Marla Levy 0:03
It was a few weeks after I came out of my coma. I said to my mother in law, I have a question that night that you sat next to me and held my hand. You were rocking back and forth, and crying. I said, Boy, were you crying. And she looked at me and said, Marla, there’s no way you could remember that. You were in a coma.
Kristin Taylor 0:37
Hello, and welcome to how I made it through. My name is Kristen Taylor, and I’m an executive coach. But truth be told, I focus far less on business than on helping my clients navigate the personal stuff. Things like anxiety, stress, sometimes trauma, and definitely emotional regulation. My life’s work requires holding sacred space for stories of hardship, and facilitating a loving process of finding one’s way back to wholeness. Because much like the words of Robert Frost, the best way out is through. How I made it through is offered as a survival guide of sorts, both as inspiration and encouragement. And today’s episode, you will hear Marla Levy’s story, Marla shared with me, then in 2013, because of complications from a congenital heart defect, she had to undergo three open heart surgeries and just 16 days after her second surgery, her heart didn’t resume beating for almost a week. During that time, she was put on a machine that takes over the function of the heart and the lungs. Unfortunately, one of the common side effects is acute kidney failure. Marla’s kidneys shut down, and she was put on dialysis for 24 hours a day. To say was tough is a huge understatement. During the course of her battle to literally stay alive, Marla experienced more than one spiritually transformative experience. And experience is spiritually transformative when it causes people to perceive themselves in the world profoundly differently by expanding their identity, augmenting their sensitivities and altering their values, priorities and appreciation of the purpose of life. In listening to Marla recounts her story, you will hear evidence of all of the above. Because Marla story is so profound. I’ve chosen to present it as a two part series. Part One highlights how through her experience, she cultivated a level of compassion for herself and others that she never felt so deeply before, and that has stayed with her part two to be shared. Next week, we’ll describe how her harrowing experiences shifted her ability to be more fully present in her life for herself, her family and her friends. Before we get started, I’d like to share a quote from Elisabeth Kubler Ross. She says, quote, The Most Beautiful People we have known or those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, no loss and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, the sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deeply loving concern. Beautiful People do not just happen. And as you listen to Marla story unfold, you’ll hear Kubler Ross his words in action. Hello, Marla, and welcome to how I made
Marla Levy 3:58
it through. Thank you for having me, Kristin. It’s an honor that you asked me to be on your podcast.
Kristin Taylor 4:05
I am so excited for the opportunity to have you share your stories. I think it’ll just benefit so many people. So to get started, if you were just lay the foundation what was going on with you what was what was happening.
Marla Levy 4:19
I was born with a congenital heart defect, and I was diagnosed at 21. By the time I was 27, I had to get my aorta valve replaced. And I had a choice of a metal valve or human valve. I chose human or tissue because it gave me the opportunity or window to have children. If you get metal valve it you have to be on a blood thinner which is contra indicated with pregnancy. So going into the surgery, it could have been one and done. But I chose to have one later in life for that opportunity to possibly have children.
Kristin Taylor 5:01
In 1999, Marla went into surgery for her aortic valve replacement. But the surgery did not go exactly as planned. When the surgery was over, her heart failed to start on its own, they could not get her off the bypass machine, they were at a loss for why this would happen to a woman so young. Out of desperation, they harvested the largest feign from her right leg in order to perform a right coronary bypass as a last ditch effort to keep her alive. Luckily, they were able to revive her following the bypass. And so at the age of 27, she had her aortic valve replaced with human tissue, enabling her to bring two beautiful daughters into this world. And that Valve lasted 14 years, much longer than the eight to 10 that our medical team had anticipated.
Marla Levy 5:53
So now I’m 41 years old, I have a one and three year old. And it’s time I, during my routine echo, they say my aortic valve is deteriorating at an alarming rate. How’s that? Talk about trying to stomach that? My god, I’m not the same, not the words you want to hear in the same sentence. So I long story short went in, and they took out my, my human valve and replaced it with the St. Jude’s mechanical valve. And while I was in there, I had to get another two bypasses. So when I woke up, I was told that I have extensive arterial sclerosis. And I had to go right back into surgery. And when they say right back in, they basically said in the next seven days, we’re gonna do another completely different type of surgery on you. And we have only seven days to work you up before you undergo this huge surgery.
Kristin Taylor 7:01
Stunned, she repeatedly asked why, why, why when you had my chest open, why did you not just complete all that needed to be done? The surgeon explained to her that his expertise was as a pediatric thoracic surgeon, and that because she was an adult, and they had discovered that she had an adult disease, arterial sclerosis, the hardening of the arteries and veins, it required another surgical team with a much different expertise to step in. She was told she only had seven days in which to undergo the surgery, and that the benchmark she needed to meet in order for them to even consider operating was to be able to stand up and breathe on her own. She said that she barely survived those seven days. And that although just standing up and breathing on her own may sound like a seemingly low bar, it felt insurmountable given the state of her health.
Marla Levy 7:55
It was really scary because my recovery was so poor, I, the fact that we were going to add on an extra heart surgery was just, I couldn’t even wrap my head around it. So I go in for the second surgery. It was one of the most humbling and devastating moments of my life. It took about three days to wake up and be alert for my anesthesia from my aortic valve replacement. That typically takes a few hours. We’re day three. And the first thing my doc my surgeon says to me is I’ve good news, and bad news. And I’m thinking to myself, goodness, gracious, this is not the person I want to hear this from. Yeah. And in my typical fashion, I said, let’s start with the good news. He said, Well, the good news is we had a very successful case, everything we set out to do with the valve replacement was a success. The bad news is unfortunately, you have such extensive arterial sclerosis, we have to take you back in to surgery immediately. Or view will not live much longer. And I didn’t I I heard the words, but the idea when I’m barely breathing, and can’t even sit up in my bed. I’m going back in for a whole nother open heart surgery. The first thing I thought is oh my god, I’m gonna die. I’m not strong enough. I there’s there’s no way I can pull this off. We’re not talking about you know, a minor surgery here. And they said I was up against the clock. And it was not optional. I couldn’t put this off. And they’re lucky that they caught it because I literally had less than a week to live Oh my goodness. And so I had to sit with that I had to, in my weak in my weak state and trying to pull out of my first surgery, I had to process the fact that now I’m going to go in for more severe, long surgery. And to be perfectly honest, I didn’t think I was gonna survive.
Kristin Taylor 10:25
Okay. Okay, so a ton of fear and doubt. And was it like a resignation? Or was there a moment, I’m gonna fight for this or tell me how you navigated that emotional landscape.
Marla Levy 10:42
It was a process, when they took gave me the information. I didn’t know what to do with it. So they left the room, and I replayed the conversation in my head. And it was like a nightmare. But I knew it was for real. So I had to process the fact that this is what’s happening. Then I decided, how am I going to look at this? How, what’s my attitude going to be towards this? And I thought, You know what, I’m just going to get better. I’m going to do the best I can. And I just have to have trust in the universe and in my doctors that I’ll be okay. Because at this point, everything was out of my control. Right. And the only thing I only the one thing I could control at that point in time is my perspective of how I was going to look at this whole situation. And based on that, that could make me or break me. Wow. Yeah. Wow, it was it was very humbling. And I’d never felt so scared, or hopeless. I didn’t even know what to expect. But it was very humbling. So I had a week to process all this. And it was more than I could deal with that time tonight. I tried to stay positive. But at a certain point, I started losing help.
Kristin Taylor 12:27
Okay. Okay. So what I hear you say when I’m appreciating is that you are a young mother. And you’re faced with this really overwhelming, potentially dire situation? Yes. And when I said how are you navigating it, what I hear you saying is, it was a real defining moment and tell me if I ever get it wrong, but it was a real defining moment. And you chose an attitude of and trust. And yet, you’re human, which meant that as you were waiting in the state, you’re also managing understandable fear.
Marla Levy 13:09
Yes, exactly. What I had to do is put everything. I basically focused on hope and faith, which as you know, is not tangible. It’s the it’s a concept that something’s going to work out in the future. And it’s hard to put to really focus on that, knowing that it could go awry. But I chose to hold hope in my heart, and to have faith in the system. And although I didn’t know what the results would be, I knew that my positive energy would transform the situation as much as possible for the positive for me, because I’m a big believer in energy. And it all starts with how you feel and what your intentions are and where your perception is. And that’s why I kept being very careful about thinking positively. Although I knew in the back of my mind, there was a very high chance I wouldn’t survive. And I you know, had my babies Oh, my 123
Kristin Taylor 14:34
months. Yes, it was a lot. A lot is again, such an understatement. Most people will never be faced with that situation. And I see you leaning into the wisdom that you brought, which is this belief and energy and to be very intentional with where you directed your thoughts. So if you would please continue with the story and how things unfolded.
Marla Levy 14:57
Okay, so I I was able to go in for that neck surgery. And it took all the bravery in me to put on a happy face for my husband. I didn’t, I knew he was facing a lot. And he was uncertain. And I didn’t want to stress him out even more. So I put on the brave face and said, I’m going to be fine. And I was joking, saying, I need a spa day after all of this, and I can’t wait to drink a margarita. I just kept focusing on the positive. And I went in for that surgery. And they were successful, they did a triple bypass on me. But unfortunately, he was told that my heart could not be restarted. They kept me in the operating room for six hours on the heart lung bypass machine, past when my surgery was over. This isn’t counting the time that for hours, I was in surgery. And due to the fact they could not get my heart to beat on its own, they chose to put me on the most aggressive form of life support. It’s a machine called ECMO. And it’s a heart lung machine, it’s a oxygenator that you can actually take a patient from the operating room to the ICU, keep them alive temporarily, in hopes that somehow the heart will be strong enough to start beating on its own in the near future. So that puts me in the ICU. And it’s it was everyone’s worst nightmare.
Kristin Taylor 17:13
Marla was kept in an induced coma, her chest stayed open for over a week. And the echo machine put her into kidney failure while her lungs collapsed. She was in triple organ failure. They could not stop her from internally hemorrhaging. They were literally transfusing her as fast as she was hemorrhaging. And to make matters worse, she had developed an infection, her situation was dire. And this was only day one of being on life support.
Marla Levy 17:41
I was very lucky that I was in a coma. Because I don’t know if I could even process any of that. If somebody had told me, here’s the situation you’re in. Right? So it was a blessing that they had me in my induced coma. Right.
Kristin Taylor 17:57
Right. And so this may sound like a strange question. And it’s only coming from a place of I’ve heard stories of some people when they’re in a coma, and they just have no memory. Some people have strange floaty experiences. Was it just you miss that passage of time? Or what was that like for you? If, if there’s anything that you remember,
Marla Levy 18:17
the good news is, I did not cross over. I didn’t see a light. I don’t I didn’t see relatives. So that’s the good news. What’s interesting is I was in the room the whole time. And it’s almost like the show in movies when someone’s looking from above down and seeing the whole thing take place. I don’t know how often that happened. But I remember them taking care of me. And they had 12 clinicians at all times with me. And my family was there the room was filled with people. And I was really confused as to what all the hubbub was about. And I didn’t understand why my family was so stressed out. And it never occurred to me that it was me that was the patient. And I heard everything they were saying. And holy cow. It was very humbling. Because they were talking about me. And it was a few weeks after I came out of my coma. I said to my mother in law. I have a question. That night that you sat next to me and held my hand. You were rocking back and forth, and crying. I said, Boy, were you crying. And she looked at me and said Marla, there’s no way you could remember that. You were in a coma. And I said, I remember vividly. I said you were sitting right here. You’re holding this hand. And I just remember you rocking back and forth
Kristin Taylor 19:58
and she I
Marla Levy 20:00
couldn’t believe it, because that’s exactly what took place. And I was repeating conversations that doctors had with my family. So it was very important that I feel it’s my duty to continue to let Dr. Snow and family snow. Be cognizant of what you speak of in the room. Yes. Because although they might not be conscious, it doesn’t mean they’re not their energy, their spirits, not there.
Kristin Taylor 20:33
Right. Right. That is so amazing. You’re really talking about you are having this sort of what I think is called an out of body experience that so many people in comas experience and so although you weren’t conscious, there was consciousness. Yes. And you were looking down on yourself. And you were fully present from a different aspect of consciousness to what was happening in that room.
Marla Levy 21:02
It was fascinating. And I just couldn’t understand why everyone around me was so sad. So you weren’t sad? No. And I wanted to reach out and help them or, or hug them or comfort them. And I just another thing is, I didn’t understand why there were so many nurses, and doctors and machines. It just, I don’t know how to explain it. I don’t know how I didn’t know I was the patient. But I just, I felt the energy in the room. And I wanted to do something to lift everyone’s spirits. Yeah. And again, it all comes down to energy. And although I wasn’t conscious, I was very conscious of everyone’s energy. And everyone’s intentions. Yeah,
Kristin Taylor 21:54
that’s amazing. So the energy, I’m really curious about the energy, and then I want to continue with the story, because I know there’s so much more to the story. But this to me is really significant. Because you weren’t in fear. No, right. You were not in fear. What I’m hearing from you is you were connected to love. Yeah, sure. So say more about that. And then we’ll continue because that feels like I said, significant. Being connected to love.
Marla Levy 22:24
I had such compassion for those around me. Even the clinicians that were taking care of me, I could feel how nervous they were. I could see the way they were looking at me, it’s really interesting. They were looking at me, like I was already past their their expressions, everybody, my family, my doctors, my nurses, anybody that entered the room came in and had the sick, same look in their eyes like I was dying or died. And that was one of my only clues as to how bad I was doing. But what I the one thing I remember, is the compassion I felt towards those taking care of me. And those loving me and me wanting to reciprocate it immediately. So they wouldn’t feel it. And I find that interesting night, even in that state of mind. That’s the main emotion I felt. And almost the only emotion I felt was compassion. Because I just wanted to help everyone feel better. Yeah. Isn’t that interesting?
Kristin Taylor 23:45
It’s interesting on so many different levels that in the midst of this, you are most consumed with compassion and care for their suffering. Yeah, what I’m hearing and tell me we think of that. What I’m about to share, which is it’s almost like in this out of body experience, with this sort of altered consciousness that is fully present. What happened is that you connected to what is most essential. Yeah, that is love and compassionate. Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. So I want, if you would, for you to please continue with your story and what I’m listening for. When we started this, I talked about these spiritually transformative experiences of which this is clearly evidence of how this unfolding of who you are spiritually and how you show up, continued to evolve. So if you would please share with your story and how it moves forward.
Marla Levy 24:52
Absolutely. I was they took me back to the operating room on day two of being in a coma and they I’m not able to get my heart to start. So they waited two more days, day four, they took me back to the bar. Again, no success. At this point in time, it was, I was considered a critical condition. But they said it was the most critical condition. They had pretty much seen in many years, which surprised me because this is a teaching hospital, UCSF and they see the most severe cases. And when they said they hadn’t seen a patient that sick in many years. Again, it’s like, wait a minute, what. And they said I was holding on by a thread if that. So the good news is day six, they got a heartbeat. Now, it’s nothing to write home about. There’s something called an ejection fraction. And I’m not going to get too technical. But that’s basically the strike that your heart is beating, and how much output of blood is coming out. And a normal, average person, their ejection fraction is about 60. Mine was 10. Goodness. So literally, led was like trickling out of my, my heart. But the one thing I had going for me, is hope. Because up until that point, I didn’t have a heartbeat. And although it was not impressive, they had something to work with finally, and again, it gave everybody that that that burst of hope that maybe there’s a chance of survival. So the recovery was very hard, very difficult. I don’t remember a lot of it. It was very painful. But interestingly enough, I was just looking at pictures from my time in the hospital, the seven weeks. And in every picture, I was smiling, like you would never know. It’s so funny. You see these tubes coming out of every everywhere. I have a feeding tube, they’re not breathing. I’m sitting there, someone’s holding me up because I can’t even sit up. And I’m smiling. And I thought, oh my god, that was my spirit. How could anyone smile at that point in time. And it was maybe it was innocence or being naive. But I always was grateful. And the compassion that I was given as a patient was beyond anything I could ever put into words. Everyone was rooting for me. The nurses didn’t have a lot of control over things. So they did smell things. They put baby pictures up of my girls. So if I was able to open my eyes, I can see baby pictures of them. They did anything they could think of and I was in such despair. And so weak and in such a bad place. The smallest things the most minute things meant everything to me. Everything to me another another another time I was feeling sad and starting to lose hope. I kept asking for weeks. Can I please get fresh air Can I please have sunshine? I need fresh air. And the nurses refused to allow me to leave the hospital. Just to go out to the patio right out. It wasn’t far.
I said I need fresh air. I’ve been here six weeks. And one day I I had been asking for about three weeks. This lady walks by and I’m talking to my best friend who fluid. I said Stacy, I need fresh air. I need sunshine. And she stopped and she came in the room. And I see her unhooking me. And I noticed MD so I know she’s a doctor. I don’t recognize her. Then I see cardiac surgeon. i She’s a cardiac surgeon who obviously was visiting someone else. She unhooked me enough. And she got all my IVs and all my oxygen. And she took me and with a help of many people outside and there’s a picture my friend took of me For the first moment, the first the first breath of fresh air, and the first beam of warm sunshine on my face. And I’ll always Cheshire that picture, it’s, it’s it, if you could see a picture of what heaven feels like I was feeling it. I never appreciated air or sunshine so much in my entire life. And she gave me the opportunity to breathe,
Marla Levy 30:36
To feel warmth, to feel like a human being again. Yeah, he really don’t feel you lose the I wasn’t able to feel like a human the entire time I was in the hospital. Because you’re basically a scientific experience, experiment, your poked your product. And what this woman’s compassion did, which I’m sure wasn’t a big deal to her is it brought all life back to me any hope I’d given up any faith, I have lost any strength, I felt like I didn’t have any more. I breathed it in and I, I gathered it from the world, the Earth, the nature. And she gave me about 20 minutes. And to date that was 2020 of the happiest moments, two minutes of my life. I I can’t even put it into words. So compassion kept me alive. And it didn’t take that much for the smallest acts of kindness to to bring such energy back to me. And I wish I could go back and think that I think that person i I swear it was an angel or
Kristin Taylor 32:03
angels. Can I pause you? Yes, of course. And the reason I want to pause you is because with every sentence you are sharing, we could spend an hour because they are such reminders to us all. And what stood out to me was you said in the situation, you have a hard time feeling human because you’re this medical experiment, and they’re poking and prodding and operating. And what I’m thinking about is this whole like Mind, Body Spirit. So in spirit, you’re recounting moments of being so fully alive, and connected to what is most essential. But it was your body that I hear that was really hungry for this sort of sentience being you know that I need sunshine, I need air. And there are these Earth Angels in the form of doctors, nurses, family and friends who provided in different ways and in different capacities and how you again, just needed to connect mind body and spirit to what is most essential.
Marla Levy 33:15
Absolutely. And it’s very uneven when you’re sitting in a stuffy room with no fresh air, and a lot of beeps. And you know the sounds and smells of a hospital, strangers coming in and out. And again, just the way people looked at me. You have to remember when you’re in the hospital, there are no mirrors or if there are, I wasn’t, I didn’t walk, I wasn’t able to sit up. And so I had no mirror so my mirror was a people’s faces that were talking to me. And it was terrifying. At times mortifying to see to see their expressions because I thought oh my god, I must not be doing well. Right. And to have somebody overlook all of that. Come in like a breath of fresh air and hook me take me out and she gave my husband and I privacy and she stood a few. She just stood and waited, you know a little bit for off but she loved my husband and I just to hold hands and experience each other. Yeah, in a more human place. In that artificial world of you know, the hospital. Yeah, it was everything. And my body needed it. And with that my soul was recharged and my psyche was brought up 10 levels, and that gave me the courage and the strength and the will to continue my fight even though it at last Times would have been much easier to give up. It reminded me of who, organically I was who I was before all of this. Yeah. And who I was as a human being. Because it’s easy to lose yourself. And when it’s it’s very easy to lose who you are when all people are doing is asking how your kidneys are your lungs, your heart, your creatinine serum levels, your oxygen levels, is seven weeks I was in the hospital, not one clinician doctor said to me, Marla, how are you doing? As a human being? Not one person said? Are you okay? Could you imagine? And I might get off the subject for a minute. But I think this is really important. And I share this when I speak at medical conferences. Would one person have asked me? Are you okay? In any of the time I was in the hospital? I would have been honest with them and said, No, I’m scared, I’m dying. And I didn’t know there was any chance I could live. They never once said, There is hope there’s, there’s a chance you can get out of this place. So through the entire process. I thought I was dying. So that’s where my my psyche was in a place of preparing for death. Yeah. And would I have been brave enough to say I’m scared, I’m dying. Someone could say Marilla, you might be able to see your children again, you might be able to learn to walk. Yeah, one day you might be able to eat again. And everything would have been different.
Kristin Taylor 37:05
Everything that is so important. And I’m really glad that you paused to say this part is important. The word medicine comes up to me as I listen to you. And what I mean by that is there’s so many interventions that you needed so many different types of medicine, again, mind, body and spirit. Yeah, right. And the medicine you needed was fresh air and to hold your husband’s hand and to be held in the entirety of who you are. It reminds me in my 20s, I worked at a hospital as I was training to become a therapist, and we would do art at the bedside. And art was really just the excuse to walk in the room, we often didn’t do art. But it was to bring humanity to the experience of being poked and prodded and recognizing you are someone who has feelings and thoughts and fears and stories and need connection. So I’m so glad you underscored that. With the time we have left. And I wish we could talk for hours on end because your experience really positions to you to be such a leader and such a guide. I would love to hear a little bit more. There’s so much fast forwarding that is required because your story has so many stories within it. Sure. But I’m curious if you could share a little bit with us about now that you’re on the other side. And you can help us get to the other side if there were a few things that helped you to live, how you continue to practice and live, what you learned while you were in the hospital around compassion or anything else that still stays with you and has changed and transformed you.
Marla Levy 38:53
Before my search or before I was ill I would if if I described myself, I would say was a positive, kind, compassionate person. I always had good intentions. What I didn’t realize until I went through this process of being sick and fighting for my life is that it was very conditional. My Compassion was very conditional. It was all based on my ego and just work with me here. It I would be compassionate, as long as my ego was intact. But if I felt somebody was attacking me or criticizing me, or just whatever it is, I suddenly would not have compassion for them. And I would I would not have compassion. What I’ve learned is now I can separate my ego From every from compassion, and on all levels, I can put my ego to the side. And feel love and compassion. I’m going to give you a quick story to give you an example. We were getting on your flight one day. And I have a handicap sign thing. And so they said, if you’re handicapped, you know, please come to the front you could get on. And this lady at the airport, searchers yelling at me going, you don’t look handicapped. You shouldn’t be able to get on the flight first. Who do you think you are? And everybody was like, Oh, my God. Now, before I was sick, I would have gotten offended. I would have thought I can’t believe how rude she’s been. I would have judged her. And I would have been angry, she would have brought up a lot of negative emotions. But without any effort. I stopped. And I went over to her. And I said, You know what? I would feel exactly the same way. If I were you. I look totally fine, don’t I? I said, unfortunately, I have been very ill. And I was on life support. And I needed a little extra help. I said, but I totally get where you’re coming from. And I probably feel exactly the same way. She looks up with tears in her eyes and says my son’s dying. I just found out he has cancer. He’s 23 Oh, my goodness. And I just hugged her. And I held her and I rocked her, like rocked with her like she was a baby. And she cried, she goes, I’m going to lose my son. And I said, oh, goodness gracious. I said, I’m going to infuse as much love as I can into at this moment. But look at I could have turned around and been nasty to her like mind your own business. So instead, I was compassionate. And within one second, she said to me, you know this, she was coming from a place of pain. Yes, another I have to share this other story of compassion, it what I would have done differently. A dog came into our house, our front door was open and grabbed our puppy by the neck and pulled it out and started running off it was going to kill her puppy. It was Oh my goodness. And I was horrified. And I screamed, and I ran after the doc. And it was one of the most traumatic things you could ever imagine. Because you could see he was trying to kill the puppy. And I was beside myself and the dog around off. And so I made sure my puppy was okay. And I went down the street to try to figure out who the owner was. And it ends up that this dog had just attacked another dog and the police were there. The lady who owned the dog was out of town because they were moving and they were in North Carolina. So her mother in law was there. And she said, she put me on the phone with the owner and the owner started yelling at me because of you, they’re gonna put my dog to sleep. I can’t believe you’re doing this to me. And you know, because of you, I’m not gonna have a family member and she turned the whole thing around on because I’m telling on her dog. Now, her dogs going to the pound is going to be killed.
Now, before my surgery, I would have said, What the heck are you talking about your dog almost just killed my puppy. But I never allowed that ego or emotion to take over. And I thought about it. And I said you must be so scared right now. I said I couldn’t imagine being in North Carolina, hearing that your dog just attack someone and thinking that it’s going to be taken to the town or put to sleep. I said you must be terrified. And she said yes. And it’s because of you and she kept yelling. And I said, I am so sorry that you have to go through something like this. I couldn’t imagine what it feels like I said I can’t prevent what happened from happening. But what I can do is I will keep your dog in my backyard. If it keeps him from going to the pound until somebody could come pick it up. I will do I will do whatever I can to keep your dog safe so it’s not put asleep. I said you tell me how I can help you and I’ll help and I will but I insured you I will not allow them to put your dog to sleep. And she was able to calm down. And the magic, magical part of the story is her husband got on the phone. And he said to me, I can’t thank you enough for being so kind, because I heard how she was treating you. And I would have never expected you to empathize and want or sympathize, and want to help us when our dog almost killed yours. And he said, You have no idea what a difference you just made in our lives. My he said, we are going to get on the first flight home. But now we have peace of mind. Our dog won’t be dead. Yes. And he said, I just want to thank you for that gift. Because I know my wife wasn’t nice to. And I said, it’s no problem. I couldn’t imagine the stress that you guys are under right now. And I walked away. And the neighbors looked at me and said, I can’t believe what you just did. I said, What are you talking about? They said, Aren’t you mad? I said, Well, I’m kind of traumatized. But look at the situation she’s in. And I think it comes down to again, not allowing your ego to be involved and just look at this person and the situation they’re in, and you don’t know their background, you know what they’re fighting. And if you can be compassionate, genuinely compassionate. It’s amazing how you can take a horrible situation, and shift the energy to be as positive as possible. And to come out of it as unscathed as possible. When it could have gotten really heated or ugly,
Kristin Taylor 46:53
really ugly. It just sadly, cosh will wrap will begin to wrap up here. What really is amazing to me, and there are many things that are amazing to me that you’ve shared today. So thank you. What a gift in the face of pain that shows up outwardly as aggression, or accusation or hatred. You showed up with empathy? Yes, you put yourself in their shoes. Yes, really quickly. There’s a story that I think about often when I teach people about emotional regulation and mindfulness were the story of someone who’s walking up to what appears to be a really cute puppy, little dog. And they you know, they’re on a trail and they walk up and they see this little dog on the side of the trail and they bend down to pet the dog and the dog just goes after them and like whoa, okay, that’s a bad dog. And we got to do something about this dog until they recognize that the dog’s leg is caught in a hunter’s trap. And when they realize that, when we realize that, when you realize that the people you were talking to their legs were proverbially metaphorically trapped in a hunter’s trap, either their son is, you know, in in a horrible situation medically, and they’re afraid of losing them, or they’re afraid of losing a dog. They go into the defensive position, and they attack when they are hurting, hurt people hurt people. And it’s like the elixir of you showing up with empathy, kindness, and compassion, transforms them. And in a time, I’m going to get a little bit like, proselytizing here about the importance of kindness, and empathy. But in a time when we’re so polarized, think how transformative that would be, if more of us, myself included, saw what appears to be offensive and egregious. And chose to put our ego aside and got curious and kind and shut up with empathy. And you, my friend are doing just that. So thank you.
Marla Levy 49:05
You’re welcome. Some of the best advice my mom ever gave me, and I didn’t understand it till I grew up. She said Marla. The mean, people are the ones that need the flowers. And I never got it. And now I do. It’s the main people who need the flowers. Yeah.
Kristin Taylor 49:29
It’s an interesting perspective. Yeah, we all need flowers, even the moon people,
Marla Levy 49:34
right? Yeah. But it’s like those are the people that need them the most. Yeah. In place of pain.
Kristin Taylor 49:41
They’re hurting. Yeah, it’s a manifestation of their wounding. Alright, so I’m going to switch gears and go into a very final question and it was definitely a shifting of gears here. And again, we’re gonna have time for part two because there is more. But when you think about the fact that You survived, you made it through. And I think for many reasons of which you’ve shared some, what are five things that you, Marla cherish most about being alive?
Marla Levy 50:20
Time, I will never take time for granted again. I will never be too busy. For anyone I love again, time is everything. Connection and being engaged and present with those you love your friends, your family, anyone, be emotionally available. I wasn’t before I was busy, I was on my phone. I was doing this and that. I’m not saying I’m perfect now. But now when my kids tried to speak with me, I stopped what I’m doing. And I get down to their level. And I listen. And it’s amazing how much more they want to speak to you. So right, I’d say time engaging in those around you and being genuinely curious and loving. I’d also say of course, health, I took it for granted before, because a lot of times until something’s taken from you, you don’t appreciate it. So true. Yeah. And I think compassion is been one of the greatest gifts I was given. Because now I see everybody needs it. And I feel like I have a gift that I practice, and I hope others see it and try to do themselves. Right. And the last thing that is important, what is patience. I never was patient. I’d hated lines. I didn’t like traffic, you know this that I always wanted things when I wanted things. And what I pulled out of it was patience is one of the most important things in life, that nobody takes the time to learn. But I was forced to learn it. When I couldn’t breathe. When I couldn’t walk when I couldn’t hear when I couldn’t see. It was not on my timeline. And now that I’m patient, I feel like my quality of life is significantly better. Because I’m not disappointed constantly when I don’t get what I want. I just trust in the universe that things will come when it’s the right time. Oh,
Kristin Taylor 52:46
my goodness will thank you, from the bottom of my heart to yours. Thank you so much for all that you’ve shared and taught and reminded us.
Marla Levy 52:57
It’s been amazing speaking with you, thank you again for
Kristin Taylor 53:01
my pleasure. Marla is clearly a teacher, a guide, someone who reminds us both of the gift of being alive, as well as how important it is to just slow down and connect to our hearts, our kindness or compassion and our empathy for one another. My hope for you is that her wisdom is meaningful, and that the timing of hearing it at this juncture in your life, whatever is happening, mattered and will not be forgotten. Our theme song and sound engineering was provided by Shane’s Afridi. You can listen to more of Shane’s music at WWW dot Shanes afridi.com. If you have a story about making it through something that forever changed you or want to tell us what you think about our podcast, send me an email at coach Kristen firstname.lastname@example.org. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please give us a five star review because it really helps other people also find our show Tim, thank you all for listening. We’ll see you next time for part two.