One Year

It has been one year.

One year since I found myself gasping for breath, heart racing, sweat pouring down my face, and my vision fading to black. One year since I came back to consciousness on a sidewalk surrounded by strangers. One year since I was rushed to the hospital and admitted to the ICU. One year since I had to deal with insurance companies who did not have my best interests at heart. One year since life on blood thinners as the “new normal.” One year since developing an intense fear of my body and the unseen killer inside me.

And…

It has been one year.

One year since I learned how to stand up for myself against the health care bureaucracy. One year since I renewed a commitment to paying close attention to my body. One year since I offered my gratitude for being given a second chance against a condition that very well could have killed me. One year since I discovered just how intensely I am loved.

It is amazing what gifts one trip around the sun can bring. Not the least of which being the mere fact that I am alive to appreciate it.

May we all thrive.

credit qbg903 freeimages

Photo Credit: qbg903, freeimages.com

 

“I love you, leg,” and other weird things I am saying lately

Ah, the trials and tribulations of being on blood thinners. I hit the therapeutic INR level last Friday, which is fantastic, but then on Tuesday it had dropped back below 2. Coumadin is a tricky, tricky drug. I am a little nervous about it fluctuating this much, but the doctor seems to think that it will be okay eventually. I am going to trust her. My prayers these days are for equilibrium more than anything else.

I participated in an online distance healing event at a friend’s suggestion. I am no expert on Reiki or really any form of nontraditional healing, but I am not the type of person to turn down help or support, no matter what form it takes. One of the things that the facilitator suggested after the session was to create a talisman that would remind me of my intention and goal for the healing process and outcome. I make jewelry, so I have a ton of spare beads just waiting to be used. I rummaged through my collection and found a few with words on them. I reached in the bag and picked three at random and got: “Feel”, “Self” and “Love”

Well, then.

I now am carrying a leather cord in my pocket with those three beads strung onto it. I reach into my pocket now and again, and remind myself that healing takes time. That I am supported. That I am loved. The trick is to provide the same level of support and love to myself that I have been feeling from my networks of friends and family.

This is a particularly difficult challenge right now. I am trying to follow doctor’s orders and do everything I am supposed to do in order to prevent a recurrence. But it is clear to me that the root of my motivation is fear rather than love. Here are some irrational thoughts that keep spinning through my head:

My body tried to kill me. I don’t trust my insides right now. What was that twinge? Why is my heart beating too fast? When am I going to collapse again? I’m feeling light-headed, so therefore I am about to die. I am never going to get better. How can I be more active when there’s a blood clot waiting to move to my heart? My body tried to kill me.

This kind of talk isn’t helping anyone, especially me, and it’s just serving to increase my anxiety levels at a time where I really need to relax.

I am scheduled to teach a path/class next February which will have a major focus on self-love and being conscious of being in the present moment. When I agreed to teach this work, I was thinking more along the lines of perception and emotions rather than physicality. This health scare experience is opening up an entirely new way of viewing my relationship to my body and self-love. It’s not about loving myself so I can be more confident and move through the world with a greater sense of ease and openness to sharing love with others (while an absolutely worthy goal) — it’s about loving my body despite the fact that I am currently afraid of it.

My new doctor (who is wonderful) joked that now that I’ve been through something like this, I will be calling her every time I have a runny nose. And it’s true that every twitch or twinge or discomfort has me worried that I am suddenly going to collapse and be taken back to the hospital or something worse. I am attempting to reframe those twitches and twinges as signs that my body is just trying to communicate with my brain to let me know how to adjust so I can be more physically in balance. So the current focus of my personal work is to attempt to consciously love parts of my body that I am afraid of.

Admittedly, it’s a little strange to say, “I love you, right leg.” But I am doing it. Saying it enough might even make it true. It’s even stranger to say, “I even love the blood clot you’re currently holding, because it reminds me that life is sacred and therefore needs to be lived fully.”

It’s a work in progress. What a gift to be alive to work on it.

Risk Perspective

I’m in to week 3 of my online class on entrepreneurship over at Coursera.org. We will shift into macroeconomics soon (eek!) but right now we’re primarily focusing on the behavior, mindset and motivation of successful entrepreneurs.

Nearly every video lecture mentions something about risk behavior, which makes sense … this is a course on entrepreneurship, and starting a business in the current economic climate is certainly a gamble. The instructor argues that while a certain level of comfort with risk is necessary, there are other traits that a successful business owner has that mitigate a tendency toward recklessness. I won’t bore you with all the details – but one of the most interesting things that I learned is that an entrepreneur is not more prone to taking risks than a non-entrepreneur. I had assumed the opposite, and was actually a little nervous about whether or not I have the right kind of mindset to start my own business. But my professor cited studies on the subject, and those findings showed that one group was not any more likely to take risks than the other group.

The difference between risk-taking between entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs is not frequency … it’s perspective. A whole new world has opened up to me, even if it seems kind of obvious in hindsight.

Non-entrepreneurs, or at least folks less likely to start a business, view leaving a comfortable job with a steady paycheck and benefits as huge risk. Note I say “comfortable” and not “good.” The job may not match their personality or even their ethics – but it is providing a level of comfort that would be too difficult to leave without something else stable lined up. I am currently in a “comfortable” job, for instance. I make decent money, I know the ropes, I have benefits, and there is a certain measure of job security in my current position. But it is far from a “good job” in that the atmosphere is out of alignment with my values, and I really dislike what I do. But hey… paycheck, right?

The fact that my skin crawls when I think about staying in this job for any longer than I have to makes me think that I might actually have an entrepreneurial world-view after all. Folks that leave secure jobs and start businesses tend to see what’s at risk entirely differently. It’s a bigger risk to stay. I can’t picture myself in this job or even this field 10 years from now. I don’t see any advancement opportunities, nor do I have any desire to advance even if I could. The risk is losing my soul, my passion, and my drive all because I am giving my energy to something I don’t care very much about.

What’s more – I don’t think this would end if I found a new gig. I find it very difficult to picture myself in any position where I am beholden to anyone but my clients and customers. I struggle to imagine a fabulous job that involves a desk in an office. I don’t get excited at the prospect of selling myself to a new manager. I can’t think of anyone who enjoys job-hunting, but I’m not even excited about the end result of a job hunt.

What does excite me — generating passion and desire for a creative project. Seeing new and unique ways to approach a problem and then having the free rein to implement them. Having fun, even when the work is tedious, because the end result means something. I know there are any number of companies where that kind of environment exists – and if I find one, I will be very tempted to join them if they’ll have me. But honestly? I want to do it myself.

So do I have the skills to pull this off? Maybe. There are definitely some traits I need to hone before I start a solo venture. But do I have the mindset? Definitely… because I truly believe it’s more dangerous to stay where I am. I need to risk in order to thrive.

And good gods, that’s scary. But what’s scarier still… complacency. That remains my greatest challenge and fear. And what’s risk if not facing fear and acting anyway?