In life (my whopping 54 years), I’ve noticed that every step, every experience, every encounter, and basically everything in life happens in order to prepare us for the next step to come. There are no accidents in life.
Often, the things that happen to us, or the stories we choose to tell, may not be occurring so we can learn from, but actually for others to learn. Something might happen that makes us wonder what am I supposed to learn from this?. Have you ever had that thought of Why am I saying this right now? Why is this the story I’m sharing? I sure hope no one hears me! I believe that often, our actions or words are there for someone else who needs them — either to help, encourage, or serve as an eye opener for life’s learning. I like to call this the trickle down effect.
Think of the trickle down effect as a waterfall: each drop cascades into a pond of shimmering water that provides a fuller life. I can also see my life in the same way; each step or action I take prepares me for the next step.
I was an athlete early in life. As the baby of five kids with three older brothers, I had to be athletic, just to be allowed to hang out with them. If you want to run with the Big Dogs, you can’t pee like a puppy, right?
If I hadn’t been so athletic, I probably would not be walking now. After my accident and taste of eternity, I was told I would not walk again. My family was also told that, more than likely, I would be a mental vegetable living in a wheelchair. To deal with this challenge, I needed the dedication that my high school and college athletic years trained me to have. I had the focus to draw down into my gut and ache my way through to the next goal line. Believe me, ache is a state of being after lying stiff in a coma for two months, and you suddenly tell your body it’s time to get up and get going again!
My athletic background got me ready for the focus I needed to put out my best efforts in rehabilitation. After the rehabilitation, I loved to walk, simply because I could. A grateful viewpoint can change your perspective when the only parking space available is the farthest away.
Then came the next seemingly impossible challenge: I found in my lap (or P.O. box) an opportunity to fulfill a life long dream – doing a marathon. I still wonder how I received the invitation to fund raise for diabetes, in a marathon, in the third anniversary month of my accident. On top of that, I’d talked about it the day before with my girlfriend Cathey Anderson (a fund-raising marathoner). The VERY next day! Odd. I had six months to train, and needed to increase from five-mile walks every day to 26.2 miles on race day. Thank goodness I could combine the athletic focus and grateful viewpoint.
While walking my miles, I share with girlfriends Judy Anibaldi and Lisa my plan to fundraise via the marathon. Sure enough, the trickle down effect kicked in. They shared my goal with their book club; one member of the group, Cheryl Walker, wrote for the San Diego Union-Tribune. The article she ended up writing on me reached so many people that the donations poured in. Not only was I able to compete in a dream race, the Dublin (Ireland) Marathon, but I was one of the top fundraisers in the U.S. I learned so much more along the way in terms of fundraising, and I’m now able to speak openly about my accident, and most importantly, my angel and Heaven.
My motto for the marathon was Yard by yard it’s hard, but inch by inch it’s a cinch. During all of this, I raised more money than needed, and then met a 21-year-old girl with diabetes who was training for the marathon. She was having difficulty raising the funds needed to compete. One day, while we walked together, she said, “When you’re meant to do something, the whole universe works together to make it happen.”
That really made an impact on me. I transfer my extra funds to her account, and we walked over the starting line in Dublin together. Score another one for the trickle down effect.
The pond made by the trickle down effect continued to grow. An official at the hospital that first treated me, Palomar Pomerado Hospital, contacted me. They asked me to do fundraising in my area for a hospital expansion. I was elated to help; after all, their doctors and nurses saved my life. We had a helicopter presentation in my neighborhood to raise funds Second; I spoke at an evening event to a larger crowd, and shared my hope: “We need to be a village and be able to take care of our village. Now please open your wallets and write a big check to the hospital.” That’s me – I tend to be direct!
People happily donated, knowing it could well be themselves who would someday need the hospital’s help.
Then my past modeling experience was called into play. The hospital asked me to shoot T.V. public service commercials to promote their larger vision. I find I became one of four advocates for a $496 million bond measure, vital for the expansion of all the Palomar Pomerado community of hospitals. I was so grateful to give back. The ensuing article and commercials were fantastic – and an old classmate from my elementary and high school years wrote a letter to the editor in support of me. One of my girlfriends told me about it and identified him as “your boyfriend.” No boyfriend for me at the time; I was then married! I had no idea who he was.
In 2010, I was watching a friend’s band, and in walked the old classmate. My girlfriend was right – he became my boyfriend … ten years after he wrote that letter to the editor.
When I was in Heaven, I promised God that if I came back to this life, I would tell everyone how loving and great he is through sharing my story. I spent ten years after the accident trying to figure out how I would reach a larger audience beyond my smaller North San Diego County community. It turned out this new love of mine was a long-time journalist and book author … hum. Unfortunately, all my time was taken up working, just to keep my head above water in the expensive Southern California lifestyle. How was I ever going to write about this?
Suddenly, in 2011, I lost my job. That caused me to lose my home. Consequently, thirty years after last sitting in a classroom, I found myself back in college, taking those writing classes I desperately need to be able to write this book, lovingly and legibly.
Wow, who’d of thunk it … losing my job and home would be such a great thing, an open opportunity to move forward?
Often, when we lose hope and think it’s the end, God smiles from above and says, “Relax, it’s just a bend, not the end!”
I feel the trickle down effect still filling my life. I have been so deeply touched by the vast, happy and pleasant responses to my blogs and my effort in writing A Taste of Eternity.