Tim Cusack's Blog
Tag Archives: life

Is Your Heart Capable of This?

The Capable Heart

If you think phrases like “a broken heart,” “I felt it in my heart,” or “my heart jumped,” are just clichés… There may be more to it than you think.

Did you know as a fetus your heart develops before your brain? Did you know that more information is sent from your heart to your brain than vice versa? And, did you know that your heart is believed to hold memory much like your hippocampus which stores memory in the brain?

Many people who have received heart transplants have reported having various degrees of changes that paralleled the personalities of their donors.   Heart recipients have experienced everything from new cravings for food, changes in music preferences, talents, and habits; to vivid memories that have echoed the last seconds of the donor’s life. This experience is called Cellular Memory Theory or Cell Memory Phenomenon. The scientific world does not agree on the fact of its existence. However, Claire Sylvia, author of “A Change of Heart,” would say that for her, it’s true. After receiving a heart from an 18 year-old male who died in a motorcycle accident, she reported having a craving for beer and chicken nuggets in recovery after surgery. Yes, they found chicken nuggets in the coat pocket of the donor at the accident, and she didn’t like beer before.   This story and many more can be found from heart recipients.

Some of these stories go far beyond food cravings. A 17 year-old, black male was killed in a drive-by shooting while walking with his violin. His music teacher said, “I think he would have played Carnegie Hall someday.” The recipient of his heart was a 47 year-old, blue-collar, white male. The recipient said after the transplant, “I can tell you one thing. I used to hate classical music, but now I love it. I play it all the time.” Even his wife commented that “He’s driving me nuts with this classical music. He sits for hours and listens.”

Another startling case involved a 19 year-old woman killed in an automobile accident. She was a committed vegetarian who owned and operated her own health food restaurant. As she lay dying in the hospital, she was able to write notes to her mother of how she could ‘feel the impact of the car hitting her, like it was going through her body.’ The recipient of her heart, a 29 year-old woman reported,” I know this will sound crazy, but two things happened to me. First, almost every night I feel the accident my donor had. I can feel the impact in my chest. Secondly, I hate meat now. I can’t stand it. Actually, when I even smell it, my heart starts to race. Before, I was the biggest money maker for McDonald’s!”

Heart surgeon, Dr. Jeff Punch, M.D. says, “There are other explanations for these mind-body changes.” He suggests they can be the side effects of transplant medications, pure coincidence or the profound experience of the transplant itself. He believes that anything more is just fantasy.

What do you think? Is this beyond our current scientific capability to understand?  Is it how God made us – in his likeness – far more complicated than we can comprehend? Or, is it simply what Dr. Punch says, “Just fantasy.”

If your life ended right now and someone received your heart, what traits, likes, dislikes, behaviors, and passions would you want passed on?

For me, I want to believe cellular memory to be true. It adds to the mystery of life (as if we need more…). I enjoy believing in these types of theories, miracles, and the unlimited power of the human spirit. It has heart!

P.S.  Be an organ donor!

DEATH, THE GREAT MOTIVATOR

 

Life is Short

“Some people die at age 25 & aren’t buried until 75.”  Benjamin Franklin

Are you shocked? You shouldn’t be…..for two reasons: 1.) I write about ideas like this; 2.) You ARE going to die.

Why don’t we use death more as a motivator? It’s the ultimate energizer. It’s the one thing that is for sure. You can’t rely on any other aspect of life that is a 100% guarantee beside death.

Don’t deny it. Use it to your advantage. If you believe in God, you’re good, and you ask for your sins to be forgiven, then you have heaven waiting after you die. But, once again – NO GUARANTEES you’ll get in!! Let’s say you do get the green light, and God is standing next to you watching a replay of your life. Do you think you’ll see a few missed opportunities? Could you have had more laughs, enjoyed family and friends more, played with your kids, your dog or cat, a little more? Could you have gotten a little crazier at times (not in sinful ways), just wilder. Could you have helped more people, especially those you didn’t know? God loves that!

Let’s say you don’t believe in God, and there’s no afterlife – nothing. You believe life is a one-shot deal. One and done. Painful, like March Madness. You atheists should really be living it up. I don’t mean in a nasty, mean way like robbing a bank, stealing a car, or running people over, because your one and done will be spent in prison. I mean going ballistic with adventure!

Buddhists, you get to come back.

All of us can use death as a motivator to be more spontaneous, more fabulous, more out there. To remind each other of how precious life is, we can change our parting words such as: “See you later,” or “Take care,” or “Nice seeing you.” Why don’t we enhance and motivate by reminding each other that life is short. Our parting words could be, “Remember you could be dead soon,” or “Death is forever,” or maybe “I hope you have a peaceful death.” “Thanks, good seeing you too, and thanks for the reminder.”

In the book, Tuesdays with Morrie, Morrie says, “Our Culture doesn’t encourage us to think about such things (death) until you’re about to die. We’re wrapped up in egotistical things: career, money, cars, trillions of little high-jacks. When do you take time to stand back and really look at your life? Ask – Is this all? Is this all I want? Is something missing? Who knows, maybe you will begin to live your life – the one you want. Maybe you’ll become happier, healthier, more…what?” Motivated.

P.S. No fish were injured or mistreated in this post.

DO NOT TALK ABOUT IT!

Shush...Don't Tell!

Shush…Don’t Tell!

Zip it! As hard as it may be at times, DO NOT TALK ABOUT IT!!! Actions speak louder than words — funny how that’s true. And, actions typically haven’t any sound.

In 2015 take a course on line from an Ivy League college. After you’re done, incorporate that knowledge into your personal and professional life. When someone comments on your newly acquired insights, you may share, “I took a class at Yale!”

Write a few poems, an essay or a song. Send the writings to a variety of publications, blogs, magazines or church bulletins. Give the song to a band and see if they can make it come alive. When someone comments on that cool song on the radio, you can reply, “Yeah, I wrote that.”

Start getting into shape. It takes about three weeks of consistently working out before you start to see changes in your body. If you stay with it, come spring, strip down on the beach in front of family and friends and shock them all. “Oh yeah, baby. I’m ripped! You like?”

Start saving right now for that new bike, car, gazebo, hot air balloon ride, trip to the Middle East to help refugees. Pick something wild, fun, maybe daring. But for God’s sake and yours, DON’T TALK ABOUT IT!

“Well done is better than well said. Talk is cheap.” Ben Franklin

Renée Zellweger and Dysmorphia

old young face side by side

Last week if someone had said to you, “Go into a room of a hundred people and find Renée Zellweger.”  Could you do it?  I’m not sure I could.  The first thought I had when I saw Renée’s new look was, “That’s not her….is it?”  Then I thought, “Will she act differently?  Talk differently?  Be less pouty?”  The biggest question is why?  A personal crisis, something to do?  Or is it about holding on to youth and beauty?

These thoughts were caused by dysmorphia, a deformity or abnormality in the shape or size of a specific part of the body.  In this case her face.

What freaks me out (just a little) is knowing that her old face is still behind the new one.  Full disclosure:  I’ve fantasized about how I would change my face – nose job, eye lift and a little lip enlargement, costing roughly $30,000 worth.  I could easily change my face by driving a new car worth that much!  It would be much less painful and a lot faster, and folks could recognize ‘Tim’ driving that new car.

According to Nancy Etcoff, an evolutionary psychologist at Harvard and author of “Survival of the Prettiest,” our faces are tightly packed with important biological information.  She reports that “we are face virtuosos.  We can discern one face from thousands, even millions of other faces.”

Our relationship with others is held in the individual’s face.  Our faces communicate our tribe, our emotions, our moods, our essences.  If my wife changed her face as much as Zellweger did, I would feel like I was having an affair at first.  Eventually I would want back the person I married.  A little fixing here and there is cool – as long as I can recognize the face in a room of strangers.

“If age is denied, soul becomes lost in an inappropriate clinging to youth.” Thomas Moore

SIMPLY CARING

boys in prision

Call it a random act of kindness or helping others or making a difference – it’s all CARING.

In December 2012 at a Tim Horton’s drive-through, a customer paid the tab for the car behind in line. That act of caring started a chain reaction that lasted three hours; 226 cars paid for the car behind them. Each customer was so moved by being cared for that they, in turn, cared for someone else.

A mother who lost her 8 year-old daughter to a rare cancer in 2009, created Milan’s Miracle Fund, a nonprofit that supports research on pediatric cancer. This mother didn’t have to create a foundation. Her daughter is gone. She cares about children she doesn’t know who have cancer, as well as their families and all the people affected by their cancer.

Research shows that being witness to an act of caring is a powerful stimulant for our own health and well-being. Recently I watched an elderly woman sit for hours next to her dying friend, holding her hand, feeding her and caring for her. It’s a comforting thought to have someone willing to care for you at the end of life. We will all be there at some point.

Caring may save your life….really?

Is this ‘caring’ stuff that powerful? I interviewed young men, ages 17 to 21, who were serving two years to life in prison for having killed, robbed, led gangs, and sold drugs. During these interviews I asked, “Why did you do this?” The most common answer was “I didn’t care.” I then asked, “When did you stop caring?” The answer, “When I was no longer cared for.” (At $70.7 billion annual cost of incarceration in the U.S. – not caring adds up.)

Yes, caring could save your life. So, the next time you lend a hand, help someone out, or give your time and money, why are you doing it? Because you CARE.

Office Romance: To Do or Not To Do

Love in the Officew?

Love in the Office?

Most of you are aware of Don Draper’s (Madmen) sexual antics in the 1960’s work place. What does today’s office romance look like?

A ProVault.com study found that 40% of workers have had an office romance. A recent survey of 8000 workers by CareerBuilder.com found that 4 out of 10 employees have dated someone at work. Not fair, but women are seen in a more negative light than men when it comes to workplace romance. Often, women are seen as using an office relationship to get ahead. If you’re thinking of making moves on someone at work, here are some pros and cons to consider:

Pro: You spend time together and have common topics to talk about.

Con: An office romance can generate gossip and distrust.

Pro: Most workers indicated they do not mind seeing a romance develop between two unmarried colleagues.

Con: While workplace romances may seem harmless, they can in fact lead to serious problems, such as co-workers taking sides and an awkward work environment.

Pro: Office romances can make going to work more exciting and something to look forward to.

Con: Office romances can lead to some type of sexual harassment or accusations of sexual harassment.

Pro: It’s possible to meet your future spouse at or through work.

Con: Office romances can lead to careers being derailed as well as charges of favoritism, including overlooking shoddy work.

Our biological drives, attraction and lust can be extremely powerful and can easily overwhelm job titles, income and promotions. In the heat of the moment you may need a jolt to the rational mind like a photo of a loved one, a list of career goals or just a reminder of your credit card statement, mortgage or car loan.

Top 10 Jobs Where Workers Are Likely To Have a Fling (from the Huffington Post)

10. Planning and Expediting Clerks

9. Database Administrators

8. Food Service Managers

7. Automotive Technicians

6. Industrial Machinery Works

5. Occupational Health and Safety Specialists

4. Stock Clerks

3. Welders

2. Cooks

1. Artists (Sweet, I’m finally #1 in something!)

THE MYSTERY OF SYNCHRONICITY

Synchronicity

Crane Holds Moon

I suppose synchronicity has been around as long as people have, but it wasn’t until the 1950’s when Carl Jung, the famous psychologist, shed light on this curious phenomenon. And of course the 80’s band, The Police, tuned into it’s vibe naming their famous album after the word.

A common definition of synchronicity is: The simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related, but have no discernible causal connection.

A common example of this could be when we’re thinking about a person and within seconds they call us. More uncommon would be this story a friend recently related to me. While visiting New York City, he was sitting in a coffee shop and calls a friend to arrange a meeting. At the very moment of his call to her, she says to him, “I’m right outside looking at you through the window.” Out of hundreds of coffee shops and a population of eight million people, they are in the same place at the very same moment. Synchronicity?

Carl Jung said, “The more aware we are of our surroundings, the more likely it (synchronicity) will occur. It also tends to happen more around times of birth, death, falling in or out of love, turning points, personal crises, or just being more open.

So, what’s the point? Maybe a moment of synchronicity is just that, a moment that seems amazing, wild or weird. Maybe it’s the quantum theory of the universe trying to connect with you. Or, bigger yet, it’s God putting a sign out for you to read; one that you’ve been asking for.  The next time you experience one of these occurrences, stop and wonder to yourself what this flash of synchronicity could mean for you.

Whatever way you want to interpret them, at least enjoy the mystery of the moments of synchronicity that come your way.

Two Folders

Two Folders with Two Perspectives on Life

Two Folders with Two Perspectives on Life

An observation of living life with two folders:

One folder is filled with information we’ve accumulated to navigate our intellectual and skill-based needs. This folder is filled with facts, theories and data that satisfies our need to be knowledgeable. We have multiple degrees, licenses and certifications to authenticate our ability to perform certain tasks and especially to prove to others that we’re smart. We know lots of information, and we have a bulging folder to prove it!

The other folder contains our meaning in life – all things that we hold dear and close to our hearts and souls. This folder is absent of any institutional, signed documents. It holds our emotional attachments to those we love and to those who are no longer with us. It’s filled with momentary glimpses of tears of joy and sadness. The only documentation of this emotional truth comes from within. There is no formal, external certification. It can’t be purchased, or studied, or graded.

I’ve discovered while working with hospice and those with serious unexpected health issues that the meaning folder is the only one that really matters. Some people can’t find this folder. Perhaps it didn’t seem important. Or, if they do possess it, it’s very meager.

Yet, others possess a folder overflowing with meaningful moments that have been collected, cherished and remembered…forever and ever. Amen.

May your folder of information and intellectual pursuits be filled and organized to meet your needs.

AND,

May your folder of meaning be readily available and easily found when you find yourself in need of your purpose, your greatness and the difference you make in the lives of others.

The Ripple Effect of Spontaneous Generosity

PAYING IT FORWARD

We’ve all been witness to someone being nice to a complete stranger, such as opening a door, picking up a dropped item, overhearing a complement such as nice hair, lovely outfit….  And for a moment we feel good inside. However, science is showing it’s much more than warm and fuzzy. In a New York Times article on March 16, 2014 Milena Tsvetkova and Michael Macy, from Cornell University concluded “that observing an act of kindness is likely to play an important role in setting a cascade of generosity in motion.”

In December of 2012 in Winnipeg at a Tim Horton’s Coffee Shop drive-through, a customer paid for her order and picked up the tab for the stranger in the car behind her. Then that customer paid the bill for the following customer, and so on for the next 226 customers!

Spontaneous generosity is not new, however the world of social psychology and the study of positive psychology has brought this type of science to the forefront. It illuminates, reminding us that we’re all capable of starting a positive ripple of good old-fashioned kindness.

Driving Down the Road of Life

Driving Down The Road of Life

If you were to pretend that your life is like a car, who’s driving it? Some people may have negative responses, say, “No one is – it’s in the ditch.” or “It’s sitting in the garage and won’t start.” Conversely, some may respond enthusiastically with “I’m flying down the highway at 85 mph with the top down, and the music cranked. I’m having a blast!”

How can the response to this question be so polarized? Well, because we are such emotional beings. To help you with your ’emotional’ driving skills, here are three quick tips from Dr. Rick Hansen, Ph.D., author of “Just One thing” and “The Buddha’s Brain.” Dr. Hanson has a three-step process for enhancing joy, pleasure and appreciation in life – kind of like how it feels to fly down the road at 85 mph with the top down.

Step 1 – Notice or create a positive experience. Perhaps you’re at the grocery store. You’re walking down the aisle, and you see someone pull a box of cereal off the shelf. Instead of one box, three tumble onto the floor. In that moment of potential embarrassment another person helps pick-up the boxes. [Notice the care, the concern, the helpfulness. Or you can be that person who comes to help.]
Step 2 – Stay with the experience. Be with it, let it last for a few seconds – the longer the better.
Step 3 – Absorb the positive experience, paying attention to what is good, to the beauty of the moment. Absorb the compassion of someone helping another person. It’s simple but not easy.

Dr. Hanson calls this Vitamin C for your brain. Don’t waste it.

The next time you’re driving down the road of life (assuming you’ve made it out of the garage), keep your eyes on the road but take the time to absorb positive experiences that come your way.

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Tim has launched WorkTribe Dynamics to help companies understand their employees so they can be empowered to succeed. Would you like to learn more?

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