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Expect Delayes (yep)

I was certain my brother would be my kidney donor. Even though we didn’t yet have a surgery date we assumed it would move forward. He tested as a good match; it was just up to the surgeons to review. We cleared our calendars and prepared for hospitalization. I told at least a couple of dozen people that I would likely get a kidney transplant in August. I turned down work opportunities.

And then, my brother uncharacteristically showed up at my house in the middle of his workday. I just knew. We went to Jamba Juice and everything seemed happy until we were sitting on my deck in the sunshine and he said he had bad news. After months of tests and jumping through hoops the surgeon called Matt yesterday to say they aren’t comfortable with the level of risk associated with putting his kidney in my body. We’re unclear why. The problem could be my damaged anatomy or the complications of his multiple renal arteries – both of which we had been forewarned about. Mostly likely it’s a combination. We’re waiting for more information.

Meanwhile I’m trying to get my head around this disappointment. Before meeting up with my brother I was at a Toastmasters meeting sharing my ‘Living 5 Rules’. I assumed I would miss next week’s meeting because I would get a call saying we were moving forward with the transplant. I already knew that an Operating Room was available. On the way home road construction blocked my usual route. A large warning sign blinked – “EXPECT DELAYES” spelled just like that. I laughed while thinking, “Apparently there was a delay in 5th grade English!” All together I felt very smart.

I came home to learn that I should expect delays. Life is like that. We think we have all the answers. We’ve worked out the plan in our heads and scoff at the warning signs. We are so smart. But that doesn’t change the need to be flexible and EXPECT DELAYES – while keeping a sense of humor.

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The Price is Right

What is your life worth?

To the medical community the price for my life last year was $2.3 million. The cash register continues to ring regularly.

Money isn’t all that has been paid. The price for my LIFE was a deeply costly sacrifice on many fronts….

  • Over $54,000 from 440 donors.
  • My once strong and capable body.
  • My formerly easily agile mind.
  • A successful and much loved career.
  • A house that I designed and now can’t live in longterm.
  • Friendships that were damaged, destroyed or at minimum affected.
  • My family’s plans both financially and experientially.
  • Our sense of security.
  • My dignity
  • My dreams

It’s a sobering, even depressing list that I wrote during my lowest point emotionally. It helped me draw one critical conclusion. Many people have sacrificed greatly and paid a heavy price. For what? ME. How can I not also see a spiritual parallel? A tremendous price has been paid to save ME.

Now I can shrivel up in a corner, feeing sorry for myself. Or I can boldly embrace that I am worthy of such a steep price and then ACT LIKE IT. Only then can I turn the enormous investment into compounded value for others.

My ‘problems’ aren’t worse than yours. Just more dramatic. Make your own list. What sacrifices have you and others made so that you can contribute to the world? That is really what it’s about. You and I have been helped along so that we can CONTRIBUTE. The world needs what only you can uniquely bring and you can be sure a price has been paid. Know that and ACT LIKE IT. No matter how steep the cost, your contribution ensures the price is right.

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The Miracle of Presence

How many times have you sat with someone and although they are right there with you and have said nothing you can feel the detachment? Perhaps you said or thought, “You are a million miles away.”

How often have you been having a conversation with someone but their head is on a swivel. Your brain is screaming “I’m right here!” but they aren’t right there, even though it’s to you that they are speaking. They’re looking for the next opportunity or a bigger fish or an excuse to escape this uncomfortable conversation. Conventions and trade shows are particularly rife with this lack of presence.

And then there’s this…. Have you been alone in the quiet and even then unable to feel ‘present’? Your mind is a million miles away and the uncomfortable conversation you can’t escape is the chatter of your own conflicted thoughts. Read more

Reaching Through the Pain

photo credit: Render’s Photography

Every day I wake up hurting. I start my day with the eye opening reminder that this is real. It wasn’t a bad dream. I don’t think it’s different than any other kind of pain though. The loss of a loved one or a job or a dream. Pain is all around.

For me, it’s both physical and emotional. And I am so very tired. All the time. Hurting is a lonely feeling. For everyone. We hunker down alone and wait to heal. Then we wonder why we feel so alone even when surrounded by people.

Pain is an egocentric experience. It causes us to focus inward instead of reaching out around us. But I know, the more I reach out to people, even if it’s just a smile, the less lonely I feel in my experience of pain. It isn’t that others understand or that I even expect them to. It’s that I’m simply less egocentric when I reach out.

Rule #1: It’s Not About You. Not even when you’re suffering.

Rule #2: You Have to Actually Care.

I am reminded that I created those rules at a time years ago when I was suffering a different kind of drama. I had to perform shows when all I wanted to do was stay curled up in my trailer crying. But the show must go on, especially when my livelihood depended on getting out of the trailer with a smile. So I wiped my tears, looked in the mirror, and chanted those first two rules. Then I opened the door, faced my audience and boldly embraced the rules. I did that day after day and began to see how consistently I felt better, less in pain, by practicing a compassionate outward directed focus. As a bonus the shows benefitted greatly!

Years later I am still needing constant reminders of this simple lesson. Reaching out with a compassionate heart won’t cure the pain, but it’s the best medicine for the loneliness of suffering.