The Phases of Life

TAGS: phases of life, empty nest, growing up, social interaction, Ken Whetham, powerlifting career, marriage, life lessons, children

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I feel very fortunate to have been able to walk on the right side of the grass on this planet for the past 51 years and experience a myriad of experiences, both good and bad. Life can be full of excitement, amazement, disappointments, personal growth, accomplishments, failures, close calls, and even horrific events. Anyone who thinks that everything is going to be full of good times and excitement 24 hours a day, seven days a week will probably be disappointed in this journey called life. Some people have the opportunity to live for many, many years, while others are tragically taken away at a young age. It sounds cliché, but the older you get, the faster time seems to slip away. We really never seem to take the time to appreciate our journey until we realize it’s more than half over already and it feels like we’re just getting started.


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Reality check! I always seem to have a weird way of putting things into different perspectives and my perception is that life is made up of several phases.

The Pre-Phase Stage

This is the stage when mom and dad decide they are going to have a family, and after nine months of incubation, lots of hormonal changes, cramps, back aches, and a few bouts of profanity, voila, you emerge from mom’s tummy kicking and screaming without a care in the world.

The Pre-Phase Stage is awesome! Your every need is looked after. You poop, sleep, and get your food from boobs! You go back to sleep and dream about boobs and think to yourself, "When I wake up, I get to put my face in boobs again and poop!" How much better could it be?

Phase One

We start to learn. We learn how to control our muscle coordination so we can walk, start feeding ourselves, and learn a few words. Man, are we curious? We have no idea what is dangerous, or harmful. We have no fear. Mom and dad are continuously chasing us around and saying “no” anytime we go near the stairs, pull the pet's hair, or try to stick our fingers in the electrical socket. We are very adventurous, and as we learn more, we’re eventually smart enough to figure out how far we can push the boundaries of the rules. When we pick up a toy and plan to pet the dog with it, we look at mom awaiting approval. When she says, “No, be nice to the puppy," we have to hit the puppy at least once to see if mom really means what she said or if she is bluffing. It’s called learning.

Phase Two

We start going to school to learn to interact with others and learn how to share, count, learn the alphabet, and play with others. This process continues every year as we grow older and we continuously learn more advanced skills and social integration. We are being shaped into being a person that learns the difference between good and bad, love and hate, and we start to develop friendships with other people our own age that we can share our time with, doing activities we enjoy. During this phase, we are usually exposed to some sports activities that teach us to work together as a team and develop our skill levels even further. My favorite activity with my friends growing up was street hockey, catching frogs, and going on adventures.

Phase Three

Usually, in our pre-teen years, we discover the opposite sex. For some reason, they become more interesting than they were before. We couldn’t be bothered with them before — we were guys and our mantra was “no girls allowed” in our tree fort. Nowadays kids would probably just text a girl on their cell phone and ask her if she wants to come to their birthday party, but in my day you had to stew and fret for about a week, being a nervous wreck figuring out whether you should telephone her (that’s right – we didn’t have cell phones or the internet? OMG!) because it was a big frickin' deal to have the courage to call a girl!

Or you could try to save her a seat on the school bus for a nervous ride to school. Usually, that meant you were boyfriend/girlfriend. This was the start of interacting with girls and eventually, you became more comfortable socializing, and eventually, they were allowed in our tree fort with everyone else.

son

Phase Three extends into your teenage years when all you can think about is turning sixteen and getting your driver's license so you become “responsible” and take mom and dad’s car once in a while to go see your buddies, or maybe on a date with a girl. Of course, this would only happen after your parents made you do extra chores, beg for hours, and would state, “I haven’t decided yet” a million times, just to make you sweat. This was your opportunity to gain their trust and show you were becoming responsible, so this was a big deal. Getting your parent's car usually meant you also had to get a job after school or during the summer so you could afford gas and make some money to take a girl on a date. More responsibility. Growing up is getting tough! This phase usually extends to the end of high school and even into college and university if you were smart enough to figure out what you wanted to do by the end of high school. I always thought it was a very difficult decision for anyone at age 17 or 18 to figure out what career path to take because you’re still a kid.

Phase Four

Leaving the nest. This is probably one of the biggest reality checks of all the phases. Living at home with your parents and having food, heat, a place to stay, and a car to drive with all the comforts of home seems pretty easy, right? Until you have to pay for all that stuff yourself! All of a sudden you have a new appreciation of how much your parents supported you when you realize that living isn’t free! It doesn’t take long to find out there’s not much disposable income left to play with after paying for rent, utilities, hydro, insurance, a car payment, and food. Suddenly you realize you have to rely on all those math skills you learned in school to figure out a budget and make sure you’re making enough to cover the bills. You MAY have to make some compromises on your entertainment budget! This phase follows you until you hopefully get settled in a reliable job that you enjoy, and after a while, you learn to balance everything and hopefully things start to cruise along nicely.

Ken and Sheri Whetham

Phase Five

Marriage. You just started to figure out how to look after yourself and get settled paying your bills and your job. Now you get to throw a big curve into the mix. How hard can it be to share everything with someone and cohabitate with a member of the opposite sex? Easy, right? Let the learning curve begin! This is a huge lesson in communication, compromise, patience, reasoning, negotiating, and learning all the little quirks, wants, and needs of somebody who may not think about things the same way you do. This process is a continuum which takes years and is a lifelong commitment if done right. The big problem with this phase is that most people lack patience, and experience frustration trying to figure out this process. This is mostly because everyone has the expectations that everything must be perfect. And remember, instant gratification seems to be high on the priority list for our society. People get frustrated and give up or think, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” Don’t like it? Get another one.

This phase can include a long happy marriage or can dissolve and be disposed of like most things these days. Try this one for a while. Repeat or take the time to be patient and learn how to communicate, compromise, reason, negotiate and really know your partner. Remember, there were reasons you chose each other.

daughter

Phase Six

Children. You’ve found someone and successfully made it through Phase Five, or you're still in the process of learning, which is great! Now comes the game changer: creating little people. Children are awesome and becoming a parent is one of the greatest experiences anyone could ever have. This phase will make you realize your responsibility level just tripled, and your life will change drastically forever. Priorities change from spending time with your buddies watching the football game to changing diapers, warming up formula, going to appointments, and getting up in the middle of the night for midnight feedings, diaper changes, and checking the closet and under the bed for monsters. Your little person is now in the Pre-Stage Phase that you were in not that long ago. You become a teacher, a mentor, a provider, protector, and a role model for your child. You would do anything to ensure they are safe and looked after. You stop and think for a minute what your parents did for you to mold you into the person you are and realize they did a pretty damn good job!

This is when time starts to really fly. Life feels like a blur. You have birthday party after birthday party, taking your kids to their sports, running to school trips, to their friend's house for overnights, and the next thing you know they’re becoming teenagers and you’re turning 40! Geez-us! You are instrumental in helping your kids through Phase One, Phase Two and Phase Three. When they reach Phase Four, you are entering Phase Seven.

grand baby

Phase Seven

The empty nest. WTF just happened? My kids are all grown up and are out on their own. How did I reach 50 already? What happened? I hope my kids come and visit — a lot! When can we go see them again? I wonder how they’re doing?

It’s damn hard to let go and realize your kids aren’t kids anymore. They’re adults.

What do we do with all this extra time we have now? Powerlift? We don’t have to run anyone around anymore. This is the phase when you get to spend more time with your partner and appreciate how much time and effort you both put into raising your kids and appreciate that somehow you both managed to raise your kids and do a pretty damn decent job! The kids are smart, motivated, well-adjusted, and you think you should get some of the credit for how awesome they turned out. One of the greatest treasures your kids can ever give you is a grandchild. You can’t believe that you’re going to be a grandparent when it feels like yesterday you were just in the hospital with your own newborn baby, showing him/her off like the proudest parent on the planet. Trust me, time goes by faster than you can imagine.

I haven’t reached past Phase Seven but I suspect Phase Eight will be retirement and all the life adjustments and adventures that come with that. I’ll let you know in eight years.

I have been so fortunate to have an incredible wife, six awesome kids—I’m very proud of each and every one of them—and three grandchildren, with more on the way. I am thankful every day. It hasn’t always been perfect, but we’ve found a way to persevere and make it all work.

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I don’t really feel qualified to offer any advice, but if I had any words of wisdom for anyone, they would be:

  • Be thankful and appreciate every day.
  • Be a good person.
  • Learn to forgive.
  • Every day is a school day. Never stop learning.
  • Find a way to be content with what you have.
  • Everyone makes mistakes and bad decisions. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
  • Don’t take anyone for granted, especially your family and close friends
  • Treat everyone as you would expect to be treated.
  • Do something nice for someone every day, even a simple compliment.
  • Tell your kids how proud you are of them and how much you love them whenever you get a chance.
  • Be thankful for what you have and forget what you don’t have.
  • Be patient and learn to compromise.
  • Avoid watching the news — it's depressing.
  • Be positive. F*ck being negative.

And as my buddy, Jayson McNett says, “Be excellent to each other every day."

Perchmount

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