“Broken hearted often leads to broken open. And broken open is the perfect environment for finding out who you are and why you’re here. Break and grow.” – Michele Woodward
As you read this, I am on vacation with my dear sister-friend Marika, exploring the lighthouses along the western shore of Lake Michigan.
It’s a special trip, really. Not just because we will be staying with new friends along the way, but because, four years ago, we were exploring the eastern shore of this same big lake, climbing up the hundred steps of the towering lighthouses, and I was struggling to breathe. My inhaler did little to calm the constant coughing and I tired so easily.
Two weeks after we returned from that trip, I had emergency open heart surgery to remove a myxoma, a rare benign tumor that was almost completely blocking my left atrium.
A client recently asked me if I experienced a white light epiphany during the surgery, if that was when I decided to change how I lived my life.
The answer is no.
It was everything that happened after the surgery that got me started on the path of this new way of being.
When you are recovering from open heart surgery you can’t busy yourself with too much doing or distract yourself with a lot of meaningless activities or mindless chatter.
When you are recovering, at first, all you can do is sit. And breathe. And even THAT is so painful. Maybe it was that painfulness that made me so aware of my breathing. It kept me in the present moment.
I wasn’t interested in TV. I didn’t have the concentration to read or watch a movie. Everything in my world slowed down. And I rejoiced in the simplest of things, like being able to open the refrigerator, walk a full circle around the pool, reach the shower massage so that I could take a shower by myself.
Friends called and came to visit. My parents brought me my favorite foods. I was so utterly aware of the love and support in my life.
And, while I never thought I would die in the surgery, it suddenly struck me that I could have died climbing those lighthouses. The tumor could have easily broken off and caused a fatal stroke.
And so, in the weeks and months that followed, as I regained my physical strength, I began to take a close look at how I was living my life. I started asking myself what did I really want to do, what did I want most in my life, and how could I best give back.
Slowing down to notice and appreciate these kinds of things is what brings us back to what matters, what’s important.
Slowing down creates the space for us to begin to ask the deeper questions.
This is what I teach and share in the groups that I lead.
We have to begin with slowing down, getting quiet. And breathing.
We have to learn how to listen inside, to appreciate the simpler things, to trust ourselves enough to ask the bigger questions.
Only then we will be ready to hear the answers.
If you are ready to slow down, get quiet and go deep, join me for a magical women’s retreat weekend. Surrounded by the healing red rocks of Sedona, we will leave the noise and busyness of daily life behind and explore what really matters to your own heart.