You’ve already have had your fair share of “Final 2018” posts. This will not be like the others. I will not be using any of the “best of 2018” apps or posts. Mainly because most of those posts are photos of me post LVAD or in the hospital waiting for my heart transplant. The highlights through my eyes or through my lens has been the incredible path of photography. I picked up my first “serious camera”, spent a good amount of taking shitty photos, editing and finally in a place of confidence. Here’s the photos I feel are my best of 2018:
It has been a LONG time since I have felt alone. I think it was when I first moved to Long Island, I was about 13 years old. I didn't know anyone. Whenever I wasn't hanging out with my younger brother, I was in my room writing. I think it could've been considered a "phase", I was going through.
A common phrase I have used and witnessed, is "You just don't understand!". I feel I've said it when I feel I was trying to communicate to either my family, friends, ex-girlfriends, ex-friends, etc, and they just weren't seeing my point of view. It was also my attempt to make myself the center of attention, doing what I could for people to either feel bad for me, or to come up or down to my level and try to "understand", for whatever I was trying to communicate.
I have spent much time over the years in my thoughts. For one, trying to process and understand why I was diagnosed with cancer at the age of eighteen years old. As well as experiencing the brutal side effects of chemotherapy, bone marrow biopsies, spinal taps, constant uncertainty and constant pain.
I feel I've become much more mature and much better with communication. Whether it was in the form of writing it down or speaking it out. In July, when I experienced the heart attack and the eventual open heart surgery to implant the LVAD, I didn't complain. I understood when they told me, the heart attack was caused by the two and half years of chemotherapy. It was a matter of when not if.
So when they told me about having to become listed for a heart transplant, I understood. This was all a part of the plan.
Now that I am over three months since my heart transplant, I barely understand the sacrifice for the donor as well as their family. To have received the letter from James' family, and to know James was in the Navy, this Memorial Day has been quite difficult.
Honestly, Memorial Day was mostly a three day weekend for me. It's now a day when there was more than one sacrifice by James. 1. Serving his country. 2. His unfortunate/untimely death, has allowed me to live.
I don't know how to put into words. I have deep, deep feelings about James' sacrifice. It's a painful gratefulness, it's a painful appreciation, and an extremely painful love. I find it extremely difficult to accept how much pain his family is in. His mom, his dad, his siblings, his fellow soldiers, his friends.
I have accepted, that I am fully lonely in my feelings and thoughts of where I am in life, and I am at peace with that realization. 92 days later, I have significantly improved in every way. Mainly because of the incredibly health heart that I received from James. I have lived a long time of my 33 years, unknowingly unhealthy and unknowingly, slowly dying. The rest of my body has fully accepted the organ and I have never felt as alive and healthy as I do right now.
It's pretty sad to read that.
Photography has become my new passion. It all start years and years ago via my Blackberry and eventually my iPhones. I loved having a good camera with me at all times, but I just never wanted to have to lug around a DSLR or a point and shoot. Unless I was on vacation or at a Yankees’ game, would I bring a camera with me. I would take photos in a way that would capture exactly what I was looking at. I wouldn’t edit them. I wouldn’t change them. I would just take them, so I could always have that moment with me.
Presently, I now seek out sunsets and any scenic landscape that I want to consistently be able to look at. See, when you spend as much time as I have in a hospital and recovering inside at home, you live and die with those photos of those beautiful sunsets or scenic point of views that you’ve randomly taken over the years.
I think that’s why I am so into photography now. I want to absorb all that’s around me at all times, visually. If I’m ever back in the hospital for any reason, I’d have tons of photos I could look at to take me back to the moment I shot them.
My intentions with photography is to shoot visuals that inspire and invoke emotion for anyone looking at them. To be able to bring these photos with them, whenever they need to momentarily escape, find some inspiration or find some level of grounding.
In the coming weeks, I am releasing a photo book, of my recent experience being admitted in the hospital, being treated for a blood clot in my LVAD heart pump and waiting for the heart transplant. I am excited to show you and invoke any questions or thoughts you that may come to mind. Anything I could do to educate, inform and inspire you, I will do.
I am sitting here at night doing my usual writing. Dialing in my podcast, refining my inspirational speeches and I glanced at the calendar on my laptop. It hit me that tomorrow is a pretty special day. It is my 12th year free of cancer. I usually celebrate with a bunch of friends, have a few drinks and such. This year is different. It's a bit bittersweet. Reality hits, and it hits hard. I would normally be grateful for how amazing I was feeling, and how healthy my life has been. Once I had the heart attack, honestly, I didn't know I would get to the point of celebrating. I didn't know how/if my life would ever be the same again. Now that I'm almost six months out from the LVAD being put in my heart, I have MUCH to celebrate. I have a different, AMAZING life. I am living. I am thriving. I am doing the best I can, to get my health back. I have much more to accomplish with my health and the direction of my life. I have the most amazing girlfriend, family/friends, anyone can ask for. I have SO much to work for, so much to live for.
Every time we pass by a tree in our daily lives, how often do we think about the process it took to get to that size? Never. Maybe a few tree huggers here and there but most of us do not even consider this thought. Most of the trees around us are really, really old. On my walk today around the park, I noticed there was a new tree planted. It was a cutie. It definitely had a good start to it's growth but it was definitely a baby. I stopped and stared at the tree for a couple minutes. I took a few photos and said outlaid, " That tree is me." No I am not a tree. I feel like my life is in the same growth process of that tree. Slow and steady. I am constantly recovering, and constantly changing, but I am growing and progressing in the same forward direction... up.
It’s all about time. Over the past couple months, all of my posts have defaulted to my social media pages. I figured I would update and simplify my website. Over the last few months, I have learned much about time. How it really is the most valuable thing we can obtain. Where sometimes we get lost in building a business, getting more followers, finding clients, etc. The end game is more money. That more money to each and every one of us is eventually going to equate to time. Time to travel. Time to camp. Time to mountain bike. Time to enjoy what we really love to do. After my recent health scares, the time has been extremely therapeutic. It has taught me how important it is to slow life down and take a breath. Focus on the important parts. In my case, I had to recover from this heart attack and open heart surgery. The best and only way to recover is time. I am in no rush. I’m going to enjoy each and every second of this time. I will get stronger and healthier every single day. All in a matter of time. I am so excited to be back to blogging and sharing what I’ve learned along this way. Hope you enjoy.