, you may hear an old acquaintance just passed away, you may have been fired from your job, your sister or brother may have just started playing gigs with their band. All of these things are changes, some the people have little to zero say in them, other times they have all the power in their hands to make the decision to change. However, in both cases, It is still up to the individual on how they perceive their current reality. Take for instance the person who just lost their job, they have multiple options on how they react and the ultimate decision they take. They could turn to the bottle and begin the downward spiral into depression, or they could use the lack of a job as a sign to look into other careers. Ultimately it is up to them what path they take. This in itself is the scariest part of change, knowing that no one else can make the choice for you, which is why often to avoid the decision people tend to walk the wrong path. Not because they chose it, but because they didn’t choose to take a different one.

In change, this is where we can find growth. Growth does not come from sitting idle, it comes from overcoming obstacles. Through my teen years, I did not understand this fully, I didn’t understand that being idle and sitting on the bus of life, so to speak, will not allow me to grow or where I want to be in life. The bus will take me to a destination that I may not necessarily like, to the wrong side of town that I will be more likely to drown in than to flourish. My dad often used this bus analogy to explain life, if you don’t like the bus your on, get off and get on the one you want, you may even have to go back to a previous destination to get to the one you do want to go to. Once I realized that a science degree was not for me, I got off that bus and worked for a bit, then I went back to school and have now arrived at a destination that I like a fair bit better.

I strongly believe that the times that we grow the most are in times of challenge and change. One, you can use those hurdles as an example that you can overcome the trials now before you, and two, that you can use them as stepping stones to take on more of life. Of course, you are not the only one overcoming things, and people before you have already overcome your current challenge. A big part of my growth has been seeking out people who have already walked the path I want to walk down and talking to, listening or reading about them, and see how I could incorporate the knowledge gained to my own experiences. If you find the task of choosing the first/next person you read about, my advice is: pick the two you want to read about the most, flip a coin, if you don’t like the outcome initially pick the other.

What do I do when my life changes and I don’t like the new situation I’m in? From my experience, it depends on the situation. When I was having tests done to see if they could find more tumors, the only thing I could control was my attitude toward everything. I would make my best effort to always smile while in hospital, always try to either make someone laugh or laugh at my circumstances. The key was making the situation a positive one. After all, I wouldn’t have a say in the results, the only thing I could have a say in was to go through with the precautionary surgery. In terms of not enjoying my new job initially, I once again took control of how I perceived the situation, I looked at the good things and found a way to make it enjoyable. So, overall, I would say, that no matter the situation you find yourself in. Find something in it to make it enjoyable or rewarding, focus on the small positives that you may find and amplify them. You can control the perspective you use to look at the world. My recommendation, choose the positive one.

Thanks for reading.

Cya on the mats.

~Carlos

Why the change?

I have recently changed the name of the site to carlosygoa.com since I felt that readnroll.blog limited me in what I could and could not post about, I am in no way shape or form moving away from what I have been doing. This is just an update about the change. I Hope that you all understand.

Thanks

Carlos

Fixing yourself does more than you think it does.

I have been thinking about this a lot recently, I know this idea is not new and I have been reading books and listening to people who share this view a lot. However, I have started to really understand why improving on yourself is more important than I first thought. So, have you ever been in a situation where you can see the answer for someone else’s problem but no matter what you do you will never be able to get them to fix it or change? I have a lot, and I expect to be in more of these situations the older I get. But having learned from past experiences I know there is nothing I can do to directly make them change or make them do something. Yet, there is one thing I can do that will affect them. I can keep on improving myself because as I get better, I then become an example of how improving yourself is the best way forward.

If you don’t improve that’s fine too but know this, no-one is holding you back but yourself. So, no use pointing blame at others (which gives them the power). And that is a hard pill to swallow, knowing that you have to take the outcome of your life into your own hands, that you are directly at fault for how your future pans out. Now I know that you could come from a fractured home, or you could have had cancer, or you were in a car crash but all of that is in the past and you can’t change it. What you can change however is where you are going and how you choose to react to things. I could have the view that the world sucks and why did I have to get one-third of my bowels removed? why couldn’t someone else have had cancer? But then I lost the battle. I have to look at my experience with positive eyes and realize I had to endure that to understand something. Life is a gift, it can be taken at any moment.

As you start to put yourself together into who you want to be, then you can help others, but more importantly, others will see that it is possible. So, by taking responsibility for your part of the world, no matter how small, others may do the same with their part and together you will both help improve the world.

These are just some late night ramblings.

Thanks for reading.

See you on the mats.

 

~~Carlos

Life, Death, and the lasting memories.

Recently I attended a funeral of a good friend’s father. It was a beautiful celebration of his life and the number of people there showed the lasting effects that one can leave on this world. The eulogies were very heartfelt and true to their father. The MC talked at length about the philosophical talks between him and his friend. His comments got me thinking about the impact that one can leave on the world. And how you really have a long and lasting reach in the world if you so choose. It is up to the individual whether or not they wish to change the lives of many. Some live a life full of adventure and lust for knowledge and others live a life of comforts.

Today showed me that life is truly amazing, you can go through so much and still have a great outlook on life, he was riding his motorbike up until his death, he had traveled all around the world, loved his wife and daughters without restraint, and forever the storyteller. The few times that I had the pleasure of talking with him were always great laughs and I was always intently listening for the punch line of the story. Hearing more about his life made me realise how much one can achieve in their lives, from traveling the world, letting yourself enjoy the smaller moments, falling in love, helping those around you. Don’t follow the norm, aspire to inspire, chase your dreams, do things that excite you and spend time with the ones you love the most.

I wondered how will my life turn out, how many will I help, it is all up to me. I know I have a lot to give back to this world and to others around me. Knowing that the memories that I will share with the people in those memories will live on in those people. So, life is more about making memories with people, than anything else, it’s more about contributing and helping others grow as that is how you leave your impact on the world. You could be the most successful person in the world, but if you haven’t actually made an impact, that success is more selfish than anything. Man can be both cruel and kind, greedy and selfless. Those that live forever are those that are the latter.

These are just some thoughts and some takeaways from the life of a great man. Thank you, Bill.

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See you on the mats.

 

What to take from ‘My battle’, You are Valued.

I sit here at my computer the day after I posted my account of my battle with cancer, absolutely gobsmacked by the response. Just over 450 total views of the article, a few Facebook shares and over one hundred likes, multiple comments from friends and family on just my FB post, not to mention the others. I never, in my wildest dreams, would have thought that I would be able to produce such an impact. So, I sit here wondering, why do we devalue/undervalue ourselves? Why don’t we think that we can make some form of good change in our own communities? We live in an age where we are so well connected, but no one truly is connected. I mean it in the sense where we all look at our screens wherever we go, we share photos of holidays but don’t share experiences, Maybe I am just not listening as well as I should be. Maybe I have only just realized that, Yes, the world is in a bad shape, but really, we live in the best time to be alive. Yes, there are bad things happening, we choose to listen and be angry at the world. Maybe because it is so much easier to be angry and blame others for what is happening, that we have forgotten that we have the power. The power to listen, the power to choose how we react, the power to change what we can to make life a bit more bearable, as Buddha said, “Life is suffering.”

I know that everyone reading this has, is or will suffer at some point in their lives, be it abuse, losing a loved one, financial crisis, whatever it is everyone will experience some form of suffering. So, it is no good to get into a pissing match arguing who suffers more, we should understand that everyone has their own trials and tribulations and we should be sympathetic. However, we must not focus on other people’s problems before our own. I have my problems that I am striving to work out, and I know I am and will never be perfect in any sense of the word, but I will do my best to achieve that. There is no reason as to why you can’t too. I fear the spotlight, I do not like getting told that I “I am courageous” don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the compliments, and know that it is to do with opening up about a very vulnerable period of my life. But I will always feel that there are many more brave and courageous people who are more deserving of the title. Military, Police, Doctors, Nurses, Firefighters and many other people, who are in the profession of saving lives. But maybe I am courageous, but if I can be, then so can you. Don’t devalue yourself because you don’t think that you have nothing to offer because I am sure I could learn something from everyone I meet. I can learn to become better at your specialty, you can teach me about something you love, even my enemies will have something that can teach me.

To continue from Buddha, Friedrich Nietzsche said, “if to live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.” So, find that reason. It might be for your kids, maybe it’s for a hobby, maybe you want to help people, maybe you have a story to tell that may inspire others, maybe you can help those going through something and not expect anything in return. Tell your story! I didn’t post my battle for the likes, follows, or admiration, I posted that to let people know that they can push through hard times, that life is hard, but you have to create something of it. I have found, that writing and sharing my experiences has helped me grow and give some meaning to why I had to go through that, who knows, I could learn and be inspired by something you post. We can and should learn from each other, I thought that I could go it by myself in a lot of circumstances, however, I have recently come to realize that I don’t have all the answers, but they are out there. When a student is ready, a teacher will show up. Well for me that has been podcasts and books. I listen to podcasts of people I admire, I read books by people who have a greater insight than I do, I do things out of my comfort zone. All these things help me grow and teach me. I hope that one day I can become the person I have envisioned for myself. One that helps those in need and one that never stops wanting to learn. So, put value to your name, share your experiences and help yourself out first. I know it sounds stupid coming from someone who still hasn’t gotten their own shit together, but it’s as much for you as it is for me. YOU ARE VALUED!

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See you on the mats.

My Battle

You often hear of massive negative events being the inspiration for change in one’s life. Which sounds backward, why would, and how can someone create a positive out of a negative? I have been wondering lately, why do people do that? Why is it that some terrible, or horrific situation makes or breaks someone? But just as a bushfire is a catalyst for seed pods to burst and the soil to become more fertile so that new trees may grow, maybe that is what one of these experiences is meant to do. Maybe it is supposed to wake our true selves up out of our slumber and take on the world with a new mindset and some new values and metrics to live our lives by.

I don’t like talking about my brief touch with cancer as I see it as me being a victim and me, to put it bluntly, being a little bitch. But I can truly state that I was one of those experiences that changed my life for the better, fuck it was hard and I am thankful it was. Making me more aware of myself, and how precious life is, and understanding that I had the real possibility of dying and that death is something that will eventually happen to all of us. Understanding that I, as much as everyone in this world, has the ability to overcome any obstacle in our way. Also came to the realization that I have to pursue the things I want in my life, the people I interact with, the jobs and hobbies I have a passion for, read and listen to the people that inspire me, never stop wanting to learn and most of all to help out those who are going through rough times, and to bring everyone I possibly can up in life from dark places. I do want all of you reading this to succeed in life, however, you want to measure success by. You have to command yourself to get it, it will not come to you if you sit idle.

In February of 2016, I woke my Mum up in the middle of the night to let her know that the pain from my stomach was not going away. She had me call up nurse on call, the lovely lady on the other side of the line told me to get to emergency quick. So, we rushed off to the hospital, where I got diagnosed and the next day I was operated on. Appendectomies seem to run in the family, my father and his father had them done around the same age (21). I get out and everything is all well and good, I go on with my life, work, study, hang out with mates, plan for the next ski trip. A couple of months later I get a call while I’m at work. To give you some perspective, I’m in the middle of this soon to be estate on the northern outskirts of Melbourne. The next paddock over is this beautiful green field and small hills were in view, the skies were an ominous dark grey. In that moment I had never felt so small. When the words “We found a tumor in your appendix Carlos – Blank,” hit my ears, it felt like a scene from a movie, the hills kept getting further away and I felt how insignificant I was in the big schemes of the universe. I asked if he could repeat what he said like there was static, but I knew what he said. My workmate asked if I had seen a ghost, I told him that it was my surgeon, he joked if he was calling because I had cancer, he knew how to lighten the mood. I told him that he was bang on the money. I thank him for being a stand-up guy and taking the edge off a bit. I called my mum to break the news I am sure she never wanted to hear. The possibility that her son had cancer.

I count my blessings that I come from I unbelievably strong family, where there is so much love, power and ability to not falter. One where we really pull around those coming down on hard times, I thank my friends that were there when I needed them most, and to my bosses for not treating me any different thank you. So, began the long weeks of not knowing what the fuck was going to happen to me, all I knew was that I was going to win. For the first couple of weeks, I was fucked around by the public health system, from one surgeon to the next, all not giving me a clear answer or direction on what to do next. Thankfully my current surgeon took the situation on and set me straight. The long weeks of going in and out of waiting rooms for blood tests and scans and other procedures were hard, but being around my friends and family, working, studying and training, all helped me keep my mind off the grim situation at hand.

The results came in, no further tumors, however, since the tumor in my appendix was larger than the threshold, the collective of doctors decided to perform a precautionary surgery. I would lose the right third of my large intestines. What would be the life-changing event was booked in. I was upbeat leading up to the date, with the snow season around the corner, and if all goes well I might be able to hit the slopes at the tail end of the season. My surgeon rings me up the week before surgery and says she has come down with horrible flu-like symptoms and will have to push the surgery back a few weeks. The news bums me out for a bit since I won’t be making it to the mountains this season. But hey, I’m still alive and well. So, three weeks later I’m getting ready for surgery, got enough clothes for what will hopefully be a short three to four-night stay. All the procedures before surgery go well, and now I’m surrounded by doctors and nurses and I slowly fall asleep.

I wake up to pure white and an indescribable pain, I take a breath but get nothing, I cough to try to clear my throat. More pain, some red splatters the white background. Is that my blood I’m coughing up? I can’t stop coughing, more red. I hear someone yell “hold on to this as tight as you can.” I grip on to what I assume was a pillow, I hold on for dear life, coughing and blood and pain. All I could think was not today motherfucker, not today. I must’ve passed out because the next thing I know I wake up in the intensive care unit. My lovely mother and father greet me, as I started to come to. I am hooked up to a lot of machines and there are tubes in and out of me. A nurse lets me know that I am hooked up to morphine and I can press a button when the light goes green if I am in a lot of pain. I don’t think I stopped pressing that button for the first couple of days. I had trouble breathing, every movement hurt and all I wanted was to go home. I get a visit from my surgeon, she tells me that the surgery went well, however, there were complications at the end when they were removing the tube from my throat, she told me that I had inhaled a lot of blood and that I would be monitored before being allowed to leave. Two days later I was moved to a normal recovery room, where I could have visitors.

I am thankful that some of my friends came to see me and keep me from going insane. If you are reading this you do not know how much it meant to me. All the ones that didn’t go but sent best wishes do not feel bad, it is life, things come up and I know that everyone has their own problems that need sorting out. I do not view you any less and love you all the same.

I could not eat until my digestive system had rebooted, and I could not leave until I had shown that I had stabilized and the pain had subsided a bit. I can’t remember much of the first couple of days due to the morphine removing not only the pain but my ability to process what was going on. After a few days of rehab and exercises to open up the lungs and get me walking, the tubes and machines slowly disappeared to other patients more in need of them. I made it my mission to get out of there as soon as I possibly could. If they wanted me to be able to walk one loop around the small rectangular complex I would try to walk twice around. If they wanted me to do a few exercises I was going to do them to the best of my ability, whatever it was I was going to smash this. Once I stopped using the morphine as much I became more of myself, I tried to make the situation as light as possible, Yeah, I almost asphyxiated myself, but I was going to press on. After seven days I finally got out. My parents said that they were not too far away from picking me up, so I signed myself out after getting all my stuff together and headed down to the lobby. I was so ready to leave that I was waiting for them, but it didn’t matter, I was out.

The first meal outside of the hospital will forever stick in my mind. It was probably the biggest burger I have ever eaten along with a creamy milkshake, I paid for it later but it tasted so good. It’s the little things in life that create happiness, I try my best to not take them for granted. Shout out to one of my best mates who swung by and picked me up. Love you man. After two weeks of sitting at home not really doing anything productive, I told work that I wanted to start. I said that I will need to be on light duties, and they made it so I was needed. It was the best thing for me to do, it kept my mind off the pain, and allowed me to feel valued. Get on with life, because it won’t slow down for you. A month later I was cleared to start working out again, building back the strength was challenging but the experience made me really appreciate gym more, not being able to work out sucked balls, and whenever I catch myself whining about it I remember that specific feeling of pushing out that first rep since surgery and how good it felt.

Through the process I did not tell many people, I felt like I would burden them with my problems, or I would seem like I wanted some pity love. From the few people I told, word spread and many would come up to me and ask how I was going, many would send me well wishes and often would ask me why I didn’t tell them. I suppose in a world where everyone posts what is going on in their lives, I felt like I didn’t want to place my problems out there. I felt as though I could press on through the suffering by myself since it was only me who was experiencing it. I also hate being in the spotlight. I had many great chats with people who had been through similar circumstances, it was an uplifting feeling, that so many people cared and shared stories with me. It made me realize that I was a little bitch for thinking that only I was suffering. I often feel that most people put into these situations feel the same and tend to bottle up emotions. I know I did. It was a few months later when all the pain really came out, to the only person who I could really show how hard it was. I had to be strong for everyone except dad, he has been one of my greatest role models and best mates. On that day I let my walls down for a brief minute. It felt good, I guess I never spent the time to really address my pain. From then on, I would try my utmost to check in with myself and I started to become more aware of myself.

Like everyone I had good days and bad days, I would catch myself thinking why me, why did this happen to me. After putting it into perspective, I am still alive, my life is not that bad, I have a place to sleep, food to eat and things to do. Others are not so fortunate. All you can do in these situations is to push through. No one is going to make you feel better, you have to push yourself and break through the uncomfortable pain and suffering to get to the other side. The mindset I had through the whole process was to make sure that I never let it get the best of me, some days were harder than others, but I would do my best to rise above the situation and learn from it. It has taken me almost two years to put all this into words. And really start living my life by my own values, do the things that interest me, understanding and overcoming my fears, and changing my life. Asking out the girl of my dreams, starting BJJ, reading more, listening to the things I like, spending time with close friends and family, starting this blog, putting myself in uncomfortable positions that will eventually help me grow as a person. I know this is a long read and if you have made it this far thank you. I hope you all reading this can take something from my experiences and apply it to your life, remember it starts with the mindset. Create good out of the bad, use it as fuel, live your life your way and push through the uncomfortable. Life is a journey, make it your own.

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Thank you again, and see you on the mats.

 

Edit – Follow-up post of what I learned in posting up this story of my battle.