From Writer to Author

I have been writing since I was in High School. Well, we’ve all been writing since early school years, but I mean the kind of writing that wasn’t part of a classroom or assignment. I wrote many poems when I was in High School – the typical adolescent angst, frantic, “I am lost and worthless,” kind of stuff that my mom threw out when I was away at college. I suppose it was probably good that she got rid of them, because though it would have been of interest to see how far I’ve come, it would have been an emotional journey I doubt would have truly served me. During the past several years, I’ve written many hundreds of articles that have been published in various papers, tabloids, and magazines, which has been quite fun and rewarding. I love to write, so I do.

I have finally finished a book that I had begun to work on nearly 20 years ago. frontcover2.submittedFinal_smallI am so happy it is ready for release, and I will be announcing the release date, soon, so stay tuned. It is a story that we all will relate to because we have all, in one way or another, felt the way the main character feels. We may not have experienced the very same things, but we have more than likely felt the same way or have known someone who has.  The lessons learned are lessons for all ages, and though it is written with youth in mind, parents and grandparents will benefit, also. The lessons, especially the main one, is a lesson that, when realized, will change the way we look at life, others, the world, and beyond.

My greatest wish is that it touches the readers and all who are exposed to it in such a way that it enhances their lives in ways they wouldn’t imagine possible from such a little book. Sometimes, little packages hold valuable contents.

The Long and Short of it – Listen, Damn It!

I have heard many professionals utter this most confusing questions, “Why do people hire me, only to ignore the advice I offer?” When clients hire professionals for their expertise, is it not a reasonable assumption that said clients will listen to the advice given? After all, why hire an expert, professional if you aren’t going to listen and heed their advice and counsel? Few people would go to a doctor or lawyer only to ignore their advice, would they?

When I hire a professional, I do so because they know more about the relevant subject matter than I do. I do so because they will save me time and money, give me advice and counsel I wouldn’t be able to obtain on my own, and help make my life less stressful. I only hire professionals I can talk with, those who will listen to my concerns and will give me honest feedback, and those who will make sure I am happy with the outcome we’ve agreed upon from the outset. True professionals are happy to fully discuss the process ahead of time, to make sure the client understands all aspects before the project begins and answer any questions completely and honestly. And because I only hire professionals I can trust, I take the advice given.

So, why would someone hire a professional and not listen? I imagine it has more to do with the client and less to do with the professional. After all, no professional who isn’t being professional will last in their profession. But a client who isn’t listening will most likely just keep on not listening. Some people just like to be in control, or more accurately, hate (or are afraid of) not being in control. In my practice, I run across that sometimes, and more often than not, the client has a lack of understanding about control, what it is and isn’t, and how it relates to the process. There is no reason for me to take their desire for control personally, because it has nothing to do with me. It’s all about their needs and their fears, so the best way for me to help them is to help them better understand themselves, to see past the illusions of quo_edickinsontheir beliefs and to uncover the true potential they possess.

When someone has a need to be in control, there is a sense of “lack” in some way, and they think that by being in control, it somehow gives them power over their circumstance and that they can then determine the outcome to their benefit. Theproblem is that they will continue to perpetuate their core belief, which is based on “lack,” so they will keep getting disappointed and will want to blame anyone and anything but themselves, which is why they won’t listen to the professionals. Sounds like a vicious cycle, perhaps, but it is of their own making. How do you, as a professional, help them? Be honest, direct, and refuse to participate in their drama while always being compassionate. They, like each of us, is doing the best they can.

What if you could help them believe that they were really okay, worthy, and good enough? What if you could help them see that they had chosen the perfect professional, expert for them and for the task at hand, and that because of their wise choice to hire you, they were miles ahead of the competition (whoever that might be)? Maybe then they’d think they really were in control, and you were only following their lead by giving them your expert advice. See how smart you are? How cool is that?

More Than a Reflection

What do you see when you look in the mirror? What thoughts and feelings come through when you look in the mirror? I know some people who don’t like what they see when they look in the mirror, and though that is sad, it is also quite telling as well as potentially useful, if they allow it to be.

Every day we have many opportunities to not only look in the mirror, but also to be aware of what is reflected back to us in every encounter of the day. Do you realize that every person you meet, every person you see and have a thought or feeling about, no matter how casual and seemingly insignificant, is a reflection of yourself in some way? Think about the last encounter you had with someone. Perhaps it was someone at the store or the cashier or someone you noticed when you stopped for your morning coffee. What did you think or feel? Do you remember what you thought about that person? Were you being judgmental, even?

Chances are, the people who come in to your sphere, no matter how casually they appear, are there because you have attracted them by your thoughts or actions. Have you ever heard the expression that when you point at someone, you have three fingers pointing back at yourself? The basis for this is that what we don’t like in others, we actually have and don’t like about ourselves. We may not even be aware of it, but the next time you notice making a comment about something you don’t like in someone else, think about how it might relate to yourself.

I am reminded of this because, even with all that I have studied and practiced over the years, I am still under development, a work in progress. I find myself wondering what it is that I am meant to learn by things in my life. I know that I am responsible, as you are, for everything that has and will happen in life. I am blessed to have wonderful people in my life who, with their honesty and love, support me in my journey, and I am grateful for the reflection they give me so that I can learn and be even better. When we look in the mirror or otherwise become more aware of what is reflected back to us, we have a precious opportunity to take seriously whatever that message is that we are meant to receive so we can make positive changes and reach our full potential, our destiny. Not every message is negative, by the way. Think about someone you admire and what it is that you admire about them. Yes, the opposite is true as well: What we admire in others, we possess as well. Do you see now how wonderful you are? How cool is that?

The Illusion of Time

How often have you reflected on the passing time and wondered where the days, weeks, months, and even years have gone? For some of the younger readers, perhaps time seems to be dragging on. For me and countless others of you, time goes by so fast, it seems crazy that it is October, 2016, already!

One interesting thing about time is that a past event may seem like a long time past or just as easily, something that happened only a short time ago. To me, the most interesting thing about time is when an event from the past seems to have happened, both a long time ago as well as quite recently. It surely does not seem like more than a year ago that I wrote my last post, and yet it also seems like so very long ago that I was shaken by what transpired around that time. Yes, there are many things that on the one hand can seem like they happened a long time ago, and that same event can seem like it happened just yesterday. How can that be? Is time truly so elusive?quo_mlkjr

In some circles of philosophy, the dimension of time is considered a “human construct” that does not exist in reality. We think of time as linear, chronological, with a past, a present, and a future. But what if we think of it in that way just so that we can understand it? What if time really doesn’t exist in that way and that everything is happening at the same time? How would that change the way we saw the world and lived our lives? What if there really was no past and no future, and everything only happens in what must be the present. If, regardless of what happened in what we think of as our “past,” and if we couldn’t really create our “future,” then wouldn’t everything really just be in the present, the now?

Does that mean it doesn’t really matter what you do in any given moment because whatever you do now only matters now and that nothing you have done can every come back to haunt you? Would that really change how you would behave? Would you be more careless and carefree? Would you risk ruining this moment because it could never come back to ruin a future moment? Would you not be as determined to make the most of this moment because it wouldn’t necessarily benefit a future moment? Do you only make the most of any given moment because you believe it will make a difference in a future moment? Is this quo_edickinsonall too much to think about?

When we no longer consider the past and live only in and for the present moment, it can actually make things much simpler and our decisions more powerful and meaningful. When each decision, each and every action we take, has the power of defining each and every moment, it takes on a brand new meaning. The only moment that matters, every moment that matters, is the very moment that exists, now. No matter what you do from this moment forward, realize that your every action, every thought, every decision you make will define that very moment. See how powerful you are? How cool is that?

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?