TGIF!  First off, I have to say THANK YOU to all the wonderful bloggers who nurtured my bruised ego yesterday, gave me virtual hugs, inspiration, and kind words of encouragement.  It recharged me to get over it and on with better things!

All the uplifting support really couldn’t have come at a better time, as today would have been my father’s 64th birthday.  I can’t help but continue to feel an emptiness whenever a family-centered day comes around, and mine is missing our leader.  My father was amazing and the kind of person I aspire to be each day of my life.  It continues to break my heart that we lost him to cancer in 2011.

One thing I regret is that I didn’t have my life together when I lost my father.  I was unhealthy in every way.  I know that he worried about me and my future.  That’s one of the main reasons I vowed to turn my life around and why I decided to get healthy finally.  I want my father to know that I’m okay and that I’m happy.

I have changed my life completely, and I am glad that I can connect with my father through my healthy living journey.  However, I also feel sadness that I cheated him out of the adult Erin he would have like to have met, who incidentally, is much like the younger (more passionate) Erin he used to know.

When I was growing up, I was excellent at downhill skiing.  Not just good, my father would say, “born with a natural talent that people can’t create.”  I began to train as a racer at a young age.  My father and I would ski together all the time, and it was a particular way we connected.  I would never say that my dad was a competitive person because he never cared much for accolades, but when it came to me and athletics, he was always taken by my natural ability.  He always said I shouldn’t take it for granted.

Unfortunately, by the age of 16, that’s just what I did.   I quit playing all sports.  I know that this concerned my father.  I took to being an unhealthy teenager who didn’t exercise at all.  I became depressed and started to feel bad about myself.  I wasn’t capable at that age to understand the connection between stopping something I was good at that made me happy and being overweight, unhappy, and directionless.  I think we can all say, “if I knew then, what I know now” about many things in our lives.

I also developed an eating disorder.  I know that this worried my father.  I struggled with bulimia right up until the end of his life.  I drank too much.  I ate poorly.  I didn’t exercise.  I dated losers.  I had no money.  I had no career.  I had no passion.  I could go on and on here about the ways that I worried my father, and how I can’t take them back.

I know that those thoughts are pointless and he would be the first person to tell me, “Oh Erin, give it up” as he was never a fan of people feeling sorry for themselves.

So this is what I have to believe.

I have to believe that he knows that I have a stronger relationship with my mother than ever.

I have to believe that he knows that I’m healthy.

I have to believe that he knows that I’ve become an athlete again.

I have to believe that he knows I married a man he would have loved like a son.

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Even though I took many painful detours in my life, I have to believe here is where I’m meant to be.

Sometimes the most painful experiences in life provide us with the most comfort and purpose.

Happy birthday, Dad.  My gift to you is the Erin you always wanted me to become.

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Has a loss or dark experience evoked change within yourself?

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