There are events in life that change your perspective on life. As you navigate those life changing events you realize that there are basic life principles that help guide your life. I have had one of those life changing events.
On Friday, March 31, 2017, my life and the life of my wife, Judy experienced a tsunami.
I had paralysis in my lower legs and feet that made walking or driving impossible at that time. It made dressing, going to the bathroom and lifting my leg up one step extremely difficult/impossible. It’s like the waves of a tsunami crashing on you out of nowhere. This overwhelmed my emotions, with confusion, chaos, sadness, anger, fear with tears and aloneness. My life was changed forever. My body started doing things I didn’t understand. This all started after a long amount of sitting working on my computer, my legs and feet got numb. Thinking I had cut off the circulation, I got up to “walk it out” with no success. So, I went to bed for the evening. Upon awaking, things seemed better but I still had tingling and numbness in my legs and feet and it was getting progressively worse. Then, my legs gave out and I fell. Making a long story shorter, I ended up in the ER and got the results of the Lumbar (lower back) MRI that indicates that I have facet degeneration of the lumbar region/ degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis.
I was encouraged to get help at Mayo Clinic and after surgery and rehabilitation, I was able to return to work. However, over the next year, more paralyzing symptoms would appear in my body. At one point I was confined to bed and unable to move even my toes. This resulted in having 2 more spinal surgeries; One surgery on my cervical vertebrae (neck) and another in the thoracic vertebrae (upper back).
After rehabilitation and physical therapy I am able to walk with a cane. However, I continue to have a Novocain- type numbness from my chest to my toes and struggle to keep my balance, having fallen numerous times.
One thing I learned from becoming disabled is how much I took for granted. I never appreciated the miracle of walking until I had to learn how to walk again.
I’ve also learned the value of friendship and how just little gestures of kindness and concern and love flow thru others and showed me God’s love!
I’ve also learned about time. When you are unable to move and just have to lay in bed with small sessions of activity and physical therapy, it helps you realize what a precious commodity we have to enjoy: time . The seconds tick by and turn into minutes, that turn into hours and on our lives go. I have discovered that I have complete control over how I use the time I have been give.
One of the biggest struggles is making those daily choices about how to use the next block of time.
In fact, had a powerful dream that drove the point home about how precious time is. In my dream, I had this digital timer on my chest that was counting down, however, I couldn’t see the actual numbers, so I didn’t know when my clock would reach zero and my life would be over. This has helped me appreciate every moment and to use the time I have left wisely.
My belief is that the daily, minute by minute choices need to be guided & put into perspective by life principles. I have 3 life principles that I strive to use each day as I use my time.
Principle 1- Rhythm – There is rhythm or routine to the daily use of my time. It’s called a schedule. Without a schedule, I just get swept along by the day instead of deciding what projects, activities and people I need to intentionally place in my schedule.
Principle 2- Simplify – There are many important & worthy activities and projects that I can spend my time doing each day. I must spend the time, effort and energy deciding which activities or projects are the most important and worthy and then put them into my schedule. This is a very difficult principle because I have to make very difficult choices of what to keep in my life and what to eliminate from my life. This involves making decisions about what possessions to keep, sell, give away or throw away. And it also involves the tough decision of what people to keep in my life. It is important to keep people who are encouraging and life-giving in the relationship and let go of the people who are discouraging and life-sucking.
Principle 3- Focus– The focus principle is one of the most challenging principles to articulate in my life. It has taken many years for me to discover the purpose of my life. I am convinced that my Creator gave me a purpose yet it has taken me 65 years to begin to get comfortable in clearly focusing on living it each day of my life. Even though I have worked may jobs that have been on the path to living my purpose, I now believe I am focusing on that purpose more clearly in this Family Connections blog. I hope you are enriched in your connections as you follow my blog.