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My Art Year in Review: The Gift of a Near-Death Experience

photo[2]I recently read a blog post by Art Biz Coach Alyson Stanfield suggesting doing a review of your art for 2015. I laughed. Not because it’s not a good idea, it is, but because my list of new paintings for 2015 would be rather short and humble.

You see, I took an unplanned detour in my life that took more time than I imagined to find my way back – or more accurately – find my footing on a new, uncharted path I am still discovering. Painting wasn’t the focus of my detour. Healing and letting go was.

Over six months ago I followed nudges from the Universe to be where I needed to be at the right time to save a young man from drowning in a private lake of a graphic design client of mine – and nearly drowned helping him. The young man was an employee of my client. I jokingly refer to the ‘lake incident’ as the ‘ultimate customer service story.’ One that I intend to never ever repeat.

After pulling the young man safely onto the shore, I looked upward and whispered “thank you” with the deepest sense of gratitude for being alive, yet it has taken me several months to truly feel in the core of my being that I am truly alive again and truly thankful on a deeper level.

You are never more alive than in the moment when you think you are about to lose your life, and you realize how much you have not yet lived. The whole experience has been a contrast of blessings – to help another and to survive it despite the struggle.

My gift for saving the young man has been to have to heal not only from this trauma, but it brought up all the unhealed trauma I didn’t know I had been carrying around my entire life from saving my younger brother from drowning when he was three and I was eight. Yes, this isn’t the first time I’d been through this experience.

You could say that being in that lake brought up all the murkiness of my life I hadn’t resolved or let go of, and it was coming up to let me know I had work to do. You can also call it my spiritual awakening.

The first few months were not easy. Once I got myself out of the fetal position, I needed to rest. A lot. The whole month of June I just rested. I wasn’t just physically depleted, but also emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. My focus for 2015 has been on healing, releasing, and forgiving whatever came up to be healed, released, or forgiven.

The waters of my life are much clearer now. I am not so afraid to confront my own shadows having met them at the bottom of the lake. I am a much different person than the one that went into that lake.

I will admit I have struggled to find my direction, knowing I can’t go back to the way I was, but unsure of what direction to go in. Things are becoming clearer, I am making some changes in my life and when it is right, I will share.

Another thing I have struggled with is the current craziness in the world, especially around the Syrian refugee crisis. I know I am not alone with this struggle. I knew this before, but it never really dawned on me until recently. The young man in the lake is a refugee, a very vetted one, that I would later learn that night. I am at peace knowing that if is someone is in trouble, and I am able to help and not endanger my life again, I will. I know there is so much fear in the world, but it makes me wonder where is the courage and compassion to take action and uplift another instead of keeping them knocked down – whether it is the poor in the US or a refugee that has been properly vetted. For me, to turn a blind eye is to go blind in my own heart.

The gift of my near-death experience is that I know we are called to be more than the person we woke up this morning as. We are called to be more courageous and more compassionate, to become a greater, kinder and more loving person to ourselves, and to each other. By healing ourselves, we help heal this world. That I know for sure.

Maybe next year I will create more art. I am so very thankful to be here. Blessed to be alive and celebrate this holiday season. I wish you and your loved ones happy holidays.

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