MINDSET OF THE BEST

If you have followed me for any length of time, you know I am a fan of many different authors and speakers. Today’s post is courtesy of one such individual, David Goggins. David is a raw and real speaker that may be offensive in his language to some. He does, however, have a wealth of knowledge and great information. One of my favorite subjects he speaks on is the mindset of greatness. His best comparison is that of a job interview. When we are first interviewing for a job, what do we do days, weeks or even longer before? We make sure our clothes are ready, have our coffee cup out, a breakfast ready to be made. In short, we are preparing to make it as easy as possible to bring our best self to the interview. It usually works, and we get the job. What happens several months to a year down the line? We no longer put our clothes out the night before. Maybe our breakfast isn’t ready. Perhaps we are a few minutes late because we had to wait for the coffee to brew. We become comfortable. We have the job and so why spend the time doing all of the extras?

This can happen even sooner for some of us. It is a natural sort of progression. Should the company face the prospect of having to downsize, or we hear a rumor that we might lose our job, then we amp up our efforts once again. Of course, once that threat lessens or goes away entirely, we are back to going through the motions of going to work and coming home. Les Brown, another favorite speaker, once said we do enough at a job not to get fired, and they pay us just enough not to quit. That may very well be true. Another fact is that if you are looking to be promoted or to get a raise, all you need to do is to do more work than is required for you. Companies will not want to lose an employee with that mindset. They will do everything they can to hang on to someone who is willing to ‘go the extra mile’.

Our job is not the only place this thinking shows up. One of the places were we tend to do this the most is in our intimate relationships. When we are trying to win someone’s affection, or shortly after we do so, we act a certain way. We send flowers for no reason. We are more likely to do things for that person without complaint. Fast forward being together for years and what happens? We, almost subconsciously, take the relationship, if not the person, for granted. We think to ourselves that area of our life is ‘handled’ and we can place our energy elsewhere. We start to compliment them less. Maybe we show less affection. When they ask us to do something, it feels more like a chore.

Much like our job, if a challenge arises, so do our efforts. If the person we are with suddenly has an attractive new coworker, or maybe they do something that indicates they might be thinking of moving on, then we begin to put more effort into our relationship with them. Maybe we come home with some flowers. We might take time out of our work day to send them a loving text or perhaps a quick call. Once we become comfortable again, our efforts may start to dwindle. If you want a more amazing and deeper relationship, the steps are the same as getting a promotion or raise at work. All we have to do to take our relationships to the next level is go the extra mile. In short, do all of the amazing things we did when we were trying to win them and we will only serve to strengthen and deepen the relationship we have.

A good bonus of this thinking is that there should be more ideas the longer you are together. In the years Margie and I have been together, I have learned many new things that make her happy and feel loved. In some cases, I have been there when she discovered them for herself. I was able to do so by active listening. This means every day I am consciously on the lookout for those things that bring joy to the heart and a smile to the face of the woman I love. This took some effort and reminding myself in the beginning, but now it is second nature to me. The rewards of this have been worth their weight in gold. At any time I have a growing list of things I can do, say or make happen that will not only make her happier, but strengthen and deepen her love for me. I confess, I should probably be doing this more often, but as our love continues to grow so does the opportunities to make it grow.

Don’t worry if you have been guilty of falling into these ruts. We all do so to some degree. The secret is being able to recognize that and to pull ourselves out of them. Another way to look at this – the longer you have been in this rut and the deeper you are, the greater the opportunity for improvement! When you begin to look for and do the little extras, your life, your job and your relationships, both intimate and others, will transform before your eyes! I would love to hear what other areas of your life you feel this could come in handy.

IT PAYS YOU BACK

In the business world, there is often talk of ROI, or return on investment. Meaning, what are you going to receive for the effort, time or money that you are investing in a certain project or person. In many ways, we could benefit greatly by viewing our lives more like a business. ROI can come in handy in lots of areas. Take working out for example. What is the return on investment for spending an hour or so at the gym? Sure, there are sore muscles and the overwhelming need to take a shower. If we consider the long-term ROI, there is a reduction in heart health issues. There is more time, and healthier time to spend with those we love. There is also the fact that bending over to pick something up will not cause us to throw out our back. How about being able to make it up a flight of stairs without a sherpa or oxygen mask?

Another area of life that pays great dividends is being kind. Going the extra mile for others. This is not to say our main motivation for helping others should be to see what we can get out of it. Again, I will quote Earl Nightingale who said we should treat each other as the most important people on the planet for 2 very good reasons. First, because to that person, they are the most important person and second, because that is how we should treat each other. The second reason is what I feel should be our main motivation. When you think of the people in your own life, which ones do you enjoy spending the most time around? The ones who will go the extra mile for you or the ones who are self-centered? Going the extra mile can mean a lot of things. The picture above is a card I received from a coworker after I helped her out. It was a simple thing that took me about 10 minutes to do, but it made a big difference to her. How do you think I felt when she gave me the card? I felt good and appreciated and made my day a little better. That is a great ROI.

This second picture comes from a coffee shop by my work. I stop on the way home on occasion to get a nice refreshing beverage. This day I got a little sandwich too. As busy as they are, they took a second to scribble this little note on the bag. Why would the fellow who did this take the time to thank me and what exactly was he thanking me for? Every day that I come in, I make sure to be kind and cheerful. I appreciate the work that they do and the service they provide me. I do so with the knowledge that I am sure they have customers who do the exact opposite. It is for this reason that I am sure they were thanking me. Once again, when I was expecting just a coffee and a sandwich, how do you think this little note made me feel? If you guessed it lifted my spirits and put a smile on my face, you would be right!

Again, I must say that what you get should not be your main motivation behind doing things. Thinking of what the return on whatever action you are about to take will improve your life. What do you think sending a friend a message letting them know you are thinking about them and appreciate them might be? It would make your friend feel happy. It would probably have them appreciating you as a friend more. They may even return the favor at some point in the future. How about bringing home flowers for the one you love? This would certainly make them feel special. It would show them that you were thinking about them when they were not around and in the future when you do mess up it may end up even helping you. How about being kind in retail settings you find yourself in? Certainly would help the employees day. It may help take the sting out of an experience with a bad customer they might have had. It would also help get you better service next time you are there.

I encourage everyone to take a second and ask themselves, what it the return on the investment I am about to make? If it is eating a doughnut, you might have the ROI of feeling good in the moment, but then what? Would you feel guilty about eating something not so good for you? What would the return on investment be for your health? Same with doing random acts of kindness. You may never see a physical payback for the kind act, but the feeling of self-satisfaction and pride in being a good human is a great return on investment. I would love to hear more examples you can come up with.

YOU ARE DRINKING POISON!

Despite what you may have been told by a cheeto-colored politician, drinking poison is never a good idea. This may seem like an obvious conclusion, but every year the centers for disease control puts out numbers of many people who attempt such activities. For a while, there were even people who ate laundry detergent. You may be thinking to yourself, “Neil, I certainly know better than to drink anything labeled ‘poison’ or ‘for external use only’.” I would certainly hope if you are reading a blog about living an amazing life, you would be doing your best to avoid consuming poison.

Sadly, I am here to tell you that you very well might be consuming poison. In fact, we almost all do on an unconscious basis. I am not suggesting you go under the sink and drink from a bottle as you are sleeping. This poison is something different. It can, however, be just as deadly. This poison is one of an emotional, mental and spiritual nature. This poison can kill our spirit, kill our dreams and if left unchecked long enough, can end up killing us.

This was brought to my attention through a story related to me by a friend. This young lady is removing herself from a relationship that does not serve her and has become toxic. It is a very difficult decision to make. That takes a lot of courage and bravery. I hear a lot of people use phrases like, “We are just staying together for the children.” In my opinion, this is one of the biggest mistakes. Keeping children in a household with an unhealthy relationship can end up with two conclusions. The children can watch the pain, verbal and other abuse or even just the lack of intimacy and think to themselves, “This is what relationships are like? I don’t want one of those!” As bad as this may be, the other conclusion could be even worse. The children end up thinking this is how relationships work and carrying that forward into their own relationships as an adult. It can be tough to have children go through a divorce or separation, but it does show them that preserving your own mental well-being should be a priority.

Much like not drinking poison, leaving an abusive relationship can seem like a no-brainer from the outside, but in the middle of the emotional whirlwind can be far more difficult. How do you know when a relationship is beyond fixing? How do you make it safe and easy to leave? Then there is the subtle things about this poison. It can be a silent and tasteless poison. Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas, but it can still kill you. Arsenic is a tasteless, colorless and odorless poison. It can also mimic a host of other ailments, but in the end it will kill you. This is to say that it can be hard to see how much a situation is poisoning you. This is not only true of relationships. Do you go to a job that kills your soul every day? That is a poison you are slowly taking. Why do we do this? For a simple paycheck and a false sense of security. Friendships that do not serve you in anyway except to bring you down. This people are poisoning your spirit. That is not to say you should approach every friendship with a “What can you do for me?” attitude. If you find yourself feeling drained and depressed anytime you spend time with someone, that person is poisoning your spirit.

Another aspect that might sound crazy to you is that poison can end up tasting good. I know, I know, this sounds crazy but hear me out. Do you think that an addict knows the drugs and alcohol will end up killing them? Deep down, most of them do. Still, their poison feels comfortable, it is what they know. The same can be said for being in a toxic relationship. You know there are better people out there. There are people more aligned with your values and that would treasure you for the amazing person you are. So why not leave the relationship that is not serving you to find one you know is out there and will? I will tell you why, because it is scary as hell to do so! You may doubt yourself and the promise that there is someone who will love you for who you are. Although the situation may be toxic and sometimes can even be abusive, it is familiar. It can be hard to walk away from what we are used to. This is where some advice my friend from the beginning of this article was given comes in handy. When finding herself alone with her thoughts and missing companionship of having someone to share things with was filling her with the temptation to return to the relationship that was not serving her. Lucky for my friend, she has someone who cares deeply for her and reminded her of something I think we could all benefit from – Just because you are thirsty, don’t drink poison.

There are moments in life that can be tough. Relationships have their ups and downs. When they reach a point of becoming toxic or abusive, do not poison yourself. If that job is sucking the life out of your soul, walk away. They would have no problem replacing you, it is not worth the paycheck. That friend that always brings you down? Time to distance yourself my friend. There are many poisons in life that don’t come with warnings. Some, as we deciphered, can be odorless, colorless and tasteless. Some can even taste and feel good in the short term, but the end is still a disaster just the same. Think of your own life. Is there any poison you may be drinking? What negative effect can it be having? Are you drinking it just because you are thirsty?

NOTICE THE BEAUTY AROUND YOU

We can get so busy in our everyday lives that we miss a lot of the amazing beauty that surrounds us. The above picture is one I took while I was waiting at a red light returning from work on my off day. I was lost in my thoughts of everything that I wanted to get done when I got home along with a host of other thoughts. There are some moments I am even surprised I noticed the light is red. I do not know what prompted me to look over to my left, but I saw this face staring at me. There is something about a look that a dog can give you that can cause you to question your own behavior. This is just another reason there are days when I like animals better than a lot of people. I respected this dog’s ability to take in the world around him. Sadly, there are times when I drive to work and when I arrive I wonder who drove. This is made even scarier by the fact that I am the only one in the car.

Here is another example. This photo was taken of a goose waiting to enter the post office where I work. Just the silly nature of the moment was something that very well could have passed me by. In fact, I am sure there are a million of these moments that do pass me by that I fail to notice. We live in a world filled with distraction. If you are stuck in line at the grocery store behind the lady that has not one, but two carts filled to the top (this actually happened this past weekend) instead of taking in the moment, we pull out our phones. When we are driving we have music or an audiobook playing and seldom notice the people, or dogs, around us. In the case of this photo, I was busy doing a little landscaping and may have not even noticed this goose. I just happened to look up at the right time.

One last example. My drive to work now happens somewhere between 5 and 6 am. There is not a lot of traffic and I usually have time to think. I am working on making my thoughts far more positive and productive. Still, there are days when they are filled with thoughts of not wanting to go to work. Most days it also includes how little sleep I received the night before. This is where I was on this particular morning. Lost in thoughts that were not serving me. Suddenly, I stop at a red light on a bridge overlooking a freeway and glance this sunrise. Instead of focusing on all of the things that were not exactly as I wished them to be, I realized how much better my day would start if I focused on all of the things I had to be grateful for. I had a job to go to. There is usually very little stressful traffic at this hour. There was a beautiful sunrise to be seen. I had vision to take in this sunrise. I was driving a car I owned to take me to work. I had a home to return to. The list could have been endless, yet I had already wasted 3/4 of the journey focusing on what I was lacking.

We all know better. We know the quality of our feelings and consequently our life, would be better if only we were to focus on that which we have to be grateful for. We would enjoy and savor life if we were better able to be present and see the beauty and humor like in the first two photos above. If we were to focus on what IS working in our lives and not what is lacking we would feel so much more fulfilled and blessed. If we were to be more present and make an effort to look for the beauty and humor in life, we would enjoy our life so much more. Why don’t we? We are too busy distracting ourselves. We need to take some time to sit with ourselves in silence. We need to block out some time and write down a list of things we are grateful for in our life. We need to read and add to that list daily. We need to say to ourselves, “I am going to look for what is beautiful today.” The distractions we fall victim too not only take us away from doing this, but they often fill our time with negativity. News you receive on your phone, posts you can see on social media and many other distractions can be a terrible disservice to our attempts at living a positive and rewarding life. There is a place and time for these items (although I debate how necessary the news is) let us not let them distract us from living our lives.

MY LITTLE MIRACLE

I ended last week with a post about the local coffee shop and how they helped my spirit through these challenging times. I would be remiss if I did not mention my personal angel, my own little miracle, my beautiful Margie. There have been so many little things she has done throughout my healing journey I am forever grateful for. It actually started even before my surgery when she gifted me a journal and helped me on my journey to create a book about this entire journey. It will be out by July I promise you. This will not only be a benefit to you, the reader, but it helped me capture my emotions and to deal with them in a far healthier way that had I not been writing. She also gave me a shirt that said, “Never thought I would be this good looking after open heart surgery, but here I am killing it”. That is my baby, always making me smile.

She also had some very unenviable tasks. Can you imagine what it is like to live with someone who is used to working at an active job and going to the gym 5 days a week and now has to just relax for 3 months? Can you imagine how much that person may try to sneak and do things that they probably should not? How about how much you would have to cheer this person up when they feel like their healing is not moving along fast enough for their impatient liking. Having to watch the person recovering go through many different episodes of pain and telling them to go back to the hospital when the pain became too much? Especially when you consider that was the last place they wanted to go back to?

During my surgery, I was wrapped up in how scary it was to be in that situation and not be able to have any visitors. It could not have been any easier to know the person you love is going through it and not being able to visit them. Margie handled it all with grace like only she can do. When I returned she made sure I had food to feed my stomach, and provided me love to feed my soul. When we both got the coronavirus shortly after I came home from the hospital, she managed to continue this amazing streak of behavior despite coughing and not feeling well herself.

Even today, four months after the surgery, she continues doing things that really help. She has started exploring healthier ways to cook so we can make sure my heart does last as long as it can. She has been working on rearranging the house to make it more relaxing and pleasing for both of us. She continues to make me laugh and show me affection. She has been doing all of this while she goes to school two days and week and spends a good deal of time on the other days creating unbelievable cake creations.

You may not believe a person like this really exists. What would you call someone who can pull all of this off? I call her many things. I call her Margie (Margaret when she lets me get away with it), my love, my little miracle. The greatest thing and the thing I am most grateful to call her is – mine. I am so thankful that I have a woman like this to share my life with.

ANGELS OF HEALING

As most of you know, I have been on the long road of recovery from my open-heart surgery. When I say long, it has only been about 4 months. It can safely be said, these 4 months have been some of the longest of my life. Being physically limited and having to “take it easy” as the doctors keep reminding me, is a very hard prescription for a man who goes to the gym 5 days a week. There are times that the pain and reduced cardiovascular ability can lead to frustration and at its most severe times, depression. Intellectually, I know healing from this takes time and due to some complications, it will take me even longer. Emotionally, however, it can seem as if I will never get better. I put on a smiling face and am truly grateful for coming back after my brief visit to the world of death, but it can still feel very dark and hopeless at times.

In the last few weeks there has been some return to normal. 4 weeks ago I was cleared to go back to the gym, although limited. 2 weeks ago I returned to work. It was good to feel like a productive member of society again. Several of my coworkers told me how good it was to see me again and that made me feel good. Slowly, this all helped return a bit of that feeling of normal I was missing. One of the best things about returning to work is the local Starbucks location by my work. In past blogs you have heard me discuss some of the amazing people there. First, there was Deb, who is not only friendly, but has one of the best attitudes for someone who serves the public that I have seen. I mentioned the man who runs the show, Nick, the manager. He takes a personal interest in you as not only a customer, but a person. There is nothing that will get return business as sure as making someone feel valuable. That is what Nick does.

It is not just Nick that does this, but a fair amount of his crew as well. Sydney has a smile that is at once both infectious and contagious. You are all but guaranteed to walk away smiling after chatting with her. If having a good feeling in your heart is what you are after, Kryssy will do that for you. Much like her amazing manager, she really gets to know you as a person. She shows great care and concern for you as a person. The group is rounded out with many other amazing souls like Andrea, Colleen and Erika. Plus, many others that my tired brain let escape for this second. The best part about all of these people is they are genuine. They are not trying to sell you, they are just being themselves.

They showed why they are one of the best group of people in two fabulous ways recently. In doing so, they not only gave yet another example of how amazing they are, but did a great deal to help my healing journey. The first touching thing was a package that they had put together to welcome me back. This location is so busy and has so many customers that pass through their doors, to be remembered and thought of in such a way gave a lift to my spirit that was just the thing I needed at this time. They had no way of knowing, but everything they put inside this little package fit me perfectly. The gesture meant such a great deal to me. By being great human beings, they gave this crazy author and blog writer a great deal of needed positivity.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, I walked in to discover they had made me their ‘customer of the week’. I am certainly not one to seek accolades (Oprah if you want to make my most recent book the ‘book of the month’ I would be happy to make an exception) but being recognized as someone who they find valuable made a real impact. Again, there are a lot of amazing people who pass through their doors and I am sure a great deal of them deserve to be ‘customer of the week’. For them to choose me, really made me feel welcomed and missed.

These 2 acts may seem small and little to the outside observer, but they made a world of difference to me. As my friends at the Oak Creek Starbucks showed, doing small acts of kindness with great amounts of love is what really changes the world. I encourage all of you who may be pondering doing something to show someone how much they are appreciated, to do it. While it may seem like something small to you, it can make a great amount of difference to them.

HOW IS YOUR REAL LIFE?

Here are some facts according to Pew research. The percentage of adults who report that they go online “almost constantly” was 21% in 2015. How about today? That amount has risen to 31%. Not to mention that is only the ones who realize and report that. Overall, adults who report they go online at least on a daily basis? That is 85%. For someone who runs a website that provides individuals tools and strategies to improve their lives, this is a good thing. Unfortunately, not all of those 85% are not spending their time online exploring ways in which they can expand their knowledge and improve themselves.

Even more depressing is the lack of compassion and human courtesy that proliferates in the online world. It would often appear that people are willing to say hurtful things to others behind a keyboard that they would never say face to face. This is just a fact of the world as it exists presently. It is my firm belief the best way to counter that is to supply inspiring and motivating material to people whenever and wherever you can. Recently, I saw a person posting that they finally got the job they had been trying to get for a long time. My first reaction was to feel happy for this person. When I looked in the comments, I saw people saying things like “Nobody cares” and “You couldn’t get anything better?” I was baffled. Why would someone even spend time to post things like this? Somebody did care. I believe not only the person who posted it, but their family and friends were probably very happy for them. They should have been. Why couldn’t get something better? Maybe they were starting out on the ground floor. Maybe they were just looking for something to support their family? Gratefully, there were many positive and uplifting comments as well. What do you think would stick in the mind of this young man? What do you think the people posting those negative comments online got for their actions?

My suggestion to all of us, is to dedicate a period of time to look for ways and opportunities to inspire and uplift people online. Look for places to leave positivity. Is there a place to cheer someone up? To congratulate them on a job well done? You could even just post a few inspiring pictures or quotes to bring joy to anyone who may come across them. It will not only make you feel good, but will go a long way into making the online world a better place.

Now back to some of the things we mentioned earlier. While 85% of people spend some of their lives online, and are so affected by it. They are still living most of their lives, we hope, in the real world. Even the 31% of folks who say they go online constantly should at least spend a portion of their time IRL (which is social media for ‘in real life’) Here is something I want to stress to all of you. It is even more important to be a decent person in the real world. Not even just decent, but kind, compassionate and inspiring. There are several reasons why we should do this. May favorite is simple and comes from the ‘Dean of personal development’ himself, Earl Nightingale. Earl said we should treat everyone we come in contact with as if they were the most important person on earth because that is how humans should treat each other. I can’t argue with the man. He also points out that to that person, they are the most important person in their life. This can be said for all of us.

I have another reason to consider. If more and more of us are spending a good portion of our lives online, we can run the risk of encountering those who are less than inspiring, to put it eloquently. If you haven’t run across a person like this online yet, rest assured you will. Some of them may even have you questioning your faith in humanity. That is why it is so important for us to be good stewards of humanity both online, and more importantly in the real world. This cannot be stressed enough. We never know what the person next to us may be going through. Starting today, I implore all of you to look for ways to inspire and uplift as many people as you can both online and, of course, in the real world. I would love to hear any ideas you may have for ways in which we can do this.

TRY SOMETHING NEW THIS WEEK

This website revolves around improving yourself. Making better life choices. Following powerful and productive strategies that allow you to get more done in a shorter amount of time. A good deal of improving yourself can be to celebrate and love the victories you accomplish. Even the small ones. Do you know what works equally as well as improving yourself and celebrating your victories? Doing the same for others!

It can seem like second nature to be excited about what we worked hard to accomplish and want to share that with others. That is good and we should do that. However, when doing so, we should come from a place of both service and humility. This can be done by asking ourselves one simple question, “Why are we sharing this information?” It is great to want to share our victories and how far we have come with friends. If that is all we do, we can come across as someone who is self-absorbed. If you want to be well-received by those you come in contact with, forget trying to impress them. Instead, inspire them.

We can share our accomplishments with the intentions to let others know they can do the same. What can we offer to help others obtain and maintain a feeling of hope and motivation? How can we inspire them to do great things? That is the idea I would like us all to focus on this week. How do you feel when every time you meet a certain individual, you feel great about yourself and inspired to be even better? Would that be a person you would enjoy being around? Would that be someone you would want to spend more or less time around? How happy would you be to see them? It is my firm belief that the only thing better than being a great leader and example, is to help others be the same. I would love to hear ways in which you inspire others.

IT IS NOT YOUR JOB

I saw this sign posted online the other day and it made me chuckle. Raise your hand if you have difficulty finding love for a certain group of your fellow humans. This could be a political group, a religious group, a group that listens to music you can’t stand, maybe a group that has vices you find totally unacceptable. Perhaps you only have a hard time loving people who have lied to you or people who have done you wrong? If so raise your hand for that too. If you do not have your hand raised at this point, do you lie about other stuff too? Point is, all of us have a hard time showing love to someone. I know I do. Mr. Rogers was about the closest human I can think of who loved everyone he met.

Why is it that we have a hard time loving certain people? It is simple. It is a judgment. We view them as ‘wrong’. Here is something to think about, no matter how good of a person we strive to be, in someone else’s mind we are hard to love as well. What is the solution? It is on the sign pictured above. Many of us have heard the quote “Kill them all, let God sort them out.” (which originated from a representative of Pope Innocent III in 1209. A lot of irony there) I say we follow a different creed, “Love them all, let God sort them out.” I, personally, would rather be guilty of loving someone who didn’t deserve it than withholding love from someone who needs it.

This coming week, I challenge you show and send love to everyone you meet. This can be done out loud, or if you feel uncomfortable, do it in your head. Pause for a second and send that person some words and feelings of love. Then, I want you to notice two things. First, what type of people was this most difficult for you to do? Why do you think that is? What could you do to develop more compassion and love for that group of people? Then, at the end of the week, I want you to notice how your life is different. Not only how you are feeling, but how others respond to you. It is my opinion, you will feel motivated to do it more often.

COMPARE AND BE GRATEFUL

Recently, much to my dismay, I found myself back in the hospital. I began experiencing severe chest pain Sunday night. Considering it has not been that long since my open heart surgery, I went into the Emergency Room at the local hospital. There I lay for several hours as they filled me up with a vast array of pain killers, none of which seemed to do very much. I received a CT scan which showed I had fluid around my heart. A decision was made to transfer me to the hospital that my surgeon works out of so he could take a better approach at observing me.

Very early Monday morning they boxed me up in an ambulance and whisked me away to the next hospital. The ride was bumpy, but they gave me a free stuffed alligator for being a good patient. I rather enjoyed that personally. I arrived at my new digs around 6 am and was told that I could not have anything to eat or drink, including water, in case they wanted to do a test. Mind you I ate dinner around 7 the night before. This lasted until 4pm, when the doctor left for the day and it was clear they were not going to test me. In other words, it was all for nothing. Having morphine and other heavy duty pain killers in your system on an empty stomach was not very thrilling. Worse yet, they informed me at 7 pm that evening I was back to no food or water in case they wanted to test me the following day. This lasted until 11 am the following day. After persistent “Test me or give me a damn cracker!” outbursts from yours truly, the finally decided they were not going to test me for anything that day either.

My alligator from the folks at Bell Ambulance

Here I was, day three in the hospital, still in pain and nobody could give me an answer as to why. They had added an ultrasound to the CT Scan and now informed me there was no fluid around my heart. Later, a chest x-ray was added. I think this was just so they could say they did all of the imaging tests. By this time I was growing quite frustrated. Even the nurses, who were wonderful and helpful people, were also growing frustrated at the doctors lack of appearances or answers.

I stayed in the hospital 2 more days. These 4 days amounted to the same amount of time I had spent in the hospital after my open heart surgery. I had seen 3 doctors that were not even ones I go to. It was not until one of them did a little more poking around that they came to the conclusion that I had a rare condition that affects 5% of heart surgery patient. It is a sort of late onset inflammation. By the time I was going to be released, I was pretty frustrated. In addition to enduring 18 hours of no food and water one day followed by 14 hours of the same the following day for absolutely no reason, it was like pulling teeth to get answers or talk to a doctor. Then, I refocused. This was aided by 2 events, one very tragic and one pleasant.

As I was putting all of my stuff in a bag to take with me, I received a message I was not expecting. I have been out of my day job since the 11th of January because of my surgery. I just learned one of my coworkers, only a year my senior, had passed away. Little did I know that 2 months ago when I saw him, it would be the last time. Sure, I was leaving the hospital with ‘best guess’ diagnosis and treatment, but at least I was leaving. My friends and family would be happy for my return and not mourning my loss. I suddenly felt a little guilty for feeling the way I was. I am sure this man would have preferred to return to his family and his friends.

That night as I went to sleep, I noticed how my mattress, that had always felt rather uncomfortable, felt like a cloud compared to the bed in the hospital. What was even better was that I was sharing it with the most beautiful woman in the world. The very one who snuck me in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in case they tried make me endure a third day of forced hunger strikes. This brief moment of pain and struggle was nothing compared to what it could have been. I made it out of the hospital. I was feeling quite better than when I went in. I did have a bed to return to. I also had someone extremely special to share it with. It was then I recalled the quote from Gandhi above. No matter how much life seems to be throwing at you, it is throwing a whole lot more at others. Not only that, but it will certainly remind you of all you have to be grateful for that you may have forgotten.