The Strength Through the Struggle Podcast shares stories of real people and the real challenges they have had to go through.
The stories are honest. Neither the guest each week, or the host, Mark Goblowsky shy’s away from the truth... sometimes life is hard, really hard but we have what it takes to overcome all obstacles.
We are all going through something.
We each have what it takes to overcome.
We are not alone.
Success leaves clues and each guest shares how they overcame their own struggle and the strength they gained as a result.
From a blind man who climbed Mount Everest to a Super Bowl champ who, just a few years later had to sell his Super Bowl ring to pay his rent.
From people going through divorce and financial collapse who rebuilt their life to people who have lost a child to death and how they built a charity to help others.
Each person found the strength and wisdom to not just overcome but to be stronger as a result of having to go through their struggle.
We aren’t always prepared for the challenges that show up in our lives but as a community, we can overcome and be stronger for it.
It’s Mark's mission to find those who’ve come through pain and heartache and are stronger for having done so – and share their inspirational stories with you. Because it’s not only our own experiences that bring lessons and strength.
Remembering Your Loved Ones
Mark and Lisa, a staff member at his Martial Arts School, shares a story about a tragedy that hit Lisa two years ago.
Lisa talks about the celebration of life of her son, Leo, and how she remembered the happy times about his life.
The Meaning Of This Podcast
Today’s episode is about the two different but powerful meanings for Strength Through the Struggle that you can use in your life. Let’s get right to it.
Hello everybody! Thanks for taking the time to tune in and listen to this episode. I really appreciate your time and energy. While this episode isn’t specifically about martial arts I’m going to use them as an example.
When I came up with the name for this podcast it was the result of wanting to be truthful about life. At least my experience with life. And what I’ve learned about it from my childhood, into the military and as a career martial artist and student of life.
I wanted people who were looking for solutions to life’s challenges to be able to find honest answers, inspiration, and motivation.
The first thing that STTS means to me is that we all actually do have the Strength to get through any Struggle that crosses our path in life. Those can be struggles that were thrust upon us through no doing of our own as well as the challenges we create with our choices. You know what I mean, problems of our own creation.
There have been a few times in my life that I didn’t know if I had the strength to do what needed to be done when confronted with a problem in my life. One of those times was when I found out I was going to be a father.
My own internal dialogue was very negative concerning how I saw myself. I couldn’t imagine anything good could come from me. More specifically, my seed. I grew up with so many experiences in childhood that I wasn’t worthy of anything good or that anything good could come from me that I spent my adult life trying not to become a father.
That wasn’t the truth but it was what I believed. And we tend to behave in alignment with what we believe regardless of whether the belief is true or not.
I ended up trying to be the best father I could and overall, I’ve done a fair job of it. Not perfect by any means but pretty good most days. And that is with the added challenges of raising a child with multiple disabilities.
Even though I didn’t believe it the start, I had the strength to do it. The truth was, I had the Strength to get Through the Struggle the whole time.
I bet you can think of times in your own life where this has been true for you. It could be anything. The ending of a relationship. Getting through school or going on and getting a degree in college. What about sickness or injury? The death of a loved one in your life? A financial crisis. The loss of a job. What about that choice that you made that brought on the difficulty in your life that you didn’t think you could overcome or get through.
You see. You had it in you the whole time. You made it through. You did have the strength to get through that struggle.
The second meaning and one that lines up with the martial arts is, we get Stronger because we go through Struggles. As a matter of fact, we CAN’T get stronger without resistance, without something to struggle against.
If I want to make my body stronger, I must find something to push against. For instance, a floor to do a push up against. If I’m standing in the middle of a room pushing against the air, my body is not getting stronger. There isn’t anything in opposition to my arms. There isn’t anything for me to struggle against.
I have to get down on the floor and push against it. The floor and my bodyweight work together to give me something to struggle against which in turn creates more strength in my body.
The same is true for events in our life that are a struggle to get through. Those events are what give us an opportunity to get stronger on the inside.
When my son Josh was hurt in the hit-and-run with two semi-trucks, it created all kinds of opportunities for me to get stronger.
The struggle of dealing with both a life-threatening and ultimately life-altering event made it possible fo
What Happens In Vegas
What’s the opposite of “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas? I’m here to tell you in this episode of the STTS. Let’s get to it.
If you live in the United States, or possibly other countries as well, you may have seen the commercials advertising a visit to the city of Las Vegas. There are dozens of commercials, all about 30 seconds long with different storylines.
Each commercial, regardless of the storyline, promote the idea that as long as nobody back where you live knows about what happens, then do whatever you like in Las Vegas. Because What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas.
It’s a bit of a wink-wink, nod-nod approach to life. If nobody knows, there’s no crime. No knowledge = no harm = no foul, is not the actual outcome. Now, I totally disagree with that mentality but that is an episode for another day.
I grew up with a similar philosophy in my home. It went like this, “What happens in this house, stays in this house.”
I distinctly remember hearing this from my mother one summer day. The neighbors severe alcoholics and parents were raising hell with each other. But the message was clear. Do not repeat what goes on inside this house, outside of this house. To anybody! Ever.
Now my mother did the best she could trying to raise us kids. Given, her own upbringing, which was ugly to say the least, the deck wasn’t stacked in her favor. She, and her three sisters suffered many types of abuse at the hands of my grandmother who was mentally ill for most of her adult life.
We will never know exactly how my grandma came to be mentally ill and abusive. Rumors have it that she was raped and miscarried a child in Italy while my grandfather came to the United States to find work and a house for them.
The abuse my mother experienced growing up along with being married to my father, who wasn’t the best of role models in town, gave her more work than she could handle with five children all under the age of five at once.
When my mother told me, “What happens in this house, stays in this house,” I couldn’t understand why she said it. What was so bad about what happened in our house? I mean it wasn’t perfect but it wasn’t the worst place on earth as far as I could tell.
As I got older, I started to see there were some houses where things weren’t much different. There were other homes where things were very different.
What I couldn’t tell though was just how far off of center our home actually was. My mother knew something wasn’t right. I felt something wasn’t right but I couldn’t define it in my childlike mind. My mother also felt helpless to do anything about it. We are talking about the 1960’s and life was very different back then when most mothers didn't work outside of the home.
So what does all this mean? In my life, I’ve found that things done in the dark and/ or kept in the dark are there because nobody wants them to see the light of day. I get it that our bathrooms and our bedrooms are private places. I’m not talking about bathroom habits or somebody’s sex life.
Certainly there are conversations, and things that happen in a home where there is no need for them to travel outside the family circle.
I’m talking about things like abuse in all its forms. Physical abuse, mental, abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse, spiritual abuse. When these things happen, the perpetrator does not want you tell anybody about it. The reason is they are all harmful things at the very least, but many are also criminal as well as unethical or immoral.
When I need to keep something in the dark, so the deed remains unknown to the public including authorities, that is for the person doing the abuse to stay in the clear and out of trouble. Things that went on when I was a child, frequently were swept under the rug or given a shrug of the shoulder and a comment like, “It’s none o
My wife and I are on vacation in the Dominican Republic. This episode is not about how I live some amazing life, although it is amazing in many ways. It’s not about who we live a life of luxury, traveling to exotic places and living where we want and how we want. It’s about how change for the positive can happen when the environment for it exists.
Six years-ago Teresa and I were at the very same resort in the DR. We arrived the second day it was open. We opted to take the trip then because the price was outstanding by virtue of being new.
At the time the staff was not that fluent in English and we weren’t fluent in Spanish so sometimes we had a little language barrier. Also, there were many things all over the resort that weren’t completed or ready.
Some of the restaurants weren’t open that first week and many of the listed resort activities weren’t ready. The beach was in good shape and the pool was in good shape and while we aren’t much for drinking, it seemed the bars were all fully staffed and fully stocked.
We were told by the staff not to drink the tap water as it had the possibility of making us sick. We appreciated that bit of info about the water and took it seriously using only bottled water to drink and went so far as to use bottled water to brush our teeth as well.
That was all OK. We are pretty easy going and understand the world isn’t perfect. complete. We had a great time relaxing on the beach, jumping waves in the ocean and enjoying the delicious, fresh fruits, vegetables and wonderful meals that were prepared for us.
Being a new resort, the surrounding decorative vegetation was just being planted. There was more dirt to be seen than plants and flowers. The property, because the vegetation that was planted, was only planted recently did not have the time to grow to its normal beauty.
As my wife and I walked the property she mentioned how she wondered what it would look like had it all been filled in and the plants had time to grow and mature. Needless to say, it didn’t happen by the end of the week that we were there.
Here we are six years later. The difference is profound. Every square inch of the property is absolutely beautiful and filled with perfectly manicured flowers, bushes, ornamentals, and trees.
The four to six-foot palm trees newly planted in 2013 are now twelve to sixteen feet tall in all of the atrium gardens of each building. The fifteen to twenty-foot palm trees around the exteriors of the buildings are now thirty to forty feet tall.
The decorative gardens surrounding the buildings are perfectly manicured and completely filled in throughout the property. Purple flowers abound and you can hardly see dirt in any of the landscaping because they are so full of assorted greenery and flowers.
All of this happened in six short years because the environment was right for growth. Sun, warmth, rain, somebody caring for and tending to the needs of the plants.
In Chinese culture and martial arts, we would say that is Yang Sheng. Nourishing or Nurturing Life. As a matter of fact, I believe it is so important that we say it at the beginning and end of all our classes.
We say yang sheng in the spirit of not only nourishing our life but also the lives of those around us. Most of my students only spend a few hours a week with me or my staff. We say Yang Sheng when we train with each other multiple times throughout class at the beginning and end of each exercise, while looking each other in the eye, as a way of promoting what we want for ourselves and others.
The idea of nourishing or nurturing life is meant to be taken with us out into the world. Home, school, work, activities, hobbies. Everywhere.
This is also something you can do in your own corner of the world whether at work or at home.
What if you could start the day with the idea that I will nourish life at work or home o
Bitter Or Better
Have you ever had a moment of absolute anger? What about Outrage over something? A little indignation maybe?
Maybe things didn’t go your way in a situation. Somebody hurt you. A person close to you won’t hear what you are saying. A person wronged you. Someone took advantage of you. You felt disrespected
I’ve been there. I’ve lost my cool over plenty of things that were small. True misunderstanding when the other person didn’t mean it the way I took it.
What about something that is righteously wrong. There is no arguing about it. It was unfair, unjust and unwanted.
Something sexual abuse.
People who abuse the elderly.
Wanton violence that has no purpose but to hurt another.
I have. I’m probably the only one though… wink, wink. Of course, we’ve all been there. We’ve felt the anger at something unjust. We have felt indignation when we see another has had to suffer some indignity such as sexual abuse.
What if when we see things that could lead us to anger or bitterness, we could, in turn, use it to go somewhere better?
One day I'm watching Josh struggle to get into the truck. Nothing really new. He's had to relearn to do things we all take for granted. Walking, talking, eating. Getting run over by a couple of semi-trucks when you are three years old creates challenges in your life.
Today however his challenges were compounded by a neon green cast that encased his left arm. The result of falling over while simply walking. No tripping. Nobody pushing him or falling into him. He simply lost his balance.
As I'm watching him trying to get into the truck and struggling to figure this new scenario out of living with a cast on his arm.
I'm trying to figure it out myself. And as I’m trying to figure it out, I also notice that I'm feeling frustrated over the whole deal. I realize I'm lamenting our situation. I’m angry because we have to go through this as the result of nothing Josh did to himself. But as the result of someone else. The driver of a semi-truck that kept on rolling.
All the emotions of the past challenges and injuries and mishaps and disappointments come rushing into the present moment again.
My feelings of frustration for my son having to go through this are amplified from these events that exist in the past yet are haunting my present.
As I catch myself starting to feel bad about this, I realize I have a choice. I can see this as an ongoing tragedy with all the negative emotions and thoughts that go with it or an opportunity for me to reframe my own thoughts and meanings of the situation to something positive.
And I HAVE to choose. Consciously, I have to make a choice. Am I going to live in the past or the Present? See this as a Tragedy or a Triumph. Become Bitter or Better.
I decide to choose Better. To look for a Triumph. To see this as an opportunity to overcome a monumentally difficult situation that nobody would want in their life and turn it into something good.
The steeper the hill, the stronger the runner becomes.
I choose to be present. To stay relevant. I can't change what landed us here. I can, however, choose how I respond to it.
It took me a while to get to this point. I’m sharing it with you because I understand the emotions that go with life. They are all useful. Even the ones you or I would term negative.
Ones like bitterness, anger, rage. Those emotions point to something that is screaming for attention. Something that if we choose, can exist to make us better and stronger. Not angry and emotionally weaker.
I will never be able to serve my son while I'm limping around feeling sorry for myself or angry at the world. I can only be of value to him if I choose to live in the Present and help him to see his own situation in the best possible light.
I am not suggesting to anyone to sugar coat something. I mean if you take a pile of cow manure, put it in a box, put be
When Your System in Life Isn’t Working
When Your System in Life Isn’t Working
Welcome Back. What we are going to chat about today is how to overwhelm can get us off track and how to overcome that. Let’s get to it.
First of all, THANK YOU, to everyone who is hearing this today. I appreciate you and the fact that you took the time to listen in. These podcasts can only help if they are heard. Please share them with your friends and family.
Does it ever seem as if at the end of the day things are not going your way?
I mean you care.
You aren’t lazy.
You are working super hard every day.
When the day is over you are definitely tired.
You are trying to do your best with all of your responsibilities.
But in spite of your best efforts, things aren’t going well or in the direction, you hoped for. Maybe things in your life aren’t changing for the better and you almost feel as if your wheels are spinning and you are stuck in place.
There was a time when I felt exactly like that. Actually, there have been a number of times in my life where I went through a period just like that.
A number of years ago, the grandmother of one of my students came in with her grandson Edgar. She walked over to me and asked if she could speak to me. They had been a part of my school for a number of years at this point. I had a few minutes, so I was more than happy to oblige.
She told me she had a book that I might find helpful. She said the reason she was asking was that she had noticed how tired, run down and stressed I looked all the time.
As far as how I looked, I had to agree with her. Inside I felt the way I looked in the mirror and to the world.
So this nice grandmother, who was a practicing Buddhist, handed me a book on Buddhism. I wasn’t surprised. People make all kinds of suggestions if they think they can be helpful. I was already familiar with some elements of Buddhism. And while I never practiced it, I had used some techniques in my own life.
The following week I read the book. It was good. I enjoyed it and it was helpful to me towards understanding all that I was experiencing in my life at the time. Grief from my son being hurt. Fatigue from caring for him. Frustration with dealing with his mother. Struggling to keep my business afloat. Fighting to keep my attitude positive.
The problem was that I was a Christian who wasn’t practicing what I knew from my faith.
I didn’t have anything against Buddhism but it dawned on me, I wasn’t doing the things I already knew. What good would another system do me if I wasn’t using what I already had?
This isn’t me coming at this from a theological position. It’s about our psychology. You see, excluding any theology, it doesn’t always matter what system you choose to go through life with. But if you choose a system but aren’t using it, then you don’t get any benefit from it.
I wasn’t working the system so the system couldn’t work for me.
If I have a system for building a strong marriage and it works for others but I don’t use it, I won’t get the benefits.
It’s the same with food choices and exercise or finances.
If I have a budget but don’t use it, I exclude myself from its benefit.
If I have an exercise plan but don’t use it, I will continue to get weaker over time. Switching to a new program will only help me if I actually use the program as directed.
My problem was I wasn’t using the system, which was my Faith walk, to help me cope with and get through my challenges. Switching to another system whether it is Buddhism, Daoism or Cognitive Behavior and Meditation won’t get me what I want and need unless I put it to work for me by doing the work of the system.
When I got back to prayer, scripture reading, meditation and study, things started to change for me. I saw the world differently and in turn, the world saw me differently. My energy, my attitude, my behaviors started t
You just struck gold!
This podcast is the best kept secret for discovering our capacity for courage and compassion. If you only have time to listen to one podcast, I highly recommend Strength Through The Struggle.
Thank you, Mark!
What a pleasure to know you, sir.
Thank you for sharing of yourself honestly, and for your genuine interest in learning more about your guests, their struggles, and how they've found strength through painful seasons in their lives.
Keep the faith.
Beyond Strength Through the Struggle
I first heard about Mark’s story through a different podcast. I listened to that same episode twice back-to-back. The story is heart-wrenching and inspiring. The strength and support that Mark gave and gives to his son is not everybody can do. It needs a lot of faith, persistence, perseverance and self-control.
Beyond that, Mark used his story to set up this podcast to help people.
We always take lives for granted. We complain every day. Some of our complaints or “suffering” are nowhere close to what these people endured. But they all turned their tragedies around and transmuted their experiences to something positive.
Mark, thank you for doing this podcast. The world needs a lot of people like you. Please keep up the great work. God bless.