Tag Archive | Near Death Experience

When Your Resilience Is Tested

Churchill going thr hell quote When your resilience is tested, where do you go? Who do you turn to? What well do you draw from?

There are times when life pushes back one too many times, and I think, “I Just Can’t Do This Anymore!” And… yet, I do. I keep getting back up and taking steps forward – even if they’re itty, bitty baby steps.

Do we all have resilience in reserve? And, if so, is it something we are born with?: Each of us granted a certain set amount of resilience from the universe. And when the well runs dry… well, the well runs dry. There is no overdraft protection on this account.

Or- is it more than that? A bank that receives deposits as much as it gives us the power to withdraw? Think of it like this: every time we experience a stumble in life, yet find the skills, tools and support to get back up and keep going, we remind our soul, the core of our existence, that we have the power, the determination, the inner strength – – the resilience to face the most difficult of circumstances and survive.  We deposit these resilient memories into our mind’s bank.

And “survival” isn’t always “pretty.” In fact, it can be pretty darn painful. Often, we come out of the experience sporting battle scars- – both the kinds that can be seen and the unseen variety.

I used to look at the criss-crossing roadmap that now constitutes me belly and feel pride. Each mark was another war wound – – a battle I had faced and conquered. For just the fact that I am alive today to tell of it = success. I need to remind myself of my Inner Warrior now and again.

Which brings me back to this Resilience Bank. Every memory, experience and story of survival adds to my well.

Personally, I think it is a combination: each of us is born with a certain amount of Resilience Reserve. Some of us may be granted more than others. Or, perhaps, we’re all granted the same amount, it’s just that each of us perceives this well differently. A half-full vs. half-empty kind of mentality. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s there, for each and every one of us. It’s what we do with it that matters.

As the old adage goes: “It doesn’t matter what happens to us in life, it matter how we react to it.”

“We are naturally resilient. We have the capacity for growth and positive adaption in spite of the constant barrrage of stress we all feel on a daily basis.” (excerpt from The Resilence Scale webpage).  Test your “Resilience Score” HERE.

But the most interesting and complexing thing about resilience is the stark fact that we actually have to experience strife and hardship in order to build it.

Think about that for a moment.

It worries me that we are so concerned with young children feeling worthy and successful, that we actually shield them from failure. The exact thing that creates self-reliance. Aren’t we actually doing a disservice to this younger generation?

Think back to some of the most monumental building blocks of your youth. Many of them are uncomfortable to relive. But, at the same time, they are also the experiences that shaped us and helped us to learn integrity, cooperation, self-reliance, perseverance, and resilience. We had to learn how to handle failure such as our team losing a game, or disappointment like when our 6th grade best friend decided to stop talking to us in 7th grade, or determination like when we got a poor grade on our report card because we had slacked off on studying.

Failure builds character. When we rescue loved ones from experiencing, and in turn overcoming, strife, we steal this opportunity from them.

These starts and stumbles of my youth prepared me for the difficult adulthood I’ve had to endure. Because my parents and teachers didn’t rush in to save me, I learned self-coping skills (even if I didn’t see the advantage to this at the time!).

Last Sunday marked the 8 year anniversary of my colon perforation and my first near death experience; the night they told my husband and me that I had a 10% chance of living, and to say our goodbyes.

Today, I have a choice – – I can drown myself in that memory or I can look at it in a different light – – recognizing that albeit these last 8 years have been enormously challenging, I’ve been alive to experience them. I chose not to say goodbye on that fateful night and I continue to make that same choice today.

The last 3 weeks have been some of the most painful in my life. My Trigeminal Nerve is inflamed and Angry- causing shooting pains across my check to my nose to my jaw. The lightest of breezes and gentlest of touches can set it off. Combine that with a continuous cluster migraine that’s like an icepick in the top of my head, and it can be unbearable. Yet, I am bearing it.

Am I scared? Yes. Am I angry? Yes. Am I in excruciating pain? YES. But, I also remember that the fact that I am feeling these big emotions means that I am alive. And if I pause and remember, I can use my past experiences to get through today. 8 years ago I was in more pain than I ever thought possible. And, yet, today, my mind shields me from truly remembering the intensity of that pain. I was drenched in fear then- of the unknown. Of the known. But I soldiered through. The pain passed. The fear passed—and eventually even transformed into hope.

So if I had resilience then, what’s to say I can’t tap into it today? I just need to practice it, nurture it, fill up the well, drop by drop.

Resilience doesn’t mean I’ve discovered some magic button to prevent me from experiencing some future strife (I wish!). And it doesn’t mean I bounce back from hardships unaffected or unchanged. It does mean that I don’t let the fear of these difficult experiences keep me from experiencing life now. It means that I know that in the past, it has passed. Which means, that this too shall pass. I will be okay. I will survive. maya encounter defeats quote

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Become Awe-Struck!

Tropical Hibiscus blooming on our deck in chilly October = Awesome!

Tropical Hibiscus blooming on our deck in chilly October = Awesome!

Awe (n.):

1. A feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder.

Synonyms: wonder, reverence, respect, admiration, dread, fear, esteem

It surprised me to see the antonyms of “wonder” and “fear” used to define awe; same with “admiration” and “dread.”  Do we truly dread what we most admire in wonder?  Is it a fear of never experiencing a moment of awe again?  Or perhaps a dread that we are somehow missing something?

I was recently told, by a stranger no less, that I am a “feeler.”  This wasn’t meant as: “you’re so sensitive;” it was a complimentary observation.  She said I was so in tune with the energies of people around me (living and dead), because I feel, which is not a trait every one possesses. A friend also recently told me, “you are an engager;” that I actively engage in life and invite others to do the same.

I experience my life with all five (sometimes six!) senses.  I am blessed to be someone who is awe-struck at least a half-dozen times a day.

Awe has saved my life.  I realize that the ability to feel awe is one of my greatest coping mechanisms.  When I was “near-death sick,” I would gain strength through the awe-some acts of kindness from family, friends and strangers to the awe-inspiring views of blazing sunsets and even full rainbows gracing my hospital room windows.

As well, during moments of deep emotional distress; times when the pain was so great I felt like my only option may well be to end my life, moments of awe and the fear of missing out on awe, have kept me around to try one more day at a time.

An unknown poet describes an episode of awe as becoming “wholly dissolved” in the moment.  This resonated deeply with me. For when I let myself fully succumb to the experience, it is like the outer world falls away and I am now one with the moment in front of me; experiencing awe with all my senses. And this is where I think “fear” comes in; because it is a true surrender, a letting go of control, to be able to fully engage in the discovery of awe. For me, these reverent episodes fill me up with awe, so that I can experience this sense of wonder everywhere and in everything.

I whole-heartedly embrace awe and invite others to do the same.  I will make my husband turn around to watch fawns graze in the morning mist or a blood-red orange full moon rising just above the horizon.  I have been known to go back into stores and tell strangers to come outside because there is a double rainbow across the parking lot.

I am now going to do the same for all of you… I implore you to embrace awe in the month ahead.  Then let me know how it has changed your life! :

  1. A great way to begin looking at life through awe-colored lenses is to observe a child or a pet.  Children investigate and explore everything in their paths with a sense of awe.  And it never fails to make me smile when I observe my cat discover a sun spot on the floor; she will watch it, chase it, sleep on it, and almost breathe in its warming essence.  If you don’t have a child or pet in your immediate family; go to a playground and find a bench to relax on; just watch and become inspired!
  2. Start keeping an “Awe Journal:” document moments and experiences in your day that make you pause and sigh with gratitude.
  3. Experience a small chunk of your day with all five senses.  I like to do this when I first get up: I sit in my favorite chair and listen to the coffee percolating, relishing in its deep aroma; I hear the birds chirp their morning song and watch the sky rapidly change colors as it welcomes the day; I feel the softness of my favorite blanket warm up my muscles and the purr of my cat vibrating on my legs; I savor that first sip of my morning beverage, imagining all the phases it took before reaching my mouth (the coffee bean’s journey from field to pot; or the spring water’s path from waterfall to tap).
  4. Write a note to someone thanking them for bringing “awe” into your life.  Perhaps it was through a loving gesture, or as an inspiration to you, or by being someone who epitomizes awe-someness!!  Find someone to emulate and mimic their enthusiasm towards awe.  I guarantee it is contagious!
  5. Intentionally create an environment for awe… usually through an experience that engages the senses, such as a concert, an art exhibit, an art project, dance, theater, etc.
  6. Go through old photos and pull out ones where you have captured moments of awe: your grandson experiencing bubbles for the first time; a friend graduating from college at 30; the first flowers of spring; a riotous sunset or sunrise; your first time dancing again after knee surgery; a wedding; a birth… once you actively start looking for awe in your life, you’ll be surprised how many moments have happened without you realizing it.  Or use your smart phone to document moments of awe as they occur and then see what you’ve collected at the end of the month.

Once you open your eyes to awe, you will begin to see it everywhere.

Please share your awe-thentically awe-some ideas with all of us  🙂

“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.”

– John Milton

Shine On, Soul Beacon, Shine On!

lighthouse

I have mentioned in many of my posts the idea that each of us has our own Soul Beacon. This is a concept that came to me organically during a moment of extreme illness.  It was a vision and even more so, a “knowing,” that I felt soon after my first near death experience. I was in a “stripped down state,” mentally, physically and most certainly spiritually.  I felt raw and exposed.  But, in this vulnerable state of being, I opened myself up to being completely vulnerable.  I felt as connected and observant as a child when discovering something new in their environment.  I became aware of the flow of energy between people.

I started to notice that energy exchanges could be both positive and negative; they could either lift one up or drain them entirely.  This was not just a feeling; I actually visually experienced this phenomenon. That insight gave me an intuitive knowledge of human interactions that I hold to this day.  When people exchanged laughter or encouraging words, streams of soothing, white strands of light would connect the interacting parties.  I saw this as a “recharging of the soul.”  It was pure energy, being given and being received.

Conversely, when an exchange was less then pleasant or supportive, there wasn’t a free-flowing exchange of energy. The flow would become heavily one-sided, with one party literally “sucking the life” out of another. This would show itself in forms of jealousy, fear, anger, insecurity, and dominance.

I had a clear vision of a beacon of light.  I saw that each of us is born with a cache of energy.  But just like any form of energy, if it is not recharged (refueled), it will deplete.  And when our energy sources are low, we experience depression, illness, sadness, despair, fatigue, hopelessness, and diminishing spirituality.  Most people respond to this feeling by hoarding the small amount of energy they have left.   We don’t share this energy out of fear of running on empty.  But in that hospital room, I discovered the key to unlocking a never-ending supply of energy.  The key is…

You have to give your energy away in order to receive more for yourself.

Give it away?! Yep.   This is where the concept of a Soul Beacon comes in.  Imagine a lighthouse.  The night is foggy and therefore the beacon’s light source barely reaches beyond its own standing.   Now translate that to the situation I spoke of above.  You’re feeling “foggy” and out of sorts, so you only shine your light source on yourself.  You keep your depleting energy close at hand and do not include anyone else in your circle of light.  Eventually, that circle of light will get smaller and smaller until its hardly providing any energy source for you to face the world.  This is the moment when many want to curl up in a ball and tell the world to go away.

This is when you need to stretch your final energy source far and wide; to imagine that Soul Beacon, seated in the center of your body, stretching its fingers of light to illuminate others paths.  Because this is what happens when you do: that light shines on someone else in need; the receiver is then recharged from this positive exchange and shines their light back onto you.  You will feel your inner beacon growing in strength.  With each positive interaction, the foggy veil of sadness and fear will lift.  You will start to have energy to take that next step, and then another.  And the best part is, while you’re recharging your own energy source, you are also giving that gift to someone else!

Who are you going to illuminate today?

How can you reach out in order to replenish your own light source?

What choices can you make today from a place of compassion and faith whether than from fear and insecurity?

How can you shine your Soul Beacon from heart to heart?

Read the story I wrote of a young girl and an old sage in: It All Began With A Beacon of Hope (click link)

Please share your stories and experiences!

It’s Been One of Those Weeks!

Thistooshallpass

It’s been one of those weeks months years!!

I’m in a melancholy frame of mind.  Each day I awake expecting a different return on my daily investment.  And each day it has played out the same story: beginning with hopefulness, ending in defeat.  Yet, I keep getting up and trying again… One Day at a Time.

I can trace this defeatist attitude back to the beginning of last week; the unofficial end of summer, Labor Day.  It’s that time of year when fall ushers in a season of transition, rest and reflection.  My husband and I were struck by the lack of memories created this past summer.  We were overwhelmed by a year that had contained one “loss” after another.  No, it wasn’t a traumatic year (health wise); we’ve certainly have had our share of those.  But in its mundaneness, it almost felt worse.  We felt we truly had nothing to show for the past nine months of “just getting by.”

It’s been a year of “take-aways.”  It has felt like we have been punished, our privileges revoked, for actions we didn’t commit.   We’ve had to accept one “reality of life” after another, with no reprieve.  After five years (!) of a pending lawsuit against the medical providers that ignored my acute symptoms resulting in a ruptured colon, sepsis lasting two weeks, and culminating in the infamous words, “You have a 10% chance of making it through the surgery. You need to say goodbye to your husband,” we were told we had to drop the case.  That there was no doubt the evidence showed clear negligence on the doctor’s part (they even admitted to such in deposition!), but my multiple underlying conditions muddied the waters so much that a jury would be hard pressed to agree on a guilty verdict (and we would be out upwards of $200,000 for even trying).  Hence, Loss #1: no chance of financial security for you two!  Then, just mere months later, we were informed by my GYN that we should never, ever, ever attempt to get pregnant, because doing so would result in a 95% chance of death (for both myself and the fetus).  Major Loss #2: life-long hope, wish, most-certain dream, dashed.   And this cycle of loss has continued; punishments administered just by the sheer fact that I am sick.  They haven’t all been so big and life-altering, but the small punches knock you down over time just the same.

It’s also been a year of “give-aways.”  Unfortunately, not like the Prize Patrol kind, but the bill man’s at the door requesting you give-away all your money kind!  Every time we’ve accumulated a small nest egg to take a trip or do something “normal” (like go out to dinner), we’ve been hit by another unexpected financial necessity: the cat’s been sick, the van’s been sick, my feet are sick and need new soles, on and on!  Thankfully we’ve been able to cover these excessive, unexpected expenses, but it’s also left the cookie jar empty… not even a crumb for a desperate late night snack.   I’m feeling this so markedly in this time and space, because it is now, today, that we were supposed to be on our vacation to Cape Cod; our “healing respite” we called it.  Yet, one more thing we looked forward to for months that we had to forsake, just to get by in the living present.

And, that’s it… the only thing certain in my life is The Present: this very moment in front of me.  My husband bemoans that we should never plan anything, we just have to cancel it anyways.  And, to some extent, I agree.  It’s extremely discouraging to get your hopes up only to have them dashed down over and over again.  It’s one hell-ride of a roller coaster.  But, I can’t go through life without having dreams.  At the same time, it’s a stark reminder to live and enjoy each present moment, regardless of what you are looking forward to on the horizon.  Sometimes, we have our heads stuck so far up in the clouds, we forget to enjoy the amazing scenery beneath our feet.

I admit; I’ve been in a funk.  I know that we all have to make sacrifices, with the hope that the future will be brighter. But, and I guess this is where my P.T.S.D. comes in to play; I’ll get scared that there won’t be a “next time.”  I’ve lost so much time, so many years, to being on my death bed sick that I get fearful when time passes me by that could have been filled with larger than life living.   People will often say, “well, none of us know when our time will come; I could get hit by a car tomorrow!”  Yes, that’s true.  But, let’s face; most people don’t have a clock ticking down at rapid speed, like those of us with severe chronic illness.  We live with our mortality every day.

This “Debbie Downer attitude” has kept me from blogging recently.  Yet, it feels cathartically healing to write this all out on page and share it with you.  And it has helped to refocus my intentions.  I may not be communing with the seals of Cape Cod right now, but I am communing with all of you.  And I am grateful to be fully alive, and fully present in this very moment.

Down The Rabbit Hole . . .

down the rabbit hole

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!

Let Your Inner Freedom Ring!

On this Independence Day, I am choosing to celebrate myself, my gifts, my strengths, and the freedom from the tyranny of my own tangled thoughts . . .

  •  I do what I want to do, not what I think I “should be doing.”  If I want to paint, I paint! If I’m tired, I nap!  If a friend calls for an impromptu lunch, and I am physically able, I go!
  • I no longer pretend to be “okay” just to make others feel better.  I know my illness can make others uncomfortable (no one wants to see a loved one hurting) but if I’m in pain, I say so.  To thine own body be true!
  • I communicate my own wants and needs.  I no longer hope others will “magically guess” what I need in any given moment.  If I don’t know how to express what I want, how are others supposed to figure it out?
  •   I advocate for my own well-beingIf a doctor isn’t fully listening or fully engaged in my care, I find a new one.
  • I am flexible and adaptable!
  • I choose to always find some glimmer of positive even in the most dire of circumstances.
  • I choose gratitude over “grumpitude!”
  •  After being given a 10% chance of surviving the night, and waking (alive!) on the morning of 3/20/07… I never, ever take a day of life for granted!
  •   I am the annoying friend who is always stopping mid-sentence to point out a rainbow,the way the clouds capture the light just so, a hawk sitting roadside,… and I love this about myself!
  • I live fully in the moment and encourage others to do the same.
  • I have a deep understanding and empathy for those going through life’s challenges.
  • I value the friendships in my life and am a good friend and confidante in return.
  • I take risks because why shouldn’t I?  This may be the only chance I have to experience something new and I don’t want to miss out on a single opportunity.
  • I don’t know how I’ll feel tomorrow, so I live in the Today.
  • I don’t wait to do things on my Bucket List!
  • I don’t shy away from an activity or trip, even if special arrangements need to be made to accommodate my “unique needs.”
  • I have an inner strength and will to live that I am deeply proud of!
  • I walk tall… celebrating the Goddess within me!
  • I find purpose in spreading HOPE to others.
  • I love to laugh and find keeping a smile on my face makes everything a little brighter!
  • I am a Survivor! (every scar is a roadmap, outlining my remarkable journey to live!)
  • My life is never dull!  And that’s pretty, darn cool (not many have such a complex “life story” at such a young age)!
  • I don’t take my anger or sadness out on others!
  • I am a constantly evolving woman… I keep re-inventing myself!
  • Just like our forebearers, I take a chance on living a life that may be difficult and tiresome… The rewards of living life in any way are worth the sacrifices!
  • I love watching fireworks! And even if I am too unwell to see them in person, I can always catch a good show on T.V. (Go Boston Pops!)
  • I am grateful to be alive today, to celebrate the FREEDOM that we all deserve!

The Art of HOPE

 

Image“A human life is like a single letter of the alphabet.

It can be meaningless.  Or it can be part of a great meaning.”

(Talmudic Zen)

I’ve always lived from the heart and been a child of wonder and light, but the static of everyday clouded my vision.  Until 8 years ago when I became so sick; I was on the brink of death.  To others this would be a curse, but to me it was a great gift… of insight, of love, of light, of Hope… of Living from the Heart.

I was stripped bare of all external armor, and all that was left was the rawest sense of my being.  This sounds frightening at first.  We need our protective shells to survive, right?  In some respects, that’s true.  But in so many other ways, the same armor that protects us from life’s pratfalls, also keeps us from falling.  And sometimes we just need to fall in order to be caught.

Today, I was preparing to publish an entirely different post when I came across the marvelous blog:  http://heartflow2013.wordpress.com/ Reading about his experiences “Living from the Heart,” struck such a deep chord within me, I instantly knew this is what I was supposed to write about today;  I decided to follow my heart.

I’ve struggled over the years in how to explain to others about what happened to me when I nearly died (on three separate occasions!).  But I also know my experiences can benefit others.  So, just for today, I’ll begin to tell my tale… 

I believe that to live without an exoskeleton, means I listen to my heart when it speaks.  I don’t question it, justify my behaviors, judge my thoughts.  In other words, I don’t let my head take over for my heart.

And isn’t this most of ours “go-to place?”  We’re taught that strength lies in pragmatic thinking.  In analyzing our behaviors and reactions to situations.  In measuring our responses to the ways others may respond back to us.  To put on a front.  To bury our hearts deep below a fatty layer of protective tissue.

When one comments, “Oh, she’s one to wear her heart on her sleeve!,” it’s not generally meant as a compliment.  It’s “those people” who can’t keep their emotions in check, who are reactive, who are overly sensitive.

But I see this so differently!  There is a freedom in leading with your heart.  A freeing of your one true nature.

After I awoke in the hospital ICU, I was stripped bare (and I’m not just talking about the flimsy gowns!).  It was like all the external stimuli had dropped away, and I was now relating at the most humanistic of levels.  The language I heard was of heart-heart, soul-soul.  At first, it was like I was now hearing in colors. I know, I know, it sounds a little wacky.  But that’s just because it goes against the grain of everything we’ve been taught.

But try thinking of it this way… we live in a world of a thousand languages.  Yet, at some elemental level, we all speak the same language, right?  We all walk to the same life beat, right?  That’s the language of souls.  That’s a conversation in color.

When I was at my most physically vulnerable state, I was presented the greatest gift of my life: the gift of sight.  I began to notice that people dragged around wisps of light and color with them.  Some would glow, some would breathe and for others, it appeared as a gauzy cloak enveloping their entire body.  At first, I didn’t pay it much heed instead attributing these visual anomalies to drug-induced hallucinations combined with a severely weakened physical and mental state.   But as my body regained its strength and my mind its clarity, I discovered that these visual auras stayed.  And not only was I able to see the energy that encompasses each human, I became aware of how my energy interacted with theirs.  I witnessed energy being drained by hostile and negative encounters; and inversely, how the energy would grow bigger and brighter after positive and uplifting exchanges.  So I began to experiment with my own interactions.

I discovered that we all have a tendency to hoard our cache load of energy.  We live in a fear-induced state where we are afraid to become completed depleted by the giving away of ourselves.  I was certainly in a physically depleted state.  All my energies were directed at pure survival.  But, what is surviving without soul… that’s just thriving.  And I didn’t want to thrive; I wanted to and still want to SURVIVE!

And to truly survive, you need the energy and love from others.  I had a vision of sorts that inside each of us is a Beacon of Light & Hope.  I named this our “Soul Beacons” (c.).   Over the next few days, I’m going to post a variety of current day experiences that highlight the strength of living from the heart and embracing Hope in everything and everyone.  How in shining your Soul Beacon out, illuminating the pathway for others they, in turn, will light your way.   It shows itself in big ways and small ways, in expected and unexpected ways, and in a variety of interactions.

I have felt the floor disappear between my feet, the walls crumble between people, and my soul merge and meld with all around me.  I have experienced the spirit within all of us.  It was so obvious and easy to participate in the flow of energies from soul to soul, when I had no external distractions.  But as I have become healthier and therefore more immersed in daily life, I’ve also been re-exposed to all the daily noise.  The static that clutters our minds, and clouds are hearts. 

To practice the Art of Hope takes dedication.  What interactions will you have today that are purely heart to heart?  How can you reach out your heart to another?  How can you embrace the energy that will flow freely back to you?  In what ways can you center your thoughts, clear away the clutter of your mind, and get in tune with what your heart truly wants?