Room 1: The First Patient I Ever Lost

8765547_cb84ee4533_zI’m no stranger to patient death. If you’re going to be a nurse (or anyone in the medical field for that matter), it’s something you will deal with routinely. This post is in reference to a patient who suffered a critical event while under my direct supervision and did not survive, about five years ago. I was a rookie who had seen death a hundred times under the care of another person, but I’d never personally lost a patient.

Mr. Z was a drunk. He was a frequent flyer. He would use the money he should have been spending on his seizure medications to buy booze. Then he would get wasted, have violent seizures, and his wife would bring him to the ER. He would come up swinging, too, fists throwing out wild haymakers at all of us after the seizures subsided. We’d have to restrain him. Then he’d come to his senses and apologize profusely. This happened once every few weeks.

In my mind, I can still see his wife, always casually strolling through the ER to the waiting room as we began treating him. She’d be carrying a small suitcase and a blanket, preparing for another few nights in the hospital.

On one such occasion, Mr. Z was abnormally lethargic. He didn’t do his usual Mike Tyson routine after his seizure. Dr. Y ordered a CT scan of his head. I approached Room 1 to transport him to the radiology department. He was asleep when I entered. His blood pressure was a little low, but his pulse and respirations were normal.

The radiology tech accompanied me, and we wheeled him down the hall on the stretcher; the whole trip took less than five minutes. I kept track of his heart rate and respirations throughout. He remained stable. We slid him onto the examination table.

And just like that, he stopped breathing. I quickly checked for a pulse. Nothing. We quickly slid him back onto the ER stretcher, where I began CPR. I ordered the CT tech to call back to the ER and prepare for a Code Blue (patient not breathing). She made the call and steered the stretcher back to the ER with me perched on the side, doing compressions the whole way.

My team were at the ready as we wheeled Mr. Z back to Room 1 and went swiftly to work. Despite our best efforts, within fifteen minutes, it became obvious he wasn’t going to make it. Dr. Y announced the time of death. It all had happened so fast. I was dumbfounded.

Dr. Y, a seasoned veteran of medicine, cast a glance across the room and immediately sensed my struggle to process what had just happened. She marched toward me with purpose, grasped me firmly by the shoulders, looked into my eyes, and stated,

“It’s not your fault.”

I looked cluelessly into her eyes.

“It’s not. Your. Fault.” She repeated again.

I wept.

“Tripp. It’s not. Your. Fault.” She was insistent this time, firm.

I nodded. I stepped outside, pulled myself together and finished out the shift. I’ve often pondered why I was so upset, and over the years it has become apparent to me. We treat human beings, without question, without prejudice, without judgment. Whatever your race, your gender, your sexuality, your background, we will treat you.

As an emergency nurse, whenever I feel myself compartmentalizing inefficiently, feeling burned out, exhibiting jaded behavior, getting frustrated, I reflect back on Mr. Z in Room 1, and I am reminded that human beings are human beings. A life is a life. And a life lost before its time is a tragedy. Period.

To my dear fellow nurses this 2017 Nurses Week, you sometimes carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. You are a special breed. You see more disturbing images in a typical week than most people will see in a lifetime. You are loved, you are adored, and you are a vital part of the transformation of this world. Take time to accept the gratitude and appreciation that is declared to you, for you are all rockstars.

Cheers.

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A Quick And Dirty Guide To Happiness

WARNING: Explicit language may or may not exist in this post. If that sort of thing offends you, well, choose for it not to. I find that a little colorful language is liberating, helps drive the point home at times, and also expresses the nature of being human.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/adipics/47715711/in/photolist-5dydF-jhLmxb-6qwX5m-hSGZiK-k5izge-8Ws4q4-p3nzhz-m3yYoj-p3nyKH-5dv273-5P4kXc-ij32Vk-4eQcX4-oL9Kv9-7uv953-nfozmb-8pFCNE-pN4n9B-oL938k-dkJ3o-kWwAPg-yjpTSu-hSHQ36-ahH7SF-ikaEss-BZwR-ahH9JD-oL9KV7-ijWMCA-9afTBB-7BAWDb-4eQdHB-dWT2xN-qi8bEY-9cyftY-bxggsL-qrwUN-kZjenV-z2UrJ-p3B117-f4kRCA-5zMsYu-93gHo-p3nyWz-o54nqA-p3CWbT-EXDty-8xz6Tb-sdkmks-65ARu

Of all the people I’ve coached and mentored, of all the human behavior that I’ve observed, of all my experiences and reflections, from all the psych and sociology I’ve studied, from all the choices I’ve made (both powerful and shitty), and from the various self-improvement courses I’ve undergone, there’s a central question that makes itself known pretty regularly to me, and it usually goes something  like this:

What’s the key to personal happiness?

And if it’s addressed directly to me, it’s usually followed by

Make it quick. I have things to do. You’ve got five minutes.

So in the spirit of quick and dirty, here goes:

Step 1 – Define what you want. 

Step 2 – Do it.

The end.

OK, for those of you who might be interested in a slightly extended version of the above steps:

Step 1 – Define what you want. As Tim Ferriss states in The 4-Hour Workweek:

For all their bitching about what’s holding them back, most people have a lot of trouble coming up with the defined dreams they’re being held from.

I  happen to believe that it’s purely fear that paralyzes human beings from declaring what they want. As long as it’s floating around within the confines of your own mind, you have nothing to risk and nothing to gain. You can simply daydream about it without any accountability to step outside of your comfort zone. It’s happiness purgatory if you ask me. It’s warm and fuzzy and logical. But once you declare it, oh shit. It’s on. Are you shaking in your boots, yet? You should be.

Tell me something. How the royal hell can you skydive, or travel to Tahiti, or get a black belt, or learn a foreign language, or sell all that useless shit that clutters your garage, or leave your deadbeat job, when you can’t even SAY where you want to dine out on a Sunday afternoon, for God’s sake?

Step 2 – Do it. Oh shit. You’ve opened your big mouth and declared what you want. People think you’re weird. You’ve been ostracized. All for choosing the restaurant for Sunday lunch, and now everyone else in your lunch party thinks you’re a complete selfish asshole because you were the only who didn’t say “I don’t care where we eat.”

Here’s a tip about taking action after you’ve declared your intentions: MOVE YOUR ASS, DESPITE WHAT YOUR BRAIN IS TELLING YOU. By this point it is completely full of shit and screaming all the reasons why you shouldn’t be proceeding, like a safety rep in the emergency medical department, explaining to the nurses why they should wait to pump lactated ringers into the bleeding patient who is ten minutes from death, because it’s safest to chart everything beforehand.

A few weeks ago, I made a declaration on a personal goal. My action plan requires harsh workouts, and ingesting so many calories per day that food has completely lost its pleasure, and I occasionally have to suppress the urge to vomit. The same urge to vomit is usually present after workouts, too. And do you know what my brain says every single day?

Stay put. This is way too hard. Have a day off. You deserve it.

And do you know what I tell my brain every single day? STFU. That’s what. I’m not in the business of declaring something with no intent to deliver. During last week’s vacation, after a night of extreme good times and fantastical memories, I dragged my sleep-deprived aching carcass to the gym on workout day with a mild hangover. Do you know what my brain was screaming the whole time? You get the picture.

To pull a quote from a previous post about the current pursuit of a music career:

True, passionate, amazing life isn’t for the polished, the refined, the flawless. It’s for getting dirty, making mistakes, and loving yourself and those around you all the more for it. 

Define what you want in life, my friends. And go after it like death is on your heels. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll hurt, you’ll fall flat on your face, and you’ll climb the highest mountains, and you’ll LIVE. To the arena, my fellow gladiators. Don’t tell me what you’re capable of. Show me. Cheers.

Taking A Cold, Hard Beating In Life

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Photo Credit: M&R Glasgow Link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/glasgows/2200685325/in/photolist-4mt65r-ekrgJt-a6vJdG-5FH4VD-uF9ih-8XjWpc-rG1Ab2-rzxLc5-waqrBf-v1cxSC-u87vbu-tnA3Gy-wnFUzk-qMamXQ-qTnkp1-tFD3rq-7UTZAg-7Fk5f2-hMPcyx-dQCf9W-wTyKP-bWiVm2-72FndA-cJWEi-6dS18j-kja511-jAnYzN-p8LucZ-8txYwK-cE5u1w-63Sp2P-ku75L6-bwDfTi-csKbXb-cB5abE-4RGYkK-63WCb7-762KYT-7v33Ly-762Jb8-4AE4Gy-766Fij-5x79sv-6KiwBU-63WCmE-5TGymf-4LHZv2-5HyVxA-63WC27-63WC6j  The last nine months or so have delivered a few harsh blows in life, the latest of which has left me reeling with fear, and the blast radius has affected some of those closest to me. It happens to us all. I’ve put a lot of time and work into transforming my once permanently cynical mentality. But none of us is immune to a breakdown from time to time. The last few days, I’ve found myself uncharacteristically asking which day will be the one where I finally throw in the towel. A small but significant memory has begun to show up for me repeatedly, no doubt a result of this damned positive brain training I’ve been practicing the last few years.

I’ve dabbled in several martial arts forms over the years, including Aikido, Hapkido, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, Jeet Kune Do, and Kempo Karate. A few years back, I entered Faglier’s Kempo Karate in Augusta, GA, home of some of the biggest badasses of the CSRA. I’m proud to say I’ve trained on the same mat as local MMA champs Jason Faglier (Sr.), Jason Faglier (Jr.), and Alex Faglier. Until that time, I had mostly trained in controlled application of joint locks, chokes, throws and takedowns. Faglier’s was the first dojo I had visited where they routinely practiced full contact sparring, and anyone could try it.

I appreciated this new opportunity, figuring if I was ever to gain real confidence in a street fight situation, I should probably learn to take a punch and give one back. So I dove in head first as usual. I picked one of the biggest, baddest mofos in the dojo and asked him to spar with me after class. Go big or go home, right? His name was Matt. He was an advanced brown belt, MMA and competition experienced, and he also happened to outweigh me by around 80 pounds of solid power. He cheerfully obliged. Come to think of it, perhaps that should have worried me.

Anyway, we chomped down on our mouth pieces, gloved up, and stepped onto the mat for three rounds. Around, oh, fifteen to twenty seconds into Round 1, I was gasping for air like a chain-smoking asthmatic. I was in pretty considerable shape at the time, but let me tell you something: Being winded in the gym with a jump rope is one thing; it’s another thing altogether when you add The Iceman, delivering shots to your rib cage like a jackhammer to a Popsicle stick birdhouse. I dropped my gloves to insinuate I was done. He swiftly replied by delivering a solid right cross to my jaw. It’s hazy, but as best I recall, I believe I momentarily saw a grinning purple unicorn wearing gold clogs, a Black and Mild clinched between his teeth, tap dancing on Matt’s left shoulder.

I shook my head and regained my focus. “Never let your guard down,” Matt said in a lowered voice with a piercing stare. “Never give up.” It was obvious I was going three rounds with him whether I felt like it or not. Round 2: Shot to the nose. Dazed. Another shot to the jaw. Dizzy. Shot to the solar plexus. I was fighting the urge to yark. Round 3: By this point I was secretly just hoping for a knockout blow to put me out of my misery. I was struggling to keep my gloves up. But every time I would drop my guard, he would deliver another shot to my face. “Stay with me. I know you’re tired, but you can’t quit. Come on, man, stay with me. Stay with me.

After three eternities, the Round 3 bell rang, and I realized I was still alive. I had survived three rounds with one of the best fighters in the dojo. He grinned with spirit, slapped me on the shoulder, and told me I’d done well. And he reiterated, “Never, ever, EVER give up.” We bowed and exited the mat. I could only assume what he meant by “I’d done well” was that I hadn’t vomited, had a seizure, pissed myself, or offered up the ghost. He had pushed me WELL past my level of comfort. But he had ignited a fire deep within me to push on, despite several very convincing urges by my mind to throw in the towel. See the first paragraph. Sound familiar?

Every visit to the dojo after that I would step onto the mat with him again. I took beating after beating . . . at first. But then something began to happen. After several weeks, I discovered I could take several hard hits in succession without losing focus. I could swiftly respond with my own flurry of strikes and maintain my defensive guard. I could anticipate an incoming strike based on his body movements. I could spot holes in my opponent’s defenses. And I could make it all three rounds and still have the stamina to go three more.

Some blows in life can leave you in such a state of shock and dismay that you’d swear you could hear the gentle whisper of Death offering sweet (albeit false) relief. Whenever I take a crushing blow in life, or several crushing blows in succession, as seems to have been the case these last several months, when the panic sets in, when I feel like I might puke or pass out from the sheer stress of it all, I start recalling those same sensations as I went head to head with Matt. In my mind’s eye, I can see and hear him, voice lowered, determined stare, urging me to press on, to never give up, to stay with him, even as he beat the shit out of me, because he saw something within me that I didn’t see within myself, and he knew he would be doing me a great disservice by letting me throw in the towel.

I can still feel those body and head shots like torpedoes, rattling my chest and brain, leaving me dizzy and gasping for air, not unlike the aftermath of some of life’s atomic bombs, but slowly etching a permanent message onto my heart and soul: that though I may feel pain, guilt, fear, panic, anger, sadness, frustration, hopelessness, and a whole host of other vivid human emotions at any given time, and though they may FEEL very real, even debilitating, at the end of the day, when it’s all said and done, at my core, I’m still a fucking gladiator.  See Two Breakthroughs, Part 2 of 2: Fearless

For what they’ve taught me, I’d like to acknowledge my friends at Faglier’s Kempo Karate for being a part of my mental and physical training. You can find them here for more details.

If I took pictures of every injury I’d sustained in martial arts, I’d have a small bible. Here are a few minor injuries:

After Percocet. Broken and dislocated.

Head contusion. Bow staff to the temple.

First Album Release and the Quest For Perfection (Which Is BS, By The Way)

Superglue NightmareI’m thrilled to have just rereleased the Superglue Nightmare Demos, number one of my first three albums released from 2002 to 2009. These albums are raw and far from perfect, and after enough internal conflict and angst to fill three psych wards and still have enough left over for both sides of the Caitlyn Jenner debate, I’ve yet again found myself fumbling (and occasionally just walking) down the path of self discovery. Current life lesson: Peace with imperfection. Let’s discuss this elusive bitch, er, beast that is “perfection.” It’s a pandemic that has infected every human mind in history at some point or another.

We humans have this obsession with flawlessness, with the way things SHOULD be, but aren’t. Then at some point, we have this big revelation and decide that being flawless is crap, and we’re not going to give a shit about our flaws anymore! What you see is what you get! Then we have a meltdown because we realize we’re not flawless at being cool with our flaws. So then we do some yoga or meditate or pray or stab our spouse or something, after which we arrive at a peace with our newfound discovery: that everything ALREADY IS flawless, for better or for worse! Perfection! We just didn’t see it before! And that makes us better than you, because you haven’t made that particular discovery yet. But it’s OK, young Grasshopper. Here, you can bask in our flawless glow. 

In December 2014, you may have read my post about splitting with a promising record label. In January 2015, after dealing with some frustration, I picked myself up again and started making plans for a Kickstarter campaign to fund the remainder of my half-finished Tripp Powell & Co. debut album, Vintage Revival. I also began working on a publicity album entitled The Shotgun Sampler. The premise of The Shotgun Sampler was to put a few original songs from each of my first three albums onto one compilation for distribution. The album was so named for the manner in which I intended to release the compilation: quickly, without worrying about over polishing it, just to give fans a sense of my original sound. I’ll give you three guesses to see where this is going.

So four months later, I’m still working on the finer points of this “quick” album release, finding myself averaging 4-5 hours of crappy sleep per night, sucking down one to two energy shots per day, juggling my paying job (nursing) and my non-paying job (music), in the middle of my worst ulcerative colitis flare ever, frail and sickly. It took me that damned long to admit to myself and to everyone else that I was stressed out of my mind. After all, I’m the positivity guru, right? I’m beyond stress . . . cough, cough, BS!, cough, cough. And the ultimate stressor? DELUSIONAL SEARCH FOR PERFECTION. I found myself completely sold on the notion that this musical venture should be flawless, perfect and without mistakes. Are you starting to smell what I’m stepping in?

So once again, I picked myself up (side note: NEVER GIVE UP; thank you John Eliopolo), checked myself into the ER for a jump start to wellness, started therapy with a great new GI doc, picked up the kettlebell once again and started putting on the muscle with an old trusty (and absolutely brutal) weight gain regimen (thank you, Time Ferriss and Pavel Tsatsouline), and took the following detours:

  1. The Shotgun Sampler can go to hell, or at least collect dust on an earthly shelf for a while.
  2. All three of my first albums will be hitting online stores, starting with the Superglue Nightmare Demos. Look for the next two in the coming months. They each have imperfections, and dammit, I’m cool with that.
  3. Vintage Revival will be postponed, but is still very much alive. I’m leaning toward giving Kickstarter another shot later this year for funding.
  4. In the words of my good friend and mentor Javier Silva: “Get your shit out there and start playing live! Get messy! Make some mistakes!”

My friends, we human beings have the misconception that there is a way life SHOULD be, which causes us to resent and to resist the way life IS. Consider my notion that this musical venture SHOULD BE flawless, perfect and without mistakes. See where it got me? A pretty fair shot at taste testing different soil types and contributing to flower growth, if you catch what I’m saying. Have a look into where you expect perfection, or where you try your best to portray it. True, passionate, amazing life isn’t for the polished, the refined, the flawless. It’s for getting dirty, making mistakes, and loving yourself and those around you all the more for it. 

“I’ve learned so much from my mistakes, I’m thinking of making some more.” -Cheryl Cole

Tripp Powell & Co. are rehearsing and gearing up for live shows in the near future. If you’re itching to get your hands on a copy of the Superglue Nightmare Demos pronto (and you should be!), you can find it here. Expect it on iTunes, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Rhapsody, Slacker, Amazon and all other major music outlets soon. Cheers.

Losing My Record Deal: Pressing On

Back Porch PhotographyMy friends, this is a story of triumph, success, inspiration, passion and the ultimate life. And it hasn’t been written yet. Join me on a journey, for I am going to show you how to get anything you want out of life. Well, now that the lofty promises are out of the way, I have no choice but to deliver on what I’ve declared, because I’m not in the business of blowing smoke up your proverbial arses. (Also, FYI, I’m officially scared shitless).

Here’s the back story: On August 24, 2014, I publicly announced that after a several-year music hiatus, I was approached by a local record label and had accepted an offer to sign on for a record and performance deal. A week before, I’d told the label CEO that I wouldn’t say “yes” unless I was prepared to go all out. I took a week to mull it over, to sift through my fears, and then I pulled the trigger. I hit the ground running at full speed. In a matter of a few months, I auditioned many musicians, put together a band, found a recording engineer, lined up a photo shoot, created a Facebook page, started an account on Reverb Nation, set up a recording session and more, all while maintaining my full time job as an ER nurse.

The day before the recording session began, my manager notified me that one of their other artists had filed a legal dispute against the record label. I ended up unexpectedly borrowing money to fund the first session out of pocket. Several weeks later, the label CEO regretfully informed me that the legal dispute had dealt a crushing blow, and they would likely be shutting down. We made the unfortunate mutual decision to abolish contracts and part ways with business. I wish my ex-manager well, and he continues to serve as a consultant.

Alas, my friends, I cannot count the number of times I’ve faced adversity in this life and thrown in the towel. With music, with jobs, with school, with start-up businesses, with relationships, I have a history of giving up at the first sign of challenge. My historic motto has always been,

When the going gets tough, look for the nearest exit.

Ultimately, I accepted that this is who I am, and I’m OK with that. I took all this as a sign that despite my passion for writing, for touching souls with music, for inspiring people with my songs, for creating electric unity through live performances, I just wasn’t meant to be a full-time musician. It was worth a shot. And then I politely thanked that particular train of thought for sharing its useless opinion and invited it to go to hell. I’m Tripp (enter preferred expletive) Powell. See this post for how I discovered fearlessness.

My friends, we are not weak, frail beings, despite what the press and the world relentlessly try to convince you, and despite what you may tell yourself. We are powerful people who are completely capable of creating lives that we love. Losing a record deal presents a PERFECT opportunity for me to represent that. I’ve told so many of you about what transformations I’ve experienced over the last few years. I am transformed, and I’m inviting you to experience creating a dream as it unfolds in real time, label or no label, and not for my sake alone. I aim to inspire you to do the same for your dream.

Don’t just be a spectator. Jump in. Get tenacious and unreasonable. Be done with dreaming for dreaming’s sake. Be done with getting by, surviving. Be done with getting out of bed every day for the simple reason that you didn’t die during the night. With that mentality, you may as well be dead. Shall we die as bystanders, playing it safe in this game of life? Or shall we die dirty, bruised, battered, bleeding, winded, AND ALIVE!

In the clearing stands a boxer, and a fighter by his trade,
And he carries the reminders of every glove that laid him down,
And cut him ’til he cried out in his anger and his shame,
“I am leaving, I am leaving,” but the fighter still remains.    -Paul Simon

Dream big. Live bigger. (And stay tuned).

https://www.facebook.com/tripppowellco

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/621crw/7130174715/”>The 621st Contingency Response Wing</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Flat Tires And The Great Cosmic Joke

Flat tire.

Flat tire.

I’ve been on a money kick lately. The last several months, through a possibility created through the coaching of friend and mentor, Javier Silva, I identified a huge loss of power around my personal finances, and I put the kibosh on previously unrecognized frivolous spending. I’ve needed new tires for a while now. I started shopping around in July.

After deciding new tires were out of the question, I began to do some serious homework around how to inspect used tires. For THREE MONTHS I shopped. One night, I randomly looked on a local classified ads site. Lo and behold, there was a very nice set of “lightly used” Michelins listed within the last six hours, and they were just the size I needed. I called the next morning and went to the guy’s house. Very nice neighborhood in a prestigious area. They were taken off a company car per protocol to replace tires every three years, regardless of condition. I inspected all four tires and they passed. I took them to a reputable tire place. The guys told me I’d made a good choice. Happy to have this checked off my list, I had them installed.

The next morning, I drove about 30 miles to work down the interstate. About 2 miles from the hospital, the back right tire blew out. I pulled into a parking lot, hoping it was something minor. It wasn’t. This freaking tire looked like it had been on the wrong end of a drive-by shooting. I called work and informed them that I’d be late. I then proceeded to get the jack, lower the spare, etc.

Still dark at 6:30 AM, I’m in a deserted parking lot, changing this damned tire, cursing under my breath, envisioning what I’d have to spend on another set of tires, thinking about having to dig into my savings, watching my hard-earned money float away like piss into the wind. In that moment, as I was cranking off the last lug nut, I happened to look over my left shoulder. Above me, in the distance, a bright and full moon hung quietly, with wispy   gray clouds passing over it like transparent curtains. I became aware of the stillness in the middle of town in the early morning. It was eerie, but not disturbing, if that makes sense.

Directly I became aware of how small I was. I became aware of how, in the grand cosmic scheme, in the great wide world, a flat tire in the middle of a quiet town was utterly meaningless. I actually laughed out loud at myself. It was completely absurd that this event should bother me so. I was alive. I was breathing. I could smell the morning air. And if I should have to deplete my entire savings account, it was completely within my power to build another savings account.

One could say I “became present.” That is to say I became aware of what was occurring in that exact moment and stopped surrendering myself to the stressful, chaotic and reflexive machinery that was my subconscious stream of thoughts on auto-pilot. My friends, one of the greatest discoveries I’ve made in life thus far is the identification of those thought processes which regularly find themselves in my stream of consciousness. If you can identify those thoughts, you have the ability to change them. But be warned: Doing this regularly can cause loss of cynicism and anxiety and complete transformations of one’s worldview. I am the evidence. 🙂

Your Life In 60 Seconds

Stop, breathe, and be here with me in this post, friends.

Image URL: https://www.flickr.com/photos/markmorgantrinidad/5195877234/in/photolist-8V9ehf-aH11B6-ejugSx-bmjchn-oyPJ5H-6VXZcY-duXNn7-oSR1x-wzbBL-9pWJ2t-iYqjYh-eD3uSd-nazKbv-o57ci-pwPRr-BT9c-h3TQmU-ev3Z7-6ehwAY-4GaRC-4k1un-rPiT-CGMHG-bPAYxH-b8erTp-9qTvYT-cSZwg9-puYAh7-oRzJKZ-5ttzw-B8mqc-47hQak-pKZpJS-oJP7UV-gDgR8T-CRyz5-wCPR3-aupcj-aASe8d-4siTYj-aEkqD-o57ev-6rdv5w-a5JBk5-bPAYpn-9428R6-7X9WsD-dRdG2k-3Zdexu-Kshyq  Have a look at your life. For once, stop, breathe, and have a deep, honest look at your life. I know it is not an easy thing to do, looking deeply into your own life. Just trust me on this. Trust that by the end of this short post, you will have gotten something worth remembering.

And breathe. And focus.

Looking deeply, imagine that you and I are in a quiet room, face to face, with no distractions, no place to be, and I am listening completely and without judgement. And I am presenting a simple request: Tell me about your life in 60 seconds.

And you proceed into a verbal and vivid autobiography, starting around age 5, like Chunk being interrogated by the Fratellis in The Goonies.

And I interrupt you. You might be a little annoyed. I apologize and say no, friend. You’ll be lucky to reach puberty by the 55-second mark. No, tell me about your present life as you know it. Tell me what you think about your life. Tell me what life is like for you. A 60-second summary. Go.

No, really. If you need to pause right now to ponder in order that you might get beyond the two-word answer that you give most people on a daily basis, take your time. Never mind being straight with me. Be straight with yourself. And ponder how you would genuinely reply.

Dear friends, I pose these questions regularly to my fellow human beings, having become very interested in the lives of those around me. Hundreds of these personal conversations combined with the movies, the music and the popular culture of today have shown me that the vast majority of human beings only know how to respond to questions about life by describing their circumstances, which at worst are abhorrently miserable, and at best are mediocre to average.

Look around you. How many people do you know who effortlessly and authentically convince you that life is absolutely, cosmically, unquestionably as amazing as God intended it to be? Recall the various types of communication you encounter daily. Do you see hope? Do you see joy? Do you see wonder? I propose that if you do see these things, they are only fleeting glimpses, quickly replaced by the more permanent sense of worry, frustration or sadness.

Recently, Sheila, a friend and mentor, described to me the exhilaration of living like a two-year old (and my God, does this woman live). “Look at toddlers,” she said. “They are crazy! They are always running! They spill things, break things, discover things! And then they pass out and sleep like mummies! And then they wake up and do it all over again! They live every day to the absolute fullest, and they sleep without worry.”

When I’m asked about my life, I don’t usually give the same response twice. I like to say what comes to me in the moment. If I were asked today to describe it briefly, in this moment, my response would be as follows:

My life is great. I’m an emergency nurse. I have two amazing kids. We are an integral part of each others’ lives. I’m considering getting back into music as a career option. I write a regular blog entitled The Impossibility Movement. It’s about my reflections on how to impact people and change the world. I’m working through a breakup, and I’m creating that whatever the outcome, we will create mutual peace and something powerful, though we may not be able to envision it yet, and that’s OK. We also get along quite well with my ex-wife and her husband. My parents and sister are wonderful people, and I’m working on expanding my relationship with them. And I keep a life list on the side, which includes becoming a certified solo skydiver, getting a black belt, swimming with sharks, and doing medical missions. I love impacting people’s lives in a profound and lasting way.

Dear friends, allow me to freely share one of the most effective and lasting things I did to shift from a chronic loathing and questioning of life to a passionate love and adoration of it: I changed the way I spoke. “I’ll never be truly happy in life” was not merely a descriptive assessment based on past experience. It was a declaration of my future. Consider that in your routine communications with other people, you are not actually describing your life.

You are creating it.