Going Home

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?

 

… until the next revolution.

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An Ordinary Hike to an Extraordinary View

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.

Desert Sunset

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.

Etraordinary

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.

 

… until the next revolution.

 

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. Kristy@yourevolution.com

 

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