Ezine #26: The Day Life Changed

Below is a re-print of a past Appreciative Living monthly ezine and a link to two others. To sign up for these free monthly ezines, and also get a free mini-book on Getting Started with Appreciative Living, enter your name and email in the box above or below.
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Ezine #28: Stress-less in 2011

Ezine #14: The Gift of MS
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Ezine #26: The Day Life Changed

Jeanie Cockell describes March 23, 2010, as the day her life changed. She was driving along the highway at 50 mph, and a 17-year old girl pulled out and hit her in the passenger side. Her car went careening into oncoming traffic, and she was hit on the driver’s side by another car going 50mph in the opposite direction. She doesn’t remember any of it.

Her partner, Joan, became unusually worried that night when Jeanie was late for dinner. She started calling local hospitals. One hospital acknowledged that Jeanie had just arrived, and said they could not tell her what had happened. They told her to find someone to drive her to the hospital and they would have a social worker meet her there and explain.

When Joan arrived the doctor explained that Jeanie was unconscious with a crushed femur, broken pelvis (in 4 places), broken ribs, concussion, punctured lung, crushed heart, and internal bleeding. Joan stayed by her side for 48 straight hours, afraid that Jeanie wasn’t going to make it.

Two days later Jeanie awoke in the hospital and had no idea what was going on. She said she felt curious about what had happened, and at the same time euphoric. She saw her sister and Joan by her side and felt incredibly happy. She couldn’t move, and couldn’t talk because she was intubated, but was aware of a profound sense of purpose in being alive. She thought to herself, “Here I am. I can’t do much, but I can do what I tell others is most important, which is to live the appreciative principles.”

Jeanie has been a teacher of Appreciative Inquiry for many years, and has been applying Appreciative Living to her own life for some time. This was the ultimate test. The doctor told her that her recovery was going to be a very long and slow process, and the best she could hope for was giving up a walker and crutches for a cane in six months. But then he didn’t know the power of appreciation.

Jeanie kept a journal by her bedside that she wrote in, and that she also asked friends and family and medical staff to write in as well. One nurse had an upcoming vacation and Jeanie started a count-down to the day she left. The nurse wrote in her journal how much that had brightened her day.

She noticed how stressful the nurses’ jobs were, and went out of her way to thank them and talk with them about their lives. She said she would thank them for everything – even for the things they had to do that hurt so much she cried. She said she noticed how they would somehow find a way to come and see her often.

Jeanie began looking at every person she encountered with appreciative eyes. She saw the best in her friends and family as well as the staff. She was sincerely interested in what was happening in their lives and asked great questions about the best of who they were. She listened with an open heart.

She said the deepening in her relationships was profound. Friends and family started calling her daily, visiting her daily, and praying for her. Some even came in and sang for her, and she said the staff were always stopping in to see what was going on. She told people she loved them, some for the first time. They said it back. People kept coming back for more.

The patient in the bed next to her told her how much she was inspired by her. Jeanie said, “All I did was ask her about the good things in her life; but I also think it was just a case of being someone who could just listen and be there for her.” She touched everyone who came in contact with her in a profound way.

So the walker that Jeanie was supposed to be just out of using six months later, best case, was given to her nine days after the accident. She spent several months fully recovering, and the doctors and nurses said her healing was miraculous.

When I met her at a conference 6 months after the accident, I had no idea anything had happened. Other than some minor hip pain she has completely healed.

So that’s the story of the day Jeanie Cockell’s life changed, and I guess you could say it was also the day she changed a lot of other lives. As difficult as the experience was, it was also a tremendous gift. She was appreciative before, and now she is a living example.

She recently started a blog on her website, http://www.jeaniecockell.com, where you can learn more about her and her consulting work.

The next time you find yourself in a situation where you feel stuck or “can’t move,” either literally or metaphorically, remember there is plenty you can do. Continue to look for the good in your situation and everyone around you, and find the joy you seek in the present moment.

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Jackie Kelm
The Joy Engineer
Appreciative Living, LLC
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Jackie

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