WHAT HAPPENED WHEN I DIED

I APOLOGIZE FOR LEAVING YOU GUYS WONDERING, BUT I MADE IT THROUGH THE OPEN HEART SURGERY! WELL, KIND OF. THERE WAS ACTUALLY A MOMENT COMING OUT OF IT THAT DID NOT GO SO WELL. ONE OF THOSE MOMENTS THAT WILL STICK WITH ME FOR QUITE SOME TIME.

I AM CURRENTLY WORKING ON A BOOK THAT WILL DETAIL MY ENTIRE JOURNEY THROUGH THIS MEDICAL ADVENTURE, BUT I’M GOING TO SHARE THE PIVOTAL MOMENT WITH YOU HERE. THAT WOULD BE THE MOMENT I ALMOST DIDN’T MAKE IT BACK.

WHILE HAVING MY HEART SLICED AND DICED, I OBVIOUSLY HAD TO BE ON A BREATHING TUBE. THE FIRST THING I REMEMBER POST SURGERY WAS A NURSE SCREAMING “YOU HAVE TO BREATHE NEIL!” I REMEMBER DOING SO WITH A TUBE STUCK DOWN MY THROAT WAS QUITE DIFFICULT. THIS VOICE CAME FROM MY RIGHT SIDE. FROM MY LEFT SIDE I HEARD A FEMALE VOICE SAY “JUST RELAX” THIS SEEMED MORE UP MY ALLEY.

AS SOON AS I STARTED TO RELAX THINGS WENT BLACK AND I FELT RELAXED. THIS WAS PROMPTLY INTERRUPTED BY THE NURSE ON MY RIGHT SCREAMING “WE NEED YOU TO BREATHE” IN WHICH CASE I COULD FEEL THE DISCOMFORT OF THE TUBE IN MY THROAT. THIS WENT BACK AND FORTH FOR SOME UNDETERMINED AMOUNT OF TIME. FINALLY, THE NURSE ON THE RIGHT SAID “WE NEED YOU TO BREATHE DEEP IF YOU WANT THIS TUBE OUT!” NOW SHE WAS SPEAKING MY LANGUAGE.

I RECALL SUCKING ON AS THE TUBE SLID OUT. I THEN RECALL THE NURSE YELLING THEY NEEDED NARCAN. FADE TO BLACK.

I WOKE UP MOMENTS LATER BEING WHEELED DOWN A HALLWAY. “WHERE ARE WE GOING?” I ASKED. I WAS INFORMED I WAS GOING TO ICU TO RECOVER. THAT WAS PART TRUE. ICU – YES. RECOVERY- DIDN’T FEEL LIKE IT. THE NARCAN THEY GAVE ME TO BRING ME BACK IN THE OPERATING ROOM, SHUT DOWN THE RECEPTORS TO OPOIDS IN MY BRAIN. GOOD FOR AN ADDICT, NOT SO GOOD FOR SOMEONE JUST OUT OF HEART SURGERY.

THE EVENING OF MY SURGERY I LAID IN BED WITH 2, 12″ TUBES IN MY CHEST, WIRES COMING OUT OF MY CHEST, A CATHETER (WHICH IS ALWAYS HUMBLING) AND NO PAIN MEDICINE. OH, THEY TRIED GIVING ME SOME WHICH CAUSED ME TO GET SICK ON 4 SEPARATE OCCASIONS. CONSIDERING IN THE 48 HOURS LEADING UP TO THAT I HAD JUST CONSUMED WATER, THIS COULD HAVE BEEN A LOT WORSE. PLUS, GETTING SICK WITH TUBES IN YOUR CHEST AND JUST BEING STITCHED UP IS A WHOLE DIFFERENT ADVENTURE.

TALKING TO THE RESPIRATORY NURSE A FEW DAYS LATER, SHE INFORMED ME SHE WAS THE VOICE I HEARD YELLING ON MY RIGHT SIDE TO BREATHE AND THE ONE WHO REMOVED MY BREATHING TUBE. I THEN ASKED WHO WAS THE VOICE ON MY LEFT TELLING ME TO RELAX. I WAS INFORMED THERE WAS NO VOICE. YET, I RECALL HEARING IT CLEAR AS CAN BE. WHO THAT WAS WE WILL NEVER KNOW.

WHAT I WILL LEAVE FROM THIS EXPERIENCE IS THAT IF I CAN MAKE IT THROUGH OPEN HEART SURGERY WITHOUT PAIN PILLS, I CAN PRETTY MUCH DO ANYTHING. THANKS TO THE BRILLIANT WORK OF THE DOCTORS AND NURSES, I AM SO HERE AND EAGER TO BRING YOU EVERYTHING I CAN!

BY THE TIME YOU READ THIS, I’LL BE DEAD

Yes, you read that right. As I am typing these words, it is a little over 12 hours until my heart will cease to beat. You see, I am to undergo open-heart surgery. I have an aneurysm on the aorta in my heart and it needs to be repaired. Kind of a replace that pipe with this one sort of thing. In order to do that, they will need to cut open my rib cage, stop my heart and do a little slicing and dicing. I will be hooked up to machines to keep things moving I am told. However, for a brief period of time, everything will be shut down. That’s right folks, the store will be temporarily closed.

It is my sincerest desire that they will be able to jump start me and get the whole machinery up and running again. Making me a sort of modern day Lazarus, if you will. There are things about this whole procedure that make me a tad unsettled, but even more that have me intrigued. In the brief moments my life will have expired, will I see anything? A light? A guy with horns and a pitchfork? Maybe Buddha will come and give me some sage advice? Maybe Bob Marley will come and jam for me? That would actually be kind of cool. Does this mean I technically have 2 birthdays now? The one I came into this world on, July 29th and now the one I came back on, January 11th? I never was a big fan of winter, so perhaps having a birthday might give me a little something to look forward to.

Being that this may be the last collection of wisdom I am able to share with all of you, I wanted to distill what I think would be important. Ironically, the first thing that popped in my mind was a line I always heard a game show host use – “Be kind to yourself and each other.” In my mind, that is what it all boils down to. When we learn to love ourselves, we can afford more compassion and understanding for others. I think it is very important to make this a lifetime project and to start that project today. Whether you are 8 or 80, we all can learn about how to love ourselves and be kind to one another. In the very unlikely chance that I do not make it through this, I am determined to haunt those I care about. Not in the usual way. No, I would be the ghost that would whisper “You can do it!” when someone is feeling down on themselves. The little mysterious voice that lets everyone know that someone believes in them.

As I wrote those words, it occurred to me that we can, and should be, that voice while we are alive as well. The simple words, “I believe in you.” can make almost anyone’s heart soar. Much like the lessons we learned on appreciating each other last week, letting someone know you believe in them can change their world and all it will cost you is a breath and a second of your time.

When you are faced with a situation such as having heart surgery, it certainly causes you a moment of reflection. I looked back on my life and there was a lot of things that I shook my head at. I am sure we all have those. “Why did I say that?” “Why did I treat that person so harshly?” we all know those thoughts. What I did notice that gave me a great deal of peace, is that I worked on getting better every day. Sure, I might have done a lot wrong up to this point. I might continue to do some wrong in the future. What is true is that every day I tried to correct the mistakes I had made that day and to become a better version of myself. Not only did this benefit the world and those around me, but in a moment where you are quite honestly looking in the eyes of death, that is something that gives your soul some peace. With that thought in mind, I implore all of you to work on getting a little bit better every day. The world will thank you. Those around you will thank you. Most importantly, your soul will thank you.

As far as what will happen when they cut me open. What will I see? What has this whole journey been like? I am currently writing a book about the entire thing and it should be available in April of 2022 if everything goes according to plan. In regards to improving yourself and becoming the best version of you, that can be found in my 2 books, A Happy Life for Busy People and Living the Dream. Both of which you can find on the link below this post. I hope to see you all on the other side. Remember I believe in you and to love yourself and each other!

CLICK HERE TO GAIN ACCESS TO MY BOOKS

DO IT NOW!!!

I am about to go through some intense personal issue. More about that in tomorrow’s post. To help my thinking through this challenge, and to help those who may share the same challenge behind me, I am writing a book about the entire journey. While doing so, I recalled something that got me through some of the toughest periods of my life. It wasn’t so much one thing as several things that could be included under one major activity. That one activity that helped me more than anything was working on improving myself.

If 2020 taught us anything, it is that the world can be turned upside down in a second. It can also do so with little or no warning. Take having to quarantine. Early in March of 2020, Margie and I had to spend 14 days locked in our house together. At that point, they knew little of the pandemic that was to sweep the nation and the world. It was fortunate for us that we had worked on our relationship non-stop up to that point. In doing so, we were able to enjoy the time we spent together and it felt like one big sleep over. In fact, we were a little sad to have it end and have me return back to work.

The sad part of the story is that many couples were not this lucky. I personally know of a few that ended up splitting up after being forced to spend more time in close physical space together than they were used to. These couples never spent the effort to continue to work on their relationship and help it to grow and evolve. Things such as working on healthy communication, conflict resolution and just really listening to your partner can come in handy in situations like this.

The same can be said for a health challenge. If you are faced with a needed procedure or surgery, it is a little late to worry about whipping yourself into shape. When the doctor tells you that your arteries are blocked and you need emergency surgery, it is a little late to think about eating more oatmeal and less burgers. There is a quote that says “It is better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one, than to have one and not be prepared.” The same is true with a challenge. That is why I encourage you all to work on improving yourself and your life today. Find fun and enjoyable ways to become the best version of yourself. Even if your world doesn’t turn upside down, you will still be better prepared for any opportunity that comes your way.

AS THE WEEK ENDS…

THE WEEK IS OVER. MOST OF US ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO THE WEEKEND.  THERE ARE PLENTY OF THINGS WE SHOULD CARRY INTO THE WEEK WITH US. WE SHOULD CHERISH THE GREAT MEMORIES WITH LOVED ONES. WE SHOULD REMEMBER AND FEEL ALL THAT WE HAVE TO BE GRATEFUL FOR. WE SHOULD ALSO MAKE GOOD USE OF THE LESSONS WE LEARNED. WHAT WE SHOULD LEAVE BEHIND IS ALL THE NEGATIVITY. WHY HANG ON TO SOMETHING THAT WILL END UP WEIGHING US DONE? LEAVE THAT IN THE PAST.

AS FOR GOING BEAST MODE WHEN IT COMES TO HAPPINESS, IT CAN OFTEN TAKE THAT AMOUNT OF EFFORT TO MAINTAIN A POSITIVE ATTITUDE. DON’T BELIEVE ME? TRY TO GO 24 HOURS WITHOUT A SINGLE NEGATIVE THOUGHT. HOW FAR DO YOU THINK YOU WOULD GET? SOMETIMES THE EFFORT HAS TO COME BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR OWN MIND.

THIS WEEKEND, SEARCH FOR THE LIGHT AND LEAVE THE DARKNESS BEHIND!! GO BEAST MODE AND SHOW THE WORLD, AND YOURSELF THAT YOU DESERVE TO BE HAPPY!

NEW YEAR – NEW HABITS

HERE IS AN IDEA OF A FEW HABITS WE CAN SWAP OUT. I WOULDN’T APPROACH THIS AS “SACRIFICING SOMETHING”, MORE LIKE ADDING SOMETHING DIFFERENT. NEXT TIME YOU’RE TEMPTED TO PICK UP A QUICK BURGER ON THE WAY HOME, KEEP DRIVING AND MAKE YOURSELF A LITTLE SOMETHING HEALTHIER AT HOME. YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO THIS ALL THE TIME, BUT TRY IT AS OFTEN AS YOU CAN.

SO MANY OF OUR LIFESTYLE CHOICES ARE DOWN TO HABIT. IF WE CAN START NEW GOOD ONES, WE WILL AUTOMATICALLY HAVE LESS TIME FOR THE OLD BAD ONES.

THE MAGIC PHRASE

THERE ARE SO MANY PHRASES WE USE DAILY. WE TELL OUR SPOUSE AND THOSE WE CARE ABOUT THAT WE LOVE THEM. WE WISH OUR NEIGHBORS “GOOD MORNING” TO SHOW AND EXPRESS THAT WE WISH THEM WELL. WE SAY “THANK YOU” TO THOSE WHO HAVE ASSISTED US IN SOME FASHION. HOPEFULLY, WE DON’T RESPOND “OF COURSE” TO THOSE WHO THANK US, BUT THAT IS A STORY FOR ANOTHER DAY.

WOULDN’T IT BE GREAT IF THERE WERE A MAGIC PHRASE THAT WE COULD USE? A PHRASE THAT COULD BE USED WITH MANY DIFFERENT PEOPLE, IN MANY DIFFERENT SITUATIONS. TO BE A TRULY MAGICAL PHRASE, IT WOULD ALSO HAVE TO FILL THEM WITH A FEELING OF JOY, SIGNIFICANCE¬† AND RESPECT AND ADMIRATION NOT ONLY FOR THE PERSON SAYING IT TO THEM, BUT FOR THEMSELVES AS WELL?

WELL THERE IS SUCH A MAGIC PHRASE AND I AM GOING TO SHARE IT WITH YOU. FEAR NOT, YOU DO NOT NEED A TOP HAT OR WAND TO USE THIS. WHEN YOU DO USE THIS PHRASE, MAGIC WILL BEGIN TO HAPPEN. YOU WILL FIND YOUR PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS WILL GROW CLOSER. YOU WILL FIND PEOPLE ARE DRAWN TO YOU AND GENUINELY WANT TO BE AROUND YOU. YOU MAY EVEN FIND YOURSELF RECEIVING BETTER SERVICE.

WHAT IS THIS MAGIC PHRASE? THREE SIMPLE WORDS – “I APPRECIATE YOU” THINK OF WHAT THAT PHRASE MEANS. TO BE APPRECIATED MEANS THAT SOMEONE RECOGNIZES THE VALUE IN US AS A PERSON. IT MEANS THEY VALUE NOT ONLY WHAT WE BRING TO THE WORLD, BUT WHO WE ARE. SAY THIS GENUINELY TO YOUR SPOUSE WHEN YOU GET HOME. SIT ACROSS FROM THEM, LOOK THEM IN THE EYES AND SAY “I APPRECIATE YOU” TRY TO THINK OF THE THINGS YOU APPRECIATE ABOUT THEM BEFORE AND DURING THE ACT. WATCH THE EFFECT IT HAS. TRY IT ON YOUR FRIENDS, THE PERSON WHO HELPS YOU AT THE COFFEE SHOP AND ANYONE ELSE YOU APPRECIATE. YOU DON’T NEED TO EXPLAIN WHY, JUST TELL THEM THEY ARE APPRECIATED. I GUARANTEE YOUR LIFE WILL BE FILLED WITH MAGIC.

A QUICK REMINDER ON YOUR SECRET POWER

THIS IS A GREAT EXAMPLE OF THE POWER OF FOCUS. “WHATEVER THE MIND OF MAN CAN CONCEIVE AND BELIEVE, IT CAN ACHIEVE” WHAT ARE YOU FOCUSED ON? DO YOU BELIEVE IT WILL COME TRUE FOR YOU IN TIME?

I SUGGEST THAT WHILE WE WORK ON ACHIEVING ANY WORTHWHILE GOAL, WE ALSO WORK ON INCREASING OUR FOCUS AND BELIEF. BY DOING SO, THE ACHIEVEMENT WILL COME QUICKER AND WITH LESS EFFORT. WHAT DO YOU RECOMMEND DOING TO INCREASE FOCUS AND BELIEF? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW.

DO YOU WANT TO BE AN INFLUENCER?

A LOT OF PEOPLE THESE DAYS HAVE THE GOAL OF BECOMING AN INFLUENCER. THEY SEE THE LAVISH LIFESTYLES OF PEOPLE LIKE THE KARDASHIANS, INTERNET MODELS AND GAMERS AND THINK, “WOULDN’T IT BE GREAT TO HAVE THAT KIND OF INFLUENCE?”

LET US LOOK AT WHAT AN INFLUENCER ACTUALLY IS. SIMPLY DEFINED, IT IS A PERSON WITH A GROUP OF FOLLOWERS WITH WHOM THEY HOLD SWAY AND AFFECT THEIR CHOICES AND ACTIONS. THE STANDARD THOUGHT IS THE GREATER NUMBER OF FOLLOWERS, THE MORE OF A SUCCESSFUL INFLUENCER YOU ARE.

I HAVE TO DISAGREE WITH THAT DEFINITION OF SUCCESS. I CERTAINLY WOULD SAY THAT QUALITY TRUMPS QUANTITY EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK. I BELIEVE THE STRONGER YOUR INFLUENCE AND THE MORE POSITIVE AND INSPIRING IT IS, THE MORE SUCCESSFUL YOU ARE. IF YOU HAVE A MILLION FOLLOWERS, BUT WHAT YOU SAY HAS LITTLE, IF ANY, POSITIVE IMPACT ON THEIR LIVES, YOU ARE NOT A VERY INFLUENTIAL PART OF THEIR LIVES.

HERE IS A GREAT SECRET – YOU ARE ALREADY AN INFLUENCER! WHETHER YOU ARE A BOSS AT WORK, SOMEONE YOUR COWORKERS LOOK FORWARD TO INTERACTING WITH, A PARENT, A GREAT FRIEND OR EVEN JUST SOMEONE WHO HAS CONTACT WITH OTHERS (THAT SHOULD COVER EVERYONE) YOU ARE AN INFLUENCER. HERE IS THE QUESTION, HOW DO YOU INFLUENCE AND IMPACT THEIR LIVES? DO YOU INSPIRE YOUR EMPLOYEES? DO YOU APPRECIATE YOUR COWORKERS? DO YOU ENCOURAGE AND MOTIVATE YOUR CHILDREN? DO YOU SUPPORT YOUR FRIENDS? DO YOU SHOW KINDNESS AND COMPASSION TO STRANGERS AND THOSE YOU INTERACT WITH?

THINK OF HOW YOU INFLUENCE PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE TODAY. EVEN MORE IMPORTANT, PLAN HOW YOU WOULD LIKE TO DO IN THE COMING YEAR.