Category Archives: CRAM

Book review from Equities.com

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What’s on Your Reading List?

Desireé Duffy | Wednesday, 29 March 2017 11:27 (EST)

For any trader or entrepreneur, the daily grind of reading depressing headlines and perusing a constant stream of data can be physically exhausting and mentally draining. While you may long for a vacation, for most of us, the demands of work are nearly ever-present. However, there is one great way to reset your brain and rejuvenate your spirit: Reading a great book!

No matter how hard I try, I can’t stop bouncing from one great book, and from one genre, to another. A good mixture of fiction, non-fiction, and provocative books are necessary for a well-rounded life.

If you agree, then you’ll appreciate this list of must-read books that you’ll want to add to your list. I understand, you probably have your 2017 reading list planned-out already. Well make room, you won’t regret adding these “un-put-downable” books!

The Fragrance of Angels

Are you ready to get a glimpse of heaven?

Join Martha Brookhart Halda as she shares her incredible journey to the Other Side. Just be warned, you might not be the same after reading this book.

On a fateful night, Halda was thrown from her vehicle during a horrific car crash. She died not once, but three times. Then she came back. Her life changed forever, and when you read this memoir, you will find out why.

The Fragrance of Angels is filled with love and challenges. It is a tale about physical beauty, emotional upheavals, frustrations beyond compare, as well as spectacular triumphs.

There is also a surprise that I must admit, I never saw coming; it is something Martha realized when she visited Heaven, and you will soon know it, too.

This is a book that will lift you up, bring tears to your eyes, and laughter to your heart. Trust me, The Fragrance of Angels needs to be added to your reading list today.

 

SO… after reading such a wonderful book review, and being the first book mentioned in her 2017 recommended reading list, I am super excited for all the blessings coming my way this year.  I also have a review coming from the Huffington Post. What a dream come true: not many authors receive this kind of coverage.

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The difference between a writer and an Author? A Book contract

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March 26th 2015

Today was a momentous day for me. I signed my book contract with Sorriso Verlag to have my book A Taste of Eternity published in German. It is set to come out this Holiday Season. I am so delighted to have my book represented and published by them.

Sorriso smile

The publishing company name alone was enough to draw me in. Sorriso is the Italian word for “smile”. This company consists of strong, highly experienced women that combine years of unbelievable creative talent. Their focus is to have all their books deliver what the company name implies… a smile. They want to uplift, motivate, encourage and bring overall joy to their readers. Which is why they acquired A Taste of Eternity: to bring a smile to its readers.

This has been a long road.  I have not blogged for awhile, because I felt and recognized such a negative backlash from publishers and readers questioning the authenticity of Dr. Eben Alexander’s NDE, or the authenticity of anyone’s NDE. Why is it we have so much trouble accepting experiences that range outside our five physical sentences? There simply was not a market for my book for the past past year and a half.

When asked what I thought after reading Alexander’s book, I first replied that there was much I could not relate to, since I am not a neuroscientist or medical doctor. I do relate to the time in my seven-week coma, and a few spots very much like my NDE experience.

However, I sometimes had a hard time determining which were his authentic NDE experiences, and which were experiences he had while in his coma. Furthermore, Dr. Alexander was never officially pronounced dead. I agree that each of us have our own unique NDE experiences, just as we each have our own experiences in life.

Over my whopping 56 years, I’ve noticed that every step, experience, encounter, and basically everything in life happens in order to prepare us for the next step.  There are no accidents. Knowing this is my belief; after a year of no interest in any books on NDE’s, I’m certain you can understand how I saw this delay, not as upsetting but rather as scripted by the heavens, which ultimately led to this publisher wanting my book. I see it as a completely guided direction.

The fact that a company that carries the happy, sunny name of “Smile,” will now publish my book, and its desire to encourage and uplift women, is more than meets the eye. The publisher, Karen Christine Angermayer, was working and vacationing in Southern California, looking for books from American authors. She was made aware of my book and given my proposal and four chapters; within three days, we were Skyping. After telling me how much she liked my writing, she asked for a complete manuscript within six weeks. (If you’ve never tried to publish a book, trust me, this is sweet music to the ears!) A week later, after she returned to Germany, the first version of my contract arrived.

This unique synchronicity was not lost on me.

Today, I get to fulfill the promise I made to God in 2000, and to my wonderful father Ray Brookhart a year later: I would share what I experienced through this book. I would relay His teaching” The most important thing we can do on Earth is to Give, Show, and Express Love. There is no greater accomplishment.Blog Angel - contract

Love is not just for people. Every body and living thing is made up of essentially the same energy, particles, and spirit matter. Look into the eyes of every creature, your pet cat, or a wild tiger. Take a detailed account of every mother-infant relationship, every friendship, every co-existence, every spirit, and you will see the need and desire for love. Love knows no boundaries! While having my life review and visit with God in Heaven, I saw that everything in life is connected and all things have a full life inside them – a kaleidoscope of color, light, love and praise.

Today my heart is full of this kaleidoscope of color, love, and happiness. I give praise that I was able to write and complete this book.

I certainly did not do it alone. I had friends who encouraged me in more ways than they know. They encouraged me to walk, run marathons, work, and accomplish so many tasks that aided in my resolve to write a book about my NDE. They helped me become brave enough to go public with my thoughts and experience, something that, in subjects like this, often lead to direct criticism — the opposite of what A Taste of Eternity is about.

Again there are no accidents in life. Just when I needed it, my life was gifted with the arrival, loving guidance and writing direction of Robert Yehling, a friend of fifty years who has written and edited many books through his Word Journeys business. For the past four years, Bob and I moved through every aspect of this book, shaping and molding my experiences into final form while sharing all the loving and spiritual or emotional energy behind it. It took several drafts and a few “back to the drawing board” moments, but we got there with a wonderful, final six-week writing spree this past winter. Bob acted as my cheerleader, coach, and fan. Without his help, I would not be able to say I am an author.

Blog Beach Chairs contract

Author… l’il old me? Wow. I cannot believe the energy that fills me, rushing up and down my spine. I want to cry, laugh, smile, and scream out in joy.

Today, after dropping my signed contract in the mail, I went body surfing with a good friend. We laughed and played in the ocean, floating in the calm of the Ocean and I could not get this stupid smile off my face. It was sheer ecstasy!!! I wanted to fly away, floating in the sparkling sun as it shined on the waves. I’m sure when I hold my first copy in my hands that smile will be just as hard to remove as it was today. I will experience this Bliss again. I love all the people in my life and remember daily God’s guiding premise: The Most Important Thing We Can Do On Earth is – To Give, Show, and Express Love. There is no greater accomplishment.

Now, I will get to share His love through A Taste of Eternity.

Writing about hard events and life challenges can be FUN – PART 2

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IMG_7242  Writing about hard events and life challenges can be FUN-Part 2.  A Story of Change can be fun; we decide how to accept and view the change.  I choose to move forward with an open heart and eyes.  I had my eyes wide open at The Los Angeles Times Festival of BooksThis place offers a different time, and a unique reality for writers; think about it, they are coming together with their own kind!  A massive group of open and active minds bunched together, all waiting for the chance to share their most prized possession – words.

It was interesting to me, this new way of socializing among writers. A Taste of Eternity is, after all, my first book. People just plop right down next to a total stranger and ask things like, “What are you working on?” “What seminar are you going to?” “What is your view on (name the subject)?” Amazing!

I’m new to this. It’s far more than the usual blanket socializing of the weather, a sport team, or clothing. Because of that, I watched more from a spectator’s viewpoint.  Have you ever watched dogs at a dog park, and seen how they run across the grass and head up to a dog they’ve never seen before. Their tails wag in the air, they crouch down on their front paws, stick their back haunches in the air, and start swaying their head from right to left, teasing the other dog. It’s like they’re saying, “C’mon. Let’s play. I like you. What ya got?” Then, a few minutes later, they are off sniffing flowers and flipping over in the grass, rubbing their backsides, squirming back and forth and looking as if they are making snow angels in the grass.

This describes the unabashed glee and friendliness that the folks at the Festival share with each other.IMG_7228

I have been in settings like this, together with my own kind before. I am a former tennis player, basketball, and volleyball player. I am also a female; hence, shopping is in my nature. However, random tennis players don’t walk up and ask me which backhand I’m working on, and ladies at Nordstrom’s semi-annual sale don’t ask what style I’m developing. They actually want strangers out of the store, and certainly out of the line.  So I’m sure you understand how new these friendly and honestly interested greetings were to me.

IMG_7258We did a walkthrough to assess the books we wanted to buy.  The idea? To trim the selection, knowing whatever we wanted, we had to carry. For the rest of the day. Then of course, we needed to make the vital connection (via the cell phone, what would we do without those?) with my literary agent, Dana Newman.  Determining the location among a crowd of 60,000 to 75,000 people is critical. Tommy the Trojan statue it is! He sure stuck out, and we had no trouble finding her.  During a quick chat, she assured me she would be pitching my book at the festival. No rest from work for her!

I found the Los Angeles Times stage, all set up for a reading with its shade tarp. On this hot day, its shade was inviting.  I noticed with a pleasant surprise that the guest speaker was non other than Prettyfestival of books4   In Pink, The Breakfast Club, and Sixteen Candles star Molly Ringwald.  Molly has written several books, but this time, she read from her latest, When it Happens to You. At first, I just  noticed how great she looks, clean, pure, sweet, not Hollywood at all.  I know she’s an actress and I expect her to be able to read the lines ok, but then, she starts to exhibit her story.

She shares it through her voice projection; I’m completely engrossed.  When she finishes her one-chapter teaser, I’m like a little girl at the library story time, never wanting the reading to end.  Her reading felt like a movie trailer… a tease of what’s to come.

My goal is for my book to be the same, to engross every reader.

After Molly’s reading, I found a spot to kick back. A guy plopped down next to me, and began to eat his lunch. Within a few minutes, he asked more questions about what I was writing and what I IMG_7217thought than most of my friends have asked in over a year.  He told me about his years as a Los Angeles Times reporter, the books he’s edited, and his current ghostwriting projects. I told him he reminded me of my honey Bob, and that they should meet sometime; I think they would really hit it off.  Then I headed off to the seminar on memoir.

I took in the panel of memoirists, four women who have all published their memoirs.  I glean a few great tidbits from their information. The room was packed, almost all the 300 or so seats full. I noticed my newfound friend sitting a few rows in front of me.  Afterwards, I saw Bob waiting for me outside the conference hall. I introduced him to my new friend. Just like those dogs at a doggy park, they were pleased as punch to find someone else who spoke their lingo, who totally got it, who had so many similar experiences writing and editing.

Finally, the day ended, with my mind in sensory overload.  I felt so happy, my belly deliciously full like I’d just eaten the perfect meal. I was satiated, filled by The Festival.

Writing about hard events and life challenges can be FUN.

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A Story of Change can be fun.

Writing about your past trials in life can certainly be taxing. It’s often difficult to re-live the physical pain I had to pass through and overcome. As I write more of my memoir, I have to view my writing as if I have no ego, or rather to say that ego is a part of doing this. That’s OK. I have to face my story, of a life that did not turn out to be the perfect dream I wanted it to be. It sometimes saddens me, but yet with a high degree of certainty I accept, that I will laugh, I will cry, I will love, and I will unreservedly share all that I am, the good and the bad.

Writing about these life challenges can also be FUN.  Life is whatever perspective I choose.

festival of books3This past week was one of those FUN kid-like moments. We went to the Los Angeles Times Festival Of Books.  This two-day event brings in 150,000 people. The Festival    is a true wonderland for writers, editors, agents, publishers and, most of all, readers who enjoy a good story.  I was completely amazed with all the booths from companies, groups, and of course individual writers selling their books.

The day began by entering the massive property of the USC campus.

We arrived early, anticipating the parking hassle that comes with a huge crowd.  Thankfully we got there early enough, hah… more than an hour before it began.  We drove right into what we thought was an optimum close-up parking space.  Ooops – it was the LA Coliseum parking lot – not the closest. Luckily, it wasn’t too far away.

With all this spare time, and the California sunshine streaming down, we set off to investigate and explore the grounds.   The place is full of museums (that weren’t open yet), architecturally wonderful buildings, and lovely manicured grounds. We walked around a corner and found ourselves at The Rose Garden – what a garden it is!  The central focus was a fantastic spouting fountain shooting straight into the air.  This garden is organized; each select variety of rose was noted, many of them towering over my six-foot height. These puppies have been around a long time.  The rows of differently colored roses are grafted out from this central point in what I’d estimate to be about two acres of land. Buildings that have a palace look to their architecture flank each end of the garden.IMG_7243

Remember, USC is the breeding ground of many of the film industry’s most noted art directors, visual effects artists, directors, and stars. No need to fly off to foreign lands to get that effect; we are in the land of make believe.

We wandered about as though within our own secret garden, no crowd yet. I breathed in and out, enjoying the freshness of the day. IMG_7232

One of the stunning buildings flanking this garden is The Library, a place where my dad spent many hours in the mid-1970s.  I’m reminded that starting life over again, starting from scratch runs in the family.  My Dad went back to college on this campus when he was about the same age I am today.  He came to USC to get his degree in Librarian Science.

IMG_7254As I look at this beautiful building, I can visualize him happily entering its hallowed hallways, happy as a kid in a candy store.  I giggle to myself, how proud my Pop’s would be of me, knowing I’m here and working on writing a book, my book.  Books to him were the key to life itself.  They did every thing you wanted, and could travel the world without leaving the comfort of your own special chair.  His mind traveled many lands, experienced many adventures, and embraced many romances via the white pages pinned between two leather bound walls.

It strikes me… thinking of my dad…how things change and we change with them. It’s up to use to decide how we choose to accept the change, either with an open heart and eyes, or to close ourselves to it.

A Higher Purpose: Not Fearing Death Part 2

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A Higher Purpose: Not Fearing Death Part 2 of Interview with ‘A Taste of Eternity’ Author Martha Halda

This is the second of a touching, life-affirming two-part interview with Martha, which comes at a most fitting time, as millions begin to celebrate Easter or Passover.

Word Journeys: Why do so many people find it hard to believe someone can have a near death experience, taste eternity, or have direct perception of God?

Martha Halda: I feel it’s because we are too busy judging.  Judgment causes the unbearable fear of non-acceptance.  Think about it, from our first day on the playground, all we want is to be accepted, to be part of the group, invited in.  Some people can’t accept what they haven’t seen, touched or felt themselves. Some need science to prove anything or everything before they will accept it, Often, people are afraid that society will think them odd or mentally off.  To talk about this, I needed the faith that comes from knowing that what I experienced was 100% real.   Faith can go a long way, but first we must to get out of our own way. We need to remove the mighty ego.  Many people still need society to accept it, before they are willing.

WJ: That’s a great point – and leads to my next question. A Taste of Eternity crosses all religious lines – and goes beyond them. When I read it, I saw how you touched and experienced the unifying point behind ALL religions. Could you speak to the essence of spirit, based on your experience?

MH: For me, the essence of spirit is sharing, caring, love, a unity of all things.  I mean all things: everything is energy, it is all particles or atoms or cells, and they are all part of each other.  During my experience, at one point, I had a mental vision or thought that a waterfall would be nice; suddenly, particles from all over a meadow came together and re-formed as a waterfall.  It was as if everything existed to bring pleasure.

 

WJ: Three years after your accident, after being told you would never walk again, you completed the Dublin Marathon. How did the marathon intensify your desire to live life to the max, without fear of what may or may not happen next?  

MH: I know that any day could be my last. When it’s my time, then it’s my time, I have no fear of death; in fact, I welcome the day.  I won’t do anything to bring it on myself, because I want to be sure I get to go to Heaven again, and I don’t want to feel the hurt I would cause my friends.

WJ: How does your family view your experience now, compared with how they first responded to it?

MH: They don’t really view it differently at all.  We don’t talk about it much.  It may have changed their views of life indirectly, but it is a personal thing.  I feel they have a beauty inside their souls knowing that God is there for each of us, and there is no reason to fear death.

WJ: How did your life purpose change from your experience?

MH: Today, I don’t know if I really have one, in the traditional way. I used to have a very clear purpose as a mother. Now, it is just to see life in all things with joy. I want to understand how and why religions say their way is the only right way; the loving embrace of the God I met was not that condemning.  I feel if people would open their hearts and minds to another’s way, they would see the commonality in our beliefs, customs, and lifestyles, and not the differences.

WJ: You came back with heightened senses, one of which is a particular affinity with animals, which you discuss in the book. Could you elaborate?

MH: I just look into the eyes of birds, dogs, cats, birds or deer and can tell if they are happy and well or not.  They don’t fear me, and some will become very assertive toward me in a good way. They know they are safe with me.  That’s all.  When you bring this up, I get the opportunity to feel the way some of the people in my life felt about me talking about my near death experience – shoosh! someone might hear you. (laughs)

WJ: When people read books like A Taste of Eternity, or talk with you about it, what would you like them to take away from the experience?

MH: Simply the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have done unto you.  To give, share, and express love; it’s the most important thing we have to offer! Love is the only Eternal possession we have. When we die, the only thing we take is the love we shared, the memories we make, and our integrity. Everything else stays here.  No U-Hauls in Heaven.

WJ: Finally, last year on your birthday, you did something not a lot of 50-somethings would do: jumped off a 50-foot cliff into the Ganges River near Varanasi, India – not once, but several times.

MH: Well, I was also the only high school girl skateboarder in the mid-1970s who bombed the steep La Costa hills in Carlsbad (Calif.), where I grew up! So it’s not that much of a departure for me. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing. I’d been white-water rafting all morning with two young ladies from Scotland who were also go-for-it women. I saw the cliffs, told our guide to beach the raft, walked past some Indian men who were thinking about it but were afraid to jump … and I stepped in front of them and jumped. I laugh every time I close my eyes and see the looks on their faces! It was one of those extraordinary moments. I’m always ready for them.

Tasting Eternity: Interview, part one

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Tasting Eternity: Interview with Memoirist Martha Halda

(Interview conducted by Bob Yehling)

For the past 15 years, I have enjoyed the distinct privilege of editing many compelling and even life-changing memoirs, novels and non-fiction books. Few, if any, can match Martha Halda’s story.

On October 8, 1999, Martha suffered a horrific car accident. She was pronounced clinically dead three times. So dire was her condition that her sons, Aaron

"A Taste of Eternity" author Martha Halda

“A Taste of Eternity” author Martha Halda

(then 14) and Nathan (then 11), were brought into her room to say goodbye. Martha remains the only person in the 50-year history of Palomar Pomerado Hospital (North San Diego County) to survive after scoring 0 on her CRAM (Clinical Risk Assessment and Management). Those who score 0 to 1 almost always die; those who score 2 to 3 typically die, or live in a vegetative or severely impaired state. She recovered fully – even completing the 2002 Dublin Marathon – and to embarking on a life purpose that informs everything she does: giving and receiving love, and experiencing each moment to its fullest.

During her passing over, she had a profound near death experience. That experience, how it transformed and shifted her life, and how she carried it forward, is covered in her memoir, A Taste of Eternity,now making the rounds among major publishers through literary agent Dana Newman.

This is the first of a two-part interview with Martha. During this Easter and Passover season, enjoy one of the most transformative and life-affirming interviews you may ever read.

Word Journeys: What two or three things from your near death experience stand out, because of the way they impacted your life moving forward?

Martha Halda: I’d shout it from every mountaintop if need be; We are to share love, to all God’s people and creatures.  I was shown love is the most important thing to give. I have a tendency to tell people, “I love you”. Unfortunately, in our society, this can come off odd (laughs), but love to me is not only physical. I want to take the opportunity to tell the people I care about; it may be my last chance.  Another thing I saw is that all life is connected. There are no accidents in life, only providential events. That has helped me during the more difficult stages.  It is up to us, to choose which way we direct our life, according to events.

WJ: How does that work on a daily basis?

MH: I now try to take better notice of things when they are occurring, knowing there is a lesson I want to learn from them the first time. That way, they won’t have to be presented again, which usually is much harder lesson.

WJ: What are a couple of misconceptions that people who haven’t been through a near death experience carry about them?

MH (chuckles): There are a few. I’ll break them out:

1. Some doctors insist it is only a neurochemical reaction to the dying brain. That amuses me. In my experience, the doctors that think this way are ones dealing with death often, such as oncologists. I feel it is a form of denial or emotional protection.  Others say it’s caused by electrical charges of the neutrons misfiring while people die, similar to the side effects of drugs like peyote, psilocybin, or an LSD trip. I certainly don’t want to suggest this pertains to the majority of doctors; for me it was the exception.

2. That you cannot die and come back. I have been treated as if I were working on the side of evil by sharing this experience.  Some church people do follow an approach that basically says a near death experience would never be a possibility for a follower of Christ.  I am a Christian, I did have that experience, and many Christians find comfort in what I share.

3. Some people are either out of touch, or narrow-minded. My first rehab hospital nurse was this way. When I reviewed my injuries with her, I told her, “I went to Heaven.”  She gripped my arm and said, “never tell anyone, or they will never let you out of here.”  To her, I was crazy.

images-22WJ: You write very specifically and deeply about your near death experience, showing how the concept of time doesn’t exist in heaven. Could you elaborate on how you moved from one place to another, one realm to another, without the feeling of time?

MH: Time had no relevance.  The truly powerful currency came from what was I to learn, the knowledge, and life’s lessons.  My entire forty years of life (as of 1999) was shown to me via imagery, a type of ESP, which included all the human senses.  I felt all the feelings I gave someone, received, or caused a person to have.  My angel and I traveled from one place to another drifting, floating, like watching a butterfly or hummingbird.  We just sort of up and went, gliding to the next place of my review, divinely guided.

WJ: Right after your near death experience, you were put into a medically induced coma. Were you able to absorb your experience while in a comatose state?

MH: Many people think that coma patients are not aware of their surroundings, that you are not receptive, but you actually are. I could hear much of what was taking place and comprehend what was being said.

During my coma, I was also able to reflect on Heaven.  I had more visits from my Angel.  When I became distressed or my pastor was doing laying-on-of-hands healing, she was there; it was like looking out a window to her. She offered me peace, comforting me, reminding me that I would be all right, that God loved me and was looking over me.  The veil of Heaven had been lifted. I had seen the other side, the sweetness, the love, the way in which we are a portion of each other, the way God had intended our lives to be.

WJ: What happened when you first came out of the coma?

MH: When the doctors began lifting me out, the first thing that struck me the wrong way was a country music CD playing; it sounded like a sad woman wailing.  Then the TV …  it seemed evil to me. I remember asking a nurse through eye movement, tears streaming down my face, to turn it off.  The news was so depressing … you can imagine what I thought of daytime TV dramas! (laughs)

WJ: What brought you back to this life – when medical indications, and your own feelings while in eternity, made it seem you would not come back?

MH: My boys, Aaron and Nathan. At first, I didn’t accept that I was to return to life. I begged and bartered to stay in Heaven; it was so lovely, I wanted to stay forever.  As part of my barter, I was shown by God the Father, The Trinity, The Omniscient One, The Ultimate Power, Divine Source, The Absolute, Cosmic Creator – whatever you choose to call it – what would come in my life if I returned … or if I stayed. I saw many horrific things would happen to my boy’s lives, how negatively their personalities would be affected by my death.

Then I was shown my life if I came back, the negatives that would happen. It would not be easy. I saw trials, and heartbreaks. I was given a choice, which way to go. After weighing the two, and seeing the future of my sons, I instantly chose to come back. I wanted to be there for my babies, to love them.

I made a promise to God, if he let me return to my boys, I would tell of his great love, and hence A Taste of Eternity.  It was my choice, but it combined my defiance, some reverse psychology, and the presence of parental wisdom.

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IMG_1293            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.

images-11     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.

           

Reading Between the Lines

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The first few chapters of my book, A Taste of Eternity, deal with my experiences first entering Heaven, the Life Review I received there, and what was happening with my family while I was dying.  It is much more difficult than I expected to write these recollections in present tense.

I thought I’d start with the immediately family member I believed to be the toughest, or the least unemotionally touched by the experience, my son Aaron.  I called to ask him what his experience was on that terrible night of October 8, 1999. I asked if he wanted to write it down in an email, or if he just wanted to tell me his story.

He started off with a simple explanation, accompanied with a few quick-witted comments.  As Aaron continued, his descriptions became more vivid, his voice grew louder, and frustration or anger filled him. His story was laced with flying F-Bombs, and then he started choking back tears.  Wow… what a roller coaster ride of 15 to 20 minutes that was! He had forgotten, or wanted to forget, all those emotions he had that night and for the many months that followed.  He had buried them, so they couldn’t be seen.  Since then, we’ve both moved on with our lives, both of which have completely changed. They are much richer now.

I just moved into my new condo, which sits across the street from the beach. My soul feels refreshed every day when the incoming tide rolls to shore. For the past year, all my possessions from my old home had been in storage.  While digging through stuff, I came across an essay written by Aaron on October 19, 2002, his senior year in High School. I believe it was part of a scholarship for which he was applying.  Here is the beginning and the ending.

 

The Accident: By Aaron Halda

            Where on earth could she be?  Why isn’t she here yet?  These questioned raced through my head as I anxiously waited for my mother’s arrival to take me and a friend home.  It took place during my freshman year. 

            The more we waited, the more a feeling I started to have that something was wrong.  Ambulances, fire trucks, and Life Flight helicopters started to show up, one by one, and all turned on a road my mom frequently used to pick me up.  At this point I got a sixth sense feeling, and I turned to Andrew and told him to call his mom to pick him up because mine had been in an accident.  Five minutes later, a sheriff pulled up and asked me to come with him to the principal’s office.

            Once my mom was in surgery, a doctor came out and explained to us what damage had taken place.  We were informed that she was in critical condition, and that it was very unlikely she would make it.  She had arrived as a CRAM Zero, with collapsed lungs, lacerated liver, ruptured spleen and diaphragm, broken ribs, and a shattered pelvis.  Now all of these injuries alone should have killed her. But even worse was to know that Palomar Hospital had never had anyone under a CRAM three live.  The odds were not in our favor.  

            The doctors told my family and I to say goodbye to my mom because she surely was not going to make it, and if she did, she would be a mental vegetable and complete couch potato.  Through this incredible tragic ordeal, I was able to somewhat control my emotions.  I felt incredible pain and anger but through God was able to control it and try not to place it on others.  At times, I just wanted to flip out and submit everyone to my aggression, but I overcame.  I was even able to keep my grades, a 3.2 GPA, which I believe was a great accomplishment between playing sports, and spending most my time at the hospital, just sitting in the room with my mom while she was in a 2-month coma.

            This accident made me learn early what hardships are all about and I handled myself pretty well. I know what it feels like to have tremendous “load on your shoulders,” but I now feel I can handle any with ease.”

If we look we can see the emotions… the ones we try so hard to hide away in our mind. If we look fully at our lives and ourselves, we can read between the lines.  We live for meaning, and from that meaning, if it is to present itself fully, we have to learn and hopefully grow from our experiences.

I have an expression I like to use: “I want to feel God’s tap on my shoulder, and not wait for his sledgehammer to hit me, before my lights go on.”