The Train Whisperer: The Freedom to Live How You are Moved to Live

One year ago today I was preparing to head off into the unknown and explore the pathless road of life with my home in tow. At 2pm Eastern on November 30th 2017 I drove away from everything I knew and made a promise that I would only Coddiwomple. This meant I would live from instinct and feeling. I wouldn’t ‘make decisions’ instead I would do what I felt lead to do and live where I was drawn to live. If I didn’t know, I’d wait until the sense of what to do next was apparent and clear.

Someone should have told me years ago that this is the way to live. Just to clear the air, you don’t have to travel the world to live from instinct and feeling. We can all live like this anytime, anywhere, doing anything.

In honor of the one year anniversary of me taking the plunge, I recorded an audio that brings to light to how we can all find that freedom. We can all live how we are moved to live.

Take a listen by clicking the arrow in the photo above.

Enjoy

PS- the nudge to make this recording happened this morning on a train, so I’m whispering (in an attempt not to disturb my fellow passengers) and there is a bit of background noise here and there… but the message and the feeling were to lovely not to share.

The Day I Knocked on a Neighbor’s Door and Cried

I was in Texas… Sitting alone in my Airstream trailer, feeling very low, and wondering why I chose to leave my friends and family and sell almost all of my belongings to wander the world by myself. In that moment all I wanted was a friend and to be in the company of someone who cared.

With no “friends” for miles and miles… It was as if there was a string attached to my heart pulling me out the door. It felt like it wasn’t my choice: I just wanted to be with someone. Having no idea what might happen, I walked out of my trailer and over to the nearest RV. I knocked on the door. The door opened and when I tried to say hello, I began to cry.

Having always seen myself as strong, brave, and independent… crying in front of people hasn’t been an option. That day I cried. The woman that opened the door was Roxann. She said “Oh honey,” welcomed me in and just sat with me. I don’t remember what I said and I don’t remember what she said… But I will always remember the day I cried with the lady next door.

Angels are everywhere. On February 14th 2018 I stepped out of my made up story of “who I am and how I act” and walked into an RV full of love. I was ready to quit traveling and living this lifestyle… I was ready to throw in the towel on the life of my dreams. Thankfully I didn’t. What I did instead was follow my heart right out of my trailer and into the heart of a caring friend that I didn’t know I had.

Consider forgetting who you think you are. Our personalities and everything inside the box of “who I am” is all made up. If you feel like being with a friend- go be with someone and soon enough they will be a friend. If you feel like crying, cry. There are no rules except the ones we make up in our head. What a blessing it has been for so many that I had no choice that day but to Coddiwomple over and cry with a new friend.

Roxann: Thank you from all of us.

PS- yes, this too is Coddiwompling: Everything is.

What is your Coddiwomple Story?

 

Coddiwomple Now

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Lately when asked where home is, I generally respond “Everywhere and nowhere.”  With my nomadic lifestyle this has rung true, but being from “nowhere” hasn’t felt fully spot-on.  Just last week a friend showed me how the word nowhere is actually two words: Now Here. This instantly touched something deep inside.

In early October I stored my Airstream Trailer in California and set off with a backpack for four months of exploring Europe and the Eastern US. Just before setting out a friend asked me “Are you excited?” I pleasantly wasn’t excited. I was looking forward to exploring, but the upcoming journey felt quite ordinary. This feeling caught my attention.

Airstream for Backpack

Trading in my Airstream for a backpack!

In the following weeks I felt quite at home everywhere: Florida, Boston, New Hampshire, Ireland, London, small towns in the English countryside, and now Scotland. I didn’t feel like a stranger visiting, instead a local resident of each place. It was a feeling of ordinariness, but so profound at the same time. The best I can describe the feeling is that I am living a perpetual vacation but it feels quite normal. Along the journey I realized the feeling is a gift that has come from presence… of being NowHere.

NowHere: Being Present to the Extraordinary Ordinary

While walking through a small countryside town in Ireland, for the first time it really hit me that I completely felt at home in a place I had never been before. Here’s what was interesting: when I was fully in the present moment with my new neighbors and friends it was magical. Although, there were occasions when it didn’t feel magical at all, and in those times I was usually stuck in a rut of thinking and not being present at all.

Could it be that simple? All we need is presence and an uncluttered mind to feel at home anywhere? Then I remembered the deep connections I had with people in Brazil that hardly spoke any English. We were very present and experienced a profound understanding and caring without a common language. There seemed to be a common link.

The feeling of being home anywhere was surprising and at the same time made perfect sense. “Home” is a construct. Being a “stranger” is a construct. These ideas are made up and yet feel so real. Feeling “at home” isn’t due to the location we are in; the feeling of “home” is a space we naturally find ourselves in when we are present and don’t have tons of thinking going on in our heads. There are no strangers… there are just many friends in the world we haven’t met yet. Connection to all people and places is 100% natural when we get our thinking out of the way.

Needing to Change

So many of us think if our life sucks we need to change what we are doing, where we live, or who we associate with. How simple might it be if we all realized we can be fulfilled anywhere doing anything? It’s not the world that makes us feel a certain way. It’s our perceptions that create our experiences. This realization alone will then change our entire experience of the world.

This summer I was dog sitting for friends and feeling a bit lonely. While watching the pups play, smile, and have a grand time it was obvious they weren’t stuck in a rut. They were having the time of their lives! They were extremely happy despite the fact that their entire family had left them.  My adopted pups weren’t worried if they would ever see their family again, they were as happy as could be with what was going on right in front of them. This is because dogs live in the present and don’t have much on their minds. They can get in a squirmish with another dog or scolded one minute and be prancing around chasing a ball the next. What might happen if we lived every moment like that?

Where our Experiences Come From

The philosopher Sydney Banks said (paraphrased) that if you are feeling unhappy but know that your feelings and experiences aren’t coming from your situation and environment, you are mentally healthy. If you are loving life and extremely happy, but think your feelings and experiences are due to your situation and environment, you aren’t mentally healthy.

If it is true that we can feel at home anywhere and we can connect with anyone, then it must be true that we can feel happy and full of love anywhere. It must also be true that we can be sad and lonely anywhere too. Reason being: Our situation and environment cannot dictate our feelings and experiences. If situations dictated feelings puppies wouldn’t be happy and playing when their entire family left them with a “stranger.” If our environment dictated our feelings on a sunny day everyone would be full of joy and love and on rainy days we’d all be on suicide watch. This just isn’t how life works. What great news!

Travel and Feeling at Home Everywhere and NowWhere

I used to think how close I felt to someone had everything to do with our relationship. Now I see that it is possible that I can feel close to anyone. This connection or closeness has nothing to do with the person, the situation, or the physical distance between us. The more present we are and the less thinking (worried, anxious, or agitated thoughts) we have running through our brains, the more connection and closeness we feel. This is true about everything: our work, our living situation, our location on the planet, our relationships…. Everything. When we really grasp that wellbeing is in the present moment, it is simple to see that home is always within us: We are always at home everywhere and nowhere.

But How?

It is simpler than we all think… literally. We are living in the midst of a huge misunderstanding- all of us are. I do it too! We think our way out of feeling at “home.” We are all perfect and we are all sitting right in the middle of connection, love, and feeling “at home” everywhere.

Consider this example:  The only reason someone has stage fright is because they have a lot of thinking about standing in front of a group while having a conversation. If they stood up with no thoughts about themselves and purely spoke to their audience, chances are they would feel right at home.  The best news is there is nothing you must do to change how you feel. Feeling at home will happen more and more as your thinking quiets down and more time is spent being here, in the present: NowHere

If you really knew that you could feel completely at home and totally come alive anywhere doing anything with anyone; AND you knew this was true for every single person on the planet… how might that change what you are up to in the world?

 

Coddiwomple Now

 

 

Featured Coddiwompler: Randy Kostelansky

Randy Coddiwompled his way from an average life in south Florida working as a firefighter to being one of the top up and coming doctors in Boston. In just two years he went from a single dad and student to happily married, running a thriving wellness center, and lecturing to doctors at Harvard. He truly UNpredicted his journey and the unimaginable happened. Check out his story!

And here is more about Randy’s journey. For a gorgeous story about what is possible when we love deeply, trust, and see beyond what is skin deep click here: Love is Love

 

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For the past year I have been on the journey of a lifetime, but not in the way most assume. A year ago I decided to sell almost everything I owned, end my career as a firefighter/paramedic, and set off on my own to coddiwomple and wander the world.  When I set out I thought that the wandering was my big journey. I quickly realized there was a much deeper journey: a journey each of us can take no matter our worldly location or situation.

This past week I traveled back to Florida to visit many friends and colleagues from my “old life.” It has been so sweet to reconnect and catch up after almost a year of exploring. Many have mentioned how brave or fearless they think I am to walk away from what seemed like an ideal life and dive headfirst into the unknown. I was puzzled that this sentiment repeatedly surfaced because I don’t see myself as particularly brave or fearless. In fact, I had secretly wanted to sell everything and leave my day job for years, but was too scared to do it.

While reflecting on my apparent “fearlessness,” I realized it’s easy to appear brave when we recognize there are no monsters in the closet.

Misuse of Imagination

In September of 2017 I profoundly knew my next step was to tender a letter of resignation to retire from my firefighting career. I gave an eight week notice and the ball began to roll. Even though I believed strongly that this was the next step, I was internally very troubled because I had no clue how I could possibly leave my family, friends, and a career I loved in just two months. I imagined myself saying goodbye and crying like a baby on my last day with a heart full of regret.

During a group video call I asked Michael Neill if he had any advice on my situation since I was equal parts excited, worried, and confused about my impending retirement. His reply was simple: “It is September. You are imagining how you will feel in November.” Suddenly it made sense. Why misuse my imagination to create my version of an unpleasant future and then worry about it for two months.

Truth be told. My last day was easy. It was a joyful goodbye to an amazing career. Not a tear was shed. I walked away and have never regretted it.

The Actual Journey

The actual journey I have been on is a journey to understand how life works. It was, is, and always will be a voyage in deepening this understanding. The voyage is seeing and experiencing over and over again that there is a flow that just happens and it is always perfect. This flow isn’t a rollercoaster we ride; it is an alive and fluid presence we are a part of. So often we plan, wonder, and worry instead of being in the moment and taking the very next step.

We all have heard the term “Go with the flow.” Many think that is what coddiwompling is all about. Close, but not quite. Coddiwompling is being the flow. Imagine this: There is a babbling brook flowing gracefully as it gently meanders down a mountainside. Going with the flow is thinking you are a leaf that is being carried by the babbling brook.  Being the flow is realizing that you are the babbling brook. You are the brook that flows downstream to the river. You are the river that flows into the estuary. You are the estuary that brings new life to the ocean. You are the ocean, the ocean of everything… and the ocean of everything is you.

Does the babbling brook worry that it won’t be able to find its way? Does the brook have to work and struggle to flow into the river? Does the brook wonder if it has enough resources to be the ocean?

Be the flow

Being the Flow in Brazil

Recently I explored Brazil and stayed in, Guarujá, an island town on the Atlantic coast. When I arrived on the island I knew no one and quickly realized everyday life was going to be very interesting as I had a bit of a language issue. In Brazil people speak Portuguese (which I have no experience with) and only 3% of the population knows English. So, I quickly learned how to say Thank You (Obregada) and became accustomed to communicating by hand and body gestures… it was comical and provided for many surprises.

On my first morning there I was lying on the beach when a happy dog trotted by. I called him over. He was excited and wanted to play. Soon there was dog kisses and sand flying everywhere. The dog’s owner came running over. He was obviously apologizing, but I had no idea what he was saying. I tried to motion that the dog was welcome to join me and said “No Portuguese” apologetically. The dog’s owner spoke a few words in broken English smiled, shared that his dog’s name was “Surf,” nicely said goodbye and continued his walk with his dog.

Later met again on the sidewalk and there was a feeling of connectedness. It felt right to exchange info and meet up later, so we did. Thiago is a sweet and kind guy and we became great friends (despite not knowing each other’s language). We learned a lot from each other over that week, more than can be shared in this short blog. I am forever changed and now see the world differently and it seems Thiago experienced the same.

Kristy, Thiago, and Surf exploring Brazil

Even though I arrived on the island knowing no one, ten days later I left with many friends and family. The kindness, care, and love of the entire community was mind-blowing. I have never experienced such a deep love from strangers… and it was culture wide. Those ten days on the island brought to light how we are all truly a part of the ocean of everything. It was nice seeing the sites, but seeing the connectedness and love that is already there for all of us was the highlight of the trip… and maybe even my whole year.

The wonderful experiences and relationships in Brazil happened because we were all open and living in the moment. We were being the flow in an unfolding journey. We were Coddiwompling in the now. I wasn’t “scared” to be in a foreign land and not know the language. None of the people I met were leery of me, a stranger. They cared, helped, and shared as I graciously accepted and connected. Fear didn’t exist.

Where are you in your journey?

In my journey, I am beginning to understand that I am the babbling brook and all that entails… I have glimpses of realizing I am (as we all are) the ocean of everything. The glimpses are such a peaceful space. In that space it is simple to realize there is nothing to do, but flow, gently flow. Life isn’t hard. Life isn’t scary. Life is a beautiful babbling brook without a care in the world.

While reading one of my favorite books for the second time, I ran across a quote (for the first time!) that perfectly describes the story of the babbling brook:

“Fret not where the road will take you. Instead concentrate on the first step. That’s the hardest part and that’s what you are responsible for. Once you take that step let everything do what it naturally does and the rest will flow. Do not go with the flow. Be the flow.”

-Elif Shafak, The Forty Rules of Love

What I believe is meant by “the hardest part” that is referenced in the quote is this: the hardest part is only taking the very next step. We have such a tendency to get far ahead of ourselves. Worrying about the future is not our responsibility and trying to figure out how things will happen is what impedes us from realizing all that is possible. Worry is the greatest misuse of imagination.

There is simplicity in taking the next step. It may appear brave or fearless, but really… it’s just going for a walk.

What is your very next step?

Go and do that… Be the Flow.

 

Be the Flow

 

 

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As I write this I am sitting in the backseat of a Toyota listening to the Beatles with three Slovenians who I don’t know. I am hitchhiking! The couple in the front told me their names, but I just nodded and smiled. Don, a fellow hitchhiker, is in the back with me.  They all seem like very nice people. We are 1.5 hours into a 6 hour drive from Ljubljana, Slovenia to Split, Croatia.

The idea of a different kind of trust popped into my mind because: I obviously don’t know these people and I am “trusting” everything will be great. I didn’t even arrange this modern day hitch hike. My Airbnb host, Meta, knew of a forum where Slovenians post long drives and offer rides to people for a small fee. It is like craigslist for travelers. As “luck” would have it: instantly we found a someone leaving from a nearby town this afternoon and heading directly to my destination tonight. Meta texted the driver, set up my exchange, drove me to the meeting point, handed me over to the guy in the Toyota, and we were off. It seemed simple and fun.

Now, almost two hours into the journey, I smiled when I realized how present and trusting I have been: with my host; with my crew in the Toyota; with humanity; with everything. Not once did I wonder or worry. It all just felt really right. I’m enjoying my new friends even though I have no idea what they are chatting about. They are good, kind, and loving people, it’s obvious.

To me, this is more than “trust.” It is a way of living that changes everything. It isn’t being lackadaisical. Instead, it is following an instinctive wisdom we all have while being fully present, yet certain of an impeccable future.

Here is my different take on trust:

Trust to me is a unicorn. It’s made up. Trust to one person can be completely different to another. Your personal characterization of trust can shift and change. Trust is not a truth, it’s a human construct.

On the other hand, there is something special that is like trust, but so much more profound.  It occurs through the combination of presence and knowing everything will always be ok. The synergistic effect of presence and knowing all will be ok is so much greater than if either of the two were held separately. This “something special” is deeper and wider than “trust” could ever encompass. It has a different feel: it is the soft embrace of a peace that opens up endless possibilities for love, joy, and a life well lived. What is available in this space is sweeter than our wildest dreams.

Let’s dive deeper into two components of this special space

Presence:

  • In this very moment, is everything ok? I’m not asking about today or the last five minutes. Instead, this very moment. Now. This millisecond. And this millisecond, and this one, and this one. Even if you are having a bad day or month, usually in this very instant everything is fine and dandy.
  • Where are you? Mentally, are you fully present with where you are, with what you are doing, and/or the people you are with? Are you in the Now? When we are completely present there is stillness and peace that breeds joy, love, and a beautiful feeling of aliveness. The more time we spend in the present, the deeper these feelings become and the more alive and receptive we are.

Knowing everything will always be ok:

If you knew with certainty that everything will be ok, no matter what happens, what might that change?

There may be moments where things seem not ok, but sometime later we can look back and see how those instances shaped our lives and we are still ok. Everything will always be ok. In this article I discussed something similar from a different angle: Everything that has happened since the beginning of time happened just as it did and has lead up to you reading this very sentence, right now.  Everything. We can say the same about every instance the rest of our lives. In each instant (each now) things are ok. Everything will always be ok.

Knowing everything will always be ok relates to presence because in this state of mind, there is never a reason to worry about the future. Being fully present changes everything. I now fully understand everything will always be ok and this has changed everything. There are many moments when I forget this, but as soon as I remember again, I come back to the stillness where joy, love, and peace abound. This is where possibility and unlimited creativity live, where aliveness like no other takes center stage.

Instant Update

From the hitchhiking event in which I am writing this blog:

Now the Toyota is making a constant beeping noise… clearly it is alerting us to something. My three new friends are discussing what is happening. I am curious, but not worried at all. With a huge smile, the woman in the front turns around and shares in a thick accent: “No gas, but it’s ok.”

To which I instantly and gregariously reply: “Great!  I love living on the edge!”

Now they all are laughing… I am too.

We made it to a gas station in time, but if we hadn’t it still would have been perfect.

In Summary

We don’t have to live on the edge all of the time, but when we live in the present moment and have no fear about the future, we give ourselves the opportunity to truly live. The secret to this is living more and more in the present moment and being at ease with yourself when you aren’t. The past has come and gone—leave it where it is. The future is bright, and it will come to us whether we worry daily or not. Life can only be lived right now.

Sure, you’ll shift back and forth, in and out of presence. As soon as you notice you aren’t present, you immediately are. Do this enough and soon presence will be your predominate state: a place where you come alive and anything is possible.

Try it on, practice living right now and being fully alive. More and more I am living in this space and I’ve never felt more at peace, open, and full of love. It’s there waiting for you too.

 

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This morning on a flight to London I realized the last time I flew over the Atlantic was in 1999. How things have changed!

To fund that trip I worked for the Department of Environmental Protection researching and writing short “bios” for all of the waterways in south Florida. It’s amusing to think that I slaved away for months in a tiny windowless room infested with volumes of the driest information on water you could ever imagine to save up for what I thought was a journey of a lifetime. That summer trip was a chance to live with two of my closest friends in their homelands: Slovakia and Bosnia. I guessed that would be that last time I’d have the chance to freely roam around Europe before I joined the working world. What a journey it was… but at the time I could never have predicted the real journey.

UNpredict Your Journey

Looking back, what has transpired in the last nineteen years has been unimaginable. At the time I was studying to become a mechanical engineer. I thought I was going to invent cool stuff, wear a business suite, and have all the fancy things that prestigious engineers have. I never could have predicted that career would last all of six months. If I knew that, would I have spent years in college learning all of the life lessons and meeting friends that became family? Probably not!

That was just the beginning! If I would have tried to predict my journey, there’s not an ice cube’s chance in hell I’d have come up with the one that transpired.

What do you think might happen if we all unpredict the journey?  … Perhaps a world of possibility will open?

Saturday I saw the sign in the photo above at an awesome bike shop near Los Angeles and realized the depth of life in the words “Unpredict Your Journey.”

Our predictions confine us. Even with the widest of visions, we put limits on what we believe is possible. So many people throw around the saying “anything is possible,” but how many truly BELIEVE IT? Imagine being in each moment with the ultimate freedom of limitless potential.

Let’s put this in perspective: ANYTHING! This means everything, all, whatever—it’s all possible when we are completely open.

Yesterday I watched a video about Claire, a dying 18 year old that gets life deeper than 99.99% of the humans who have ever lived. She shared that there is so much freedom in knowing she is dying. She’s been sick since the day she was born and statistics say she should have been dead years ago. She’s never had to think about getting a career, paying the bills, planning for the future. She lives in the moment, because that’s all she’s ever had. Her presence, understanding, and awareness are unbelievable, especially for a person who is only 18. Why? Maybe because she’s never considered predicting her journey? When you finish reading, watch the video (or at least watch the speech she gives at the 25:00 minute mark).

Unpredict your Journey….  What is possible then?

The 20 year old that last flew across the Atlantic in 1999 could not have predicted she’d leave engineering at 24 and become a firefighter /paramedic; rise up the ranks; fight massive forest fires in the mountains of Montana; Connect with the Brotherbood Ride; ride a bicycle thousands of miles across the country while honoring fallen heroes; become the first female station officer in her fire department; travel lots; get roped into racing funny bikes; fall in love with a third career: coaching; learn what love is; start and run a business; totally transform from who she thought she was into someone that seems to be more and more “me” (whatever me might be) each day;  retire from the fire service at 38; sell everything and move into a trailer; travel North America solo; travel the world; connect with thousands of people along the way; be sitting in a flat in London writing this blog for you while on a second European adventure; …. And continue on the unpredictable journey to ease everyone into Coddiwompling their own life’s journey.

Coddiwompling is unpredicting the journey. It’s the simplest way to live: head in a direction while being open to anything and everything. It’s removing the limitations that we all put on ourselves. It’s the way Claire has lived her entire life. It’s the way I am learning how to live more and more. Coddiwompling is the secret to happiness, fulfillment, and changing the world. We are all one thought from the freedom to live simply and simply live.

Unpredict Your journey. Your grand adventure can start Here.

Here is each moment. It is now. It is all the moments the rest of your life.

Being open and getting in tune with your insinctive  wisdom in every “now” is realizing there is no “path” we must follow. Looking back we can each see the path we took, but there are trillions of different paths that we could have taken.

Last weekend I walked up a grassy hill with a friend. We meandered to the top without a plan. There was no path. When we looked back, we could clearly see the trampled grass where we walked that lead to the place we were standing, but we could have taken many different routes to get to where we were. In addition, when looking ahead, there were limitless choices of where to walk next. I now understand that life is the same. What if we all went on a walk with the aim to do good things and make a difference in the world while taking all limitations on “how to do it” off the table?

How? You are smarter than you think and you are designed to thrive: Listen to your instinct (your heart, gut feeling, wisdom within), take the next step (without the preconceived ideas or limits on what you can do or how it is supposed to be done), live in the now, trust, repeat.

Simply put: travel purposefully towards an unknown destination, Coddiwomple Now!

Sill have questions? I’d love to chat with you more about it.

I have unpredicted my journey and life has never been richer.

What if you gave it a shot? What might be possible?

Try it on, see how it feels. You just might change the world.

Unpredict Your journey… Your grand adventure starts now.

 

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This week I am in Los Angeles with an outstanding group of coaches from around the world. We are here together seeing, sharing, experiencing, and learning about deepening our understanding and intensifying impact. The more meaningful our coaching is to our clients, the greater the impact is in the world.

The Exploration

Each night we’ve been gathering after hours around a backyard fire for company and conversation. Last night the topic of my previous life as a Firefighter came up. Someone asked “What was the craziest or most intense call you ever been on?”

Wow, my mind initially went blank. The first things that dribbled in were big fires, a tanker roll-over, natural disasters and significant vehicle accidents. Then, like a slide show, memories appeared of many people I’ve been with on their last day. Interestingly in the moments following the question about the craziest call, I realized just how many people I’ve seen take their final breaths.

I shared a story of one of the most profound moments I had in my career as a firefighter/paramedic. I will share the story with you as well, in just a moment.

The Perceived Effect

After I shared the story, another friend asked-“How did all of these experiences with death affect you?” My first inclination was that it didn’t affect me. Firefighters are a different breed: We can “work” a cardiac arrest or see a car accident so gruesome that it would scar most other people for life, but then we go back to the fire station and tell jokes over dinner.

In addition, we are an integral part of family and friend’s experiencing the passing of those they love. I have no Idea how many times I have been the one that held a new widow’s hand (or looked into the eyes of a mother, father, sister, child, friend, etc) and said the words “I am sorry…” These three words are always followed by a few more words that no one will ever remember. Still I thought there was no effect.

The Story

I woke up at 3am this morning realizing that I now see much more about death. I realized that loving the career and the experience of being a firefighter/paramedic was much more of a gift than I realized. What I have experienced has affected me, but in ways most would not suspect.  Here is the story I shared:

Early in my career as a paramedic I had a seemingly run of the mill patient with chest pain: a kind older gentleman eating dinner in his home with his extended family. Though this incident happened over a decade ago, I can tell you where his family members (wife, children, grandchildren) were sitting at the table when my partner and I arrived. Even though this was a “usual call” I had a feeling this was more serious than it seemed and called for another crew of two firefighters to help. The other crew arrived minutes later and didn’t see a reason to be there—all seemed fine. So the second crew left just after loading my patient in the ambulance and starting an IV line. I actually felt self-conscious that I called them to help as they were seasoned vets and obviously knew their help wasn’t needed. I could have insisted at least one of them join me in the back of the ambulance for the ride to the hospital, but I didn’t.

The hospital was a thirty minute drive. I gave my patient (let’s call him John Doe) some medications. He felt a little better and we were off. There was no rush or sirens, just an easy drive to the hospital as John and I chatted calmly. John casually mentioned he wanted to go home. I consoled him and told him as soon as he saw the doctor, he’d hopefully be able to go right back home. Within minutes he again mentioned he wanted to go home, again I consoled. Moments later John kindly told me he was going home and, thinking he was confused, I explained we were going to the hospital. This happened a few more times and then he matter-of-factly asked “Don’t I get I priest first?”

Instantly I realized I was the one that was confused. I jumped to my feet, leaned through the narrow window into the cab so my mouth was inches from my driver’s ear. With very colorful language, I asked (told!) him to drive faster than he’s ever driven because our patient was about to die. 

You’ve probably seen enough episodes of ER or Grey’s Anatomy to know that when someone is “crashing” it takes a large team: someone to do chest compressions, insert a breathing tube, give medications, give “shocks” to reset the heart, and more.  As paramedics we also work in large teams.

On that day, there I was- a relatively new paramedic in the back of a moving ambulance, alone, with my patient who was “going home.” I sensed what was about to happen and continued talking to John while doing everything I knew to keep him alert and alive. Within minutes John lost consciousness, slumped over, and was gone.  I continued to do everything I could, wishing I had at least 4 more hands. While still doing CPR, we pushed the stretcher carrying a kind family man into the Emergency Room. I knew I had killed him. It was my fault. I could have done so many things differently. I watched as the team in the ER did all they could, but couldn’t get him back.

Later we were told he had a medical condition that could not have been corrected, even if he was on the operating table when it happened. There was nothing I or anyone else could have done to change the outcome. That was John’s last day and he knew he was going home.

The reason I remember John and that moment in time so vividly is because it was my only experience of being alone with another human as they made the transition. There would be others, but never again the intimacy of only two people sharing that moment. John taught me many things in his final moments. I saw a peace in him. I also noticed what mattered. I can’t remember our conversation, but I do remember it was nothing to do with the “everyday life” that most of us live. There was no talking about bills, work, missed business meetings, things he should have done. None of that mattered. There was a deep sense of love, oneness, connection, and presence. There was a peace and gentleness unlike anything I had ever witnessed. This peace, presence and connection is a glimpse into the “home” that we all have access to at anytime.

Going Home

I didn’t fully realize the significance of this understanding until waking up in the wee hours this morning, 12 years later. The realization was about the question- “How did these experiences with death affect you?” The answer is: experiencing death has taught me about life and has led me to where I am today. I am no longer working as a firefighter/paramedic, not because I didn’t love the job. I loved being a firefighter… but I saw more, and wanted more for everyone.

Up until recently I thought being a firefighter was the best job in the world—I couldn’t imagine doing anything else! Now my tone has changed: Being a firefighter/paramedic is one of the noblest jobs in the world. Although I now know there is a “job” that is even better. This is why I walked away from my first love (firefighting), and on to my passion (coaching).

Why? To help people live amazing lives. To point towards the presence and connection that John experienced in his last few moments before he left this world. To live in an understanding that changes everything. To help people see what many never see.

In essence, my mission now is to intentionally be with people as they “go home.”

Observing Impact

Yesterday I had the amazing opportunity to observe one of the finest coaches in the world (I may be partial, but I’d venture to say he’s the best). In live coaching sessions he gently pointed a beautiful human being toward a new understanding about how our minds really work and towards hope. The client, a gorgeous person, initially thought he was less than “ok.”

Just like you and me, he had been told by the world and himself that he had problems and he believed it. Early on he mentioned that he knew there was something more; something beyond wars, violence, destruction, racism, and fear. Just like him, most of us sense this, but we don’t “know” what it feels like to truly understand the depth of “going home.”  In just a couple of conversations this veteran, father, and beautiful man began to see everything differently. In his eyes we all could see that everything changed in an instant. The world will never look the same and he will never be the same again.

Observing this coaching conversation was like watching the budding and blooming of a beautiful flower. One enormous difference between a flower and this beautiful human is: This human will go out into the world and create amazing things. He will create opportunities for himself and others; he might fuel love and ingenuity in all those around him; he might change a kid’s life or brighten one person’s day; he may transform the military; or he might create a massive company or non-profit that will reach millions. Who knows?!  This is the ripple effect that has the potential to drastically change the world.

This type of coaching impact is what I want to do, what I am doing, and what I will do even better in the months and years to come. As a firefighter, I often was with people on their darkest days and tried my best to make that one moment better. Now, I help people see everything differently and hold human potential in a whole new light.

This is for John Doe. This is for you. This is the hope that we all get to experience “Going Home” many years before we take our last breath.

Someday will eventually come… why wait?

 

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While on this Grand Adventure I have met so many people that have become like family, although there have been many times where I felt very alone. In just three short months I have “seen” so much- with my eyes and with my heart. Right now I am in New Mexico and I know why it is called “The Land of Enchantment,” I too have been enchanted. Some of my experiences seem too deep to put in to words. The one I share with you today will hopefully spark something within you—it’s a story about awareness, the journey, the destinations, togetherness, and how each and every moment in life counts… it’s a story that begs the question: Where are you headed?

***

One evening last week, on the spur of the moment, I set out on a hike to see petroglyphs. I began just before sunset and I wondered if I was too late to see it all. Little did I know I was about to see everything. The walk began at the desert floor and meandered up rocky hills covered with boulders which were plastered with ancient art. Roughly halfway to the top of the hill the sun had set, but there was plenty of light so I kept ascending.

Near the top, I found myself sitting on a boulder that was perfectly perched facing due west on the rocky hillside with the most amazing panorama of the desert. My view was framed by the distant dark silhouettes of the towering mountain ridges that were backlit with the magnificent deep oranges, reds, and purples of a jaw dropping sunset. Up above were the twinkles of far off stars brightening in the new night’s sky. To my back, left, and right were more tall boulders decorated with ancient graffiti- beautiful petroglyphs. It was as if I was in a skybox watching the setting sun put on a show while being surrounded on all sides by thousand year old photo albums: animals, star bursts, geometric shapes, faces, arrows… beauty.

My view of the desert sunset

In that beautiful moment I realized every instance of my life had brought me to this specific space. There I was, basking in the splendid beauty of nature and the cosmos and only a few miles from home. This gorgeous place is my home… it’s everyone’s home. How lucky am I? How blessed am I? How blessed are all of us.

In the next moment I more deeply realized that EVERY instance of my life had brought me to that specific rock sitting next to ancient petroglyphs. My heart filled and emotions followed. In that instant I noticed him- a petroglyph of a man. The man had a face and body and he happened to be perfectly positioned over my left shoulder. It was as if he was watching the show with me… or rather I was watching the show with him. He’s watched thousands of different renditions of this show—every evening, he is there watching and waiting for the beautiful transition from day to night. I wondered about all the people who had joined him throughout the thousands of years. I also wondered about the people who drew him and all the art surrounding us.  I could feel their presence, all of our presence.

An epiphany that suddenly hit me was this: I may have been the only person on that hillside, but I was not alone… I have never been alone. None of us are ever alone.

Then I profoundly realized that in order for me to be there watching the gorgeous show and realizing what I was realizing, everything had to happen just the way it did-EVERYTHING in life. Everything being: The amazing, the good, the bad, the hard times, the easy times- every single moment of it. Everything from before birth, to childhood, to adulthood, to the hours and minutes leading up to that moment. There were many things I worked really hard for and there were even more things that “just happened,” almost magically, or rather: miraculously.

At no point had I dreamed I’d be in that glorious space in the desert, but I was and it was astonishing. The everythingness was mind-boggling.  I was full, I was happy and in that moment I realized: I am surrounded by love, life, and the magic of the human potential… always. We all are. No beautiful sunset needed… we have access to all of this all the time.

Petroglyph at sunset illuminated by my flashlight

If everything in life ads up to where we are in this one moment, where are you? Where would you like to be? What might be available to create? What are you open to happening?

This moment and every moment count… I am learning more and more that when we thoroughly enjoy the moment, there can’t help but being even more and more amazing moments… it just happens and we don’t have to try.

Enjoy your moments. Get out of the everyday ordinary and into the everyday extraordinary… the fun part is: it’s much simpler than you think to take that first step and keep on walking.

 

More and more I realize how important it is to have guides on life’s journey… people that love and want the best for me and are able to take an observer’s view… then point towards the beauty and wisdom available in everyday experiences. Even more importantly, my “guides” point me toward the Truth, which has opened unbelievable opportunities for growth, happiness, success… and all the amazingness that has been sitting right there beside me all along.  If you are curious about what that is like, I’d love to join you for a “hike” from the ordinary to the extraordinary. Shoot me an email or give me a call- the possibilities are endless and my bet is it is MUCH simpler than you might think. support@coddiwomplenow.com

 

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