Eye-Opening Moments are real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives.
In this episode, you will hear about a moment of adversity called Blackout, a moment of an encounter called A Lesson on Trust, a moment of a perspective called Birthday Celebrations.
Hello and welcome to Episode #23 of Eye-Opening Moments where you’ll hear stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives. These are real life stories that can lift your spirits, give you some food for thought, or move you. I’m your host Emily Kay Tan. In this episode, you will hear about Blackout, A Lesson on Trust, and Birthday Celebrations
A moment of adversity called: Blackout
I just got a job working at the library, and I was walking to the elevators. Other people were waiting at the elevators. As I walked there and stopped in front of the elevators for like one second, I saw total blackness.
My eyes were wide open, and I saw nothing but blackness. It was dark black without a hint of light that surrounded me. Then, my head felt light in the next second, and my body fell like jelly. I could hear someone gasp, someone scream, and men hurry to grab and lift me. It was like an out-of-body experience. I don't know how long it was until I was conscious, but I found myself sitting in a wheelchair, and someone asked who they should call for me. I think I mentioned my friend, Yasmine, who was working there and the person who helped me get the job there. She seemed embarrassed, like, "How could you do this to me? I got you a job here." She was a close friend, but her response was not that of concern for my well-being. Even in my darkest moment, I didn't have a friend who cared.
It seemed like she was more concerned about how it made her look associated with me, the girl who fainted. I didn't have anyone call my relatives because I figured they wouldn't care and would be mad for the inconvenience I might impose on them if I had them come pick me up to go home. I sat awhile and then took the subway home. That was the end of that. That was my first and biggest fainting spell.
Soon after that, I had a few near-fainting spells. After that first one, I recognized the onset of another, seeing blackness, going lightheaded, and then dropping if I were standing up. I made sure I was sitting so the falling wouldn't happen. Fortunately, the spells wouldn't last long.
I decided to see a doctor about it. I got all checked out with a cat scan and more, and they couldn't find anything wrong with me. I remember sitting on a cot, and the doctor was asking me a string of questions. It sounded like since he didn't know what was wrong with me or couldn't find something wrong, he concluded that it was psychological. He asked, "Have you been feeling stressed about anything in your life?" I said, "No." "What's going on in your life?" he asked. I said, "I am getting ready to go to college." He said, "Are you stressed out about going to college?" I said, "No." And that was the end of that. No diagnosis.
Later I went to a clinic that drew blood from me. They told me that I was a bit anemic and that it was usually hereditary. I discovered that my mother was anemic. They said that might explain why I had low blood pressure and cold hands. Go figure, the big hospital didn't tell me, but a clinic did. And there was nothing I could do about what I learned.
Aside from the scary physical fainting occurrences, more disturbing was the thought that no one cared much that I existed in this world. My supposedly good friend was more concerned about how I made her look than about me. My relatives were not people I think I could count on to care for me; they only managed when they had to, and it was begrudgingly. So, I would not call on them if I could help it. Too early in life, I learned to look out for myself. Of course, it is an excellent skill to have, but the feeling that no one cared much was detrimental to my self-esteem.
Soon I started college and had a few more fainting spells, but then it just stopped all by itself. With no doctor's explanation, life went on, and it never happened again. After two years of college on the east coast, I moved to the west coast for my last two years of college. Interestingly, after I moved to the west coast, I no longer had cold hands, and my blood pressure was in the low average range rather than the low range.
It is pretty scary when your vision sees black, and your body loses control and cannot stand up. It is not funny like what you see in TV shows or movies. It is no laughing matter. I am only glad that I have not fainted ever since those couple of episodes in the distant past.
Where there is darkness, there must be light somewhere. I search for light. Having experienced pitch-black darkness, I appreciate the beauty and treasure of light with gratitude.
A moment of an encounter called: A Lesson on Trust
I got my very first cousin when I was twelve. He was the cutest baby I ever saw. When his mom came over to visit, I'd hurry to go and carry him. Then I'd plop him on the bed and watch him sitting there as cute as can be. Just looking at him made me happy. We had fun just looking at each other and smiling at each other. That was probably the first sign that I liked kids or connected with kids as I later became a teacher.
When Cousin Eason got a little older, his mom wanted me to babysit him, but Grandma didn't think I was old enough or responsible enough. I was, however, touched that Cousin Eason's mom, Zelda, trusted me with her baby. It seemed like we just liked each other from the very beginning.
I didn't spend that much time with Cousin Eason except when he was a baby. Nearly two decades later, when he was in the city where I lived, he called me up to let me know he was in town. It was a surprise to me. He didn't seem to have much time, but he squeezed in time to meet with me. I invited him to a business opportunity that I had joined. Without question, he showed up and signed up just like that. He was my easiest recruit to my new business venture. I was most excited that I had a relative willing to connect with me with no questions asked.
Before I knew it, we were in business together. As it was a national company and Cousin Eason lived in another state, we worked together long-distance. I would instruct him on what he needed to do, and he would do it. A primary goal was to build a team and then leaders in a sales team. As it turned out, our strengths complemented each other. He was astute in building the team, and I was skilled at training the team. We worked well together and gained some success as a team. In the process of it all, we had fun and excitement, especially when we traveled to national conventions together. Though the time together in business was less than three years, they are happy memories for me.
Some years later, I got fibroids. At times the pain was so excruciating that I thought I would die. I decided to change the beneficiary's name on my life insurance to Cousin Eason. I called him to inform him that I needed some information from him to file the paperwork. He couldn't understand why I wanted to do such a thing. I proceeded to explain that I was serious about my decision. Though I had many relatives and an ex-husband, he was the only relative that did something to help make one of my dreams come true. It touched me and meant a great deal to me. He wouldn't have known if I didn't tell him.
Though Cousin Eason and I did not spend a great deal of time together in our lives, the moments we did spend together were memorable to me. First, he trusted me and did what I asked in business. He didn't doubt me; he believed in me. And the result was that he helped me build a team and that alone was a long-awaited dream come true for me. His abilities in team-building allowed me to lead and move a team. Together we were all aiming for success and making dreams come true. That cute baby grew up to make a difference for me when it should have been the other way around since I was twelve years older than him.
About a decade later, he called me up for some money advice, and I was surprised to hear him say he only trusted one other person and me. I don't know what I ever did to earn his trust, especially since we didn't spend much time together except when we were in business together, and he trusted me before that. I felt honored and grateful to bond with a relative, especially since few connections with my other relatives were positive. Special to me is to feel a bond when we didn't spend a great deal of time together or say much to each other.
Not long after that brief phone conversation, Cousin Eason decided to move to my town, and he ended up staying with me. It was only then that we chatted more as we took some morning or evening walks together. After about a year, I decided to move abroad and sell my house. So, Cousin Eason had to move out, too. He commented that I was the best roommate he ever had because I didn't question where he went or when he would be home. I left him free to do whatever he wanted and whenever he wanted. But I made an effort to do so since I knew he didn't like his mom calling and checking in on him all the time.
I was also gone on the weekdays as my job was out of town. I had to find in myself to trust Cousin Eason with my house. I probably decided to trust him because he trusted me without question. Perhaps I did give him a sense of freedom and a feeling that I trusted him. Though he loved his mother dearly, and she loved him dearly, too, he would always be her child to her even though he was a grown man.
I hope his stay with me allowed him to know that I trusted him without question, too. While wholeheartedly trusting someone may not be easy or could take time, it is a precious gem when someone who doesn't seem to know you extremely well or hasn't known you for long can trust you without question. I thank my cousin for the gift. It is heartwarming on the receiving end. When you experience that, it is a good reminder to give trust freely more often.
A moment of a perspective called: Birthday Celebrations
As a kid, Grandma bought me a birthday dress, got me a birthday cake, made a special dinner, and celebrated my day with her family and friends. Looking at photos of these birthdays, I didn't look too happy in some of those years. I probably did not know any better to appreciate all that she did for my birthdays, but as an adult now, I sure do. Unfortunately, I didn't have the chance to express my gratitude before she died because I did not realize it. Birthdays were always important to Grandma; she always saved what little she earned to have money for someone's birthday, myself included.
As a teenager, friends celebrated my birthday with parties and presents; that was fun. How wonderful it was to have a party just for me, a dozen presents to open, and my favorite foods all laid out on a table at a friend's house or a winter barbecue at another friend's house. Those photos are lost but etched in my memory. They were happy times with many friends. I now miss those bygone days!
As an adult, I enjoyed dinners and presents from boyfriends. Then when there were years with no boyfriends, birthdays were lonely. But there were the birthday cards from friends and relatives, and it was nice to know they remembered even though we didn't live in the same town anymore.
A most memorable birthday was when a friend of mine asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I said, "a boyfriend would be nice." That same day, on my birthday, after work, I thought my friend would treat me to dinner, but unbeknownst to me, she was on the prowl for a boyfriend for me. She drove around saying she was looking for a restaurant. Thinking back, I think she was driving around and thinking or brainstorming in her head about what she was going to do to find me a boyfriend.
We stopped at a store. "What are we stopping here for?" I asked. She said, "I'm just going in to say hi to a friend I kinda know," she said. We stopped in. She spoke briefly with him and then told me to wait outside. Soon she came out and said she had given my phone number to him because he was interested. I couldn't believe what she did; it was too funny! We were both laughing and laughing as we walked back to the car. She couldn't believe what she did, and I couldn't believe what she did! I said I hardly spoke with him, I don't know him, and he probably wouldn't call me, but it was fun. We were grown adults, but it felt like we were schoolgirls or teenagers!
Next, she decided to pick a Chinese restaurant since I love Chinese food. The place didn't look special, but good food is good food. Before we even finished looking at the menu, she said, "Look at the waiter behind you; he looks cute. His complexion looks baby soft and white, and he's tall." "I am not going to look, and I am not interested in a waiter," I said. My friend insisted that he was extremely handsome and that I should take a look. She was already married, but she seemed to be having more fun than I was about going on a search. She wouldn't stop about it, so I took a quick look to shut her up. "Okay, okay, he is handsome," I said. But I am not interested in dating a waiter; I am a professional," I said. I sound stuck up, don't I? That was me at the time, I suppose. I was only twenty-something; what do I know? I only had a couple of boyfriends by that time.
Anyway, we didn't talk to the waiter, and he wasn't our waiter either. After my friend paid the bill after dinner, we were on our way out, and then she said she was going to talk to the manager. For the second time, she told me to wait outside. I didn't think anything of it. Minutes later, she came out, and she said she found out from the manager that the handsome waiter was a good worker, a decent person, from China, and in the USA studying in grad school. She told the manager that I was a good girl, a decent person, and a teacher. "By the way, I gave your phone number to her to give to him to call you if he is interested," she said. I couldn't believe she did it again! So freely giving away my phone number to strangers! They didn't even know me; I hardly talked to them; why would they call me? Anyway, my friend and I had a barrel of laughs.
Unbelievably, the two guys both called me the very next day. They both wanted to see me every day. I could only do it every other day. It was fun but exhausting, so I needed to decide on one. Importantly, it was a memorable birthday, because my friend gave me the impossible: Not just two potential dates, but as it turns out, two boyfriends simultaneously!
An unexpected birthday celebration happened recently. My boss and several vital people got together to take me out to dinner, give me a giant birthday card, give me presents, and sing happy birthday to me. I know it was exceptional, and it was her way of saying welcome back to the company as I left several years ago. As fortunate as I was to have people to celebrate with me, I was unhappy to be a year older.
As I get older and older, I've come to dread birthdays because I am getting older by the minute. I don't want to be another year older because I am that much closer to death. How morbid, but with each birthday, I ask myself, what have I done with my life? What have I done in the past year? What have I accomplished?
Years ago, when I was in business, I started the mission of doing at least one thing outside the box each year. That meant doing something crazy, something I wouldn't normally do. I skydived, dyed my hair with a reddish hue, stayed at a hotel with a bunch of guys, and did some other unmentionable things. It was fun, but now that I am no longer in business, I seem to have ended those risky activities.
In a new phase in life and working outside the country, I decided to do something I had always wanted to do before my next birthday. I've wanted to write a book for many years, and I finally published my first book before my birthday! Next was to complete a three-book series before my next birthday. Incredibly I got it done ten months before my next birthday!
Because birthdays mean getting older, they remind me that time keeps ticking away with an expiration date to my life looming closer. Now birthdays have become a wake-up call for me. Before each birthday, I want to have done something that I always dreamed of or something on my bucket list. Greatly motivated by time or aging, I am getting things done. Instead of dreading the next birthday because I would be getting older, I create a celebration on my birthday for getting something done on my bucket list or something that was just a dream. Birthdays are now a celebration of a life lived as I wish.
Though I had some blackout episodes to see total darkness while my eyes were wide open, I discovered the impact on my self-esteem when no one cared. But I also knew that there was light around the corner where there was darkness.
Though I didn't think I did anything to earn my cousin's trust, I wholeheartedly appreciated the trust he granted me, and I learned that you could just give trust without question.
Though I dreaded many birthdays because I was getting older, I now look forward to birthdays because I would finish something on my bucket list or dream list and then celebrate my birthday.
Next week, you will hear three new real-life stories called A Hidden Voice, Discouraging Professor, and My Special Car. If you enjoyed this episode of Eye-Opening Moments, please leave a comment, share it on your social media, subscribe on Youtube, or go to www.inspiremereads.com. Thank you for listening!