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 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?!

Lost & Found

Have you ever found yourself in a state of confusion, not knowing what to do next, wondering which path to take, having lost that illusive joy in your life, and yet you know that it surely must be out there, somewhere?  I think most of us have experienced that state at one point or another.  If you have never experienced any of that, then you are among the lucky ones, and I offer my congratulations.  For those of us who have, there is good news.

As what goes up must come down, I believe that nothing is ever truly lost but simply misplaced or otherwise out of reach for the time being.  Since our thoughts determine our reality, every aspect of our lives was first created in our minds and made true by our actions.  Our actions are determined by our beliefs, which are formed due to various forms of programming and transformed or molded by our model of the world and emotional states.  The communication model presented in NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming) illustrates this quite well, but suffice it to say that all of our actions and behaviors have a basis in our beliefs.

When we feel lost and are in a place that is not where we want to be (in a poor relationship or job, for example), that is a wonderful indication that we will soon find our way back, because it is in being lost that we find ourselves.  What I mean is, when we are unhappy, we have an opportunity to recreate, to figure out what got us where we are and to ask questions for which we find answers so we can get to where we want to be.  Norman Vincent Peale said, “Every problem has in it the seeds of its own solution. If you don’t have any problems, you don’t get any seeds.”  When things are going along relatively well, we tend to not challenge ourselves to create something better.  It is only when things seem bad that we are driven to want to make a change.

So, the next time you are lost and don’t know what to do next to have the joy you deserve, remember that it is really a blessing in disguise.  Remember that in total darkness, a single candle creates light, that it is darkest before the dawn, and that when you seem most lost, the joy you are about to find will be the sweetest.  How cool is that?

A Renewal, A Rebirth

In spring, the rains come, the flowers and trees blossom, lawns return to green, people are out in their yards and gardens preparing them to look their most beautiful, and many others go through closets, donating items they no longer wear or need to Sheltering Wings, Goodwill, or other worthy organizations. It is said that what one person casts away, another may treasure. Springtime is a time of renewal, a rebirthing of the earth’s treasures.

Do you treat your own wellbeing and the relationships in your life with the same level of care you give your garden? How might things be different, if you did? What might happen if you cultivated better, healthier habits and actively nurtured your relationships. If you cultivated the garden in your mind and body, might you blossom into a happier, healthier you?

The most important areas worthy of our attention, besides our own wellbeing, are the relationships we have with our children and our spouses (or life partners, significant others, etc.). And yet, many allow our lives to become so routine that we simply go through the motions rather than cultivating those vital relationships. What would happen to your yard if you just let it go? What would happen to your car if you ceased all maintenance?

What if we looked at springtime as a time for us, as the flowers and trees so naturally demonstrate, to become new again? What if we nurtured and fertilized the soil within our relationships so that they could continue to grow and even be reborn into something stronger and brighter than before? How might your children feel if you told them how proud you were of them, for an accomplishment, for an action or behavior? And how might your spouse feel if you reminded him or her (and yourself) what it was that first caused you to know the love you felt? Was it their voice, their smile, their eyes, or something only for the two of you?

What I believe is that it is all too easy to allow our lives to run us rather than for us to run our lives. When we take stock of where we are compared to where we want to be, it is never too late to change course, to cultivate all that is dear, and to live a life of joy. How cool is that?

What Defines You?

I recently posted a comment on Twitter and Facebook about how your past need not define who you are. Quite clearly, things we experience in our past influence us and how we behave in the future, but if we allow our past to define us, then we are acting as “victim” rather than being in charge of and taking responsibility for our lives.I know someone who experienced many difficult things in his life (emotional and verbal abuse, dyslexia, traumatic physical experiences, and more) and yet he has overcome them in such a convincing way that people who know him now are shocked when they learn of his past experiences. Most of us have experienced difficulty in our lives, and those who are successful use those experiences as lessons, not as excuses.

No matter what has come your way, you can decide, in this instant, that you are going to live the life you want to live. You can decide that you can and will live a joyful life filled with love. You can decide that you deserve to have the perfect relationship and settle for nothing but that. You can decide that no matter what anyone has said or done to you in the past, that you are a good person and that you will only allow good and love and positive people in your life, now and always. As Helene Rothschild wrote, “The Truth Is, No matter what anyone says or does, You are Okay, Worthy, Loveable, Attractive, Important, Intelligent, and Good Enough. You are a good person, and You deserve to be Happy, Healthy, and Successful.”

Sean Stephenson talks about “getting of your but.” What he means is that rather than using past experiences or even your current situation as an excuse, decide to live the life you want to live. If you know his story, you realize that he made such a decision (with the help of his mother) at a time when it would have been much easier to have felt sorry for himself.  Because he made the decision that he did, he has empowered countless others to do the same. He is an inspiration like few in the world can be.

If you aren’t sure how to proceed, look up Sean’s story,  submit a comment, or write me. I’ll be happy to guide you and teach you so that you can carry on, empowered to live the life you deserve. How cool is that?

karl (at) talktokarl (dot) com