Friday, June 10, 2011
Yesterday afternoon my friend Ron was comatose, non-responsive and his close friends and family had resigned themselves to the worst. He had been in a coma for slightly over a week and the doctors were not giving a good prognosis.
I went to the gym last night and when I returned Joan told me she had received a phone call. Ron was awake, walking, feeding himself a regular diet and basically knew who everyone was. Sometime in the early evening he had sat up in bed and smiled.
He has a long rehabilitation road ahead of him but his doctor said this was nothing short of a miracle.
Just thought I'd share
Thursday, June 09, 2011
When Lisa sat down at the table she was crying. Not the big tears, but the ones you needed a Kleenex for. She looked as if she’d been crying for a while. Lisa is one of my clients. I work with people in her situation who have a limited income or are in adverse circumstances. I tell them the maximum I’d charge and the minimum. I tell them to pick either or a figure in between. It’s a matter of trust and honesty and if I can’t trust them and vice versa there is no sense working with each other. Surprisingly most people choose the middle figure. I know they are financially strained but I’ve found that a person’s dignity is more important than a lot of things and if I didn’t charge something most people feel that its charity. I would help someone and have; pro bono if they just couldn’t afford anything. My business clients pay about ten to fifteen times the hourly rate Lisa does and I feel I have an obligation to put something back and help people. You might call it an intention.
Lisa was crying because at the last moment her child care option collapsed and wouldn’t be available. Lisa is a single mom; she is raising her daughter without any support from anyone else. Right then and there if I could have taken a picture of Lisa and put it in the dictionary it would have gone next to the definition of “lost.” I asked her if she tried the YMCA. She told me they had started their program the day before and didn’t have an opening. I smiled. I’d been on our YMCA board for three years. The current Program Director was a former client and as most clients end up becoming…………. A really good friend. I excused myself for a minute and called my friend. I gave her Lisa’s name and she said that she would find a place for her daughter and yes there was scholarship money available for her. All she had to do was come in and sign some papers.
When I got back to the table the tears dried up for a few minutes. Lisa’s next issue was life insurance and how she was really worried that if something happened to her there would be nothing for her daughter. I smiled. We have a friend who sells life insurance and had some of the experiences similar to Lisa’s and is younger to boot. She agreed to meet with her and set something up.
I left Lisa smiling, got in the car and headed on my way. I had vinyl to pick up, a toilet to buy and more paint. In between all of that I had a few more clients. By three in the afternoon I was stressed out and worn out and I was sitting in a parking lot waiting for Joan to come out of the grocery when it hit me:
I had just had the best day in a long, long time because I had done something for someone else with no motivation of “What’s in it for me!!” I invested part of my day doing something for another person. It felt so, so good. I sat in the car and smiled, then I cried a bit and then inside of me the clouds parted and a huge ray of sunshine burst through and gosh I felt so good. There is a song and part of its lyric went through my mind. “A good day is any day that you’re alive.”
Yesterday morning when I checked my account balance the big check a client owed me had been deposited into my account the night before. A few minutes later, our contractor told me my office would be ready to move back into sometime today. Maybe one had nothing to do with the other but I really believe that taking the time to give to someone just so they could have peace of mind…………..
We like to use the saying “What comes around goes around,” to refer to people who have done something selfish or wrong. I think it refers to everything. I think the more I go out of my way to help you the more I will be helped. It’s not about me. It’s about us!
BTW: I still can feel that bolt of sunshine. My problems aren’t gone; they are just easier to manage. If you are reading this it could be because you care, with thought of yourself
Wednesday, June 08, 2011
In the center of town stands a massive sassafras tree. I pass it each morning on my walk. It’s been there forever but I never really noticed until the other day. Beside it is one of those historical markers. I’d stopped to tie my shoe and I saw a sign that told me this tree was “first mentioned” in town documents in 1861. According to the plaque it had been around for a good while back then. I kept walking and I thought just how long that tree had been there. It had witnessed The Civil War, both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, bot wars in Iraq……… I’ve missed a few I’m sure along with so many other events we mark time by. People were born, people died and that tree stood there, strong and regal. It provided shade for generations of people. It was there before I was born and it will be there long after I am gone.
In her book Quantum Wellness, Kathy Freston talks about” setting intentions”. An intention is different than a goal because it’s an activity you commit to day after day. It has meaning to you in your journey. For example one of her intentions is that she is silent as she eats her breakfast. It allows her to focus on her day and gather some much needed spiritual energy. It’s a behavior or intention she practices each day. I have been looking for such an intention in my life
As I walked past the tree it dawned on me that I am simply a visitor on this planet. I do not own it or anything on it and truth be told; by some of my actions, I do not honor it as a visitor should. If I came to your house to visit I would respect you, your wishes and your customs. I would be very careful not to disturb anything. You would do the same for me. Yet here I sit on a planet where I am a guest and I treat it as if it should bow to my whims and fancies. Long after I am dust, that tree and many others will continue to provide shade and life for millions of people. As is stands strong through turmoil I am simply passing through.
My intention is to walk by that tree every morning and remember that everything great and small, important or seemingly insignificant deserves respect. That respect begins with me. It begins with looking into the mirror and shows a healthy respect for myself and my life. It begins when I value every part of me as much as I possibly can and realize that while I am only a guest on this planet, I have an important responsibility. It begins when I look into your eyes and see the amazingly wonderful value inside of you.
Tuesday, June 07, 2011
I often reassure people by telling them “No problem is a small problem if it is your problem.” I believe it when I say it. Sometimes it’s very easy for me to sit back and look at another person’s issues or concerns and hear that tiny voice inside of me whine, “What’s their problem? They don’t really have a problem!!! They need to quit complaining.” It’s an awfully selfish perspective. I grew up with my mother and a cadre of old nuns dressed in black wagging a finger under my nose and reminding me that there was starving children all over the world who’d love to be where I was. I’m quite sure there were and still am. I was remonstrated to accept my suffering, whatever it was in a noble manner and move forward. It usually ended with the promise of “a place for me in heaven…..” Actually it only served to make me bitter at times. Any issue that occurred in my life was minimized by starving third world people.
I had become, as many have, a product of the times. I cared about me and my concerns because the good Lord knows no one else will. If you have a problem, well that’s your problem. I slowly began to change when I saw the brave behavior of many, many people who were succeeding in their lives despite their problems and issues. They not only acknowledged their issues but they embraced them, owned them and wore them as a badge of honor and dignity. I started to notice that those people who seemed to have so little to give in a material sense were always first in line to give freely and without reservation. In spite of their own issues and problems they acknowledged that mine were EQUALLY important to me. I thought they were angels or maybe even saints. They honored my pain and suffering.
I write that lengthy tome as a preface of sorts to the tiny but powerful revelation I had yesterday. My blog on Job began with my own personal tale of woe. As I reflected on it a bit I started to see that my sufferings and trials were not making me angry and bitter but rather opening my mind to a feeling of love and compassion for those around me. It is really easy to snap at people, take a break from your goals, be unavailable because “you are going through a lot.” Everyone understands and it’s a great opportunity for me to lick my wounds. It is much more difficult for me to accept I’m not Super-John, life does hit me in the gut occasionally and it should not stop me from reaching out to those around me.
Maybe that was the point of this rather painful lesson I’m going through. Maybe it is there to remind me that I am frail and I am strong and loving, all at the same time. Maybe it happened to show me what life is really all about. It’s about joining hands with the person next to you and sometimes dragging them along because they haven’t the strength to walk on their own and by the way, you are limping themselves.
Health is not only the number on a scale, the circumference of your waist, whether you binge or not. It’s not only the knowledge in your head, often it’s the growth of your heart and your soul.
Monday, June 06, 2011
One of my closest friends may be brain dead. My eighty seven year old father finds out today or tomorrow if he has bone cancer. My eighty year old mother may have a bowel obstruction. I am so stressed out that my legs and lower back scream with pain the minute I move wrong. The reconstruction of my lower level moves at a snail’s pace. I do not feel inspired to blog or write at all – This has always been my saving grace. A client “lost” an eight thousand dollar invoice and will “try” to pay me today or tomorrow. They were genuinely sorry.
Should I go on?
“There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil………..” Regardless of your spiritual belief, the book of Job is a good read. It’s the story of a wager between God and the devil. God tells the devil to throw everything he has at Job and God is banking on the fact that Job won’t give up and lose faith. The devil takes his best shot and God stands by watching. In the end, Job hangs on and everything he lost, plus more is restored to him. That’s not to say that Job sat there with a grin on his face. He suffered, he was in pain. At one point his body was covered with boils and his family was killed in a variety of disasters. He ended up sitting on a large pile of dung with his head hung low. His friends walked by and laughed. Many told him to “curse God and die.” He didn’t. He persevered. He believed in something and he believed his faith and his ability would cause him to win in the end, even when the whole world seemed to be tilted away from him.
Simply put this is a really good story about persevering. Job had a set of beliefs, goals, things he wanted to do and no matter what happened to him he kept sight of those things and no matter how much people jeered and laughed he kept moving forward. In the end he was rewarded for his faith. I’m no Job. My faith isn’t that strong, but I am persevering. I am stumbling and falling and cursing my rotten luck in life and wondering why I am surrounded by so much mayhem, but I’m not losing sight of my goals. For every one of you here who supports me, there are people I know who tell me I should just give up. They tell me that some people were just” born fat” and it’s a losing battle. They tell me fifty seven is too old to start running or spinning or working really hard on a twenty year plan.
You know what? Some days I am tempted to listen to them. Some days I have to fight the urge to pick from one of the disasters in my life and just give in. Some days it would be really easy to “curse God and die,” so to speak. Some days I am so stressed out that I use food as an excuse to feel better. I go way beyond my calorie limits and tell myself its okay. I wake up in the middle of the night, often I cry a bit and feel like a total and complete failure. My self-worth gets tied up in my appearance. I feel alone, like I don’t have a single friend. My well of inspiration has dried up. My own personal pile of dung!!!!
I’m not writing to get consolation, support or love. (It’s welcome but it’s not the reason I’m writing.) Each morning, after another night of not sleeping well I gingerly get out of bed and I walk, run or cycle. I ache, but each day I tell myself today is the day everything will turn around. I have a healthy, balanced breakfast and I tell myself today is the day I’ll stay in my calorie limits!!! I do not give up. I persevere. I believe in John. I believe what John is doing is going to help him follow through on his twenty year plan.
I’ll get there despite my short comings and failures. In the end I’ll be smiling and it will all have been worth it. I’m learning never to compare myself and my experiences to other peoples. I am learning that through my pain and disappointment the precious practice of love and compassion for other people, no matter who they are or what they do. I am learning to persevere.
“Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.” Jim Valvano
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