Connecting Coaches, Creatives, & Curious Folks through what's emerging in this moment

Posts tagged ‘NDE’

After Choice ~ Sprouting Wings

yin_yang_treeThis has been a pensive couple of weeks for me as at this time two years ago I was hanging out in the ICU of Marquette General Hospital learning a lot about living, dying, choosing, and how important oxygen is.  At this same time last year the thoughts were actually too overwhelming for me to sort through and write about, so I let the date pass by barely noted.  I took it so far as to let blogging pass by altogether and only wrote 3 posts in 2012.  Now I feel just that much farther away from the experience that if feels like a good time to capture some of the memories and begin to share some of my learning.  Bear with me please, as this is likely to get long.  I’m giving myself full permission though, as pivotal moments in one’s life should not be forced to meet our tweet-sized attention spans.

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It is an incredibly frightening thing to not be able to take a breath.  I have easily accessible flashback images in my mind of my body bucking, eyes wide, wrists in restraints, as I struggled to suck oxygen into pneumonia-filled lungs.  “This must be what it feels like to drown”, I thought.  “If I could gasp harder, maybe I could get enough.”  But there was no room at the inn… no place to put a breath, even if I could manage to coax it into my crowded lungs.

And then… (more…)

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Love Changes Everything

Many years ago I got to see Michael Ball sing this on Broadway in Andrew Lloyd Weber‘s short-lived musical ‘Aspects of Love‘.  Though undeniably schmaltzy, the song stuck in my head, like any classic Broadway show tune does.  Though the musical was one of the biggest flops in Broadway history, every now and then some life or love thing happens that sends me digging in my CD pile so I can give it another listen.  Tonight, when this randomly got stuck in my head again, I turned to YouTube.  Each version seems sappier than the one before it, yet if you listen to the words, they capture an essential truth I’ve been experiencing.

A couple of days ago I got to share stories with a favorite client from years ago.  He shared his harrowing tales of a month in the ICU and I shared mine.  His story was so different in many ways, and I felt grateful that my journey was so short and simple in comparison to his.  He fought for his life with every fiber of his being.  He was young, just getting started in his career, and full of possibilities when a skiing accident left him literally shattered.  He shared that he used to dream while on the ventilator of what he could do with his life if he could just get the use of one finger and a thumb.  He fantasized about the paintings he’d paint, the feats he’d accomplish, the difference he could make… if only he’d get to be a quadriplegic.  And the thing he remembered most from all of it?  The Love.  The incredible Love that was (more…)

Burst Wide Open

Bubbles burst, rain clouds burst, buds burst into bloom, tinder bursts into flame, fireworks burst across the sky, and my heart bursts wide open.  Once something bursts, it transforms.  The bubble won’t be put back, the cloud can’t have the raindrops shoved back in, the flower wouldn’t dream of being pushed back into bud.  What about the heart?  If it has truly burst wide open, can it close down or harden again?  We often have moments when we think we’re ‘about to burst’, but we don’t really.  We almost transform, but instead we have a lovely or powerful experience.  It’s easy to go back to the old way from a ‘lovely experience’.  Not so easy if we are truly burst open.

Since I awoke in the ICU I’ve been pushed to the ‘about to burst’ point over and over again.  I can’t tell you how often I’ve burst into tears — sometimes from sadness, worry, or despair, but mostly because the love was more than I thought I could bear.  At first, the words overwhelmed me.  Comforting, yes, in many ways… but also like a tire or balloon being filled too full much of the time.  The food people brought, the cards sent, the conversations shared, and the endless messages of love and support offered in countless ways — these were all part of the ‘about to burst’ phenomenon.

Launching the fundraiser has pushed me to the bursting point again and again.  Oh my!  It takes a certain kind of courage to ask for help so directly.  I’ve needed to trust that people’s words are genuine when they (more…)

Slaying the Dragons

Anyone can slay a dragon… but try waking up every morning and loving the world all over again. That’s what takes a real hero. ~ Brian Andreas

Since those close to me and I first started talking about doing a fundraiser to help with my overwhelming medical costs, I’ve talked about ‘pulling the trigger on this fundraising thing’.  I hadn’t given much thought to the language I was using until a friend posted the above quote on facebook this morning.  What was I aiming at? What was I planning to shoot with my trigger finger?   It seems I have a dragon to slay and a beautiful, hand-engraved invitation to ‘wake up every morning loving the world all over again’.

Let me back up a bit.  For those of you have followed my journey, you may recall that when I was on the ventilator I had a clear opportunity to lay my burdens down and choose the ultimate peace that I could sense filled the space behind death’s door, or to choose to climb back up that long ladder into a life that was much less certain, and potentially full of much more pain and struggle than what beckoned there at the edge of being and non-being.  My memories of my journey in that unconscious state are filled with metaphorical dragon-slaying.  I was fighting my darkest demons.  Truth is, I’m not even sure yet what those demos were… I just know they scared me so much I was very tempted to give up just to make it stop.

When I did choose life, I came back into a world that showered me with love from the farthest edges of the globe all the way into the circle of friends and family closest to me.  My very most inner circle saw me in my darkest hours.  I think the darkness that still haunted me was working like a shadow cast on my nearest and dearest and it brought out some of their demons too.  Some of it was physiological as I was dealing with some PTSD type flashback stuff, a bit of depression, anxiety, and was in a very fragile physical state, yet some of it was my doubts about choosing this challenging world we live in over the ultimate peace I sensed I could have had.  How do you help someone in that state?  Do you make them tea?  Do their laundry?  Do you just leave them alone and hope it goes away?  What about when they’re awful to you?  Do you forgive them?  Do you use it as evidence for your worst thoughts about them?  That may seem harsh  – yet when dragons are around and the slayers exhausted and hungry, they aren’t always on their best behavior and don’t always act rationally, reasonably, or kindly.  I know I didn’t. (more…)

Prisoner of my hairdo

It turns out that when one becomes seriously ill for a spell (or has a baby) one of the after effects can be having your hair fall out.  (Bummer, I say!)  For a few weeks now, I’ve been shedding worse than our old Norwegian Elkhound used to shed in springtime.  When the weather warmed up, and she could no longer find a little patch of snow to lie upon, we would go out and pluck the dog.  My daughter has become a ‘mother plucker’ as she keeps my hair from landing in our dinners night after night.  Birds nests around my mother’s condo are being woven by the bread bags full of hair I bring to put near her feeders.  All this while I become closer and closer to being bald.  Turns out, I’ve been a prisoner of my hairdo all these years.

Back in the ’80s, I chopped off my long hair and got short mullet-ish thing with hair shaved close on the sides, spiky on top, and a bit shaggy in back.  Hideous, really.  After being sheared and styled, my glass blowing partner (whom I had worked with day after day in the studio) stopped me to ask if he could help me, as if I were a stranger.  When I told him who I was he had to look carefully to recognize me.  Apparently, Christine Lavin was right about us prisoners – if we cut our hair, no one will recognize us anywhere.

Today, being a prisoner of my hairdo is much less about fearing I won’t be recognized.  As my hair falls out strand-by-strand, my ego… my vanity… my Leo the lion’s mane… (more…)

Untangling Pretending

As I enter the blogosphere, one of the most motivating reasons for me to write is to begin to unravel, make sense of, and share what’s rattling around in this brain of mind since my NDE (Near Death Experience) in March. People ask me things like “What’s changed?” or “What did you learn?” or “Are you back to your old self yet?”. There was so much packed into that experience that it may take me a long time to sort it out. Heck, it was already complicated in that brain o’ mine — this just added a few dozen more knots and layers!

Today I’ve been reflecting on Mother’s Day, not pretending, and delight. Bear with me as I untangle this knot. Yesterday was Mother’s Day. I still have my mother close by, so spending time with her was essential. My teenage daughter lives with me, so spending time with her was a possibility too. She had gone away with her dad over the weekend, so I wasn’t sure if she’d be home in time to hang out with me. Though a part of me thinks days like Mother’s Day were invented by Hallmark and shouldn’t be given much merit, another part really enjoys both honoring my own mom and having my motherhood celebrated and acknowledged. It’s a strange thing. Holidays like this can bring expectations, obligation, and disappointment along with the love, joy, and appreciation so widely marketed. Sometimes in order to not encounter those first elements, I pretend the holiday doesn’t matter. Truth is, this year, months after my NDE… it really did matter to me. (more…)

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