The Many Forms of Mercy

In my previous post I shared the experience of an ER visit and resulting surgery to implant a pacemaker due to third degree heart block with complications. When I wrote that, what had not yet returned to my memory was an incident that happened while I was in the ER. I wanted to share it with you now because I believe it is an example of how mercy in our lives takes many forms.

One of the ways we are protected by God, the Angels, our Guides, and whomever or whatever else we believe are by our side, is to limit our memory and our sensory awareness during and after traumatic events. And so it was that a couple weeks out of the hospital and into my recovery, I was struck by a memory of my time in the ER. As the memory surfaced, I recalled it as vividly as if it had happened just moments before, and I even reflected back to the time I was in the ER and said to myself, “Yea, I remember that!”

Swarmed n the ER in "Hallway 13"

Swarmed n the ER in “Hallway 13”

I was lying on the gurney in the ER, all hooked up to monitors with the doctors, nurses, and techs running around, and up walked this nicely dressed man with an ID hanging from his neck that read, “IU Health/Chaplain.” He looked at me and looked around, and then looked back at me. He looked up and off to my side, as if directing his attention to someone off to my left, and he said, “Does anyone need Last Rites?” He then looked back at me. I smiled broadly, and as if I was the one he really wanted to hear from, I said with a laugh, “Not me!” He smiled back. A few seconds later, another chaplain appeared and walked over to the first man. The second man, now with his back to me, both of them standing near the foot of my gurney, began talking with the first chaplain, who would occasionally glance over at me. Within a couple minutes, the second chaplain walked off without looking at or saying anything to me. The first chaplain looked over at me again, smiled, and said something like, “Have a nice day.” I said, “You too,” with a smile. I was planning on it!

What I realized, with increasing emotion as that memory unfolded, was that the chaplain had been called there because of me. After playing the scene all the way through, that notion hit me like a ton of bricks as my eyes filled with tears, and I felt more grateful and so blessed to be alive, to have been in such good care, and that, by the Grace of God and the Mercy of All who protect me, I am alive and well and did not need Last Rites.

We are so completely protected by God and the Universe, and my Angels knew I  was not ready to go, that I have too much yet to do, and in order to make sure I was okay, they kept that memory hidden for the few weeks I needed to get stronger before they brought it back to my consciousness. I also needed that memory to return so that I could realize, even more than I already had, how protected and loved I am, and how grateful I am to be here, on this planet, able to share lessons I’ve learned so that others may benefit.quo_edickinson

Next time your memory seems to fade or you have trouble remembering something, perhaps it may not really be a bad thing. Perhaps there is little reason for you to remember what it is you are trying so hard to remember. Maybe you are being protected for some reason, because you are certainly loved and protected, too. When you allow the fluidity of life and mercy and grace to flow, life can be simply awesome! How cool is that!

A New Day, A Renewed Perspective

I usually don’t post something quite as personal as what I am about to post, yet I thought it was important to share as it may be instructive.

On July 6, 2015, I went to see my doctor. I had been feeling a bit dizzy and had a lower than normal heart rate. Though he was out, his extraordinary Physicians Assistant was in the office and saw me right away. After her initial evaluation, she had me take an EKG to better see what was going on with my heart, and as soon as she looked at the results, she had me taken to the ER. Upon my arrival (it was just downstairs and on the other side of the hospital and medical center at Methodist Hospital in Indianpolis), I was swarmed by about five nurses, techs, and doctors.

Swarmed n the ER in "Hallway 13"

Swarmed n the ER in “Hallway 13”

Within short order, the head of cardiology came over and told me I was experiencing third degree heart block and I would need a pacemaker. Within an hour or so, I was admitted to the Cardiac ICU, and that afternoon, I was taken down the the Cardiac Cath Lab (OR) and was implanted with a pacemaker. I kept telling everyone I was too young for a pacemaker, which landed on what seemed to be deaf ears, though was also met with smiles. Smiles turned to shared laughter when I told the head cardiologist that I had done my high intensity training a few days earlier

Everything apparently went well, and I was released the next day, Tuesday. On Wednesday morning, I woke feeling okay, but within just a few minutes of being up, I began to feel flushed and dizzy, and I noticed my heart rate was erratic. I called the cardiology office and was told to go the ER or, if I could get a ride, to come to their office for evaluation and interrogation of the pacemaker. My daughter (who has been more than wonderful, beyond words), left her work and took me to see the cardiologist. Soon after the evaluation and interrogation of the pacemaker, I was readmitted and wheeled over to the Advanced Heart CareIMG_3004 unit at Methodist where I would be operated on to reposition the bottom lead to the pacemaker which had apparently dislodged from the proper placement in my heart. Experiencing a series of other symptoms, I was also diagnosed with a pneumothorax (collapsed lung). Before long, they were inserting a tube between my ribs to relieve the air in my chest cavity to allow the left lung to fully expand. I was under full bed-rest orders until further notice.

The next morning, Thursday, July 9, I was wheeled down to the Cardiac Cath Lab (a painful ride) where a new lead was placed in my heart and attached to the pacemaker. I remained on full bed-rest until the next day but was still not allowed to get up without assistance (they turned on the bed alarm). I wasn’t going anywhere but I guess it was policy to turn on the alarm, especially at night. Friday passed with a series of X-rays to see how my lung was doing, and I was given an incentive spirometer to get me to exercise my lungs and improve my breathing, which was quite shallow and painful.

The tube was removed on Saturday (what a relief that was), and I was fitted (finally) with a wireless monitor so I could get up and move around. I was able to get up and walk (accompanied by a nurse), and I seemed to do pretty well. Though lacking in strength and stamina, I was able to walk with a good degree of stability. The doctors said, as long as the X-rays showed no deterioration of the pneumothorax, they would likely release me on Sunday. That day could not come fast enough (as I also had been thinking that every day was just piling up the medical bills). My daughter took me home late Sunday afternoon.

The following Wednesday (yesterday as I write this), I went back to the cardiologist who performed the implant for a follow up and interrogation of the pacemaker, and everything looked great. For the next few weeks, I am still not allowed to lift anything more than a few pounds, can’t move my left arm (particularly my left elbow) above my shoulder, and must have no sudden movements, though I am able to drive and am encouraged to walk and move.

To say the least, this has been quite a shock to not only me, but also to my family and loved ones. I know it has been especially hard on those who are far away and who were not able to be present during all of this. I am grateful for all the love and support everyone has shown me during this time. I am fortunate to have such gracious and unconditional support.

This ordeal scared me, and through the shock of it, I know I will be okay. I am still too young to have a pacemaker, but I have one, so that is my new normal. I have read a great deal about living with a pacemaker, and it should be minimally restrictive. I will not allow it to be more restrictive than absolutely necessary, because I have way too much life to live, and way to much more to accomplish and to contribute to the world.

This has given me pause and reason to look at my life and life, generally, through a slightly different lens. I have been fairly good at living one moment at a time, in being flexible and open, in looking at the deeper meaning and the good in all that I experience, and in being grateful for all that comes my way. I am now even more grateful for every day, because I know that there is no such thing as “fourth degree heart block.” As well as I have taken care of myself, with exercise, eating well, and getting regular chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture treatments, and more, I also know I haven’t always done a great job of expressing my emotions and protecting my heart. I don’t know yet what all that means for me, but I do know I will be more aware and protective of things in my life that cause me stress. I have dealt with quite a bit of stress and sorrow in my life, admittedly some being self inflicted, and I will guard that more fully and carefully from now on.

So what can you learn from my experience? You will already have thoughts quo_edickinsonrunning through your minds, with more to come, so listen to them. I also encourage you to tell those you love how much you love them, every day. I encourage you to rid yourselves of negativity, wherever that may be. I encourage you to be happy, to find joy, to do at least one thing every single day that brings a smile to your face. A belly laugh is even better. Find the good in things and others. When you notice negative thoughts or feelings creeping in, acknowledge them, let them pass, and replace them with positive thoughts and feelings. Be grateful every day, every moment, for the people, experiences, and even things in your life that contribute to your joy. The greatest joy comes from within, so be sure to treat yourself well. And allow your smile to shine a light on the world. We are all in this together, and together we can make this world a better place for all.

Thank you for taking time to read this. Thank you for your contribution to making this world a better place. Isn’t it wonderful how even from such a dismal experience, we can find good? How cool is that?

When Does Different Mean Better?

We all know someone who views the world differently than we do, don’t we? There is always someone in every group who tends to be the funny one, the sensitive one, the logical one, the illogical one, or something else that differentiates them. Does the fact that they are different, in whatever way they are different, matter? It takes everyone to make the world go around, as the saying goes, yet the news is full of people fighting each other because of differences, so is being different good or bad?

It is human nature to notice the differences between others and ourselves. From a sociological standpoint, it is quite clearly demonstrated demographically, geographically, culturally, and otherwise. Having grown up in Europe, lived in different parts of the US, and traveled rather extensively around the world, I may view the world a bit differently than many. That experience has taught me, not only about the differences in people around the world, but I believe more importantly, about the similarities.

quo_gandhiWhen we notice differences, and if we then create an “us versus them” mindset, we foster a competitive, and potentially alienating environment. When all we see are differences, and when those differences are viewed as “bad” or “wrong,” it is impossible to create an environment of trust and goodwill. Clearly there are some beliefs and political systems around the world that are difficult for us to agree with or even comprehend. But this isn’t about that. How do we, as the kind and generous people we are, live our lives genuinely and joyfully? Think about people you know, and think about what you know about them that differs from you. Then think about what you and they have in common. Which makes you feel more connected with them?

We have all felt joy, pain, sorrow, adoration, anger, jealousy, and more. We all love our children and want them to be happy and healthy. We all want to feel valued and to be treated with respect. Our blood is red, and we need food and water and shelter. From Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we know that we all share the same needs. The difference is where we are in the hierarchy. The truth is, we have much more in common with each other than differences that drive us apart. What might happen if we all concentrated on the things that we have in common, those things that connect us all? When we realize that we share more than just the air we breathe, that we share feelings and dreams and needs, then we can begin to feel more connected, more a part of the good that we share. Once we embrace that, the possibilities are endless. How cool is that?

How Do You Get What You Want?

Getting what you want is not all about “things” and “stuff.” We all want and deserve more than just material possessions, though those are nice, too. What we also want and deserve, among other things, is to be heard, to have loving relationships, to feel valued and respected, and to live joyful lives. So how do we get all that we want?

Much has been written and spoken about the Law of Attraction, and there remain many misconceptions for a variety of reasons. What I want to do here is to give you the simple truth and simple steps to attract more of what you want in your life. The first and most fundamental simple truth is that it all starts in your mind, with what you believe and continue to tell yourself to be true. If you believe you deserve to have a joyful life and loving relationships, and if your inner-voice continues to affirm that belief, then you will attract others with similar beliefs and, thereby, those attributes in your life.

You may be thinking, “That sounds too simple…,” and that may be true. The more difficult part is continuing to believe when events in your life don’t seem to reflect what you want. The key is to continue believing, because the truth is you do deserve, and good things will come to you. To this end, the second simple truth is to want what you have. Wanting what you have is essentially being grateful for what you have, and the power lies in gratitude. Being grateful not only for what you have but also for what your life is teaching you, is a powerful affirmation that you deserve. When you continue to believe that you deserve the best of life even when things seem difficult, and when you continue to be grateful, even for those difficult times because you learn and grow from those times, then you are living a life that will reward you with all that the best life has to offer.quo_edickinson

 

One of my teachers and mentors, Helene Rothschild, wrote, “The truth is, no matter what anyone says or does…you deserve to be happy, healthy, and successful!” The truth is, to realize the life you want and deserve in all its glory, you must believe that you deserve it with every part of your being. You must continue to believe that you deserve the best life, regardless of any events that seem contrary. When you truly believe that you deserve the life you have dreamt of, and when you live congruently with that belief in every way, you will realize that dreams really do come true. How cool is that?

How to Stay Positive No Matter What

Is it really possible to stay positive regardless of the circumstances?  Wouldn’t that be awesome if that were true?  I’ve met some really positive people, and I remember wondering if they were actually being honest or if they were just pretending to be so positive.  I remember a coworker who came to work the morning after her vehicle had been stolen, and she had the same smile and sunny disposition she always had.

So how can you stay positive regardless of the events you face?  Much can be revealed by how we react to the weather, traffic, and other rather routine events.  Listen to your own internal dialogue next time.  We have all dealt with adverse weather or traffic jams, and though they aren’t typically dramatic (absent the recent winter storm), we usually don’t let them get us down.  We just deal with them and look forward to another day.  We all know people, however, who tend to look at the negative side of things or who complain about nearly everything, including things they can’t control, which is the perfect formula for misery.

Our behavior and mood are reflections of our internal dialogue, which is based on our model of the world and our beliefs.  Those who seem negative most of the time, may believe that the world is a scary or mean place or that everyone is out to get them.  This could have a foundation in a more fundamental belief about their own worthiness, but the gist of it is that they see the world in a negative way.  So, the inverse is also true.  Those who are more positive have a positive, joyful model of the world and themselves.  The most positive and successful people also have what I believe is the most empowering belief  for having a positive perspective and leading a successful life.quo_edickinson

What would happen if we knew that when negative things happen in our lives, they actually result in a positive outcome no matter how negative the event seems at the time?  If nothing could happen that would result in a long term negative outcome, there would be no reason to have a negative outlook.  I realize this sounds far fetched, but think of it this way.  If you knew you were living the life you were meant to live and that everything that happened was so that you could realize your fullest potential and joy and dream, in every way, wouldn’t you look at life more positively, no matter what happened?  You would indeed! How cool is that?

When a Dot is More Than a Dot

Things are often not as they seem, and when we make assumptions about an event or another’s behavior, we may well be wrong and sorry.  How might a printing process teach us something about life?  When you take a very close look at a picture in a magazine, what valuable lesson might it reveal?

Many years ago, I was CEO of a leading packaging manufacturing company, and one of the operations we used was printing.  We acquired a state-of-the-art, eight color printing press so we could do process work, which is the printing method used to print pictures (whether for magazines, newspapers, packages, labels, etc.).  Most people know a little about this process now because every color, computer printer uses this method.  It is also the principal on which computer screens, televisions, smartphones, etc., create their beautiful images.

Take a look at a picture in a magazine or from your color printer with a magnifying glass or a loupe, and you’ll see that it is made up of many tiny dots of certain colors, organized specifically to generate the image.  One dot on it’s own will never make a picture.  It can only represent a dot.  Similarly, several dots, but not organized correctly, will create a blurry or even incomprehensible image.  What does this have to do with life?

Events happen throughout our lives, and each one of them represents a dot.  Each one, on its own, can only represent itself.  Sometimes we attach meaning to an event by making an assumption about its meaning.  When a similar event continues to occur, it becomes a series of dots and a more definitive meaning evolves.  Once there are a sufficient number of dots to create a clear picture, only then is it appropriate to attribute certain meaning, which is likely, by then, to be obvious.  You know that old saying about what happens when we “assume.”  Quite often, when we assume a certain meaning without proper consideration, we react rather than respond, and that can end up being the ultimate assumption.  Only when the dots are aligned in just the right way will the picture become unmistakably clear.

quo_mlkjrSo the next time an event, a dot, occurs in your life, take note of it and allow it to be just a dot, like a blip on a radar screen.  Save yourself from being wrong and sorry, the victim of a self-inflicted assumption.  If that dot appears over and over, if it occurs repeatedly, the truthful meaning will become clear, and when it does, you will be able to make the appropriate response, saving yourself and perhaps another from a very uncomfortable and embarrassing situation.

We are all unique, and we see things through our eyes and with our filters.  I encourage you to remember that we are all more the same than we are different, and yet it is all of our similarities as well as our differences that make this world such an interesting place from which we can learn and grow.  When we open our eyes to all that is possible, we can realize the true joy of all that we share.  How cool is that?!

Do You Believe in Miracles?

Whether you believe in miracles or not, you have likely heard accounts of inexplicable events that some may have called, “miracles.” Is it possible that an accident could have been, “no accident” at all? How can an accident be, “no accident?” I actually believe that there are no such things as accidents, just as I believe there are no such things as coincidences. I believe there is purpose and there is a positive outcome in everything that occurs in our lives, even the painful things. And on more than one occasion, I have had that belief reinforced.

One such occasion was a few years ago when I was driving to an early morning appointment.  I was hit by a van coming in the opposite direction that was out of control and heading right for me.  I was able to avoid a head-on collision but wasn’t able to avoid it altogether.  I was knocked into a spin, my outside mirror smashing agains my window as I watched the van hit me, and I heard the awful sounds of metal on metal.  I was able to get my car stopped and backed up to assess the damage and to see if the other driver was okay.  There was significant damage to my car, from the front wheel all along the driver’s side, to and IMG_0214including the rear wheel, which was actually broken. I was lucky to have not been hurt more seriously than a bit shaken and sore. The woman driving the van who hit me was not hurt either, thankfully. As fortunate as it was that neither of us was hurt, that was not the miracle. Or was it?

The woman apologized for hitting me and we both assured the other that we were okay.  With tears in her eyes, the woman exclaimed that had I not been there at that exact moment, she would have hit a telephone pole or rolled over from the soft shoulder and into the plowed field off that narrow road. Her front left tire had blown out, and she wan’t able to control her van.  Split seconds made all the difference. She called me her angel, that day. All I knew was that I was meant to be there, at that exact time. My day and my car were sacrificed so that she would be safe, and I was left with an important lesson that I could share with others. So what was that lesson?

If there are no accidents and no coincidences, then what are those events in our lives that we can’t explain? When you notice a day where the humidity is low and the sky is the most beautiful, deep blue, or you hear a song on the radio that picks you up or brings a tear to your eye, or you were thinking of someone and then at that same moment, they call or you get a Facebook message from them, or a soft rain falls to nurture all the plants, or when you wake to the dawn of a new day, are those miracles? quo_edickinsonWe all have a choice to learn from all events and to live the lives we want.  We are not victims unless we allow ourselves to be.  I believe the true miracle is life, and that by showing up, fully being present in each moment, you are living a miracle.