Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

Review: Application of Impossible Things, A Near Death Experience in Iraq

January 24, 2012

A true tale of survival and courage, sure to empower others who read it.

“Come one, come all! Be amazed and shocked as you peak behind the curtain into the realm of the unexplained!!!” From sideshow barkers to check out aisle tabloids the pitch so often outshines the experience that it’s hard not to become cynical. Not so with Natalie Sudman. Her first hand account of being Out of Body during her dance with death explodes off the page. In the blink of an eye she travels dimensions that shred time and space. Yet she writes with such uncommon wit, sophisticated insight, and stunning attention to detail that it will turn your view of reality inside out. This truly is a front row seat in the theater of “impossible things.” Do NOT miss it!

Paul Rademacher

Executive Director of The Monroe Institute and author of A Spiritual Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe: Travel Tips for the Spiritually Perplexed.

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Progress Not Perfection

May 1, 2011

Every day I feel like I haven’t accomplished much, yet I’m always busy. I know that this is a mental-habit perception rather than reality. In the five months since I bought this house, I’ve completed an enormous amount of work …

Just to list the major accomplishments: I’ve moved all my belongings into the house almost single-handedly (two objects required assistance), painted the interior (1500 sq ft, 10ft ceilings), built shelves on every wall of the garage (5 units), refinished three bookshelves and one coffee table, installed a sink in the garage, built two worktables for the garage, devised and built a way to hang my kayak, sealed all outdoor wood timbers, assembled five industrial shelf units, refinished a floor, dug 20 holes for trees and a 5 x 10 x 1ft deep foundation for rainwater storage tanks, set up and fired a new kiln.

As soon as I finish a project, it is dismissed from my perception. Wouldn’t it be better to give attention to the finished project, taking the time to admire it and myself for the accomplishment? Instead I focus on the long list still to be done: build earthbag terrace walls, put rip-rap on the driveway extension, gravel the driveway, plant the 20 trees and as many bushes, install the rainwater collection tanks, make and fire clay half-pipes to direct water from one tree to the next … the list is long.

Progress not perfection.

The journey matters.

I’m trying to re-teach myself that generosity. 

In Iraq I moved full-speed sixteen or eighteen hours a day. Rolling around in my brain were between twenty and sixty projects, each with their uniquely bizarre problems to be solved yesterday. Being untrained in the tasks, I had to work twice as hard as everyone else just to be half as good at the job.

Then I got blown up, and as soon as I was conscious again the same sort of dedication and concentration was required in recovery. I was always doing something: stretching this, moving that, controlling pain, tracking government paperwork (try that when you’re looped out of Perc – yeesh), pushing my body, training my mind for new expectations and adaptions.

Habits have always been hard for me to break, and this one – a tornado brain – is proving tenacious. The mental chatter is not constant, but it constantly returns. Being alert in a war zone pays. Whether at work in an office (alert for incoming), riding the roads (alert for IEDs, SAF, etc), static at a site (alert for SAF, RPGs, coordinated attacks, etc), the background is a constant if sliding scale of adrenaline. Add handling a near-panic level learning curve and high speed problem-solving in a strange and violent land, … is it any wonder that breaking these habits takes time?

Before going to Iraq I’d traveled extensively, living for months in different countries and in various intense, microcosmic, small-group situations. Culture shock had become familiar to me. When I returned from Iraq that experience paid off, as I was more patient with myself during re-entry than many friends were with themselves.  I knew that many of the symptoms would gradually fade without effort.

War zones, though, produce unique intensities of persistent culture shock and thought patterns.I know other vets who feel the same way. Habits learned in a war zone are deeply seated. Reinforcement tends to be strong when you immerse yourself in a world for a year and half, and extreme behavior and thought patterns are seated profoundly in the body’s nerve system. It is said we learn best if more than one sense is engaged, the spoken word accompanied by pictures, for instance. A war zone teaches through engaging every sense, and with extremes (explosions, blood & guts, 130F heat, guns, bad food, constant problem solving). By a person’s senses entirely, actions and thoughts and emotions become tuned to a high level and rooted in the very cells of the body.

My most useful tool in quieting the hyper-aware chatter of the mind, slowing time in order to notice and congratulate myself on accomplishments, and letting go of the goal-oriented ticking off of tasks (lists – the organizational nerve system of my life!) has been the use of meditation. In particular, I find that the Monroe Institute cd’s (www.monroeinstitute.org) are especially useful.

Hemi-synch, the use of binaural beats to put a person into deep meditative states, often short-circuits the hyperactivity of my mind, quieting the chatter. The instant release of dropping into deep meditative states is making it easier and easier to remember during the rest of the day to take one moment at a time, and helps me to find the beauty and ease available in just being alive in this strange world.

Today I ordered sandbags to build the earthbag terrace walls. A contractor is working up an estimate for the rip-rap and driveway gravel (I’ve decided I don’t have to do it all myself). I’ve got culvert and gravel on the way for the rainwater collection tanks, and tomorrow I’ll get the pvc pipe that I’ll need for their plumbing. Saturday a friend will join me for a tree shopping spree.

There is still so much work to do.

It’s not work that needs to be done right now though. Right now I’m going to go sit on the back patio and watch the daylight fade and the stars appear, quieting my mind.

Progress, not perfection.

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Counting My Blessings In No Particular Order – 5

November 5, 2010

 

  1. art deco
  2. felted wool
  3. anticipation
  4. camping on Lake Michigan
  5. The Grand Canyon
  6. Texas Canyon
  7. oreos
  8. bank balances that keep going up
  9. pale green
  10. moonlight
  11. the number 7
  12. narrowboats in England
  13. intricate mosaics
  14. velvety black
  15. matte glazes
  16. fire dancers
  17. huge animal sculptures atop buildings in small towns
  18. finger puppets
  19. pit fires
  20. gentle loveliness

Counting My Blessings In No Particular Order 4

August 13, 2010
  1. Meteor showers
  2. The sound of rain on leaves
  3. A good book
  4. All the Sue’s that I know
  5. Pigs
  6. Tree frogs singing at night
  7. Cobblestone streets
  8. Cathedrals
  9. Bonfires
  10. Singing with friends
  11. Puppies and the word “puppies” which is fun to say
  12. Three year old children
  13. Elegant shapes
  14. Unconscious graceful movements
  15. Small acts of kindness done for strangers
  16. Baseball games
  17. Potato chips! (ruffles!)
  18. iPod
  19. Jack o’lanterns
  20. York, England

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Counting My Blessings In No Particular Order 04

March 6, 2010

(OK, this is really things that I adore – which I consider blessings)

  1. Well worn jeans
  2. Crisp autumn mornings in Minnesota
  3. Well worn steel toe boots
  4. Skating fast on clean ice
  5. Transparent lake ice
  6. Late summer evening sunlight
  7. White button down shirts
  8. The scent of water
  9. Cinnamon
  10. Finely knit angora and cashmere sweaters
  11. The smell of gasoline
  12. Train whistles in the night
  13. Sweeping really dirty floors
  14. Well made hand tools: pliers, screwdrivers, mixing spoons, shovels, saws, pencil sharpeners, wooden baseball bats …
  15. The sound of lake ice cracking with cold
  16. The sweaty scent of a swamp on hot days
  17. Fossils, fossils, fossils
  18. Small stone carvings
  19. Walking barefoot, barefoot, barefoot
  20. String Quartets