Tim Cusack's Blog
Tag Archives: soul

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!

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

I Dare You to Give This Gift

Sharing Love

Sharing Love

I love “Funeral Talk.”   You know, those lovely words we share about the person we care enough of to show up at their funeral and say: He was so great. She always had a smile. He was so fun to be around. She would do anything for you.

Here’s the ‘DARE’ gift – tell the person that you appreciate what they mean to you while they’re still ALIVE! Not only are you giving them a gift of purpose, meaning, and significance; you’re also incorporating what Viktor Frankl’s calls “logotherapy.”

In “Man’s search for Meaning in Life,” Viktor Frankl says, “It’s inherently human to crave knowing we’ve made a difference. By telling those in your life the difference they’ve made, you’ve fed one of the most essential needs of the human spirit.” Not only does this benefit those you share with, but you’re strengthening your own emotional capability.

A few days ago, I held the hand of my neighbor, Julie, who has been a blessing to me and my family for 17 years. I knew she was close to death, so I spoke to her from my heart. I told her, “If I straighten up my act, we’ll be neighbors again sometime.” She smiled, and left earth the next day. I’m still here with my memories, knowing I told her the difference she made in my life. I dared myself to tell her, so I could live without regrets.

Brené Brown is in the Top 10 TED talks with over 17 million hits. Why? Because Brené touches a very sensitive nerve when she broaches the topic of shame and vulnerability. She would say that we struggle with vulnerability because our shame of being vulnerable inhibits us from telling those in our life what they mean to us.

Instead, Brené says, “We numb those emotions with food, material goods, drugs – anything to avoid being emotionally vulnerable.”

So I DARE YOU this holiday season (or any season) to give a priceless gift, one of ultimate vulnerability and meaning. Tell the people in your life the difference they’ve made. Tell them their importance to you, and the role they play in your life. By doing so, you’re giving two gifts: one to them and one to yourself.

Pass this post on to someone, if you think it would help you say the words you need to say.

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.

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.

Surfing the Waves of Life

Surfing Life

Surfing Life:  Ups and Downs

We humans are mostly water. We can’t live without it. Maybe that’s why we’re drawn to it.

I’m sitting on my surfboard, legs dangling in the water. My eyes are open, looking to find the ideal, oncoming wave to ride back to shore. Every wave is unique, and we all see the them differently according to our distinct perspectives and ability to ride. Unlike other balancing activities, such as snowboarding or skateboarding, surfing is riding on liquid, ever changing, constantly evolving, unpredictable.

A lot like life.

We’re constantly looking for the next wave, evaluating, waiting for the right one, trying to predict if we’re able to ride it, stay on it. We sit, we see the wave coming….our parents aging, our kids growing up. Our jobs ending or new ones beginning. Babies born, loved ones die. Marriages, divorces, successes, failures. Our lives passing with time, rolling by.

The waves of life.

Just like surfing, we sometimes get up and successfully ride a wave of life, fully balanced. It feels so good, so fulfilling. Other times we fall, brutally pummeled by the weight and brute force of the wave. Yet, we lay our bellies back on the board and paddle out, knowing the nature of what we face is ambiguous, challenging, and unpredictable, yet worth the effort, worth the energy and strength to experience a moment of life that feels so good.

My Five Step Commencement Address for All of Us

Diplomas of Life

Diplomas of Life

I know a “commencement address” can be cliche, but if you could find space in your heart to listen to people older than you, you may discover it benefits your soul and your mind.

  1. It’s okay to STOP, and enjoy spontaneous interactions and conversations with people – totally unplanned, unrehearsed and without an agenda. These interactions are some of the most memorable and life enhancing.
  2. Don’t waste mental energy on what others think about you. Most likely no one is talking or thinking about you. People are extremely busy worrying about their own lives and drama.
  3. Try sometime to just listen to someone without judgment or opinion, with good eye contact, head nods and an occasional ‘wow’ or ‘really’ or ‘tell me more about that.” If you listen, you’ll hear the human condition.
  4. Be mindful and have fun. Enjoy each day. Enjoy eating and drinking. Enjoy exercise. Enjoy shopping or whatever it is you’re doing.
  5. It’s natural to think about death. It compels you to think about your current life, what you’re doing with it and where you are going.

Enjoy your musings and wonderment on the meaning of life. You will visit this frequently. Go forth and be good people. If I don’t see you before, I’ll see you on the other side.

Amen,
Tim

“Being considerate of others will take your children further in life than any college degree.” Marian Wright Edelman

 

TEXT and EMAIL vs. TONE and SOUL

Just like keeping a favorite letter, sometimes I keep a favorite voice mail just to hear it a few more times. I’m listening to the words, but more importantly, my soul hears the tone, the emotional inflection behind those words. For me there’s no match when it comes to voice versus text or email.

I know. I get it. Sometimes it’s easier, faster and more efficient to communicate by sending a text or an email. Remember, however, your text email – the printed type – is the same from your phone or computer keypad as everyone else in the world. There’s nothing unique about it – just typed words.

Communication experts claim that when people are face to face, the queues of reading another person are 55% body language, 35% tone of voice, and only 10% the words we say. If this is true, that helps me make sense of why I feel so empty after communicating with people (friends) over time by just a text or email. I’m missing out on 90% of what’s really being communicated. Intonations and vocalization add content and meaning. I need the tone! If I get a real voice then I’m at 45% chance of reading the other person correctly. I guess I would love to see the body as well. That’s another discussion about Skype.

The second I hear your voice, it carries with it parts of the soul. I’m just asking for the voice, the tone over a text or email. I feel like I’m missing out on the opportunity to care for someone who needs to be listened to; who has the need to get out some pain, worry, anxiety; or, they may want to celebrate good news. Whatever it is, by just writing it, it will never by heard out loud.

I received a lovely email the other day. It basically communicated to me that I had helped enhance a company’s project. The employees loved what I had done for them. This email was completely unexpected. I felt appreciated as I read the feedback. But I still wondered, what if she had called? What would it have been like to hear her say these same words? So, I called her back and left a voice mail, thanking her for the email. My tone was sincere, appreciative. I was honored to be working for them. I could not email or text what I communicated by my tone. I also know, she will be hearing my voice. The voice that can only come from you, the voice that is as unique as every snowflake, as every soul.

Coming Soon: More evidence on using voice over text and email.

3.1 Miles – The Furthest He’s Ever Walked

Tim Cusack befriending Grant Forrester

When Grant Forrester was fifteen months old, he was riding in the back seat of his parents’ car strapped into his car seat – they believed that’s what saved his life. During the car crash, Grant was ejected from the car. His scull was crushed with spinal damage, and at that moment he became at quadriplegic.

Now, this past July 14th, 2011 at age 25, Grant walked the furthest distance of his life. He participated in the Traverse City, MI National Cherry Festival 5k. He walked 3.1 miles in 3 hours 57 minutes, aided by a device called a gate walker, his mother, girl friend, and physical therapist, as well as a bunch of friends – all the people he loved. This walk didn’t just happen…he trained for this event. In addition to this incredible accomplishment, Grant lost over 40lbs while training for his 5k goal.

I met Grant at the Grand Traverse Resort in Michigan this August. I was speaking at the kick-off of the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District for the 2011-2012 school year. I spoke to this same crazy, fun loving, group of educators about six years ago, so I had a little idea of what I was getting into.

Everything changed when the ISD decided to honor Grand Forrester for his accomplishment at this year’s kick-off. Just before I was to speak, they showed a video of his 5K walk with music in the back ground, and the level of emotions rocketed. The video ended with Grant wheeling into the room to a standing ovation and lots of tears. The Superintendent, Mike Hills, said a few words about Grant, honored him with a plaque, and then introduced me. I immediately thanked Grant for wrecking my show, and all he had to do was just show up! He thought that was pretty funny.

I talked with Grant after my program and asked him what he would want me to pass on to others. He said, “Don’t use the words “I can’t” or “I can,” just say, “I will.”

So, I will tell others of his story. I will keep in mind that lots of people have difficulty living life every day, yet they persevere every day. My soul is drawn to stories of people like Grant Forester who remind me…..I need to say “I will.”

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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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