David Richman is a Coach, Consultant, financial services professional, a public speaker, and the author of an incredibly moving book titled Cycle of Lives – 15 People’s Stories, 5000 Miles, and a Journey Through the Emotional Chaos of Cancer. His incredible rebirth story includes escaping his first marriage to an abusive alcoholic, getting his then 4-year-old twins to a better place, and using that experience in addition to his sister’s diagnosis of brain cancer to stop smoking and lose 50 pounds. He then went from sedentary to becoming an impressive endurance athlete, completing 18 Ironman Triathlons and hundreds of other endurance events.
IN THIS EPISODE, YOU’LL HEAR ABOUT THINGS LIKE:
- The ways David was affected by his very dysfunctional childhood.
- How David’s toxic first marriage and his sister’s diagnosis of brain cancer motivated David to stop smoking and lose 50 pounds.
- David’s amazing journey from a sedentary lifestyle to becoming an impressive endurance athlete.
- How David’s Rebirth journey inspired a new life purpose within him.
SOME QUESTIONS IRENE ASKS DAVID:
- How did you escape your first marriage and save your then 4- year -old twins?
- What exactly did you do to stop smoking and lose weight?
- What organizations are the sales of your wonderful book Cycle of Lives helping?
Watch the episode here
Listen to the podcast here
Escaping His First Marriage To An Abusive Alcoholic, Getting His Children To A Better Place, And Using That Experience To Live A Healthy Life
I hope this finds each of you so very well. I’m speaking to you from my studio in West Orange, New Jersey. I’m delighted to once again welcome author, coach, consultant, financial services professional, and public speaker, David Richman, back to the show. Be sure to check out my fascinating interview with David about his beautifully written and incredibly moving book titled Cycle of Lives: 15 People’s Stories, 5,000 Miles, and a Journey Through the Emotional Chaos of Cancer. It portrays 15 individual cancer stories, as it also shares David’s amazing journey riding his bike 5,000 miles coast to coast, meeting each of the individuals featured in his book in person along the way.
David has graciously offered to share his own remarkable story of rebirth as a contribution to our uplifting Grief and Rebirth Series. I’m looking forward to chatting with him about how he escaped his first marriage to an abusive alcoholic and got his then four-year-old twins who are now grown up in a better place. How he used that experience, in addition to his sister’s diagnosis of brain cancer to stop smoking and lose 50 pounds. Also, his amazing journey went from being sedentary to becoming an impressive endurance athlete completing eighteen Ironman Triathlons and hundreds of other endurance events.
David was born in Miami, and I have to say, that means something because I grew up in Miami. I’m not quite sure if that’s good or whatever where we both had that Miami connection. He was raised mostly in the LA area and he is now very happily remarried. David, you are such an incredible role model in so many ways. I’m truly honored and happy to chat with you about your awesome journey from grief to rebirth. Welcome back to the show.
Thank you. I was so looking forward to talking to you because I had such a great time with you the first time. When I told my wife that we were going to be talking again, she went, “How happy are you?” I’m very happy. Thank you.
That makes two of us. The only thing missing is a glass of wine while we talk about experiences here. Let’s begin because you are such an amazing guy and you have such an incredible story of rebirth. Tell everyone about your childhood, your relationship with your cherished sister, June, and your first marriage to an abusive alcoholic. How did you escape that first marriage and save your then four-year-old twins who I understand are a boy and a girl?
It’s hard to talk about only because we just live our own lives. Sometimes, when you force yourself to reflect on it, it seems a little more dramatic than what it was because when you are living it, you are just living your life. It’s when you look back on it that you go, “What was I doing? Could you imagine what I went through?” Everybody goes through very difficult times. Nobody escapes that. It’s just a matter of how you come out. What you constantly talk about is how you rebirth yourself out of these situations.
For some, they do it easily and they do it early in life. For me, it came later in life. That’s because I took my childhood so harshly. I had a mom who, when she married her husband, she was eighteen. Her husband was 56 when they got married. My sister was 1.5 years older than me, but when I was born, my mom was 21 and my dad was 59.
The reality of it, which I didn’t know at the time, but I have come to understand was that she didn’t want kids, didn’t like kids, and certainly didn’t like her kids because she was too young. She just wanted to live her life, but she was now stuck with this situation and she was not a happy person. She was quite abusive, very unpredictable, and not a wonderful person. My dad, on the other hand, was a wonderful person, but he was nearly 60 years older than me. He was too old to have kids. Back when I was young, 60 years old was old. Now, 60 years old is like, “You are just getting started.”
I had that dynamic growing up. Not only because my sister and I were only eighteen months apart, but because we could only rely on each other. We grew up at that time when you don’t talk back to your parents and you are not in the room unless they want you in the room and you certainly aren’t going to ask questions. The things are the way they are and you don’t question them. It doesn’t make them any better. It made worse. My sister and I were the only ones that could understand what the other was going through because we couldn’t talk to anybody about it.
It was hilarious. As a side note, when I was in my 30s, I ran into a woman who had her own family that had grown up on the street that we grew up on. All the families had kids that grew up on the street. She told me, “The whole neighborhood felt so bad for you guys because your dad was so old and your mom was so mean. You guys had it so tough.” We had each other and that was the thing that made us close. We weren’t always super close in the amount of time we spent together or talked with each other, but the connection was close. When one of us needed the other, the connection was close because we both understood each other in that special way.
What was it that led your mother and your father to get married?
The short answer is that she came from a very abusive household and needed to escape. He, on the other hand, was this amazing that changes his profession every ten years, entrepreneur, inventor, and playboy. This wonderful older guy. Why wouldn’t he want to marry a beautiful eighteen-year-old? That sounds gross right now.
No, but it’s true. That’s how he saw her.
At that time, think about the Rat Pack. Frank Sinatra didn’t marry a woman his age.
He was her way out.
She was his way to stay young. I understand that. It makes sense. The problem is that I grew up very unaware of the world and very self-isolated too, because I didn’t have anybody to talk to. I was a sensitive kid. I didn’t understand anything that went on and I couldn’t talk to anybody about it because neither parent was available to talk to and there wasn’t any other role model. I was not equipped to deal with the fallout from that.
At eighteen, I left home. Through a series of events, I had some very bad experiences. I was homeless even for a little bit. I had got robbed at gunpoint very early in that endeavor. It was horrible. I was always focused on survival and trying to figure out how to get my feet on the ground which I did. I worked hard and I was very successful.
Look at how amazing you are because before you lived the rest of your life, that alone would have been enough to sink somebody.
At times, I felt like I was sinking, but I wanted to be something special, which in my case was just a normal life. If special is normal, anything above that is great, but I never felt like I could ever get that normal life because I had to fight harder and I had to dig myself out of a bigger hole. I was not equipped to make good emotional decisions, so I got myself into bad situations, which is what led to that relationship with my first wife.
First of all, even before you say another word, I got to say, your experience of a woman was someone who was not kind and mean. Now, you didn’t know how to make sense of your first wife and who she was. It was familiar in a way.
Some people will call me smart, but not very quick because it’s obvious that what I was trying to do was to marry my mom so that I could make her happy. It’s a super obvious pattern that you would want to say to the person that’s going to repeat it. “Stop. You can’t marry your alcoholic father. You can’t marry your angry mother. You can’t do those things.” It’s so plain when you have seen it in retrospect or when you see it in somebody else. When I was going through it, I didn’t know.
I think part of rebirth is forgiving yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know then. Had you known better, you would have done something different, but you didn’t know any better. You just have to forgive yourself and move on, but it took me a while to get there. When I finally realized it was through the help of a friend who told me when I kept complaining about my ex-wife and I kept complaining about how mean she was and how difficult it was to not fight back, because if I fought back one time, who knows what could happen? I just had to take what she was giving without falling back.
You already had the kids and you were worried about the kids too.
I was complaining to him on a very regular basis, and he finally slapped me across the face and said, “She’s not the problem. You are the problem. It’s 100% your fault.” I went, “What? How in the world? What are you talking about?” He goes, “You are a sensitive, observant, and wonderful person that’s willing to change. She’s an angry and miserable person who doesn’t know any better. Why are you thinking that she will change? She’s not aware. She doesn’t want to change. She’s not going to change. You are the one that keeps trying to get her to be something she’s not. Why don’t you stop worrying about her and why don’t you worry about yourself?”
About that same time, in a fight in which she became incredibly violent, she started screaming at me, “I’m not your mother.” I went, “You are exactly that. Yeah, you are.” It then hit me that I’m the problem. I got to fix this situation, but I don’t have to fix it just for me. I have to fix it for my kids. I put them in this situation. They deserve better. I deserve better.
Not only that, but you and your sister struggled with an abusive mother, and now you have two kids who are going to be struggling with an abusive mother. Again, it repeated the pattern that way also.
We don’t like braggers. We don’t like people that brag about themselves. The one thing I will tell you I have done well in my life is to raise my kids well.
You can brag about that. You brought good people into the world. That’s important.
Part of the reason is that I didn’t want to repeat the patterns that would have been easy for me to repeat and that I repeated earlier. I must have told them 1,000 times, “I’m sorry I gave you such a bad mother. I could have made a better decision.” I owned up to that, which is again, a part of the forgiveness process. It’s accepting that it’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to be wrong. It’s just not okay if you continue to do the same thing wrong. It’s not okay if you just sweep it under the rug and don’t try to make amends for it to yourself or your loved ones. That’s what makes it wrong.
At that same time, my sister was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Here I am, I’m not in contact with my mom. My dad has long since died. My sister is going to die. I have got an abusive woman that I got to get me and my kids to safety, so it was a world of turmoil. Compared to a lot of people, it’s not that bad, but it was my turmoil.
You had plenty on your plate. It was hard.
I was an overweight smoker, miserable, and stressed out. Yes, I was successful in some ways. I had some good friends. My life was in total crap, but there was a lot of negativity there. I was in a place that I didn’t want to be. Most of it was my creation and I needed to move on. I needed to figure out a way to reinvent myself. That’s where all of the change started to take place.
When you went to divorce her, was she miserable about that? Did she give you a hard time or give the kids a hard time? It sounds like you got custody of your kids.
To be fair, the divorce process was very simple because I had some leverage and we don’t need to get into the details, but the leverage was going to allow me to not drag the kids through a bad divorce. That leverage, I used it to say, “Let’s do no courts. No fighting over money. No whatever. I do the driving.”
You were able to make it amicable enough.
It was not amicable, but we were able to do it in a way that wasn’t brutal. We have only one time talked face to face and that was for less than 2 minutes, and that’s 20 years later. It’s not a pretty situation. It was not amicable at all, but once the break was going to happen, the break was able to be made without a prolonged process. You hear about a lot of these situations where people have to deal with that situation for years. No matter who’s right or wrong, the trauma on everybody is so unnecessary. We were able to avoid that for her, for me, and for the kids. She wasn’t pleased with it, but it was great for the kids.
You are getting your kids out of this situation. You are getting out of your first marriage. I bet you were relieved. Now you have got June’s diagnosis going on. How did you stop smoking and lose 50 pounds? With everything else you are going through, talk about willpower and being strong-minded. That eating and smoking was probably a way you fed yourself emotions that were not being fulfilled.
To close the book on her, let’s be fair, maybe there could have been somebody that came along at the point in her life when I came along that would have been better for her. That would have been somebody that could have made her happier, taught her how to reflect on her behaviors, or made her the best person. I wasn’t that person. I’m not saying it’s 100% her fault. It just didn’t work out. Let’s be fair that it wasn’t, “I walked into this situation where I’m 100% the victim.” That’s just not it. It’s just I made a bad decision.
You are talking about how you empowered yourself. You are not a victim. I’m arguing with you because it’s not that you are a bad guy saying you did everything right and she didn’t, but look at how you empowered yourself for your kids.
I did do bad behavior. I wasn’t violent, angry, miserable, or a jerk as a boss. I didn’t do drugs. I didn’t do a lot of the things that maybe would be easy to do to mask those situations. I was an overweight smoker. I was very stressed out. I wasn’t being a healthy role model for my kids. I maybe wasn’t making the best decisions just in life. I think we talked about this before. I stood in front of the mirror. The kids were asleep. They were four years old. I just found out my sister had brain cancer. I’m in a place at a house where I’m safe. There’s nothing going on. There’s no-nonsense that’s going to happen to me.
I just stood in front of a mirror one night looking at myself going like, “Who do you want to be? Who are you?” It’s because all I knew was that I spent my childhood trying to make a mom happy, who I couldn’t make happy. In every job I had, I thought I had to work harder to make the boss happy or to survive, so I was doing it for them. Any relationship I had was trying to fix whatever problems I had in my childhood, especially that marriage. I was doing it for all the wrong reasons. I never did anything for me.
I don’t mean selfish for me. Not even self-serving, but just out of self-worth or self-value. I said, “Who are you? Whom do you want to be?” What I knew was, I didn’t want to be a smoker, overweight, or miserable. I didn’t want to continue to try to do things to impress everybody else. I said, “Why don’t you start to impress the guy in the mirror? Why don’t you try that for once?”
You weren’t even in formal therapy or anything. Many people have to do a lot of self-examination with someone else’s help to come to that. That’s amazing that you were able to come to that conclusion.
It was a tough one, but it was very empowering in a way that I think I could have easily had a lot of guilt and remorse. I could have beat myself up pretty easily for making bad decisions, putting myself and my kids in a bad place, and not having lived my best life. I just said, “Why don’t you look at the positive? Why don’t you be an optimist? Why don’t you see who you want to become?” When I wrote that first book, Winning in the Middle of the Pack, it’s this idea of I finally decided that it didn’t matter that nobody was watching and nobody cared. That’s a great place. When nobody is watching and nobody cares but the person in the mirror, that’s a wonderful place.
I started to rely on, “How do I feel about myself?” Rather than impressing my boss, impressing the girl, or thinking that I have to do a thing because that’s what everybody else’s expectation of me is. People can do that by being self-centered and being a jerk. They can do it by being on a road of self-discovery and trying to figure out what’s the best thing they can be. An example is when I would make dinner for my kids. I didn’t do it for them. I did it for me. It’s like, “I want them to have a good meal.” Not I want them to say, “My dad is a good cook. It’s all about him.” Do you understand the subtle difference?
I get that. How long did it take you to stop smoking? Did you go cold turkey the next day? To lose that weight, you are cooking better for yourself and all, but that takes time.
A lot of the time in my life growing up, I couldn’t be weak or couldn’t show that I was failing at something because the household wouldn’t have allowed it. As a young adult on my own, I couldn’t fail because if I did fail, I might be homeless and out on the street. Later in my young adulthood, I didn’t want to fail because I wasn’t used to failing and I didn’t want to be known as a failure. It’s pretty funny, but I always tell people, I never tried to quit smoking because I didn’t want to fail at it. That’s the reason why I didn’t want to be that person. Once it becomes okay to fail, it becomes okay to fail.
You look at the adage of the tightrope walker. The tightrope walker doesn’t have a safety net underneath because if it’s okay to fall when they don’t have a net, they will fall. They practice without a net for one reason. It’s never okay to fall. I lived this life where I didn’t want to fail. When I decided to quit, I quit and never picked up another cigarette because I didn’t want to fail at it.
I probably could have quit ten years earlier if I was willing to give it a try, but I wasn’t ever willing to give it a try. I quit and I said, “To make sure that I don’t fail, I got to do something that will occupy my time or be counter to smoking.” What’s the one thing that’s counter to smoking is exercising. You can’t swim and smoke a cigarette at the same time. You can’t run and smoke a cigarette at the same time unless you are a complete whack job. You can’t be on a bicycle riding a bike fast and smoke. I filled every minute I could with doing healthy things so that I wouldn’t pick up a cigarette.
Those things helped you lose weight too because now you are better and now you are exercising.
Yes. I quit in the first week of February when my kids had just turned five. I quit the first week in February, and by that November, I did my first Ironman. I went from completely nothing to having done an Ironman in 8 or 9 months.
Was anyone coaching you or you were doing this on your own? Did you take yourself to a facility and have someone? You see that there are all these programs on TV you could ride and they are incurred. None of that is for you.
None of that. The one thing I did was I asked a guy who was an endurance athlete to teach me how to run because I was on the volleyball court playing beach volleyball every now and then. Some people told me I was a very ugly runner. That’s because I wasn’t a runner. I never ran. How are you going to smoke and run?
I didn’t know there was a difference between a beautiful and an ugly runner.
An ugly runner will hurt themselves. I didn’t want to hurt myself, so I needed to get taught how to run. When he took me out to learn how to run, I literally couldn’t run for two straight minutes at a very slow pace. That’s how poor and out of shape I was. Two minutes. Right now if I forced you, you could hold your breath for two minutes. I couldn’t run for two minutes. It’s stupid.
I did it on myself because out of necessity or guilt, I always was self-reliant. I had to be. What I never did is I never forced myself to do things for me. I knew I could outwork or outsmart anybody. I will do whatever it takes to get whatever done, but I was always doing that for the wrong reasons. Now, I said, “Why can’t you do an Ironman? Go do an Ironman.” When I did that, I go, “Why can’t you run 50 miles? Why can’t you run 100 miles? Why can’t you bike 5,000 miles? You can.” If you tell yourself you are going to do it, you can do it.
You are very strong-minded. It’s so admirable. You are. It’s fantastic.
I learned from a lot of bad mistakes.
That’s another thing. You are very honest with yourself, which is great. They call this in spiritual terms, they say you are a conscious human being. You are aware. All of this congealed to inspire this new purpose in you, which was to tell these evocative, inspiring stories, which produced Cycle of Lives to help people overcome trauma, grief, and limiters of all sorts, and develop a better toolset to communicate with others about difficult emotions. How did that all come about? While you are cycling, running, and doing everything, all of a sudden you go, “I’m going to start writing.” This was part of your rebirth. How did this happen?
It is part of rebirth. I love it when somebody discovers something like you have later in life. Maybe later in life for them, they discovered it in their twenties. I’m not making a judgment of late in life, just later in life where you discover something and it becomes the thing that helps define you. It opens your eyes to the world. It might be music, yoga, meditation, art, or whatever it is. For me, it was endurance athletics.
When I found myself drawn to endurance athletics, not just because it got me and kept me healthy. Not just because it made me feel a sense of self-worth and accomplishment for me, which was important right for me at the time, but because it gave me a wonderful place of contemplation. I will never forget one of the most ridiculous training things I ever did was, I had made a pact with my sister. She was getting ready to die.
There was an American Cancer Society Relay For Life, which is one of these things where a bunch of people get together. They hang out at a high school track. For 24 hours, a team gets together and they walk around the track. It’s cancer awareness and support. It’s this wonderful community thing. It raises money in a sense of community. It’s sharing and this whole thing. She had a big team of people that were going to be there to be on the track in her honor and she wanted to be there for the whole event.
I made a pact with her, “If you are going to be there for the whole event in your condition, I will run for the whole 24 hours.” To prepare for that, on one day of training, I did a half Ironman, which I drove 3 hours to the event the night before, woke up super early, did a half Ironman, and drove 3 hours home. When I got home, I took a shower, put on running shoes, and did a 10-mile run. I thought to myself, “I had to do this 10-mile run because I’m preparing to run for 24 hours. I needed to have something that would reflect that.”
All I kept thinking about as I’m running around the track, it was maybe close to midnight, it was cold out, and I was tired as hell. I kept thinking about all these wonderful thoughts that were coming into my head about my childhood with my sister. About the things that I had learned from doing endurance athletics. How grateful I was to be able to be at my age at that time, to be able to do something like this, to go exercise for hours and be able to do it again. It’s a wonderful sense of meditation and accomplishment.
A super long answer to your question of I find that contemplation is a wonderful side benefit of endurance athletics. Part of the thing that I contemplated was watching what my sister was going through and watching people at Relay For Life after doing events every year to raise money for different cancer organizations. People eye-witnessed and observed that people were good about dealing with the tasks of their cancer, but not good at dealing with the emotional side of it.
That’s the same with any type of trauma. When something traumatic happens with a coworker, everybody rallies around getting them food, taking care of the kids if they need to do that, and helping them navigate time off. The actual emotional hard stuff about the trauma, we all just, “We don’t deal with that.” I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be cool if I could write some true stories of real people that were dealing with very traumatic things like cancer, being a caregiver for 40 years, or being an oncologist?” If I got into their heads about their stories and could tell those in a truthful, authentic way, it might help people. That became the genesis of the last book.
This fundraiser, is this the same fundraiser that you do every year or is it different in your sister’s memory?
No. My sister’s name is June, and I would do a “For June” in June. Every year for a number of years, I did a 100-mile race or an 85-mile run, or I did 4 marathons back-to-back. I did all these wacky things that a lot of people supported me. It was fun. We raised money. That was that.
Are you still doing it?
I’m not doing the For June in Junes because I’m not that organized all the time, but I did it for several years. What I did do is, I didn’t take a real gap in that until the book came along, and then each one of the book participants, I asked them, “What is the organization of choice for you? What do you have an affinity for? What do you have an allegiance to? Who took care of you? Who gave you your career?” I’d like 100% of the proceeds from the book to go support that. That includes cancer centers like Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida, and NYU.
If anyone wants to get a list of these organizations that the book is supporting, where would they find that?
I didn’t want to be shy about it, so it’s in the book. I list each one of the organizations. In Cycle of Lives. It’s on the website. If you go to CycleOfLives.org, you can see it. They are all great organizations. It’s the Children’s Hospital of LA, the American Cancer Society, the Perlmutter Cancer Institute over there in New York, and a lot of good places.
What a motivation for your book to continue to do well.
They get the money. There’s not a lot of money in books, so I don’t want to make it seem like it’s so benevolent, but the greater good is, every once in a while, you get feedback that drives you to know you are doing the right thing. You shared a story with me before we started talking about that. It’s cool that you can have an impact on people’s lives. Pretty regularly, I will get a note or reach out from a professional or from a person who goes, “That was a book that helped me.”
I remember this one where this doctor I spoke to told me that he read the book the first time and he was in horror because he realized he had no idea what his patients were going through. He felt so bad that he didn’t have that awareness. He then read it the second time as a person, not as a doctor, and he goes, “Did I feel for these people and realize that everybody is going through something?” You might not even know it, even if you are helping them go through something, that might not be the thing they are going through.
This points to the other thing you said before about how people skirt the emotional. Even when you are working on people, you are a doctor, and you are saving their lives, you are not connected to what’s going on within that person other than those cells that are duplicating.
We are all just passersby in everybody else’s life. Everybody is living their own life, but it just adds to the thought that we just don’t know what people are going through or what they have gone through. When your friend says to you, “I appreciate the help, but I don’t need it. I’m fine.” Maybe what they are saying to you is, “There’s no way I can rely on you because everybody I have ever relied on has abandoned me, and I’m way too afraid to show you weakness because there’s no way that I’m going to allow you to abandon me. No, I’m fine. I’m good. I don’t need you.”
You don’t know what people are going through. You don’t know what they have gone through. If we take a moment, especially with the people that we care about. I think that this book does allow you to feel for the people and relate it to people that you might know in your own life, but with the people, we care about and the people that we want stronger connections with. If we can just maybe be empowered to allow ourselves to navigate the difficult waters and say the wrong things. It’s okay sometimes to say the wrong things. It’s okay to push when you shouldn’t push because maybe that’s what you need to do. I’m hoping the book empowers people to make a deeper connection with the people that are in their lives.
Let me ask you this because you are so eloquent. I’m sure you must be available to speak about your book in front of groups and online. How can people connect someone reading this and they’d like you to speak to their book club or whatever is going on? How do they connect with you?
I do a lot of that. It’s fun. Sometimes I do it for free. It’s a book club. I have had a wonderful experience with this cancer support group in Alaska. They read the book. Most of the people that had been through cancer were women with breast cancer. I think of four of the stories. One is an oncologist that specialized in breast cancer. Three others were survivors who had gone through breast cancer. Me talking with them about their book and their experience was a wonderful thing. I love doing it. Connect with me. For larger groups, I will travel and do whatever, but it’s a passion and it doesn’t matter what comes to me.
It feeds you and it feeds them. That’s how I feel about this show. It’s both ways. It brings me so much joy to help people, but I’m also being told that it’s helping so many people.
It’s a positive circle. It’s not that negative cycle that we are all on at one point in our lives. It’s a positive cycle and you just want more of it.
It’s like a round-robin. It’s beautiful. Are you doing any new projects? What have you got on tap these days?
I am. I have always got projects I’m working on. I’m doing some fiction books that I’m working on. I’m always promoting books because as an author, you want to continue to build your audience so that publishers think that you are going to make them some money so they will be more interested in your next book. I’m not a household name, so the more households I get into, the more chance I have at becoming that so that I can hopefully impact people with my writing. That’s the goal.
You deserve to be a household name. You are a remarkable guy. You got my vote all the way.
I’m a big guy in my mind, at least.
That’s good. That’s a big advance from where you once were. Good for you.
That’s the truth. Good observation.
You of all people, what’s your message based on your own healing story with rebirth about the importance of healing and rebirth that you want to share with all of us? Why should we go to all this trouble to turn our lives around and recreate in a better way?
You will get this more than most people because of what you have been through. I’m not prescribing anything and I’m certainly not preaching, but I will tell you that at least for me, I know I’m not speaking for you but I’m sure it speaks to you, that whenever the time comes for you to not believe that you can be optimistic, you can still be optimistic. All you got to do is just believe and be optimistic that your best days are ahead of you.
Sometimes we have to go through difficult things and things that are just not fair and they are not good. There are bad things happen to good people. Out of that, maybe not right then or maybe not near in the future. Maybe, but maybe not for a while, things can become better things. You can evolve. You can rebirth yourself. You can see what the world gives you around the next corner. The thing that drives me is I always believe my best days are ahead of me. Until I don’t, I’m always going to believe that. It’s a wonderful feeling because even though sometimes I have dark days, dark moments, and bad things happen, luckily nothing monstrously tragic has happened to me. I believe that that’s so thing that we should all do.
Look at where you came from, from what you have been through just a few years ago. You are not in the place you hope to be and not in the place you thought you would be back then, but in the place where you are right now, you have an optimistic, wonderful, and vibrant view of each day, which is why shouldn’t you have that?
My days are filled with gratitude. I must say. I wake up in the morning, I go, “I’m here. I’m loved. I’m doing good things.”
Even though it sounds preachy, it’s not. It’s a mindset that I think is a wonderful mindset to have, which is to believe that your best days are ahead of you. As long as you continue to believe that, it makes you look forward to waking up every day. It is a great place to be.
I also think part of your healing and rebirth was that you didn’t stay stuck. You kept learning and you kept moving ahead. That’s very admirable and I have to say I have that philosophy too. Where can I go? How can I move forward? I’m not going to stay in this space over here that I don’t like.
If I could just add one thing to that, it’s endurance. I also learned more from endurance athletics as well. When you are doing something like a 10-hour run in the desert in 120-degree heat or something like that, you are going to get some peaks and valleys. The valleys are hard. It hurts. It’s not fun, but you are self-imposing it, so it’s fun. The thing is that if you quit, nobody is going to care or nobody is watching, but you found your limit.
If you could just figure out a way to be unstuck, just take one step forward. Eventually, it’s going to get better if you could just unstuck. If you could take one more step and go a little bit past that line and take one more step forward, eventually it will get better. It will eventually get easier, you will get a tailwind, and the right things will happen. When things get hard, self-imposed or otherwise, figure out a way to keep taking a step forward.
Even if you need to get a little help with that forward.
Endurance athletics taught me that for sure.
Would you say that’s part of your formula for finding joy in life, or do you have anything else you’d like to add to that?
No, that is it. It’s not easy. I can’t say that every moment that everything bad happens to me, I go, “My best days are ahead of me and I’m going to take a positive step forward.” It’s not. I don’t want to be trite, but the thing that brings me joy is honestly, I can look in the mirror and go, “You are still trying to be your best person for you. You are still optimistic. You still think your best days are ahead of you. How in the world could that not be great or how could that not be joyful? I guess that’s my secret. The first time metaphorically that I stood in front of the mirror and said, “Who the heck are you and what do you want to be?” At least now I have some of those answers.
That gives you joy. In my opinion, you look in that mirror, you like whom you see these days.
A lot more than I did the guy from the past, for sure.
I’m with you there. Your life choices. You know I’m your fan. You are so truly inspiring and you are a tremendous role model for healing and rebirth. Thank you for opening your heart and sharing your truly incredible personal story with all of us. I wholeheartedly encourage everyone to check out my fascinating interview with you. It was a good one about your book Cycle of Lives, which is an important and mesmerizing read. I want to thank you from my heart for this fabulous interview and your remarkable and gracious generosity of spirit.
Here’s a reminder, everyone, make sure to follow us and like us on social at @IreneSWeinberg on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and especially on YouTube. Like, subscribe, and hit notify everyone to make sure you will get the inspiring new interviews coming your way. Thank you so much. If you’d like to be a part of the Rebirth Series, please send me an email to Hello@IreneWeinberg.com. As I like to say, to be continued, many blessings, and bye for now.
- David Richman’s book: Cycle of Lives: 15 People’s Stories, 5,000 Miles, and a Journey Through the Emotional Chaos of Cancer
- David Richman’s Website
- Connect with David Richman on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
- Relay For Life
- Moffitt Cancer Center
- Children’s Hospital of LA
- American Cancer Society
- Perlmutter Cancer Institute
- David Richman’s book: Winning in the Middle of the Pack
- @IreneSWeinberg on Instagram
- Irene Weinberg on Facebook
- Irene Weinberg on Twitter
- Irene Weinberg – Grief, Rebirth + Healing Podcast on YouTube