Look for the answer in the question. – Rumi
Our lives are like an early morning fog gently enveloping a prairie meadow. One minute you can see and experience the beauty; the next minute it’s gone.
Ask yourself what you would do if you were told you had only a few months to live. Do you want your life to be defined by the memory of the past? A past where you may not have recognized your true potential for happiness? Or do you want to be defined by the vision of a brighter life, one with fulfilment? Do you want a life with peace, harmony, health, and abundance? If so, what choices will you make? Ask yourself if you’re living the life you imagined for yourself. Is it the life you really want to live?
The hardest and often saddest reality that many people come to in their lives is that the life they’re living is not the one they envisioned. It’s a reality that happens far too often for far too many. I finally realized that I, too, was not living the life I imagined for myself. I knew I had to change the way I was living my life. After investigating countless human deaths in my professional career and seeing that life is fleeting, I knew I needed to change. I also knew that no one but I could make that change.
This book is about learning to understand what creates the physical and emotional obstacles that we foster in our lives—the ones that ultimately stifle our happiness. It’s about overcoming adversity and still being able to enjoy a successful and happy life.
Imagine for a moment if you found out that you could dramatically change your life and be able to manifest happiness, health, and abundance. What if you could change your life by merely changing how you think? Would you do it? If you would, when would you do it?
I will share intimate details about my life, both as a child growing up with adversity and during my career as a police officer with Canada’s national police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). My story includes being raised by an alcoholic father who routinely raped my mother and, later, my work that on one occasion required me to take a man’s life in the line of duty.
This self-help memoir is intended to inspire. It will leave you with the clear understanding that life is a gift not to be wasted. It will hopefully encourage you to realize that there are no “do over” or “rewind” buttons in life and that everything we’re experiencing in our lives is what we’ve chosen for ourselves. I’ve learned that life as I understand it depends primarily on my choices. I personally believe that we all can accept our current lives and situations and suffer continual frustration and anxiety because of them, or we can choose to change them.
Within these pages is the story about how I learned to live the life I was meant to live. I will share my life experiences, including being diagnosed with a life-threatening disease. I will share how I didn’t have to be on my death bed to realize that I could have lived my life very differently. I lived in constant competition to have more and be more, always struggling with the feeling that I was a victim of life’s circumstances—only to finally discover that I was completely wrong. Adversity actually taught me that I can control my own destiny.
It is my desire to help you, dear reader, understand that we can all learn how to manifest the life of our dreams. I will provide you with what I believe is an easy-to-understand foundation of how our thoughts and beliefs truly influence not only our internal but also our external environment.
You will see firsthand how I overcame the challenges that brought me to where I am today. As I write this, I am a happy person who enjoys a loving relationship, good health, spiritual harmony, financial security, and career success. I sincerely hope that my experiences will entertain you and, more importantly, help you to create a similar existence in your own life.
Is this the life you imagined? What if you were wrong? chronicles my life growing up in one of the roughest neighbourhoods in Calgary, Alberta. Despite this, I went on to become a high-ranking and decorated police officer.
During my 34 years with the RCMP, I was decorated twice for my service to Canada: once by the Government of Canada and most recently by Her Majesty the Queen of England. I am proud to say that I was also awarded the prestigious United Nations Peacekeeping medal for exemplary service.
I will also tell you about my tumultuous struggle with high-ranking officers within the RCMP to achieve fair and equitable treatment in the workplace. You will have a front row seat perspective on what it was like to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after witnessing the atrocities of genocide while working with the United Nations in war-torn Kosovo, Yugoslavia.
Is this the life you imagined? What if you were wrong? will take you on a journey—a deep and very personal journey of self-exploration. As you continue to read, you will see that I ask a number of rhetorical questions. I’ve presented these questions to help you dig deep into your current belief system. I feel confident that what you read may allow you to maximize your potential to live an enriched and healthier life.
In a perfect world, we would be able to rewrite our story from the beginning. With an awareness of our hopes and dreams, we could change our lives and mould them into a shape that would make us happier. Sadly, we tend to live for that perceived perfection and elusive “someday.” How many times have you thought, “Someday I will… [you can fill in the blank for yourself].”
There is no time like now to start working towards your purpose and the life you were meant to live.
I know we’d rather not think about it, but life really does have an expiration date. Well known author Max Lucado shared a very powerful message that I would like to share with you:
“When you are in the final days of your life, what will you want? Will you want to hug that college degree in the walnut frame? Will you ask to be carried to the garage so you can sit in your car? Will you find comfort in reading your financial statement? Of course not! What will matter then will be people. If relationships will matter most then, shouldn’t they matter now?”1
For centuries, ancient cultures understood that the function of the omnipresent force we call the Universe is to create coherence between your thoughts and the reality that you’re experiencing. It’s only within the last fifty or sixty years that modern science has truly taken a serious look at what our ancestors have known for thousands of years. Science is now allowing each of us to see and better understand the question of “Why?” As a result, the answers are becoming increasingly clearer.
As we move through our own life’s brief journey, there comes a time when we all reflect back on what we did or did not accomplish. Frequently, some of us end up having some form of regret. It’s such a gut-wrenching feeling when we realize that we haven’t lived a fulfilled life.
Outwardly you may appear to have material wealth; but unless you’re truly happy with who you are and what you’ve become, you’ll undoubtedly leave this Earth very unhappy and full of regret.
Personally, I think it is a tragedy to realize on your death bed that how you perceived and lived your life may have been out of synch with who you were. Truly, how sad is that?
No doubt we’ve all heard about something traumatic happening to someone we care about, whether a serious debilitating illness or a death. In those instances, how many times do we hear their regrets? “I wish I would’ve travelled more or was more patient with people.” Or, the regret I have given voice to: “I wish I would’ve spent less time at work and more time with my family.” As a police officer for 34 years, I witnessed countless
situations where death came too early and unexpectedly. Death does not discriminate between rich or poor; nor does it care about the colour of your skin. Death will come. And when it does, it is too late then to reflect back on your life.
A few years back, my good friend Greg worked with me to create a non-profit society in Vernon, British Columbia: The Vernon and District Land Trust Society. Our society helped provide safe, clean, and affordable housing for low-income seniors, veterans, and families at risk. Greg, a successful lawyer, was very well off financially. He was kind and cared very deeply for the community; he worked tirelessly to try and make a positive difference in the lives of those less fortunate. He was the type of individual we could all aspire to be.
About a year and a half before he passed, he shared with the management team of our board that he had leukaemia. Regardless, Greg was optimistic that the disease could be treated. As time went on, he continued with his treatments and his cancer went into remission. I believe it was in the summer of 2010 when he announced that his cancer had returned; but this time it was bowel cancer, and the prognosis was terminal.
What truly amazed me about Greg was that he never wavered in his passion to help people, even though he was facing the grim reality of death. His attitude was always positive and encouraging. One day I had an opportunity to have tea with him at one of his favourite bistros in town. During our conversation I had to ask him, “How do you do it? You’re facing death and yet you remain so positive?”
Greg responded, “Randy, I have one regret”. After a brief pause, he went on to add “I really wish I would’ve learned sooner to live my life like I was dying.” It was a profound statement that was, for me, life-changing.
As we continued to chat, it became evident that what mattered most in the short time Greg had left on this Earthly plane was spending time with his family. He loved his family more than his words could describe.
Greg’s heartfelt admission confirmed for me that, in the end, it’s the things we can’t replace—like love for our family and being at peace with ourselves—that we finally realize are the most important things in our lives. Those few hours I spent with my friend that day changed my life like nothing else I’d ever experienced to that point in my life.
We often hear and read about people’s “aha” or epiphanic moments that they experienced and how it affected their lives. I experienced such a moment, and when I did, I immediately recognized something strange was about to happen. Although I had no clue what it might be, somehow—somewhere—deep inside my soul, I knew my life would never be the same again.
As you will learn, the time I spent lying in the Kelowna General Hospital trauma unit, near death after being diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, allowed me to see and feel the incredible Omnipresent force that flows in and around each and every one of us.
Only when I truly believed I was about to die did I experience a spiritual awakening, an overwhelming sensation of the total envelopment of unconditional love. It was a moment I remember vividly, and one I will never forget.
Although resigning myself both physically and mentally to the fact that I could die, I had an incredible sensation—a feeling of excitement that something amazing was about to happen. I also understood that what I was experiencing wasn’t a punishment, but a gift: a gift of clarity.
In the next chapters, I will share personal accounts of my and other survivors’ potentially terminal illnesses. And I hope you will see firsthand how our thoughts can affect our body as effectively as the drugs we may take, like Zoloft or Prozac.
My greatest hope is that you can each learn to live life like you were dying while you are still alive and healthy.
Is this the life you imagined? What if you were wrong? is also about how I finally figured out that every one of us can learn how to enjoy life on our own terms. Here’s the best part: We can start to live that life long before it’s too late, by simply starting to change the way we think. Yes, I have found it to be that simple. Changing the way I thought about the events in my life helped me to better understand my life and to make the transformation away from a counter-productive, negative, and habitual way of thinking.
It will become clear that I needed to address my own repressed feelings and emotions. Well-known Psychiatrist Carl Jung described our darker or hidden side as “our shadow.” It is an unconscious aspect of our personality wherein our conscious self doesn’t identify or relate within itself. In essence, it’s a false persona or a mask. It’s kind of like when a person lives or hides behind their public “mask”; yet, when they’re alone or in private, they lead a very different type of life. Probably one of the best examples of this is when we hear people describing their neighbour as “quiet,” “kind,” or “generous” after they were just arrested and charged for committing some horrendous crime.
I really like what the late Debbie Ford said in the movie The Shadow Effect to explain what the “shadow” really is:
“The shadow is made up of the thoughts, emotions and impulses that we find too painful or embarrassing or distasteful to accept. So instead of dealing with them, we repress them. Right now, hundreds of millions of people are living in denial of their individual shadow. We try with all our might to pretend that we are not that what we hate. In fact, proving this is an all-important task for the wounded ego.”2
For me, once I could honestly and constructively deal with my “shadows” and all that I realized I had been hiding from, I could move forward in how I dealt with any adversity in my life. I went from being a person who always seemed to encounter obstacles to someone constantly finding opportunities. Once I recognized that all of the negative emotions and feelings were hurting me, I started to take responsibility for making positive changes.
It helps to understand that our “shadows” are the beliefs that were usually created when we were very young or those continually reinforced negative experiences messages we heard while growing up: “You’ll never amount to anything.” “You’re stupid.” or “You’re a loser.”
These messages can be that direct, or they can be subtle and nuanced and suggested by a simple look from someone in authority.
Medical science has shown us that once these thoughts get implanted in our subconscious, they’re normally there to stay. That is, until something triggers their release or we try to proactively work with our shadow.
I love the analogy used by the late Dr. Wayne Dyer where he asks us to think of our inner self as an orange. So, if you’re an orange and once something happens and your life comes under pressure or you feel threatened or angry, what do you think will come out of yourself? Yeap…you’re right it is orange juice? No matter how much you try, you will never get grape juice or apple juice out of an orange. It’s the same with your inner thoughts and feelings. When pressured, it’s those thoughts and feelings hidden deep within us that come to the forefront and dictate how we usually respond to a situation.
I recognized that the change I wanted to see in my life needed to have a positive foundation, and that foundation required me to first be honest with myself. I had to start to take ownership of my life and everything that was happening to me, including how I was thinking.
In the last three decades, modern science has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that thought energy not only influences what happens inside of us, but it also has a direct impact on our external environment. Whether you look at life from a scientific, spiritual, or religious lens, it is now nearly universally held that you are what you think about. One of Dr. Dyer’s more powerful quotes, in my opinion, was “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Through my book, I hope you start to understand that no matter where you are in your life, no matter how educated or old you are, it is never too late to make a change… to start to live your live, the life you were meant to live. It all starts with you, right here, right now.
Like a lot of people I know, I grew up in an environment where there was constant pressure to always be better and have more than the next guy. Because of what I thought was society’s definition of success and happiness, I found myself living up to others’ standards of success instead of living for myself. That is, until I was given the gift of enlightenment to appreciate that when we speak about Heaven on Earth or Hell on Earth, they aren’t empty words. They’re actually the choices we make about how we choose to live our life. And when the end comes and the life energy is about to leave your body, how will you look back on how you spent your life?
The most important thing that I have discovered is that, no matter what, we must find a way to enjoy our life. Life may not have unfolded as you had hoped, but never forget that you cannot go back and rewrite the beginning of your life. But, you can start today to write the remaining chapters. Each day you put off living the life you were meant to live, by feeling unhappy or unfulfilled, you are paying a price for which there is no refund.
- Wiley, Josh, “22 Great Max Lucado Quotes,” Telling Ministries LLC: 2011, accessed July 11, 2017, http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/22-great-max-lucado-quotes/.
- Debbie Ford Inc., The Shadow Effect, 2009, accessed July 11, 2017, http://theshadoweffect.com/indexmain.php?pageid=4.