Monday, November 12, 2018

The Parts I've Lost

This is my gorgeous hanging planter before and after the first freeze of the fall.  As you can see, the cold caused a part of my planter enough stress that it wilted.   If you look closely, you will notice that part of the plant is wilted, but a large part of the plant still looks great and is doing well.

I must confess that I feel exactly like this frost-touched planter right now.  But instead of cold weather to affect me, it was that darned carbon monoxide accident, lol!  Most of me is holding up great and doing well, but I have these strange and unexpected parts that I cannot deny have wilted.  In particular:

♥My desire to garden and work in my yard, a passion and joy of mine for years. (This year I felt like I was in slow motion watching the seasons go by, first hyacinths, then daffodils, then tulips, then clematis, then roses, then rose of Sharon, then chrysanthemums.  Instead of a beautifully manicured yard, I mostly grew weeds.  That has never happened before.)

♥My desire to cook and try new recipes.  (I find I can hardly make myself think about what to make for dinner every night, and the simpler and easier the better.)

♥My desire to write. (Before my carbon monoxide accident I had so many ideas of what to write about on my blog each week that I had to keep a running list so I wouldn't forget my ideas.  Currently I have an occasional idea, and it takes me forever to get up the mental energy to sit down and write about it.  I tend to abandon my ideas part-way through writing, or not finish the blog.)

♥And lastly is my enthusiasm for goal setting and accomplishing.   I didn't do any for months after the accident, and now I have only one or two.  The intensity and drive I had before are currently MIA.

As I write this it occurs to me that the parts of me that are wilted ALL have to do with creativity - creating a beautiful yard, creating fun new meals, creative writing, and creating a better life through personal improvement.  The part of me that has wilted is creativity, and I want it back!  How can a carbon monoxide accident do that?  In researching, I can find nothing about this side effect at all.  Yet here it is.

My experience as a nurse tells me that whatever improvement a patient is able to make in the first year after any kind of accident is most likely what they will permanently have, though there are exceptions of course.  It has been 6 months.  I do desperately want these parts of myself to return and thrive as they did before.

Recently I re-did the planter by my front door with new plants for the spring.   The old ones had wilted.  (It took a lot of mental energy just to make myself do that)  I am hoping to revive the wilted parts of myself, to nurture them and coax them back to health, but if not perhaps something new can grow in its place.  Only time will tell.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Lightening Those Burdens Before You Break

We have two peach trees in our yard.  Years ago when I was new to having fruit trees and growing fruit I neglected to thin my peaches when they were little.  One day when the peaches were almost ready to harvest I went outside to find that a major branch had broken off, taking with it a large number of peaches.  It was a devastating loss, and the tree has never completely recovered on that side where the branch broke.

Ever since then I thin my peaches, and when the peaches grow large, just before they are ready to harvest, I walk around and prop up any branches that might look heavily weighed down.  My husband made these wonderful branch supports out of wood specifically for this purpose.  They give the tree support so it can bear the weight of the heavy fruit without the branches breaking.

At times in my life I have felt like my peach trees in the fall, heavily weighed down and feeling like some of the branches of my life may break under the weight.  In order to prevent this from happening, I have learned the hard way to get some support.  Not being a tree, the wooden kind of support would be of no use, lol!  Humans need a completely different kind of support when life feels heavy!

What kind of support does a human need when life feels heavy and we fear we may not be able to bear the weight of our burdens?  I have had to actually reason this out in my mind and then actively seek the support I needed.  For me this came in 3 forms.  First was the support that came from sharing.  Somehow telling the right person about the burden, someone who is willing to listen and seek to understand, helps lighten the load.  Pick this support carefully.  You don't want to unload and have someone else carrying your burden.  A good support person knows how to listen and is able to do so without taking on your weight themselves.  Miraculous how this works!  And so I found the right one or two people to share my weighted life with.  It lightened my load.

Another form of support that has worked well for me is turning to my higher power.  When I do this, when I tell all my worries and burdens to my higher power and then sit still and listen and feel, burdens can be lifted and replaced by great peace.  That is a promise.  There is no better support.

My third and final form of support was to write.  Sometimes journaling is an excellent support.  Another form of writing is what I call "write and burn".  It gets that negative, stressed, worried energy out of your body and onto the paper.  I chose to write everything that was hard.  When I had written all that I could think of, I took the paper outside, read it out loud so the energy went out into the air, then crumpled up the paper and burned it in a pie tin.  As I watched that paper burning I envisioned my worries evaporating with the smoke from the flames.  When nothing was left but ashes I imagined the same was true of my burdens.  This unusual tool works wonders!

Three forms of support! I cannot change my situation, but I can change how I feel about it, whether or not I am weighed down by it, and what I do about it.  I can take steps to keep from breaking under the weight.

Is there something in your life that is weighing heavily upon you?  What is so heavy that you worry you will break?  Be honest with yourself about what you need.  Do not sit there and hope someone will come to support you.  You must actively work to put supports in place for yourself, whether it be seeking out a safe support person, talking to your higher power, getting your feelings out on paper, journaling, or some other way, get the positive support you need.  It will make a huge difference.
The weight of the burden is lifted.  The support makes the weight bearable, which makes all the difference!

Monday, July 16, 2018

I Know Why I'm Here, Do You?

Last week I shared with you that I had finally figured out why I am here and how I am to be changed by my brush with death in April.  I promised to share that answer with you this week.  As I do, please keep in mind that this answer is tailored for me.  Each of our answers to this same question might be different, just as we are all different and unique.  I am simply sharing with you my friends, in hopes of inspiring you to find your own answers to these questions:

"Why am I here?" 
"How should my life be different going forward?"

As I told you in my last blog, my answer came suddenly and unexpectedly after weeks of searching and asking.  I will tell you up front that my answer is not an all-inclusive map for the rest of my life, simply an answer at the moment of what I need to do, and how to spend my energy.   And so I share what is deep in my heart.  Here goes:

I am still here because......God wants me to learn more, grow more, teach more, be a light to others, be a help to others.  Basically be a drop in the bucket to make the world a better place.

How am I to be different because of my experience? Perhaps I can answer this best by describing my perspective shift.  I used to get up in the morning with a list of things I needed to do that day.  Then I would pray and ask God what did he want me to do that day?  It was my day, but I was willing to do something for God during it. I would add it to my list, and work to accomplish everything on my list for that day.  I almost never got it all done, and sometimes the thing I felt prompted about didn't happen either.

Now I get up in the morning and realize it is a gift just to be here and alive, a gift God did not have to give me.  My day is His, not my own.  I pray and ask Him how He would like me to use the gift he has given me today.  I listen closely and intently for direction.  I write it down.  I make it my top priority, even if it is something that will be done later in the day.  It is my main objective.  I then fill in with the everyday things that we all do to keep life moving along. 

In the past my day used to be about accomplishing tasks.  Now my day is about doing whatever God prompts me to do, and it is so much more meaningful. Contrast this last Monday for example.  What felt meaningful to do was take my son to lunch, spend time listening to another child, and get direction about what to teach at a rehab center.  Contrast that with times past where my main goals for a Monday would have been to do laundry, mow the lawn, and figure out meals for the week.  What is more meaningful at the end of the day?  I want no regrets.  Do I still have to do laundry, mow, and figure out menus?  Of course!  But they are not the focus of my day that gives my life meaning.  Building relationships, meeting needs, being a light to whomever I can - these are the new focus of my day that gives my life meaning.

If you are asking yourself these same questions, and looking for meaning in your life - spend some time looking for the answers.  Sometimes it takes a while to get them, but be persistent.  You don't need to almost lose your life to wake up and do something more meaningful.  Learn from my experience and find that greater joy now.  The answers are inside of you.  Like I shared last week, you can coax them out, you just have to want it bad enough to spend the energy hunting.

Monday, July 9, 2018

How Answers Come

Answers to questions we are searching for in our lives come in many different forms and in a variety of timetables.  Some answers come through meditation and pondering, some through research, some through prayer, or a combination of these.  Sometimes answers come quickly.  Others take years.

Since my carbon monoxide accident in April I have been searching for the answer to the question of "why am I still here?".  I wrote in one of my recent blogs that "All the thoughts and emotions inside of me are like a large pile of tangled yarn in front of me that I feel compelled to unravel, as though I can't really do anything else until that is sorted out."  In my mind I have been trying to untangle this pile of yarn that is  my life for the past nine weeks.  I have been trying to figure out how my life is to be different because of this experience, for truly all experiences change us in one way or the other.  As I was walking with a friend on Friday we were talking about my experience.  She asked me if I had figured out why I am still here and how I am changed.  As I began to talk, the answer came to me.  So strange!  Would you believe that I did not know the answer until I said it?  I have been pondering on this for weeks, and suddenly, in the moment, the answer comes.  It was as though my brain had the answer all along, but didn't reveal it until I opened my mouth and let it out.  In an instant what my subconscious brain knew became public knowledge to my consciousness!  I have had this happen before, but not in such a dramatic way.

You have probably heard the idea that all the answers to everything we ever need are within us.  This thought is taught by many of the great thinkers of our time, as well as times past.  I believe it, and yet I had not experienced it, at least not in such a stark way.  Life coaches and therapists are excellent examples of this theory.  They listen to their clients, and ask questions, but do not provide solutions or answers.  They help their clients coach the answers out from inside themselves.  How is this possible?  I don't know.  I just know that it is.   Meditation and pondering, and prayer to a higher power are major ways to coach answers from inside us to become public to our own consciousness.  Talking through the dilemmas and questions in our lives is another way.

What questions are you seeking in your life right now?  Do you believe the answer lies within you, or that your higher power will lead you to it?  There is no need to trust me or anyone else, but simply put it to the test.  Try one of the following:

-Pray and ask for direction, then be quiet and listen not with your ears but with your heart and soul.  Keep a paper and pen close by to write down any thoughts that come.

-Meditate.  This may involve a prayer to start it, then sitting in a relaxed position with eyes closed and mind clear of all but the question.  Keep a paper and pen close by to write down any thoughts that come.

-Pondering.  Pondering is different than meditating in that instead of clearing your mind except for a single thought you are actively thinking about your question and possible solutions, like trying to solve a puzzle.  Keep a paper and pen close by to write down any thought that come.

 - Talking it out.  This can be with another person, or even just with yourself.  I have a friend who literally thinks out loud, often as she is walking around outside her house.  This does not look as strange as it used to since blue tooth earpieces have been invented, lol!  She is actually able to get a lot of clarity and direction by talking out loud.  If you know someone who is a good listener, spending time talking with them can be a great way to find answers.  Keep a paper and pen close by to write down any thoughts that come.

Whatever way you choose to search for answers to your question, know that given time and patience,  answers will come.  They may come by inspiration, pondering, meditating or talking, but they will come.  You just have to be willing to hunt for them.

p.s.  Stay tuned for my next blog to find out WHY I am still here and HOW my life is to be different.

Sunday, June 24, 2018


Have you ever noticed that the pansy flower is one of the very few flowers that you can plant in the fall and it will live throughout the winter and bloom in the spring and into the summer.  The flower itself looks very fragile and delicate yet it can weather the harsh and cold winter like almost no other annual flower can.

Last year I planted pansies in a planter by my front door.  I had not planted them in the fall before, and because they were close by I watched what they did throughout the winter and into the warm season.

I noticed that the flowers did not grow in the winter, but neither did they freeze and die.  They kept their heads bent, stayed low to the ground and waited out the winter.  When spring came they put their little heads up and began to grow and thrive again.  And what came was beautiful!

I have been thinking about how we are like these wonderful plants that can withstand so much.

When I had my near-fatal carbon monoxide accident 2 months ago today I was so glad to survive.  Strangely though, the experience put me into a winter of sorts.  I felt stopped in my tracks, as though I needed to just hunker down and survive.  I stopped working on goals, stopped reading, stopped blogging, stopped doing things I normally love.  I stopped growing.  I needed to just put my head down, survive, and live through the storm of physical and emotional winter that had hit my life.

Now I feel like it is beginning to be spring again.  I feel like I am starting to put my head up, feel the sun's warmth again, and start growing and blooming into who I am supposed to be again.

We all have times in our lives when everything is warm and sunny as well as times when it feels like the dark cold of winter, and it is all we can do to hunker down and weather life's harsh cold storms.

Remember that the spring always comes again sooner or later to warm up our lives and help us bloom into what we are intended to be.  Keeping that hope alive during the winters in our lives makes all the difference.  Spring will come.  It always does eventually.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

I Can Only Imagine

It has been two weeks since my brush with death.  Three days before that my husband and I went to see the movie "I Can Only Imagine".   In part, the lyrics to the theme song go:

"Surrounded by your glory what will my heart feel?
Will I dance for you Jesus, or in awe of you be still?
Will I stand in your presence, or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing hallelujah?  Will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine.  I can only imagine."

I almost got to experience that rather than imagine it.  I almost got to answer the questions in the song. 

In the days since the carbon monoxide accident I have spent a lot of time thinking about and appreciating all the things I almost never got to do again; things like snuggling up in my bed in a comfortable position, feeling the carpet under my feet and walking through my house.  I almost never again got to again kiss my husband or lay on his chest and listen to his heart beat as I drift off to sleep.  I almost never again got to experience in this life hugging each of my children and grandchildren and telling them that I love them.  I didn't know that I could've been finished; that all the projects I was in the middle of, the books I was reading and planned to read would never get finished.  I almost never again got to watch another movie, sit on my front porch, plant and water flowers, go to my favorite cupcake place, open a fridge, feel hungry or cook.  I almost never again got to listen to the noisy fan in my bedroom that keeps me cool at night, and all the other things that suddenly in a heartbeat I was almost permanently done doing and would never experience again.  I had just come up with a great new plan to give each weekday a theme.  I was very excited about it.  I had only done it for 2 days.  I almost never got to try out the whole week.

Laying out on the driveway with the paramedics around me, I had no idea how close my brush with death was.  I thought I just needed to get some fresh air and I would be fine.  It wasn't until later when I could think clearly again that I could see the sequence of events that had to play out just right in order for me to still be here.  I was shocked by the reality of how close I had actually come to leaving this life.  It would be a painless way to die really.  You just get dizzy and tired and go to sleep.  The drawback is you don't get to say goodbye.

Why have I been preserved?  Why am I here when others who have experience my same exact thing have not been preserved?  I have been given a second chance at life, and I need to figure out why and do what I've been left here to do. 

When something like this happens everyone is shocked, and then relieved, and then then life moves on.  Life goes back to normal as though it hadn't happened.  For the person it happens to, it is different.  I was shocked.  I am relieved.  I plan to move on.  I don't wish to be stuck. 

I hope to move on permanently changed by this experience.  I hope to move forward with a fresh perspective on the meaning of life and my role in it.  But at the moment, my brain can't really take in all that has happened and what it all means.  All the thoughts and emotions inside of me are like a large pile of tangled yarn in front of me that I feel compelled to unravel, as though I can't really do anything else until that is sorted out.  And so I give myself permission to have time and space to do that.  I give myself permission to not finish my self-help book, not plant a vegetable garden for the first time ever, not focus on my goals for a while, not push myself.  Just sit.  Just sit and figure out why I am here.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

My Almost Last Day

Tuesday, April 24, 2018 was my almost last day.  It started out differently than normal.  During the night I had dreamed that my dad had died and had come to talk to me in my room.  I don't remember what he said in my dream, but he was very serious and did not smile.  Then he faded slowly until I could not see him.  When I woke up Tuesday morning I felt a great urgency to go to the temple.  I had planned to go sometime during the day, but had not decided when.  I felt the urgency so much that I did not eat breakfast or put my makeup on.  I just prayed, got dressed and went.

When I arrived at the temple I wanted to be in the area where I knew my dad would be working that day.  I still felt the urge to hurry, so I changed and went to the area where he was.  I was ushered into the room where he was working, and was able to give him a quick hug, which made me feel better.   Little did I know that I was the one who would almost die that day. Within just 3-4 minutes my father was needed elsewhere and left the room.  It turns out I was greatly needed that morning to help with the work that was being done, and I was glad I had followed the urge to hurry and get there.  As I left the temple later, I felt very glad that I had come when I did.  I was needed at the particular time AND I got to see my dad.

I spent most of the rest of the morning preparing for a class I was teaching at a nearby drug and alcohol treatment center.  I try to be very in-tune to know what to teach each time I go.  My daughter Madelynn was able to come with me, and we had a great time being with the wonderful warriors there who are fighting for their lives.  It is truly a privilege to know them, and always makes my day when I get to be with them.

Around 4 p.m. my son-in-law Marco showed up to help me.  We are finishing our basement and the plan was to cut our concrete floor to make way for new pipes for a bathroom and kitchen.  He began cutting with his Quickie saw, while my other son and I hooked up and turned on the hose that attaches to the saw to keep the concrete dust down.  Marco was running low on fuel, so I ran to Home Depot to get more.  When I returned there was a lot of water on the floor.  I found our shop vac, hooked it up and began sucking up the water.  By this time Marco had been downstairs cutting for nearly an hour.  I was able to suck up most of the water in about 20 minutes.  At one point I sat on the stairs and watched Marco work, and waited for enough water to accumulate to get up and start working again.  I considered going upstairs to do other things and then come back in a few minutes, but for some reason I decided to just stay and wait.  Soon I was back to sucking water while Marco stopped and evaluated the next place he would need to cut.  When I turned around Marco was laying on his back.  I figured his back was hurting from bending over the saw for so long, but when I went over to him he was non-responsive.  I shook him but he would not wake up.  I reached for my phone but did not have it on me.  I had absolutely no idea where I had left it.  I tore up the stairs and screamed for help, not even knowing if anyone else was home.  Luckily two of my children responded, and my daughter-in-law called 911.  I raced back down to the basement to be with Marco.  I checked him.  His heart was beating and he was breathing.  I tried to wake him.  Finally he awoke and sat up.  He thought maybe his respirator was too tight around his neck and had cut off his circulation.  He didn't think that I needed to send for an ambulance.

When the paramedics arrived 5 big guys came down the stairs.  I told them what had happened and they started to check Marco.  I had been sitting by him, but I was in their way, so one of them took my hand to help me up.  As he did, I suddenly felt very dizzy and could not lift my arm.  Then everything went black.  I could hear the paramedics yelling that we needed to get everyone out, and there was a frantic flurry to lift us and get us up the stairs.  I then lost all consciousness until I was outside on the driveway.  I looked over and Marco was slumped against the leg of a paramedic.  I wanted to lay down so badly, but the paramedic attending to me kept me sitting up most of the time.  I was in and out of consciousness.  I remember worrying about who was going to pick up the grand kids and something about the dinner that was in the crock pot.  I heard the paramedics say we had carbon monoxide poisoning.  I remember being in the ambulance, and that my paramedics name was Trevor and that he wore funny glasses.  I had oxygen on.  Then I was at the emergency room at Utah Valley Hospital.  Someone put an IV in me, and my blood pressure cuff kept squeezing my arm.  They kept asking me the same questions over and over.  I worried about Marco.  They told me he was a few doors down.  More things happened, but it is all very spotty.  I remember my nurse was pregnant, and that someone came in to talk to me about finances since we don't have insurance.  (Yep, we became self-employed on February 1st and didn't get insurance.)  I remember a doctor came in and that he tried to shake my hand but I couldn't lift my arm or keep my eyes open.  I remember that I hated my oxygen mask, but every time I took it off I got very dizzy.

Then they put me in a wheelchair and took Marco and I to another part of the hospital where they had these long clear tubes lined up along one side of the room like something out of an alien science fiction movie.  A nurse helped me change into a hospital gown, and Marco and I were put on gurneys and wheeled into the tubes, where they closed and sealed the doors.  The chambers were then pressurized with oxygen to force the carbon monoxide off of our red blood cells. We had to stay inside for a couple of hours.  Luckily they put on a movie.  We each got our own.  I have tried to remember for the last few hours what movie my son picked out for me.  I finally remember, it was Sleepless in Seattle.  I watched the whole movie, but can hardly remember it.

After we got out of the tubes, called hyperbaric chambers, they did a bunch of tests on us.  They had us put one foot right in front of another, cross our arms, close our eyes and try to keep our balance.  I totally couldn't do it, but before they put us in I couldn't even stand up, so it was still an improvement.  We had to try to count backwards from 100 by 7's, flip our hand back and forth as fast as we could against our other hand, and probably a couple of other tests I can't remember.  I pretty much failed them all, but at least I could walk and stay awake, and respond coherently.

We went back to the hospital early the next morning and spend most of the next day in the hyperbaric chambers watching movies and having lots more tests before we were finally released.

The doctors told us that had Marco been in that basement 10 more minutes he would have died.  We realized that had I gone upstairs instead of sitting and waiting for more water to accumulate and not come back right away, OR if my children Chad and Ashley had not been home to call 911, one or both of us would have died.  We were told that when your blood level reaches 50% carbon monoxide you can die.  Marco's blood level was at 45% when he reached the hospital.  Mine was at 29%.  We were both completely incapacitated.  It happened SO fast.  It did not come on slowly.  We both went from being fine to collapsing in just a few seconds each.  We had no idea that using gas-powered tools indoors could do that.  Please don't make the same mistake we did!

As I think back about my almost last day........ if it would have been my last day it would have been an unusually good one to end on.  I followed promptings, went to the temple, served others, taught good things to great people, spent time with my daughter, and even put dinner in the crock pot.  (I'm never that on the ball)  It would have been a good note to end on, but I am so glad God has allowed me to have the chance to live, to be with my husband, children, grandchildren and friends, and have more good days, bad days, and everything in-between!

For the news clip they did, visit the link below: