Aha Moment – Experiences define your destiny

Roger Holzberg – Aha Moment – How to let experiences define your destiny.

I’ve had a lot of Aha Moments in my life.
As a creative person I’d say the first Aha moment actually came to me from my grandmother who was one of my real life mentors. Two things as a young person I remember her saying. One we were out in the back yard in South Florida watching a Mercury space shot which I thought was the coolest thing in the world going up into space on a Saturday afternoon and I looked over and she was crying and I said “Grandma why are you crying?” and she said “don’t you see they’re piercing the belly of God” and I realize that technology is not a thing to celebrate for everybody and science is not a thing to celebrate for everybody.

I want to say about three months later I was with her on a rare family vacation in the Florida Keys and she asked me to sing a song for her which I believe was the “Star Spangled Banner” and I couldn’t remember the last line of it and I was really embarrassed and she said “don’t worry about it it’s just a song make the last line up” and I said “wait we’re allowed to do that” and she said “of course you can make up anything you want. Sing the Star Spangled Banner and just make up your own last line” and I will tell you that was the moment I realized creativity was never anything to be afraid of and so that was a true gift that came to me from my grandmother.

Another giant Aha moment was the 1964 World’s Fair. I was 9 years old. I have never been out of the state of Florida before. I flew to Flushing Meadows. I went into a theatre and I believe that I saw Abraham Lincoln come back to life, stand up on a stage, walk down to the foot of that stage and talked to me.

About a hour or two later I was riding in the car, it was the Ford Pavilion and I thought I saw dinosaurs back alive walking the earth and I remember pulling on my father’s sleeve and say “dad how did that happen” and he said “a man named Walt Disney invented that”.

That was my introduction to what is called the Magic of Disney. It was virtual reality through animatronics on a level of that completely believed made you believe what you were seeing as a child.

Also when I was young there were some health Aha moments. The earliest one was the passing of my grandfather which I didn’t really understand because I was too young. I just knew somebody who I love was gone.

My best friend lived about a block and a half from me and when we were 14 years old he got diagnosed with an out of lesson, very aggressive liver cancer and our parents came to the two of us. Our parents were physicians. They decided the right thing to do was to tell him the chemotherapy was going to be really hard and it was going to be truly a difficult process for him but he’d be fine and he can get cured but to tell me the truth which was his prognosis was that they had about 6 months of life and my job while we went to summer school that year to learn drivers education was to be his bodyguard and get in between him and any junior high school boy who did what junior high school boys do is pick on the kid. He doesn’t look like he can take care of himself and to lie to him every day and tell him he was going to get better.

Marzena Kmiecik: How did that impact your commitment to them?

What I learned was that every human being when they are facing their own mortality no matter what age they are deserves the respect to know because we all have things to plan for when end of life is near.

In my wellness company, its one of the reasons that we call the patient’s journey from diagnosis to treatment to healing to well being because wellness is not always a part of the end of a chronic disease path. Well being can be whether you are a child, adolescent or an adult. Finding a state of well being before you pass is a very important thing to do.

The other health moment when I was way too young to have to deal with it was my mom’s stage 4 reoccurrence of her breast cancer. When my parents were divorced and I was the oldest child in a day that preceded hospice care I need to make her end of life decisions. When it was clear that she was never going to come out of the drug induced coma, that she was on the anthology at the hospital she was in did a very brave thing. He probably could have lost his job for it. He said “when you decide that this needs to be over here is my home phone number call me and I’ll tell you what to do”.

3 o’clock in the morning my sister and I try to bring her out of that morphine induced coma. We backed off her morphine and we realized this was a person who we never could have another conscious moment in the world and I picked up the phone and I called this guy and he said “your mom’s is an adult diabetic if you turn off her insulin she will pass very peacefully in the next 12 hours and this is the valve and this is what you do” and I ended my mom’s life.

You want to know why he knows most about compassion, about humanity about what the circle of life is all about. I can tell you that 12 hours later when she passed it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen because I see pain leave her body.

So both very foundational things in my health education they caused me to live my life in a very interesting way. I then grew up thinking I had to somehow have more conditioning and better conditioning than my cousin or my mom ever had because I knew that sooner or later in this life we can front a life threatening condition. It’s inevitable; the diseases of ages happen and unless there is a plane crash or fire car crash or something that happens suddenly chances are we are going to confront one of the diseases of aging.

So I was the kid who I was done with drugs and alcohol when I went to college. I wasn’t drinking when I was in college. I literally true story got let go from a Hollywood film in the 80s because after becoming a part of the directors inner circle and being invited in the trailer to do cocaine I politely refused and the next Monday I was looking for another job because it was like “how can we trust that guy he won’t do drugs with us”.

I thought for a very long time people used to ask me “why are you still in the gym?” I was a competitive athlete when I was in college. “Why do you go to the gym? Why do you eat the way you do? Why don’t you party?” and I thought I was living my life so that if a life threatening illness happened to me I’d have the conditioning to beat it. What I didn’t realize was living in that level of health and knowing myself healthy as well as I did it would give me the advantage to know when something very settle was going on and something very settle went south as I was approaching my 50th birthday.

The signs were extremely settled. A slow progressive weight gain, I hadn’t change my exercise routine in my diet an energy wall in about 4 o’ clock in the afternoon and in typical guy style I went out cut carb and starch out of my diet. That will bring the weight back down and an extra cup of coffee in the afternoon will fix the energy and they sort of did and true story the day my Disney corporate physical showed up I heard my mom’s voice in the back of my head and it said “don’t pretend that nothing’s wrong that’s what I did”

I went to my GP the next day and said there are some very settle signs and blood were full physical couldn’t find it. I was very lucky to be a senior executive at the Walt Disney company and have a senior executive physical program that afforded me a full body MRIs and option and that’s where the single tumor was found in my thyroid gland and it ended up being another one that was found in the philology work after surgery but at the moment that one was too small to see via imaging.

So what I learned is; knowing your body in health gives you the ability to know when something is going wrong. If we spend our lives you know not in health we don’t see it until it’s philological and that’s when it’s really a problem and you struggle to reverse it.