Tonight I had an absolutely wonderful time presenting my near death experience at the IANDS (International Association for Near Death Studies) monthly meeting. The speech itself was easy because it took very little preparation. I just told the story of my August 2014 out-of- body near death experience. When I get a copy of the voice recording I will post it on my blog. Here’s a brief summary of the experience that I wrote about a year after it happened:
I was in a coma for two weeks following brain surgery to remove a benign tumor. My brain was swollen from the surgery and I was rushed to the OR for emergency surgery to remove some of my skull to relieve the pressure. The only thing I remember from the coma is the following. When I was taken to the OR I left my body and hovered above it as I was being rolled down the halls of the hospital. I didn’t see a light or talk to dead relatives or anything. I was alone the whole time and the lighting was dim. I felt light and joyful and free. Just floating along. It was wonderful and I was laughing. When my body arrived in the OR, I saw what I think was a nurse sitting by my body and I turned over and put my head on her lap. She then began to scoop big black balls of dark energy out of my head. That’s all I remember. Looking back, I wonder if the nurse was an angel that was energetically healing me.
It was just so much fun talking to an audience who was genuinely interested in sharing their thoughts and questions about this fascinating topic. I felt like I was a part of something, that we all had a common interest and we shared our thoughts without judgment or concern. It was wonderful. I came home smiling and uplifted. It was also really so nice to see three of my former nursing professors in the audience, along with a nurse I used to work with and some former neighborhood friends. It’s a small world. I feel loved. How did my near death experience change my life? Probably in more ways than I realize. First, I do not fear death. Second, we are all being watched over. Angels are among us. Third, I have stopped judging others so much. What’s the point? We are all heading to a beautiful place, and we are all getting there on different journeys. Who am I to judge other people’s journeys?
It’s just so fascinating how I can teach a subject for years at college and not follow my own advice! I teach nursing students a class about sleep hygiene. One of the main principles is that the best way to promote a good night’s sleep is to get up at the same time every morning. Have I ever done that? No. And for the past two years I have had trouble sleeping. Well, I finally took my own advice. I set my iPhone alarm to wake me up EVERY DAY at 6:30 AM. It also reminds me to go to sleep every night by 10:30 PM. I schedule 8 hours of sleep. Well not only do I sleep better, but I get SO MUCH DONE in the mornings now. It’s fantastic. I get my morning routine done which includes biking, meditation, studying the scriptures, eating and showering all before 9:00 AM. It’s great! I have a goal to get on my computer by 9:00 AM and it is working so well. I get so much more done in a day, all because I get up at the same time and stick to a schedule. I love it. It’s has changed my life. I just feel better about me. I wake up smiling. Now if I can only do something about the time I spend in the evenings watching too much TV and eating too much food. That will be the next thing I tackle. It feels great to reach a goal, and it feels great to be responsible for what I get done in a day.
A few days ago I was driving home from tai chi with a girlfriend who talked about some challenges she is facing. She said apologetically that she did not want to burden me because I had recently “been to Hell and back.” At first I honestly did not know what she was referring to. Then I realized, she was talking about my brain surgery and loss of my husband (in addition to a few other things). Did this really look like I’d been to Hell and back? Honestly, that’s not what it feels like. It’s more like I’ve been to Heaven and back. During these challenges, I was closer to the Spirit, closer to my Heavenly Father, got familiar with my own strengths and weakness, and felt closer to my family than I was before. And now that I’m “back” I feel like I am not as close to the Spirit as I want to be. I am reading a book called The God Seed that is helping me to understand how to live a more spiritually in-tune life. Challenges in life serve a purpose, including helping us to get to know who we really are, and embracing our journey. The interesting part of the conversation with my friend was that I learned that things look different from the outside. Although to her it looked like I have gone to Hell and back, it doesn’t look like that at all to me. So once again, I am learning that my assessment of other people’s experiences is usually not accurate. We all experience stress differently. It may be hard to watch others go through what we think are painful and difficult events, but they may be learning and growing in ways we don’t know about. These challenges are shaping me, urging me to move forward and explore who I am, why I am here, how I can make a difference in this life, and other deep secrets that are brought to light by adversity. I live in gratitude for the challenges I have experienced.
My goal in life is to live by the Spirit. To trust that still, small voice as I move forward and make decisions. I notice that some times in my life are filled with the Spirit. Other times, not so much. Lately I have struggled to feel that guidance in my life. I pray, I study, I meditate but don’t really “feel” God or the Holy Ghost close by. I have prayed, asking that I will be open to it. I don’t ask God to send me the Spirit because I know it is already sent as part of this earth life. Well, here may be the answer to my prayer: I have been asked to speak to groups in November and December. In November I will share my near-death experience at a meeting of the International Association for the Near Death Studies in Salt Lake City. Then in December I am the commencement speaker at Fortis College in Salt Lake. So here’s what happening: As I seek to find inspiration on exactly what to say in those speeches, I am more aware of what is happening around me, specifically looking for meaning in everyday life events. Perhaps that’s the key to being open to the Spirit – being more aware, more present, and looking for the meaning and metaphor in life. I suppose the lesson again is that I can do hard things, and the doing of those things (like public speaking) moves me into receiving inspiration, feeling more alive, being more present, and feeling more spiritually connected to all that is. And the other lesson, as usual, is to be patient. The answer will come. Just be.
I work part-time due to my health. I have double vision and fatigue, so full-time work has been out of my reach for over 2 years now. On Friday morning I was getting ready for work, doing my usual routine of eating breakfast, biking for 30 minutes, meditating for 20 minutes, reading scriptures for 10 minutes and then showering. In the midst of my getting ready, the thought occurred to me that maybe I can go back to full-time work, I just need to do it. Perhaps I am just stuck in my routine. I tried to take on more hours a few months ago and the fatigue knocked me out. Should I try again? My fatigue is a bit better. My vision is not any better, and possibly worse. So much to think about. As I rode the train to work I kept thinking about the possibility of full-time work. I decided to decide. I thought about it. I prayed about it. I decided. Even if I fail miserably, I want to be able to say that I gave it my very best shot. I want to prove to myself that I can face this disability and function to my maximum ability, my personal best. I can do hard things. Here’s an interesting note: In an effort to not take responsibility, I thought, “If I run into my supervisor on the elevator, it will be a sign that I should tell her my decision.” I knew that once I told her, the ball would start rolling because she’s the one who would assign my workload. When I arrived at work she was not on campus yet. I was disappointed. Or maybe relieved. Well it didn’t last long because on my way to teach a class, I got on the elevator and there she was! On the elevator! What are the odds? So I told her my decision and she mentioned a couple of classes that I could teach to bring me up to full time. So the ball is rolling. I will start full-time in January. I am a bit nervous but also know I am doing the right thing. And of course today the fatigue hit hard. Well, I’m going to hit back… OK, I went to bed for awhile, but it felt like hitting back…
Halloween was bittersweet. It was our first Halloween without Steve. He loved it so much, he went trick or treating with the grandkids in his walker and a green wig last year, just 2 months before he died. I went with the grandkids this year and it was a challenge to stay in the present moment and enjoy the holiday. I got depressed. I snapped out of it toward the end of the evening. Steve would have loved it.
Glenda, Louie, Carol, Patti
I had a wonderful 4-day weekend last week when I spent time in Arizona with family and friends. I spent most of the time with my very best friends Carol and Patti in Surprise. We swam and talked and talked and ate. I feel loved and I feel wiser because we shared deep thoughts and feelings in a safe space. We have known each other for 51 years!
Dana, Patty, Glenda, Gloria, Geraldine
On Saturday Carol and I went to my Aunt Gloria’s house in Sun City and visited her and my cousins and Aunt Geraldine. It was great. I was sad to hear of the passing of my cousin Mike. I shared the story of Steve’s death with them. As we spoke I was thinking about when I was younger we shared birth stories of our children. Now that we are older we are sharing death stories of our loved ones. These stories of transition seems to connect us. We all have stories and sharing them brings us closer.
After Aunt Gloria’s we went to Wickenburg and visited my almost 91-year-old Aunt Louella and my cousins Gogi and Susan. Oh what memories we shared! I especially liked it when my aunts said I reminded them of my mom. Although she’s been gone for several years now, she is not forgotten. And I loved that Aunt Louella is still writing poetry. She shared some beautiful words with us. I am a blessed woman. My friends and family have supported, loved and sustained me throughout my life. My thanks to all of them. Below is a picture of my great-grandfather William Elias Johnson. Thanks for giving me a great family, Grandpa!