Career Advice ARTICLES / Work I’m Meant to Do

What Birthdays and Terrible Emergencies Can Have in Common

What Birthdays and Terrible Emergencies Can Have in Common

Hello my beloved friends, family, fans, and clients –

You have all been so generous with your birthday wishes, Facebook posts and voicemail songs in celebration of my birthday. It has meant a lot to me to return home from our vacation to all this good mojo. This really is what birthdays are about. Because so many of you have asked how my birthday was or have sent lovely cards and sentiments, I wanted to say thank you. I’ve decided to respond in a group note in an effort to answer that question once and maybe even use this story as an opportunity to shift some perspective for both myself and others. Will try not to be maudlin, but intend to truly celebrate my birthday and the precious gifts of life and love with this note.

My birthday was a huge gift for many reasons.

I got to learn that in a terrible emergency…

…it feels better to have 3 of the people you love most in the world right there with you.

…almost nothing else matters in that moment except what’s happening to fellow loved ones and other humans, that 5 seconds before you didn’t even know.

…fear and compassion can coexist without a tug of war and is actually quite healing.

…while SUVs are not the greatest for our environment, that much metal can protect us in ways we often take for granted.

…a series of small choices can create “sliding door moments” and our choices really do matter.

…feelings can live in our body tissue and cells and get released, processed or metabolized in unexplained ways that are very different in both timing and tone for each person.

…we all react very differently in emergencies. Not only is it ok, it’s “perfect” because what I learned is that very often we can each use our strengths to step into roles that are needed. What’s amazing is that this happens with zero negotiation, analysis or critical voices toward ourselves or others. The roles we step into naturally when we aren’t thinking are truly our gifts; ones connected to our Life Purpose, and probably have a lot to do with who we truly are outside the box of our business cards.

…a birthday doesn’t have to be ruined in the middle of something awful if you remember to take stock of all you DO have that truly matters.

…first responders are a truly gifted bunch of people who contribute an amazing amount to very difficult circumstances for little pay (and often grumbling from the rest of us for a variety of reasons).

…passing words from a total stranger, who is there one second and then disappears can ring poignant reminders and comfort in your ears for days and I dare each of us to be that stranger at some time.

…a second can feel like a nanosecond and 2 hours can feel like 2 days so it reminds me that time is what you make of it.

…we are connected to each other as human beings (whether we know each others’ names or not) in ways that we mostly don’t pay attention to until we do.

So by now, you’re thinking OMG, what happened? The short story is that we were involved in a terrible accident on the afternoon of my birthday while Bob and I were vacationing in the Santa Ynez Valley with two dear friends. The four of us are quite amazingly fine, but very likely not the same. Our beloved friend was the designated driver who had made a conscious choice not to do any wine tasting. The person most injured was a 73 year old motorcyclist who hit our SUV and was thrown quite a substantial distance with his bike left to bits and medivac-ed by helicopter out of the scene. Very thankfully, we’ve gotten word he is stable and doing unexpectedly well. And really, that’s all that matters so let’s just leave all the retelling of details to the police report.

Instead, use that energy that you might have asked for more details to:

  • kiss your wife and tell her how much you love her
  • show your partner how much you trust them
  • take a shower with your husband even when there’s laundry to fold
  • take your kid ice skating even when there are bills due
  • know that people are not out to ruin your day, but are dealing with their own fears
  • remind someone you don’t even know how much they matter
  • make conscious choices
  • be willing to wait for an email response for more than 24 hours because you have no idea what each person’s day has really been about
  • say thank you 10 times a day for lots of reasons and
  • trust that we each have our own journeys and a guardian angel or two.


2 thoughts on “What Birthdays and Terrible Emergencies Can Have in Common

  1. I’m grateful for those “sliding door moments” that kept you with us. Blessings to all who were involved in that and all accidents.

    1. Thanks Rhonda. Me too! Yes, a good term for it – a sliding door moment. I loved that movie. You are reminding me that I’m going to have to watch that again.

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