Tuesday, March 27, 2012

nonessential information

...live with no regrets. Fly!
And if you are blown off
course, just change your
destination. Choose to
land wherever your two
feet are standing.

-"Turn Your World Red" by Danna Faulds (from Go In and In: Poems from the Heart of Yoga)

A little backstory - which may or may not be useful to share - but it's been on my mind lately and it acts as my reminder whenever I slide into forgetfulness or lethargy.

Close to twenty years ago (twenty years?!), way back when I was still an unformed and uniformed being if you will, I had an a little accident which really turned out to be a massive awakening.

Okay, it wasn't so little ... I broke my neck. More exactly, I broke the C-2 vertebrae which is the bone that allows the head to move from side to side. Go figure, I broke the bone that lets me to shake my head "No."

Other trivia delivered to me as I lay in the emergency room was the colorful term The Hanged Man's Break. "That's the bone that would snap when someone was hanged," a rather excited nurse informed me. Probably while I was using the bedpan because, well, waiting for the neurosurgeon to drill holes into your skull for a halo brace requires some waiting and lots of time for people to share with you just how lucky you are to be both alive and not completely paralyzed.

I think there are mountains of moments when we dodge proverbial bullets, but very few opportunities when we are left to grapple with that fact. With a broken neck, you have a long time to sit and think about it all, and here's what I learned about myself:

I would have been extremely pissed off if that had been it. Of course, if I was dead being angry might not have been an option. But after disbelief (No, really, I'm okay I just have a little neck ache) comes denial (this is some crazy dream; pinch me harder, I'm not waking up) and then for me, pissed-off-itude.

Anger, I've learned, is when something is so uncomfortable, it is better to try and deflect that emotion outside of myself. But with time, I came to understand the one I was angry with was myself. Because I realized I had put off so much living using the excuses "when the time is right" or "I'm not ready yet" or "one day, but not today" as means of escaping the truth that I just didn't take myself or my life very seriously.

Almost loosing everything, I recognized it was time to really embrace it all. To embrace myself. To stop avoiding what I most wanted to experience, which was full-throttle living. Making a difference. Making my mark no matter how small, to say "I was here. And it matters."

Shortly after that accident I dropped out of graduate school (my little slice of hell) and we moved from L.A. to Nebraska. I started studying and practicing yoga, went into therapy (examining a subject infinitely fascinating and perplexing- me!), took up a job in a total unrelated field to anything I had done before and got down to the business of making a life.

Any significant decision or action I've taken in the last 20 years is the result of my accident. It has been my greatest teacher for it woke me up out of a stupor and gave me the gift of knowing I am the one who is in charge of creating my life. Anything remotely resembling bravery on my part is really the product of believing "If not now, then very possibly, never."

This is what drives me to continually strive to Wake Up to my life. This is what propels me into action: painting, writing, taking pictures, skipping out on dinner duty to fly a kite. Each day is a gift I try to cherish to the best of my abilities. And each time I fall down, I remember getting up is cause to celebrate another chance to live.


  1. Thank you for this Lis. I feel like I've fallen down (or short) so many times already this week, and it's only Tuesday.

  2. may i always remember this... without having to injure myself severely in order to do so. thank you for the reminder. it's a big one. vital i'd say.

  3. thank you for this very timely reminder...it's something never very far from my mind, but still, it's so easy to slip into the old patterns of 'someday' and 'when there's more time'.

    there's always time for at least a little something...always. and yes, it's not the falling down but the getting up that matters.

    i am SO incredibly thankful to have you in my life...so, so deeply thankful.

    much love...xoxox

  4. Oh when I come here I often find myself almost weeping with the beauty of all you express and I am so grateful.
    The unwavering positive loving hopeful insightful compassionate honest, deeply searching, authentic and touching stories and-- dispatches from your journey down the road of every day life-- are not only magnificent but refreshing and enlightening and always for me encouraging. Thank you. I understand from this post why you are so committed to life no let me say LIFE and I find this inspiring in ways you can not imagine. Bless you for all the love you manage to live and teach here.

  5. Wait, how did you break your neck? You know the first thing I thought about it being the place that breaks when you are hanged is that it was a re-enactment of a physical past-life trauma - but that's just how my brain thinks :)

    I love this story of awakening. What an amazing accident and incredible gift. You almost make me want to break my neck! :) I am glad I get to read about the profound ways it changed your life so that I might get some of the neck-breaking wisdom that you gleaned from the experience.

    I have been debating whether to go off birth control - I am scared crapless but quickly moving through my "window." It never seems to be the right time, and life keeps wizzing by. This post has helped nudge me a little in the direction of not putting it off until it's too late, and there will never be a perfect time, but there is no better time like the present to live life fully :) It just might be the right moment to put my fears aside.

    I'll keep you posted! Thank you for putting some timeless wisdom into my life today :)


  6. love this story!
    so true
    every moment is a gift...

    i love the picture of you and your daughter
    your joy in her is so apparent

    thank you so much for sharing this story

    love and light

  7. If breaking your neck isn't a deeply interpreted message, well then you may as well be dead! Ah, such honesty, as always, from your posts. I have had a dark school-related cloud hanging over my head this year but long to live with your same intention and joy. This is a lesson for me to live more fully through these next three months. Thank you.

  8. What a story! I am a big believer that all things that occur in our lifetime happen for a bigger reason than we can grasp. I know that the most emotionally painful relationship I've ever been in led me to the place where I met my husband! And I can think of other things that have been made better or bad things that have been prevented by the simple fact that I live in the knowledge that the flow of my life is headed somewhere that I cannot see, but it will be amazing if I just let myself get there!

  9. The body as a teacher!! You know I hate delving into that subject :) Also, it made me think of the Hanged Man card in the tarot deck which speaks to seeing things from a different perspective, having a new vision of your life. And the ripple effect on the rest of the world as a result of you waking up to your life is beyond measure-

  10. Oh Lis, what a teacher you are. Your words always come at such a poignant moment in time, it is like you know what I need - sometimes before I do!!! Sending you lots of love, Milena