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Reframing a disaster into a gift

Tomorrow is the 10-year anniversary of my heart attack. It's hard to believe that it's been 10 years already. Time has gone by fast, but also so much has changed. I'm on a completely different path in life now than I would have been had I not gotten that blood clot in my coronary artery that would have ended my life at 31 years old had I not gone to the hospital.

As I was overlooking Crater Lake last week on my vacation in the Pacific Northwest, I was thinking about how so many things in life that seem like disasters at the time (like that volcano erupting that created Crater Lake and my heart attack) actually lead to something beautiful. The volcano causing the top of the mountain to collapse created the deepest lake in the U.S. with a deep blue color that draws visitors from around the world.

My heart attack woke me up to the fact that I wasn't living a life that was meant for me. I was working away climbing the corporate ladder in a job that no longer inspired me, and while it allowed me to fill my bank account, it did nothing to fill my soul. Looking back on it, my near death experience was a blessing that urged me to look within and start listening to and following my heart. It was the best thing that could have happened to me - anything less extreme might not have gotten my attention in the same way.

These experiences that seem like setbacks or even disasters usually lead to transformation as long as you can reframe them as a gift - something that happened for you rather than to you. There's a Cycle of Awareness that I learned from Don Stapleton at Nosara Yoga Institute that shows the process quite well. We are going along in life in our way of being and then something happens that interrupts the balance and throws us into chaos and confusion. We might flounder for awhile in chaos, then move into a fertile void, and may bounce back and forth between the two. But the magic happens in that fertile void where we can start to tap into our inner resources and eventually experience transformation to a new way of being that completes the circle - until the next thing comes along to interrupt that balance.

It is through these so called 'disasters' that we can experience the most profound transformation. I'm grateful that my heart sent me a message that I could not ignore - it has changed my life for the better. And I'm glad that volcano erupted over 7,000 years ago to give us Crater Lake, one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

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