Some people remember me before my Dad passed away, and many people who are in my life now, only know that I speak of him often. Laszlo Pongo died in 2005, age 80 because he had been prescribed the wrong medication in a hospital in rural Hungary. He had suffered a mild heart attack on his birthday 4 weeks earlier, when he had smoked his second cigarette, to celebrate. I had flown to Hungary immediately following the news, and he told me this lying in bed, “It was the 2nd cigarette, not the first. But the first was so good.”

I am a personal trainer, and if I may say so, I am a great personal trainer for many reasons. The reasons are largely due to my Dad. I have his eye for muscular skeletal alignment. I am strategic. Like my father, and because of his coaching when we played sports, as I grew up, I am a loving, somewhat strict and attentive coach. I am a fantastic cheer-leader after watching him sit on the couch for my entire life yelling at the TV as he cheered on his favorite teams. I love the thrill of victory, and I know how to inspire my clients to achieve this thrill as a result of hearing many accounts of sporting events and games won at the last minute, in the most impossible of situations.

I Don’t Give Up on People

I am also a personal trainer because I was my father’s primary caretaker after he had a stroke, and I watched out for him from 1998 through 2003. I know how to bring someone back from the brink of death, and help them to gain the strength to keep going: you bring them healthy food, and you start moving around together. I am also a personal trainer because I saw first-hand how depression set it, and how insidious and invasive it was, when he stopped playing sports and was not physically active. After he finally recovered from his stroke I somehow convinced him to go back to coaching the Long Island Swordsman, at age 78, and I saw how being involved in a team sport, helped him recover from depression. My dad drove to coach those fencers in a blizzard, and showed up when only one other fellow arrived, knowing that fellow would be there, my dad showed up.

I show up for my clients, and for our colleagues at Pongo Power the way Laszlo Pongo snuck into the Ghetto when the Communists took over Hungary. My Dad stole a German SS Guard’s Uniform and wore it in order to sneak into the ghetto where his friends were sectioned off, to bring them comforts like cigarettes and alcohol, that they were no longer allowed to purchase. I don’t give up on people.

 

Taking Care of My Father

At age 28 I pushed my 78-year-old father in a wheelchair through Kennedy Airport, so that he could retire in Hungary and live with his sister. Being his primary caretaker had taken a toll on me, and he knew we needed help. I cried as I walked through Kennedy airport, silently sobbing because during that traumatic time in my life, the details too many to recall and write at this moment, in my 28 year old brain I had come to believe that I was killing my father by letting him go. I felt only I could really take good care of him.

He lived for 2 more years, but it was 10 years later that I found myself in therapy for PTSD, unraveling that strange belief system, that was causing stabbing pains in my chest and anxiety attacks. I unraveled that believe and I now know that it wasn’t rational and it wasn’t true. I didn’t kill my father.

I did find a profession where I could teach everyone what I learned from him, and where I could help many, many people learn how to take good care of their bodies. I am a life-long learner, and I am now enrolled in Pongo Power’s new coaching program Self Mastery with Coach Azure Rae. Azure Rae and I meet on the phone once a week, and I’ve gained so much peace of mind in the last 6 weeks, it is hard describe. It is much different than all of the therapy that I went to, in order to resolve my guilt and anguish, regarding my father. Perhaps it is because I went to that therapy that I now know the difference between a great therapist and a great coach who gives you the tools to gain insight, wisdom and inner peace. Perhaps it is simply because Azure is a great coach. Either way, I’ve learned more in my coaching with Azure in the last 4 weeks, than in months that I spent talking to certain therapists over the years.

Experiencing the Present

When my father died, I started to believe that there would never be enough time. It is something that caused me great anxiety. There isn’t enough time to save a human life, when that human is dying. My father was dying and I wanted to keep him alive. He used to tell me, “You just want to put me in a little box and keep me safe, but you can’t do that. I want to die. I just wish I would die.” It was heart-breaking and mind numbing. In therapy for PTSD, I unraveled that belief that there is never enough time, but I didn’t fully get over it.

Due to coaching with Azure, I finally understand the difference between the past, the present moment, and the future, and how living fully in the present moment is the key to stop the endless struggle of the blame, shame, victim games. I am a personal trainer because I love the transformation that occurs when two people get together and learn and grow together. I experience that each and every week with Azure, and my life gets more lovely, more fulfilling, and more peaceful as I learn to stop listening so intently to my ego-mind chatter, and more specifically to the timeless and classic wisdom that I truly have.

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