Tag Archive | intuition

Don’t Think, Just Do.

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It has been far too long since I’ve written a blog entry. And it is not for lack of ideas or thoughts to express and share. It’s all because of me. I have gotten in the way of myself…

I have fallen into the trap of over-thinking.

I am analyzing my ideas at every turn:
*Which topic should I focus on for my first re-entry into the Blogosphere?
* Which one will have the most impact? Sound the most eloquent? Be the most timely and pertinent?

Like, I, the Almighty Blog Writer knows what will affect the most people (positively, of course)?!?

All this introspection has served is to stall me out. To keep me from writing anything at all, for fear that it won’t be the right thing. The best thing.

As I started down this path again today, I finally heard the insistent, intuitive voice that has probably been speaking to me all along; I was just too self-absorbed to listen…
“Don’t think, just do,” these wise Yoda-esque words whispered in my ear.

And, this time, I paused and I listened. And I realized, that’s it. That’s all there is.

NONE of us are supposed to be the perfect writer, painter, teacher, student, accountant, sales person, sculptor, dancer, nurse, counselor… even parent.
We are never going to be 100% successful.

And, when you think about it, that is a huge relief. Once we stop trying to be perfect, we free ourselves up to just be… who we are, where we are.

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Each of my blog entries can deeply touch one person and completely turn off another. At the same time. And that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be.

We will all have moments of spontaneous brilliance and also times where we completely fall flat and have to call a “do-over.” That’s life.

Yet we so often get bogged down with replaying all the areas or circumstances in our lives we feel we should excel at, that we completely miss the mark because we’ve forgotten all the times we have succeeded.

We’ve forgotten that just by the pure act of doing, we’ve already succeeded!

Life is forgiving. We just need to be more forgiving of ourselves.

Is this blog entry the “magnificent-all touching” entry I dreamed of creating? No. But I finally started writing again. And for now, just now, that is enough.

I feel full and purposeful. I finally got out of my own way and stopped trying to be the director, producer, and creative manager of the play called, “This Is My Fabulous Life!”
And once I took a back seat and let my higher power and the natural ebb and flow of the universe guide my hand, I started doing. It sure beats sitting on the couch “planning” what to write—deciding what next step I should take to reach my goals and dreams…

I just started walking. And as long as I am actively moving, I am moving forward.

I encourage you to take a step with me…
*In what areas of your life are you feeling stuck right now?
*Where are you idling in neutral, waiting for a sign, or the exact right moment, to push yourself into drive?
* Where can you start walking forward? Today. Right now. All it takes is one step.
* And where can you show yourself some compassion for stumbling and sputtering in a challenging aspect of your life? Perhaps it’s in your job where you want to be a shining star, the best employee ever? Or at home, where you may be struggling without always knowing the right solution or the best way to handle an on the spot situation (which can so often occur suddenly and unexpectedly when it comes to children)?

I guarantee, your children will remember that they had a parent who always tried and didn’t let fear keep them from facing the hard parts, rather than how you actually faltered (in your mind) in any given situation. One of the best lessons you can pass on is that we don’t always succeed the first time around; that we don’t have all the answers but we know how to listen and then try to investigate a solution together; and that when we make a mistake, we can acknowledge our part and ask for a “do-over.”

The same goes for your job. As a past supervisor, I remember the teachers who took a risk and tried regardless of any “guaranteed success;” who knew how to ask for help and work as a team; who bravely suggested innovative ideas even if they didn’t work out. I do not remember their slips and stumbles. I do remember their guts and faith.

And, on a personal level, I am already feeling successful. The critic in me wants to go back and refine and rewrite this entry until it’s perfect. But, then I remember that the definition of perfect is “being entirely without fault or defect” (Merriam-Webster). That perfect is boring, always the same, never varying. And that certainly does not describe me nor my life. And I’m just fine with being “imperfectly perfect!”

I’ll leave you with a parable:
“Three frogs were sitting on a log one day and two of them decided to jump off. How many frogs were left on the log? The answer is three. Because there is a difference between deciding and doing.”*

I don’t want to end my life thinking, “Well, I was full of great ideas.”
I want to think, “I did.

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(*pearls of wisdom from long ago read Reader’s Digest)

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Listening To That Intuitive Knowing

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So, you keep telling the doctor, “Something’s wrong.” And the doctor responds, “I just don’t see anything conclusive on your tests. It’s probably just… referred pain/muscle pain/arthritis/ adhesions (scar tissue), etc. etc.” And you say, once again, “No. Something is wrong. The pain is intense at times, and it’s different than the myriad of regular pains I deal with every day.” “Hmmm. Well nothing I can pinpoint. Sounds like intermittent constipation” But you know. You live in this body every day. You are not malingering or unnecessarily complaining. Yet this very judgment often keeps you from going to the doctor until the situation is unbearable. You know about accepting every day pain that many others don’t deal with. This is different.

So you’re faced with either: letting the doctors wormhole their way into your brain, making you question your intuitive sense. You may start think, “Well, I guess I may be overreacting. The doctors know best right?” But, there is that small insistent voice that grows more and more persistent, “Don’t let the doctors question yourself! You know your body better than anyone else! Every time you’ve said something ‘bigger’ is going on, you’ve been right!” Time for option #2: putting on your “Self-Advocate Hat” and getting to work. Be the squeaky wheel. Not allowing yourself to be a push-over. Keep insisting on further tests until you uncover the true source of your pain.

So you push and you push and lo and behold, there IS something wrong! Alas, something pretty majorly wrong. And now you start to think, “Hmm. I don’t know if I wanted to be right after all! Maybe denial wasn’t such a bad place.” Because now reality is smacking you straight upside the head. This pain will no longer be ignored!

This is the story that most recently played out in my life. I have had an intermittent pain in my upper right abdomen, right below my rib cage. At times it doubles me over, almost knocking the wind right out of me. But then it will quiet down, and I wouldn’t hear from it for a while. Starting about 6 weeks ago, it would no longer be ignored; the persistent and at times intense pain demanded attention. Hence began the above journey.

I started to question my own intuitive sense. I started to acquiesce to someone else’s opinion about my body. I almost didn’t seek out additional evaluations because I didn’t want to appear as someone who over-reacts.

Where does this irrational fear come from? I know I am not alone in this experience. A dear friend recently encountered similar resistance when she was sent to the ED to get treatment for an urgent condition. Hearing just one voice naysay her doctor’s advice was enough to make her shut down. Enough for her to push on, to work beyond what she should of being doing in her current state. Enough to keep her from calling the doctor when her symptoms flared again.

And I am intimately familiar with this self-conscious resistance. The advice I would so freely give to another, the concern I would have if they were experiencing similar symptoms, the nudging I would provide to encourage them to call a doctor asap… are all compassionate techniques I seem to reserve for others. Not for myself, heaven forbid!

Why is that?

Why do we joke that men will never let their ego stop and ask for directions, when we, females, are just as guilty when it comes for asking for help with our physical bodies?

This stoicism doesn’t serve us. It inhibits are well-being and our ability to fully be there for others. And most often, the end result is an exacerbation of the (physical or mental) situation, because we did not seek help or treatment in a timely manner… we blatantly ignored our intuitive voice.

And all of this is reinforced by society. How many stories have we heard of doctor’s dismissing women’s chest pains when they go to the ED, being told,:”you’re too young/the wrong sex/ too healthy to be having a heart attack… must just be indigestion.” Even in the face of irrefutable studies showing that heart disease is the number one killer of women!

I have already had a near-death experience (truly) due to listening to a doctor tell me that there was nothing wrong… again, the phone diagnosis was that I was constipated (what’s up with that?) and just needed to take a walk. When, in fact, my colon had ruptured and I was septic… and dying.

I now know what is happening inside my body. And I know when something is awry. Now I just need to trust myself. And, even when it is challenging, be my own advocate… push, push, push until I get the care I need.

So, here I am, today, waiting on an appointment with my surgeon on Tuesday to discuss removing my gall bladder. That pain that was “just constipation”… is in fact a large gallstone that appears to be also effecting my liver (hence the lovely cankles I have been sporting as of late!). And if I hadn’t insisted that the doctors keep looking, I would have found myself much worse off. Of course, I am not thrilled that there is something so serious going on. But with knowledge, comes power. Now that I know the source of my pain, I can focus on the treatment for my pain.

I encourage you to take a few quiet moments today and “listen” to your body.

Is there anything that has been lingering, nagging at you mind, that you’ve left unattended? Is it time to ask the doctor about that pain/ache/different sensation or symptom?

Have you held back from telling others how you are really feeling for fear of being judged?

Are you experiencing anxiety, worry, stress, sadness that you are trying to keep bottled up inside?

Or perhaps, it’s something more positive, but just as secretive. A voice in your heart that sings the song of your dreams… a wish left unfulfilled for fear of disappointing or stressing others; of taking time to feed your own needs for once instead of everyone else’s?

What are these intuitive thoughts telling you?

Do NOT ignore them.

They are the essence of your being.
And they are meant to be listened to… by yourself and others!

Indecisiveness is the Killer of Inspiration

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Indecisiveness is the killer of inspiration. At times, I can be so clear with my intent that I do not question the “why?”  And at others still, I will find myself waffling and waffling to the point where I am no longer clear about anything: what I like or want to do or how I am going to do it.  I have forgotten the skills I have nurtured.

When I am debating between two paths in front of me, I concentrate on my center and listen to the intuitive voice within. Some call this the “voice of God” while others feel more comfortable defining it as the “voice of their soul.”  Either way, it does not steer me wrong.  I have consciously practiced decisiveness over the last couple years and have found great success and satisfaction in this approach.

What does “this voice” sound like, you may be wondering?  For me, and many others I have contemplated this topic with, it is always the first answer I hear.  My soul, through the grace of God and the Universe, knows the right step to take.  It’s my over rationalizing, over-thinking, fearful mind that muddles the thought.  Upon practice, you will discover that there is always a clear voice that speaks from within.  But you have to be open to hearing it, and then, even more importantly, open to receiving it.

Fast forward to today, and I find myself falling back on old, unproductive habits.  I hear that voice and quickly think right over it… to the point where the original intention is lost and I am left a confused mess.  For example, I am contemplating taking another art course.  I just completed my first “formal” art course since freshman year in college (!) and want to capitalize on the confidence and skills it gave me, by continuing to move forward.  I was strongly encouraged to continue my pursuit and that I could take a number of intermediate/advanced classes that would provide me with the tools to refine my style.

Not knowing what the best next class would be, I brought in a sample portfolio of my works to get the advice of the instructor. But if I want to be completely honest with myself, I did not want the “responsibility” of choosing the next class; for fear that it would not be an accurate fit.  Where does this fear come from? A lot of it is financial.  These classes cost upwards of $265! I would be eligible for a scholarship; but only my first class would be a fully covered, after that, it would be partial scholarships.  And, as us chronically ill know all too well, time and energy are precious commodities! I don’t want to “waste” them on the wrong course.  Argh! The pressure!!

There are many typical fear based reactions that can keep us from trusting our one, true intuitive voice.  I think we can all identify with financial insecurity throwing a monkey wrench into our confident, decisive selves.  We can fear making the “wrong” choice and either not enjoying what we chose, or, even worse, “missing out” on the other, better option.  We can be stifled by fear of failure or of trying something new and outside of our comfort zones.  Often, we are afraid of change; even if the present situation is not ideal (and even harmful to our mind, bodies or spirit), it is the comfortable.  And we like comfortable, the known.  We can be paralyzed by thoughts of what others will think of our choice, or by comparing ourselves.   We can be afraid of failure.  We can be afraid of wasting time, money, energy. . .

And then I hear my friend’s voice saying… “YOU MUST FEEL THE FEAR AND DO IT ANYWAY.”

Many of us have “trust issues,” and asking ourselves to trust our inner voice can feel like a huge gamble.  I know from experience that it does feel uncomfortable at first; because it is not the way we have typically done things in the past.  But whenever a decision is made based on faith rather than fear, you are always going in the direction intended. 

It does not mean that every choice you make from a place of faith and trust turns out like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!  There are times where I have listened to my intuitive voice and have faced challenges, pain, loss, and hurt because of the choice I made. But, in the end, I have always discovered there was a greater reason why I had to go through that experience.

So, I need to get quiet; because right now I am so twisted into knots over the simple choice of what class to take, that I have lost my intuitive, creative self.  And this waffling has poured over into all areas of my life, to the point where I feel stuck in a mire of indecisiveness… constantly questioning myself about what choice is the right one and then feeling fearful afterwards that I made the wrong choice.  I am in over-thinking mode.  I am a computer about to overheat and shut down.

So these are the steps I am going to take right now…

  1. Turn off all external stimuli
  2. Quiet my mind and my body through some deep, cleansing breaths
  3. Say a prayer of intention:  “Please let my mind, heart and soul be open to receiving the messages you have to give.  May I not question my one, true intent.  May I trust in the messages I receive and may I have the faith to face my fears and insecurities.  May I embrace all the opportunities that come my way.”
  4. Then I will repeat a series of cleansing breaths and clear my mind.
  5. I will pose the question to the answer I currently seek.
  6. And then I will just listen.
  7. I will let the first thought that enters my mind grow in shape and size.
  8. If other thoughts start to intrude, I will observe, describe and let them go (for example; “I am feeling fear about making the wrong choice and wasting my scholarship money.”)
  9. I will put my hand over my heart and remind myself that I am loved and cared for.intuition1

Finding New Avenues of Joy: What’s Your Machu Picchu?

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Finding new avenues of joy… several months ago I randomly (perhaps not so “random” after all!) had the T.V. on during a Good Morning America segment on the NFL player, Steve Gleason.  He’s a New Orleans Saints’ hero whose life has changed, all because of the devastating disease, ALS (Lou Gherig’s).  Yet, he does not view his life as a devastation… when told he needed to “prepare himself to die,” his first and only thought was, “I am going to prepare to live!”

Although it has been 6 months since I first viewed this stunning story, it has never strayed far from my thoughts.  I’ve wanted to share it with others, but until today, have not been able to “find” it on the internet.  For a while, I thought perhaps it had been one vivid, prophetic dream!

Then I awoke this morning thinking of “bucket lists,” and once again, the empowering tale of this man came to mind.  I began my futile searching again, but this time I must have strung together the right combination of words, because it appeared at the very top of my search results.  I have faith that there is a reason today was the day I finally re-discovered this tale of strength, perseverance, and above all, JOY.

The idea of creating an annual “Bucket List” has been tumbling around my daily thoughts.  Not sure if I wanted to jump on this trendy bandwagon, I have resisted this idea.  Yet, there is something so appealing about following others yearly journeys as they check things off their bucket list.  As I read others, I am surprised and, admittedly, intimidated by the audacity of their goals.  My mind immediately goes to all the reasons why this will not work for me… all my limitations: not enough money, not enough time, not enough physical well-being, on and on and on!

I think, why set myself up for failure?  But then there is that little intuitive voice that never steers me wrong saying, “why not set yourself up for success?  Each bucket list is a personal endeavor; it can be shaped to fit my unique set of circumstances, needs, and dreams.  By setting goals, I will be more apt to make a game-plan to make them happen.  By writing down my annual hopes and dreams, I will be setting my intention with the Universe.

And so I’ve begun to toy with what my 2014 Bucket List will look like.  For example, I have a deep desire to dance once again.  It would be unrealistic for me to set a goal of dancing the Suite of the Sugar Plum Fairy en pointe, like I did when I was 18, healthy and fit!  But, I am graced with living in a community that encourages creativity in people of all ages and abilities.  Dance studios and open-classes have exploded over the last few years, now including an abundance of opportunities for the community to engage in a wide variety of dance styles, at all levels.  I’ve begun by getting out and experiencing these offerings as a patron.  And I have been proud to support and celebrate these burgeoning endeavors.

But now it’s time for me to get off my audience seat and onto the stage.  But, what does this mean for me?  I am not blind to my limitations, but I am not going to let those stop me either!  As Steve Gleason so eloquently puts it in this interview…

“I now search for new avenues of joy.  With each loss, [I] have worked to find a beautiful replacement.”

And my dance replacement looks something this… finding a way to move my body in a fluid and free-form motion.  I am drawn to Carribean danceCaribbean styles, where the dancers of all ages, sizes, shapes and abilities are smiling from ear to ear as they engage the music fully.  There is a freedom and openness to this style that is very appealing to me. And, Volia!… I have the first item on my bucket list!

This is the beauty of creating this list annually.  Now that I have set this goal (my intention), I am already developing a plan of action in my head. First step?: researching studios and open-dance nights.  And that’s all I have to worry about for now… just taking that first step.  Taking the risk to say, “I am worth it.”

I will not allow my physical limitations to limit my ability to experience joy!  My Bucket List may look a helluva lot different than the ones floating around the web.  But, I choose to use those as inspiration… not as a point of comparison and feeling “less than.”

machu picchu steve gleasonIf anything, the most intimidating “list” I’ve seen is Steve’s.  Once his diagnosis was delivered, he made the conscious choice to always have something to look forward to.  His most recent goal and accomplishment?.. climbing to the top of Machu Picchu!!  How on earth does someone without the use of their physical body climb Machu Picchu, you ask?  He does not do it alone!!!  And, to me, that is one of the best legacies he can pass on to others.  Not only that he “chooses to focus on the beauty of now,” but that he relies on the love and support of others to achieve his goals.

My Bucket List is not going to be a singular endeavor.  The goals and dreams will come from my inner soul, but the steps to achieving them will be paved by the love of my friends and family.

I would like to offer the same gift back to you: to be your support and cheerleader in any way needed as you create and then implement your 2014 Bucket List!  In the coming weeks, I will slowly unveil my own list as it evolves.  And I hope you will take the journey with me as I check off the items in the coming year.

Please share your bucket wishes, too.  For inspiration comes from without.  And without all of you, I would be lost.

I encourage you to take just 5 minutes of your time to watch the GMA interview with Steve Gleason.  I dare you not cry. I dare you not to smile. I dare you not to come away inspired!

http://gma.yahoo.com/blogs/abc-blogs/steve-gleason-embraces-challenges-lou-gehrigs-disease-battle-121402622.html

Down The Rabbit Hole . . .

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Yesterday was my birthday.  My mind naturally traveled to the past while reflecting on the present.  Where have I been?  How did I “get” to this place in time? What experiences have shaped the woman I am today?  At certain times during the day, I found my thoughts tinkering with my history; pulling the dusty boxes of memories off the shelf and peering inside them.  Some were filled with joyful adventures, parts of my life that feel like an exotic dream (I did that?  I was capable of that feat?!)  But, there are, too, those memory boxes filled with reminders of the intense medical experiences I have had over the last 7 years in particular.  7 years!! No wonder, at times, I feel like I fell down the Rabbit Hole only to emerge, like a science fiction character, in some distant, unknown future land, future time.

Cue “flashback music” . . .

I was 34 years young, struggling with increasing pain and rheumatologic symptoms, fighting for years to get a correct diagnosis.  I finally received same; I was told I had a rare autoimmune condition called Relapsing Polychondritis.  Upon research, I discovered a mere 600 other souls had this same disease as me, and that over half of them had been treated by one particular doctor, David E. Trentham. Behold!  He was a scant 6 hours away in my old stomping ground, Boston.  We were excited to both discover this resource and to also have it be available to us in the land we called home for many years.  Road-trip!!

I was quickly accepted into his office and appointments were lined up, plans made, suitcases pack.  We hit the road with hope for my medical future, the first time in a long while we felt this way.  Of course, my array of symptoms being as varied as they were, I was also experiencing some abdominal discomfort that was unusual at the time.  It was waxing and waning, causing sharp, stabbing sensations along with bloating.  Two days before leaving for Boston, the pain was becoming more unbearable, and, hence, more concerning.  I left a message with my primary care doctor about my concerns and when he called me at the end of day, he was brief and extremely abrupt.  He started with a quick over the phone diagnosis: “Sounds like you have a UTI.”  I explained that this felt nothing like a UTI, and he interrupted with the following extremely unhelpful (and unethical) statement, “Well, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do for you.  I’m leaving town in half an hour for a conference.”   Again I tried to get my concerns across, and discovered he had hung up on me after declaring his scheduling needs!

The following morning, the symptoms had increased and I called my primary’s office back to get an urgent care appointment.  Upon seeing another doctor in the practice, he had noted in my chart that my regular PCP thought I may have a UTI.  He commenced with a pee test and instructions to call back; visit over. I sat there with my shirt pulled up, saying, “look at how distended my stomach is!” He never examined me and advised me that if I continued having concerns, he was now passing me off to my GYN.

Well, I certainly did “still have concerns!”  Soon as I got home, I called my GYN.  Now, I also have a history of ruptured and invasive ovarian cysts, so I thought this could be a definitive cause of my symptoms. I spoke with my GYN over the phone, and he too acted like an alien had taken over his mind.  He kept saying, “Sounds like you’re constipated!”  “Nope,” I replied, “I’m pooping regularly.”  “Well, I can’t get you in to see you. So drink lots of water and take a brisk walk!”  I found out later this “brisk walk,” literally could have killed me.  What was wrong with the world today?!

Over the next several days, we traveled to Boston where I met with Dr. Trentham. I only briefly mentioned my abdominal symptoms because I had been told they were “no big deal” and wanted to maximize my time with him discussing the Polychondritis.  But, some funny things were happening… he had ordered a spiral C/T to diagnose cartilage damage in my trachea, and they had discovered “free air” between my lungs. Not a typical finding! As well, my “tummy crud” was getting worse and more frequent.  Dr. Trentham arranged for us to see a pulmonary specialist in Boston in one week’s time. We returned home to Rochester in the meantime.

During the next several days, I called my GYN again with the C/T findings, etc. (after a scheduled appointment with NP in that office was cancelled… by them!) and requested an ultrasound.  They said there was no time before I returned to Boston. So, I took matters in my own hands and scheduled one with no problem. On this imaging they discovered large amount of free air in my abdomen.  Another red flag, doctors!

Now, here comes the Rabbit Hole…

By the time we got back to Boston, 10 days after my symptoms had started, my stomach was 7+ inches distended (!) and I would be gently (not briskly!) walking when I would double over in pain and almost pass out.   I remember lying on the hotel floor imagining myself pulling toxic goo out of my stomach.  I took my hands and drew all this crud to my belly button and out; I could picture green globs trapped in bubbles, heavily floating away, which I would then shoot with my imaginary Annie Oakley gun into oblivion. I truly believe this intuitive visual exercise prolonged my life!

Friday morning arrived, the day of my pulmonary visit, and I was now hallucinating.  The pink and green swirled hotel carpeting would take life and dance before my eyes.  Lightning bolts of pain flashed across my belly. But, for some God forsaken reason, I kept trucking along, even going as far as completing my pulmonary function test in this “altered state!” It was two pulmonary fellows who would in the end save my life.  They came in to exam me, and upon reading my C/T scan and physically examining me (what a novel idea!), they immediately told me I had to rush to the ED; this free air was not from my lungs, it was coming from my abdomen. Not good. Not good at all . . .

I then found myself all alone in the ED department; my husband off to check into our hotel.  By this point, it is like I had eaten a pound of psychotropic mushrooms; faces are melting, walls are breathing.  I am living in the middle of a Dali painting.  I can tell I am going to pass out any moment if I don’t get help, so I start the long journey from my seat to the desk. I am walking like Gumby, rubbery legs and arms struggling to remember the simple act of taking steps. With each exaggerated stride, people’s faces were like cartoon characters, enlarged heads and distorted features leaning into my face and then away. It was like looking through a fish eye lens.

Well, I made it to that desk, and they immediately placed me a on a gurney.  By the time my husband returned, I had learned I was a “very, very sick young lady who was extremely lucky to be alive.”

My colon had ruptured (perforated) and I had been septic for 10 days!  Basically, a medical implausibility. I learned that this was like a person walking around with a ruptured appendix for over a week.  But, being my colon, which is the last part of your bowel, I was filled with feces and infection (hence the infamous “green goo!”). The doctors felt the only thing that had kept me alive was the fact that I was on 80mg. of Prednisone daily at the time for my disease (about 16x a regular dose!).

Then, we received the most harrowing news I had ever heard (up until that point) . . .

It was around midnight, I was on deck for the next available OR room.  The resident came in and asked Dave and I if “we were prepared?”  We replied that, yes, we’re all “prepared” for surgery.  And she shook her head.  “No, I mean, have you said your goodbyes?”  We sputtered, “What?”  “You have to know, this surgery is extremely risky and your wife is incredibly sick.  She is dying and there is only a 10% chance she will make it through the night.”  10%!  But, we did not say good bye.  We said “I love you.”   We said, “I’ll see you in just a short bit.”  We believed.  We had hope.

This was only the beginning of a 5 year saga, one that will come more and more into the light as I write my blog, I’m sure.  But, as I am reflecting on the anniversary of my first birth, I also remember the times I’ve been reborn since.  I know there are angels watching over me; there are so many ways I was “saved” that fateful night.  But, I think the strongest medicine, was already inside me.  I refused to take the doctor’s (inept) assessments at face value without advocating for my own care.  I believed I was ridding myself of toxins lying on that hotel floor.  And I had unwavering faith that I was going to make it through that night.

So, I may have “lost” half a decade or more to this one crazy chain of events.  But, I’m alive today to tell my tale.  I’m alive today to pull myself out of that Rabbit Hole and into the Light of Life!

hugs, exponential

Several months ago I was at a Unitarian Universalist service where the meditation reading was about making physical connections.  The sermon was about following in the footsteps of role-models who have lived before us from as far back as Jesus Christ to the most recent losses in each of our individual lives.  I hesitate to bring theology into my blog and there are many different views and individual opinions as to whether Jesus is the son of God.  But one thing almost everyone can agree on is that Jesus was an influential figure who has positively impacted people with his compassionate ways for thousands of years.  This day, the focus of the sermon was on the historical facts, so that each individual could take away their own interpretation and, in turn, motivation to “live differently”from the example of this man’s life.

I, personally, feel strongly about the ways to carry his message on in my own life.  To me this means:

What can I do in each of my interactions, with both people known to me and those who have yet to be known, to spread a message of love and hopeHow can I look beyond external qualities to see the energy of the soul that lies beneath all of us?  How can I recognize when someone else is in need and reach outside of myself to embrace them, support them, lift them up, hold their space, help them to feel loved?

It doesn’t have to be a “grand gesture,” sometimes the smallest package carries the biggest present: a kind word, a reassuring smile… a hug.

While the pastor was encouraging us to “think compassionately,” I started to hear a small, insistent voice in my head.  It whispered, “Lean forward; give Erin a hug.”  I tried to shush this increasingly louder refrain and refocus my attention on listening to the remainder of the sermon.  The voice continued, becoming more and more demanding.  I attempted to quiet my mind, “Stop it!  I’ll give her a hug after the service.  It’s not appropriate right now!”  Now mind you, we were sitting in front of the entire congregation, second row, with Erin seated in the front row.  As well, this women I was being “encouraged” to reach out to, I know only as a social acquaintance and had no idea how she would receive my “spontaneous hug.”  Let’s face it; I was overly concerned about social decorum (completely missing the mark on this opportunity to practice compassion)!

But, I soon realized that this voice wasn’t coming from my head.  It was coming from my heart.  And not only was I trying to quiet an idea born of love, I was directly being willful in the eye of an opportunity to live like Jesus, to carry on the love of those who have died before me.  For me, I was reminded of my father, and the hugs he would so freely share with others.  I was ignoring a direct calling to spread that love out to someone else in need.

So, I embraced this request, subtly leaning forward to touch Erin on the shoulder.  I was just in the middle of quietly saying, “I don’t know why, but I am supposed to give you a hug right now”   when she turned towards me, tears silently streaming down her face.  I didn’t know it at the time, but the sermon had sparked an emotional response of personal loss.  And she was holding all of these feelings alone.  If I had not trusted my intuitive voice, she would of never felt held… felt the love I had to share with her at that moment.  She would have stayed abandoned with her pain.  The hug was brief and even a bit awkward.  But her shoulders relaxed, my mind quieted, and we both felt… at peace.  And after the service, she sought me out for a deep, enveloping embrace, where we just held each other.  Nothing had to be said.  But we both left with a quiet “thank you,” because each of us had been uplifted by the exchange of loving energy.

That same night, I couldn’t get these thoughts and feelings out of my mind as I was going to sleep.  I knew I had to write them down and I proceeded to document one of my infamous “blind poems” (random thoughts written across a found scrap of paper, sans light).  That poem was so organically “right,” I never made a single change to it.  And there is something powerful (I think) in hearing it spoken aloud.  So above is the video creation of that poem, “Hugs, Exponential.”

May it inspire you to listen to that deep inner voice… to reach outside of yourself to embrace another… to be vulnerable, and to reap the multitude of gifts that comes from this openness.