Eye-Opening Moments are real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives. In this episode, you will hear about a moment of adversity called Close Encounters with Death, a moment of an encounter called Overheard Conversation, and a moment of a perspective called: 10 Things for Daily Therapy.
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Hello and welcome to Episode #25 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 Close Encounters With Death, Overheard Conversation, and 10 Things For Daily Therapy.
A moment of an encounter called: Close Encounters With Death
No car accident, no drive-by shooting, no falling off a cliff, or murder was there. Still, feeling like you almost died is a horrible feeling.
I was just sixteen and was miserable living with my parents when I didn't live with them from age five to fourteen. I think Mom didn't want me around the house either because she forced me to go to work when none of my other siblings ever went to work as a teenager. Anyway, I was thrilled to leave and go to work. Mom brought me to McDonald's and had me fill out an application. She never asked me and just took me over there. Anyway, I was later glad about it. Aside from school, I could go to work and be away from home.
One day, I didn't have work, and I didn't want to be home. So, I hid under the bed lying there pretending to be asleep, when I knew Mom was coming into my bedroom to get clothes for my brothers because they had a bureau of clothes in my room. I was hoping she wouldn't discover me; I even held my breath. But as intelligent as she was, Mom sensed me and peeked under the bed. I could hear her knees creak as she bent down. Then Mom went out and told somebody. She never came back in to check on me, and I didn't get dinner that night either. When I did all this, it didn't sound creepy. But, now that I am older, or as I was writing this, this felt a bit creepy! It was a scary experience pretending to be dead or hurt, and Mom didn't say a word about it. I didn't want to be home, and as I lay there, I wondered how it would be like to be dead. I wasn't suicidal, but I wanted to be invisible.
One time I went skydiving, bungy jumping, sky jumping, and I never thought about being near death or the possibility of it. I only thought, Wheeee! What freedom! Every jump was like letting go of all the trash, worries, anxieties, anger, and pain in my life. It was sheer joy; it was the most beautiful experience. There was no close encounter with death.
Perhaps the most dead I felt was when my boyfriend of nine years cheated on me, and we broke up. I was walking around like a zombie. All the energy in my body escaped me. I didn't talk to anyone and didn't want to talk to anyone for weeks. I felt like it was even too much effort for me to open my mouth to speak or eat. My insides felt hollowed out like he jabbed a hole in me and dug my heart out. I was empty; I didn't feel alive.
But I knew I was living because I was getting myself to the gym to exercise every day, and I slowly ate as I didn't have the energy to eat normally. I couldn't sleep even when I was tired. It was dreadful. I seemed to be emptying my brain, too, because not much thought was in there. I was blank; I stared out blankly. I couldn't cry, I couldn't scream, I just moved around like a robot with no feelings. He cut my heart out, he drained my blood out, my mind was empty, but I was still breathing. I wasn't dead, and I began to wonder why I was still alive. How did I get so blindsided?
Though never physically near death, I was emotionally nearly dead. It was worse than physical death because you may heal and come back with near physical death. However, emotional numbness could linger for years and may stay with you until the day you die. The breakup has long been over, but the pain lingered on for more than a decade until I found a way to forgive him and to forgive myself.
I think actual death is better than a close encounter because, with death, you have no more feelings. Dark. On the other hand, you can only see beauty in life if you are alive to see it. You can only feel joyful feelings if you are breathing to experience them. You can only hear sounds, smell scents or odors, and taste tastes when you LIVE life.
A moment of an encounter called: Overheard Conversation
Who could have guessed that a conversation I overheard on the side would prompt me to make a phone call that would open my eyes and change the quality of my life forever?
I was in Uncle Sheldon’s home office using one of his computers and typing away. He had about half a dozen people working for him. His workers spoke quietly, so the environment was pretty quiet. I focused on my work and didn’t talk to the people surrounding me. I had limited time to get my work done. After working at a full-time job all day, I took a train that took about an hour to get to my uncle’s place. By the time I got there, it was usually about 6 p.m. I’d miss dinner many times and get right to work. I wanted to get as much done as possible before taking the train to get back to the city to work the following day.
Back in the ’80s, I didn’t have a computer, and my professor insisted that I type my Master’s thesis. The only person I knew to have computers was Uncle Sheldon. Back then, I was not even familiar with using the computer. One time I needed to make a table or chart. It took me a long time to figure it out, and after I did, I accidentally pressed the wrong key, and some of my work disappeared. While everyone was asleep in the middle of the night, I spent hours figuring out what went wrong or how to retrieve what I lost. Before I knew it, it was five o’clock in the morning, and Uncle Sheldon woke up to find me still at the computer. I told him what had happened and how I couldn’t figure out what to do. With one click of a button, he solved my problem. And I had spent hours without sleep trying to figure it out. Soon I dashed off to catch the train to go to work.
On another day, I’d be back at Uncle Sheldon’s home office typing away quietly. I focused on my work and didn’t talk to anyone. Then I heard two ladies chatting about a seminar they went to, and it was about examining the meaning of life. A short and quiet conversation happened on the side while I was working, but it piqued my interest.
I finally stopped typing for a moment to inquire about the details. The two ladies were vague and did not say much but gave me a number to call. With limited information, I called, and just like that, I signed up for The Forum in Landmark Education.
Unbeknownst to me, The Forum, a three-day event, would change my life forever and all for the better. It has been decades since I took it, but its effects continue to empower me and give me the strength to overcome challenges and celebrate the wonders of life.
Uncle Sheldon later told me that he had staged the conversation and hoped I would be interested. He felt that I was too focused on my work and didn’t “stop to smell the roses.” He thought the Forum would be good for me. His comments didn’t leave me with a good feeling. He said I was too focused. I thought, why didn’t you acknowledge my ability to focus and that I was determined, goal-oriented, and got things done? He said he staged it. I thought, why didn’t you tell me directly about the greatness of Landmark Education? Why did you feel a need to stage it?
In the end, my distaste for his comments didn’t matter and proved to be insignificant in the bigger scheme of things in life. Regardless, the most important is that I learned about Landmark Education from Uncle Sheldon. We weren’t very close, but we got along fine. You could say he gave me the most powerful gift in the world. You never know who could make a difference for you. It could be a friend, an acquaintance, a stranger, or even a distant relative. Pay attention to all your encounters.
Since The Forum, I have stopped many times to smell the roses. More than that, I can see and feel the beauties in nature, in people, in life. Before The Forum, most of my life was full of misery. It seemed that life was one challenge or struggle after another to achieve anything. Though I could overcome, the biggest demons were from within me. From my childhood experiences, I felt unworthy, unwanted, unloved, and stupid. My view was detrimental to my self-esteem, but I fought through them to accomplish many things. Despite my achievements, I was not a happy person.
After The Forum, I experienced sheer joy for the first time in my life, and I was twenty-five. I had been in love before. I had moments of joy before, but never in my life did I experience utter happiness that came from within me. I always thought certain things outside of me needed to happen for me to be happy. I felt I needed to achieve more to be satisfied. While all those things brought a bit of delight, none could compare to contentment generated from within oneself.
What did The Forum do for me? It helped me see and face the demons inside me. The devils are the negative voices that keep talking relentlessly to discourage and debilitate you. They stop you in your tracks from realizing your dreams and doing what you want. They make you doubt yourself and discredit yourself. Though I may not get rid of them all, I learned that I could get them under control because I have the tools or the power to do so. I can change the stories I tell myself. I can create stories that would help me move forward instead of allowing automatic negative stories to control me.
Challenges in life do not go away; disappointments do not go away. Even moments of misery do not go away. The good and the bad are all a part of life. However, with the experience and tools from Landmark Education, I know I always have a choice, and I always have the power in my hands. I rejoice; I thank Uncle Sheldon for giving me the most valuable gift with everlasting power.
A moment of a perspective called Ten Things to do for Daily Therapy
We can give ourselves a little bit of therapy every day without even walking out the door. Relieve stress, relieve pressure, and relieve pain through the little things we do. Different things are therapeutic to different people; what is essential is finding your kind of therapy. Then, once realized, take action to do it more often, and help yourself.
Once a friend of mine, Sandy, said, "Let's have dinner with my husband and your boyfriend at your house." I said, "No! Cooking would stress me out!" She said, "It's very therapeutic! Let's go buy the food, I'll cook, and you can sit there and relax." Since she volunteered to do all the cooking, I agreed. At the time, I couldn't see how cooking was therapeutic; I hated cooking. I always had to help Grandma cook when I was a kid, so I hated cooking. But, it was something I had to do. It wasn't until many years later, while I was making some wontons from scratch, I felt a little relaxation, a little self-therapy going on. Though I still don't care to cook, I can see how it is therapeutic for some.
Now, I like to do things that I think are relaxing, and my friend, Sandy, judges that they are not fun at all. We seem like opposite beings. Anyway, I believe some people will find them just as relaxing and calming as me, so try them or notice them the next time you are at home.
Clean. Vacuum the carpet, vacuum the floor, wipe the table, wipe the counter, clean the toilet, wash down the bathroom tiles. If you don't like it, you should enjoy it when all the work is complete because it will leave you feeling clean and comfortable. The best part after all the cleaning is to take a shower and clean yourself. It is so refreshing and invigorating. It re-energizes you, destresses you, and removes dirt in your life.
Do laundry. When you dump your dirty laundry into the washer, wait for it to do its thing, and then put it in the dryer to dry, you may think it is no fun and just another chore, but guess what an incredible miracle it is. You put dirty clothes in and outcomes clean clothes! Then, when it is time to fold them, it can give you a clean, soft, and warm feeling. I love folding and putting away clean clothes. It is almost like getting new clothes or getting a fresh start. The fresh start feeling is a beautiful feeling. It gives you a sense of a new beginning, and beginnings are always great because you can start all over on a clean slate.
Tidy up and organize things around the house. Don't think of it as a chore. Instead, think of it as a way to put your life in order. When you tidy things up in your outer world, it helps put things in order in your inner world. It helps declutter your world inside and outside and all around you. And that will leave space for some real peace and relaxation. More than that, It'll make room for more positive things rather than negative things. It's like getting rid of the trash, and who wants to keep debris!
Then, after all that physical labor, you may want to sit back or lay down. Don't go to sleep; just lay there to lay there. Don't think about anything. Instead, enjoy the emptiness or empty your brain from stressful thoughts and fill it with nothingness. From the void, you can begin to relax and re-energize yourself to feeling good.
While you lay there, you may get fidgety as you are not used to doing nothing or being in a place of emptiness. So, pick up the phone and talk to someone. Share thoughts and ideas, connect with people, and you will feel better. Like those who see a psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor, or therapist, you get to share what is going on inside you, and that act alone can relieve some stress. Mind you, if you need more than that or specific help, do reach out to the professionals who can help.
Listen to music. Listen to soothing music, listen to rainy music, listen to instrumental music. Listen to music with no words. I never cared for instrumental music or nature sounds, but I love what it does for the mind. It clears the mind and brings a peaceful and calming feeling. By feeling relaxed, negativity and strains disappear. The mind has space to do more creative and productive things.
Color. Coloring is not just for children. It can be for adults too. There are adult coloring books for self-therapy. As you color, as you bring color to white spaces, your mind begins to clear and relax. Your hand is just making simple coloring movements, but those movements will lead the head to clear up, feel less strained, feel lighter, and feel happier. With such an easy way to create such a result, why not color?
Sing. Sing happy songs, sing songs that make you feel good. Singing is a way to let the voice out. It is a quick and easy way to change your mood from bad to better. Since it is so easy to do with such positive results, why not do it? Who cares how you sound? You can do it in the privacy of your room, let out your sounds, and feel better!
Do what you are passionate about. Whatever you love to do, whatever your greatest hobbies are, take time to do them and enjoy them. Too often, people say they don't have the time for them, but we have to take the time for them. One, it brings joy to do what we enjoy. Two, it makes us feel good; it relaxes us. So how could we not take the time?
Last but not least, write. Please write in a journal or diary; get it out somewhere. Talk to people or write down what needs to get out. Even more therapeutic than that is to write memoir essays! It gives you a chance to reflect on bits of your life. While writing, you may discover something you never thought of; you may even find solutions because you are clearing your mind of clutter and creating space to see better as you write. It is incredible what wonders can come out of writing. You have to try it to believe it. It may seem difficult at first, but if you can get over the hump, it is all worth it to declutter things in the mind, which in turn can declutter your life in the present.
Most of the activities mentioned are quick to do things to bring about self-therapy to destress and relax. Conveniently, you can do it at home, and you can do it right away without much preparation.
Not so quick, maybe the writing of essays or books, but I find it most therapeutic and long-lasting. The process of writing may not be that easy as I have experienced, but if you pick up the pen and start writing, it gets easier and easier until you have to write because it gives such joy and clarity for life that you want to do it more and more. So how can you pick up the pen and write? Write without overthinking, write without judging yourself, register with authenticity, write with words from the heart, and creativity will show up for you to create your life as you would like it.
Pick up the pen. Pick up the broom, pick up the rag, pick up the dirty clothes, pick up the coloring book, pick up the phone. Pick a song to sing. Turn on the music and listen. Lay down. Do what you love. Do your daily therapy. Take care of yourself, and the world will be a better place.
Key Takeaways: Though I was never really near death, I certainly felt like I was, and it revived me to want to live and appreciate the wonders of life.
Though I was engrossed and focused on writing my Master's thesis, I stopped to listen to a conversation and made a phone call that would change the rest of my life for the better.
Though we all get stressed with one thing or another, there are simple ways and even productive ways to give yourself daily therapy right in the comfort of your own home.
Next week, you will hear three new real-life stories called Being Quiet, He Who Asked, and Why Alone. 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!