Marla Levy 0:04
I thought, Oh my God, how lucky am I, I’m going to live like I’m dying. It is so powerful to live like you’re dying
Kristin Taylor 0:24
Hello and welcome to how I made it through. My name is Kristen Taylor, and I’m an executive coach. As a coach, I have the privilege of supporting my clients and navigating many aspects of life that can make it really challenging to focus on business. What that means is that in our sessions, we often focus on the personal stuff, things like anxiety, stress, sometimes trauma, and definitely emotional regulation. My life’s work requires holding sacred space for stories of struggle and facilitating a loving process of finding one’s way back to wholeness, because, much like the immortal words of Robert Frost, the best way out, is always through. How we made it through is offered as a survival guide of sorts, both as inspiration and encouragement. In today’s episode, you will hear part two of Mara levy story. If you have not already listened to part one, I highly recommend you do so before listening to today’s episode. In last week’s episode, Marla shared her astonishing story of battling complications from a congenital heart defect that led her to undergo three open heart surgeries in just 16 days. She walked us through the experience sharing that after her second surgery, her heart didn’t resume beating for almost a week, requiring that she be put on a machine that takes over the function of the heart and lungs. Unfortunately, Marla suffered one of the common side effects, acute kidney failure. During the course of her hospital stay and the fight for her life, Marla experienced more than one spiritually transformative experience as explored last week, and experience is considered spiritually transformative when it causes you to perceive yourself and the world profoundly differently. By expanding your identity by augmenting your sensitivities, and by altering your values, priorities, and appreciation for the purpose of life. This is just what happened to Marla. She explained how well in a coma. She experienced the level of consciousness and an awareness of all that was happening around her. She was aware and able to recall exactly who was in the room, what they were doing, and what was said. She recounted how bewildered and confused she was, by how sad and scared everyone was, and that she couldn’t understand why. What she shared was that while in a coma, the only feeling she could really connect to was that of a deep and abiding compassion for her friends and family suffering, for their fear and for their despair. She literally felt no sense of personal fear herself. She then went on to tell us how this compassion has stayed alive in her since her time in the hospital, and how it is altered, how she relates to the suffering of those around her today. Even and especially those who others might find it really hard to feel compassion for. In today’s episode, Marla will share how her medical ordeal also taught her the lessons have been more present in her life for herself, and those she loves. And I have the feeling she will share so much more. Welcome back Marla.
Marla Levy 3:52
Thank you, Krista. And I love being here. Thank you for having me. Of course,
Kristin Taylor 3:55
of course. So Marla, we’re about to return to your experience of your hospital stay. But before we do with today’s focus on being present, would you please share your definition for us of what you mean by presence. So that’s part one and then part two, before being in the hospital and going through that experience, what made it difficult for you to be present in your life like you are now
Marla Levy 4:21
being present is cliche living in the moment. But the beautiful part that I didn’t realize that comes with it is not having any anxiety or stress because you’re focusing on the here and now. And you’re not thinking about things from before or what’s going to happen later. You’re really being able to appreciate who you’re around what experience you’re having. So to me being present is not having your mind cluttered with a million other thoughts that are distracting you from what you’re currently doing or focusing on? Right? The second part of the answer is my cell phone, my children, the traffic work, money. I had a million things going on just like everybody else does in my head. I couldn’t turn it off. It was it just kept rolling and rolling. Even when I tried. I just kept thinking, Okay, I have this bill, I can’t forget to take my, you know, do this. I was always thinking, and I didn’t know how to turn my mind off, because I was never in the present and the present, never in the present, because I was worried about something that was coming up, or I was stressed about something that just happened. And I was wrong. I feel like I was asleep at the wheel until I was 41 years old. Because I didn’t even understand what being present was until now.
Kristin Taylor 6:05
Right? That’s exactly why I felt like it was so important before we got in and started talking about being present really clearly defining what it is because, like you said, it’s a cliche, be in the moment. But it’s so important to know, what does that mean? What does that feel like? It makes me think of time traveling, when we are not in the present moment. We’re thinking about things in the past, worrying what we said or did or someone else Saturday that didn’t sit well or I’m traveling into the future.
Marla Levy 6:35
Absolutely. That’s a beautiful analogy of it. Yeah, you just focus on your at the moment you’re in. And that gives your mind no space for clutter, or anxiety or stress, or distraction. And it’s such a freeing feeling. It’s almost like taking handcuffs off syncing, here’s a quality of life you’ve never experienced.
Kristin Taylor 7:03
I love that. So let’s return a conversation back to the hospital. What I’m wondering is, was it a few specific moments? Or was it the entire hospital experience that allowed you the opportunity to learn how to live in a present state?
Marla Levy 7:22
I would say both, I would say the entire process of having no control over anything in my life for seven weeks straight and facing my demise on multiple occasions. That was a lot to take in. And so a lot of times they had to wait for test results, we had to wait for procedures. And it was very stressful. Also, the main thing that forced me to stay present was I had two collapsed lungs. From basically from my second surgery on they never were able to re inflate them. So although the had me on oxygen, and the ventilator and all the things, the respiratory therapist, I still couldn’t breathe. And it was the most terrifying and traumatic part of my entire hospital stay is the feeling that with every breath I tried or attempted to take, which took so much energy. I thought it was my last i i didn’t have faith, I would be able to have enough oxygen to live. So I was so present the entire time. That nothing stressed mount in the hospital. Because all I knew is am I going to die in three seconds. All I cared about was just getting a lit just enough oxygen in my lungs. And I barely could do that. So I was actually forced into being in a perpetual state of being present. I couldn’t worry about anything. I couldn’t think about anything. I couldn’t process anything. 100% The thought was I’m going to die in my next breath if I can’t get enough oxygen. There were times I actually most of the time I wasn’t sleeping. I was terrified that because it was so labored to breathe right Now, it’s natural for us to take breaths and not notice it. But the state I was in, I had to make a conscious effort and take all the energy I have to try to breathe in and breathe out. Although my lungs had no capability of doing that. And I was terrified. If I fell asleep, I would die. So I literally didn’t sleep. Because I knew if I fell asleep, I would die. So again, I was forced writing, I was backed into the situation.
Kristin Taylor 10:34
So that is really fascinating to me. So many questions come up. Because when I hear that, what I think is, you’re put into a place where the most fundamental way we stay alive is to breathe. And you’re not sure the next breath is going to keep you will live, I would think you would go into panic. And I know when I’m in panic, I am the opposite of present. Say more about that. And does that make sense? What I’m saying or where I’m coming from?
Marla Levy 11:07
Absolutely. And you are correct. I was having panic attacks. Most evenings, they, I didn’t understand what was wrong. My legs were not a seizure, but they were convulsing, they were shaking. My body was doing, like moving without me trying. And I think I was on stress overload because I was so scared. So I could feel the fear. I was able, my mind was able to go there. And then it just had to stop. And I had to take my next breath. And then I had about one to two seconds to think, oh my god, am I gonna die, or oh my god, am I gonna see my girls again, or Oh, my God will ever see my family. And then all I could focus on was taking that painful breath that was so I had almost no lung capacity. I mean, they, when they listen to my lungs, there’s a term they use in medicine called Wet lungs. They said, Oh, you have wet lawns, they’re basically like to wet pancakes on top of each other. So when I tried to inhale, nothing happened, my lungs wouldn’t expand. And even a ventilator can’t help you if you’re in this state. So it was panic. It was anxiety. And it was survival. I would say I was in fight or flight the entire time I was in the hospital with no brakes. And to say I was exhausted would be a gross understatement. It’s bad enough. If you have a scary situation, like a possible car accident or someone chasing you. That’s one thing. But when it’s 24 hours a day for you know, six weeks, zero breaks, to say I was exhausted it you can’t put into words, but I truly feel the gift of going through that horrific situation of being in an ongoing fight or flight. state of mind was learning how to live in the present. I didn’t I was not afforded the opportunity to think about anything. But that moment,
Kristin Taylor 13:38
but breathing. I mean, honestly, as I’m listening to it sounds like a nightmare.
Marla Levy 13:46
I don’t have words, you can say that.
Kristin Taylor 13:49
rific excruciating. It reminds me of being in this protracted state of drowning on the verge of drowning day in and day out.
Marla Levy 14:00
Yeah, I described it to my Well, thing is I couldn’t speak this whole time. Because to speak, you need to breathe. But that few words I tried to get out. They It was no one could understand me for weeks, because I had so little breath and I didn’t want to waste it on talking because I needed it to stay alive. But I tried to say I feel like a fish out of water. I kept trying to say, I can’t breathe. I’m a fish out of water. There’s no air. And they got that much out of me because I kept saying fish water. No, it can’t breathe, you know, just over a period of time. And I said it’s someone holding your head under the water. Yeah. And you desperately like seeing the top of the water and just wanting to take the smallest breath but not being able to get there. And when you do it’s not enough to sustain you. And you feel like you’re gasping for air because it wasn’t even enough. To sustain that one breath. So it was a That, to me was more traumatizing than anything with my kidneys, my lungs, I had a lot of hemorrhaging, I didn’t infection, I, I had a lot going on a lot of comorbidities. And interestingly enough, the only thing that traumatized me so severely was not being able to breathe. And it’s something I took for granted my whole life breath. It’s the funniest thing, breath. You don’t even think about it. We do it without thinking about it. Breath is our lifeline. Breath is everything. Everything. And before the situation. I never once stopped and thought, I’m so lucky. I have the capability to breathe, to bring air oxygen, light energy into my body. And once it’s taken away, what’s your robbed of it? It’s mind boggling how appreciative you are of every single breath you take, right?
Kristin Taylor 16:22
When I’m listening to you, I’m actually thinking of waterboarding, like it is a form of torture. Yes. And so what’s really interesting and where my curiosity leads me is, in that moment, I mean, your autonomic nervous system is probably like, we’re about to die. Do everything. Yes. And, yes, you and so that’s panic, right? It’s panic. Absolutely. And so I could easily imagine sitting here with you right now. And you walking away with some tremendous panic disorder. And yet, what I’m hearing is, you’re saying it was a gift, say more about what led to your ability to sit in your life with me right now with us right now. And feel so at ease, so relaxed. So in the moment, when it could have easily gone the other way.
Marla Levy 17:18
I was so grateful. And it took a really long time. And it was excruciatingly, a slow process, to actually be able to breathe enough to feel like I wasn’t going to die. And in that time, I was forced to learn something called patience. And patience is something I didn’t. I wasn’t able, I wasn’t capable, didn’t have the the ability to practice before I was sick. Because I never truly was forced to practice it. And by being in fight or flight, and by not being able to breathe, and then slowly as I started to recover, and started to breathe, but I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t sit up. I couldn’t communicate. The only thing I could do when I came home was blink. That forced me into a state of appreciating every tiny thing that went well. If I could sit up in bed one day, I celebrated it. Because guess what, I hadn’t done that yet. I remember I the biggest deal to me was this one morning, I had enough strength to stand up and pour and for myself a bowl of cereal. And in the time it took me to stand up, get the bowl, get the cereal, pour it pour the milk. I almost collapsed afterwards, but my family had the chair behind me. But that’s the longest I’d stood up ever. Like since I was sick. And it’s so funny. And I wrote in my journal. Oh my god. I had the most amazing day. I never dreamed I’d be able to do this again. I was able to pour myself a bowl of cereal. So coming from the depths of darkness. I I believe a lot of people could have played the victim why me? You know, I had to go through this. I never took it that way. I took it as God’s gift to let me appreciate and absorb all the amazingly beautiful energy and light and love and experience and wisdom I was going to get in the future because I live relate was almost blocked from it all. It was my second chance at life and I call it Life 2.0. Because I never thought I’d have the opportunity. So I remember saying to a friend, that it was a gift, what I was given. And I said, I never would have called it a gift going through it. It was horrible. And I in a million years, I would have never called it a gift. But now that I’m far now that I was far enough out, and I was stable enough, I thought, Oh, my God, how lucky am I, I’m going to live like I’m dying. It is so powerful to live like you’re dying. Let’s stay
Kristin Taylor 20:45
there that is so powerful to live like you’re dying. And for those of us who haven’t had these near death experiences, it just feels so abstract. It’s such a concept, we kind of get caught in this trance, or this spell of moving through our lives kind of naturally or disconnected from our own mortality. And that spell was broken with you. Yes. And I’m hearing you say that God gave me this gift. The two areas I’d love to go down with you are number one, what you feel you are here to do, having been the recipient of this gift? And then I’d love to go in the direction. You don’t need to answer this now because I’ll bring you back to it.
Marla Levy 21:27
Kristin Taylor 21:30
you can support others who haven’t had a near death experience, to become more connected intimately with their mortality, so they don’t live in numbness and distraction. So let’s start with number one. God’s gift now that you are in, would you call it Life? 2.2? Life? 2.0 2.0.
Marla Levy 21:51
Kristin Taylor 21:52
Yeah, I love it. What do you feel like you’re here to do with this precious life 2.0
Marla Levy 22:00
I am so lucky. I’m able to share my wisdom with others who never have to go through the horrifying experience the pain, that agony, the speaks of scared, no one has to go through that if they’re open enough. And if they’re willing enough to learn from somebody else’s experience. I love that I can give them the gift it took me going through all of that to understand. And I was just today talking to my cousin. And just saying this is I can share with you where my headset, and you don’t have to experience anything I went through. But if you’re willing to want to grow or better yourself for anything change in a positive way. Just think about what I’m saying. And even if you take 1% out of the words I’m using, it’ll change you for the better. And so I’m, I just feel like, I have the most beautiful gift I could give anybody. And I love meeting new people. I love I’ll stop someone on the street and anyone that will listen, I just it’s like hug your kids love on your friends and family. It’s I need to be out there. I want to you know, yell it from the rooftops. I need people to understand that. You don’t have to necessarily go through what I went through. But at least listen to what I’ve learned and hopefully pull something out of that. Does that make sense?
Kristin Taylor 23:50
It makes sense. It definitely makes sense. And what stands out to me is that you use the word willing, you can do your part. You have this gift, you want to yell it from the rooftops, but someone needs to be open and willing.
Marla Levy 24:06
Yes. Yeah. Would be interesting. Lee enough. A lot of people aren’t.
Kristin Taylor 24:10
Well, that’s what that’s what I want to stay with. Because I know that I know that because there’s just it seems so conceptual and you know, we all know that we are going to die. But sometime I prefer not to think about it. Most people walk around, kind of in that posture. Would you before this experience have been someone to listen or where were you?
Marla Levy 24:34
Absolutely. I’ve always been of the mindset. If I don’t have to go through the experience, learn. Learn from your elders learn from those. I never wanted to have to figure things out on my own. Maybe I’m lazy. Maybe I’m a procrastinator. Whatever it is. I’ve always asked people since I was little for pearls of wisdom. What did you learn out of the experience If you did it again, how would you do it differently? Or how do you see things differently now that you’re doing this? Or would you recommend doing that? Or would you do it again, if you could, I’ve always tried to learn more through other people’s experiences, rather than jumping in headfirst with my own. If it was
Kristin Taylor 25:21
an option. What I also hear from that is you were well positioned to be someone who was an advocate, because it was something that you naturally gravitated towards. So I don’t hear lazy or procrastination. I don’t what? What I hear Marla is you’re you were a seeker, you wanted to have wisdom you wanted to learn? You were open and receptive.
Marla Levy 25:43
Yes, yes. Thank you for saying that. It’s all about perspective, isn’t it?
Kristin Taylor 25:49
It’s so so true. So so true. So let’s back up. I want to hear more, because we use the terms as if everyone understands them. And maybe most people do. But for those who aren’t as familiar, we talk a little bit more about fight or flight. And then we will I know that I said they’ll be two parts I haven’t forgotten. I just want to make sure we return to the fight or flight and then we’ll get back to part two of the question.
Marla Levy 26:15
Sure, I heard the term fight or flight, I think we all generally know the concept of when humans in danger, there’s actually a physiological change that happens that is built in to the human body to physically protect itself, I believe hormones are, are released and you have increased breathing your heart rate, your body is set to fight or run, wherever it is, it’s, it’s almost like survival of the fittest. It’s something built into protect ourselves. In the modern day, we don’t have to, you know, run into these, perhaps, you know, a lion, or you know, whatever it is that that would have scared them before. But certain situations that are so stressful, and so scary, can trigger that. And I never had experienced it before going into the hospital. And once you enter that state, everything is off, off, everything else is out of your head, you’re just trying to survive. It’s very, it goes back to almost like animalistic, just, you don’t want to die, and you have like two seconds to live, and how are you going to deal with this. And so it takes so much energy to be in that state. And unfortunately, to not be able to get out of it is just terrifying, and exhausting. But I think it’s important to understand that nothing I know I said this already, but I couldn’t do anything but focus on the present. And so although it was awful, I thought I was gonna die with every breath while I was going through it. Now they pulled through I thought, oh my god, I was given the opportunity. I was forced into a situation that I lived in the present 24 hours a day for six weeks straight, if not longer. That was just my hospital stay. And it’s nothing I would wish upon my worst enemy. But now that I’ve done that, what can I take out of that? And what I’ll tell you it did is I guess, don’t they say if you do something for 30 days, it’s a habit, you know, and I’ve never gone back. I’ve never, I’ve not snapped out of it. I live I’m not saying 100% of the time I obviously am human. But I pay attention to everything around me as much as I can. And if somebody is talking to me, I stop and listen, I never say how are you and walk away? I always wait for our you know, I ask people are you okay? I can’t stress out about things in the future. If I wanted to, and this is a blessing and a curse it’s a blessing because I’ve low blood pressure now now I’m just getting I mean things that should be stressing me out. I don’t get stressed out about because I think I have the perspective of how bad it could be. So if God forbid I’m late for an appointment or you know, like whatever it is we stressed out about I and I see the significance of what I’m stressing about, compared to the big stuff in life. And I realized, oh my gosh, it’s not worth my, my energy. Right? Yeah. So and then I don’t being present. You don’t think about the past. I remember the past and have fond memories, but I don’t want to change it. I have no, I have no, no regrets. Even if I did something I didn’t like, I don’t regret it. Because I learned from it. I just I just love the fact that there’s no stress going forward, or being behind me. Now, for anyone else. They’re probably like, You’re nuts. How do you not stress about things?
It’s not as hard as you think. If you can focus, and just when these thoughts come into your head, literally think just how they had to teach me this in the hospital. I was in such a panic state. They tried to teach me what to do. And they said, think of a happy, where’s your happy place? And I said, well, they said, What was the most wonderful moment you could remember? And I said, Oh, I remember I was in Maui, and it was the most beautiful day you’ve ever seen. And I had my toes in the warm sand. The water was just gorgeous. There were whales, I was watching whale watching from the beach. And there was this rainbow that was going from one side of the sky to the other. And when I breathed in, it’s like I was breathing in life. And I remember in that moment, I thought, oh my god, this is one of the most beautiful moments of my life, almost like I was hitting self actualization in that moment. And so, with that moment, they said, every time your mind wanders, go back to that moment, the beach, I call it the beach moment. Yeah, they were helping me with my pain, because I was in so much pain. And they said, when you start to feel pain, go back to the beach. At at points when it was really bad. They said, Drink a Mai Tai.
Kristin Taylor 32:17
I love it. You know, it’s so interesting. There’s so much that you’re saying that I continue to want to pause around. So you talked about what you feel like you’re here to do. We also talked about how in order for you to be that teacher, it’s a two sided relationship. Yes, you could want to do it all day long with everyone but they have to be open and they have to be receptive, and they haven’t had your experience and maybe like was highlighted. That’s not their natural inclination to move and grow in that way. And the way that even prior to this experience, it was yours. But so much of what you are describing is what so many people do who teach and practice mindfulness, meditation, yoga, these ancient traditions. It’s what you’re talking about right now. It’s called task positive network. It’s a term in mindfulness and meditation, it’s this ability to focus on one thing at a time, and quiet your mind and turn down the light, dim the switch of your amygdala and your limbic system that can just go into fight or flight or freeze. It’s really about quieting the nervous system. And it takes a lot of practice, to train your mind to do this. And because of this experience, it was like you went into an intensive meditation training. Thai did to learn to do this.
Marla Levy 33:38
It was like boot camp, a forced boot camp for certain because I rolled for survival. It was it was fighter flight. Like, to the max, it wasn’t just I was scared of something. It’s this is it. And this is it changed
Kristin Taylor 33:52
you. So whereas before you were a seeker, and you wanted to learn now, it’s almost like the neural networks in your brain are already set up to keep you in this place is how I’m understanding it. So you’re a changed person that your brain has been rewired?
Marla Levy 34:09
Completely and I love that you say rewired, because it takes no effort for me anymore. When I’d imagine when you’re learning it, you have to keep focusing, you know, go back to that beach moment, stay in the moment. It’s hard, because there’s a million things going on in your life, and everything’s coming at you in 1000 different ways, all the time. How do you focus on just one thing, like who has the time, right? You have too many things going on in your life, to focus on just one thing. But what I found is the world will go on. If you’re not spreading yourself so thin, that you don’t do any one thing, right? Yes. I’ve learned instead of trying to listen to my daughter and she’s telling me best school while checking my email and I’m cooking in the corner and my husband came in, and he’s asking me a question, you know, the everyday life stuff. Now, I have to take it, I have to take it one at a time, like hold on, you know, to my husband hold on SEC one second. And I’ll have my daughter finish what she’s saying, I’ll answer that. And then I’ll turn around the socket. I, I allow everyone their, their time to speak. But they can’t do it all at the same time, where before, I would just be overwhelmed with the input of everything. And I didn’t know what to do with it. I’m caught, it’s, I wish I could put it into words, I feel like I’m living in heaven. I feel like I I feel like I don’t know what like I’m, It’s so cheesy. But I feel like if there was a heaven, I’m here. And it’s because I allowed myself to let go of all the fears of the stuff that never comes to fruition. I actually thought about that the other day, and I’m getting way off the subject. But I thought about all the things that made me nervous or caused anxiety or scared me. And the percentage of them that ever came to fruition was maybe 1%. I was nervous, I was going to get a bad grade on the test, guess what I didn’t. And if I did, who cares? Like it made no difference in my life, I was nervous, I wouldn’t get a job I didn’t. And guess what, that was not a good job for me and I got the better job. So I guess it’s just trusting in the universe. But I see it as such a waste of time to stress. Because you can’t change anything. You have no control over anything, except for how you’re going to process and perceive things. And stressing about it or thinking about it makes zero difference. So don’t waste your time. Take that time instead of stressing and go out to drinks with your friends. Go take a walk with your husband, take your dog on a walk, you don’t need to let it there’s only a finite amount of mind space you have. And I’m not in any position to fill my mind space with stuff that’s not important.
Kristin Taylor 37:28
Well, what I’m hearing is that your whole relationship to fear absolutely changed. And you’re talking about this idea of trusting the universe. And I think for so many of us who find ourselves mired and stress and anxiety and worry, our relationship to fear is it feels so threatening, and particularly if we have an who doesn’t histories of trauma. Of course, that is this idea of if I worry. I feel like I’m in some way having some agency to predict mitigate, you minimize something that could go wrong. And what I hear you saying is all these little things, if they even do go wrong things like a grade on a test or not getting the job that you want it. You’re trusting the universe, you’re safe already. And that gives you access to this, as you call it feeling like you’re living on heaven in heaven already.
Marla Levy 38:25
Yeah, it’s I am. I don’t know how I got to this point on my own. But when I was well enough to actually be able to start thinking and processing everything I went through. I don’t know how I came up with this. But I actually, I’m not religious. So it was very odd, because I don’t usually pray or I don’t really have a strong religious background. But I had a conversation in my head with the higher being. And I just said, You know what, I trust that you’ve got my back on this. You’ve gotten me this far. You’ve seen me through thick and thin. You’ve shown me miracles could happen. And if I could get through what I just got through, I trust that you will take care of me. And I literally gave myself up to the universe not saying I’m not going to try as a person to be a good person. But I allow i It’s almost like I forgave someone, I just I allowed myself the ability to not worry about anything ever again. And interestingly enough, I was right. I’ve been taken care of and what I’ve learned is and I always I say this every day, thank God for unanswered prayers. You know, yes.
Kristin Taylor 39:56
So funny that you say that I was actually thinking that and I think that a lot All the things that I wanted, whether it was the job, or the romantic partnership, or you know, whatever it was that I really wanted, and I look back and I think, like, God, that didn’t happen. The worst thing that could have happened,
Marla Levy 40:13
we exactly. We all think we know what we want. And I think we have good intentions. But the majority of the time we don’t Yes. And the universe does. Yeah. And so now, when things don’t go my way, or I there’s zero stress, because I’m like, Oh, that wasn’t the right path. That door was closed. Awesome. I cannot wait to see what doors gonna open. Yes. And sometimes I almost welcome it, because I’m so excited to see where my ideas are screwed up. So what do you have in store for me? You know, I, I love it. It’s a friend. It’s a freeing feeling, to just trust in the universe. And I still do everything I can to be a good person, but I just know it is what it is. Yeah. And yeah, and from that moment on, I remember it was under a tree in my backyard, I remember everything about that day I get it’s very similar to forgiving somebody where you feel the weight of the world come off of you. And you could take a deep breath and release all of the trauma that has been caused. That’s the closest thing I could relate to, is giving myself to God or the universe and, and it worked out really well for me. And I’m not saying my life’s perfect. I’m not saying I don’t have bad days, I have, you know, I suffer from major depressive disorder. I’m doing fantastic. I’m doing awesome. But it is a struggle. You know, it’s not always easy. But I just, I have faith. I’ve learned that faith and hope, have so much more power than you could ever imagine. And that’s what kept me alive. And that’s what my lifeline was. And so now it’s like my religion, you know, it’s like, just have faith.
Kristin Taylor 42:07
So, Martha, when I’m here, did I want to finish that sentence? I don’t want to No, no, that was it. Okay. So what I am also hearing tell me how these words land with you. You are saying it’s not like my life is perfect. Correct. But more importantly than that sentence, what I’m hearing underneath it is, I don’t even have the expectation or interest in perfection. Yes, right. And then I’m also hearing a level of healthy surrender. Rather than sort of the stranglehold on I want to try to control these things in these outcomes, because my relationship to fear makes it necessary for me to do so. You’re like, I’m letting it go. And I’m trusting and that is your spiritual path.
Marla Levy 42:51
God, you’re articulate. Yes, it is. So you, I love it, because I’m a little long winded and not get off subject, but you really just nailed it you. I don’t have to have control over anything. I don’t need to I just trust and and to relinquish control is such a freeing feeling. Because when you need to be in control of things 99% of the time you’re not going to be so you’re setting yourself up for failure. And when people want perfect, there’s no such thing as perfect. It’s funny people set themselves up to fail, when they want control perfection this that. I’m just so grateful that
Kristin Taylor 43:42
the sun came up this morning. The small things that are so fundamental,
Marla Levy 43:47
help beautiful or mornings. How beautiful is it no matter what your day looks like today, and we’ve all had terrible days and stressful days. How great is it tomorrow when you wake up, and there’s fresh air and there’s this you know, sunshine. It’s a whole new day, you can literally close, like, turn that page and start over every day we have a new opportunity to refresh our mindset. And just stand alone. Just knowing even if you’re having a tough day. It’s okay, that’s called being human. But just picture tomorrow morning when you’re drinking your yummy coffee. And you haven’t started your day yet and you have a few minutes. How lucky are you? You have a blank slate? You can you can do it. The world is your oyster tomorrow. So I don’t know I’m getting off subject right.
Kristin Taylor 44:50
You’re not getting off subject. I feel like what you’re doing right now Marla is you’re bringing it down to the mundane ways we move through life whether it’s new noticing that it’s a new day, whether it’s drinking a cup of coffee, it’s in those moments that it doesn’t need to be as grandiose gestures, or we don’t need to win the lottery, or it doesn’t need to be these Hallmark moments. But just noticing the soft carpet under your feet, noticing the smell of the rain, noticing your tea, your coffee, the Christmas of an apple, like whatever it is, that you are making a choice to be mindful and aware. And in gratitude to the small things, and that every day, regardless of what has happened in your life, each one of us can interrupt habits and say what if I focus on this small thing that is pleasing, beautiful, pleasure, comforting? What have you, life is
Marla Levy 45:47
so incredible. If everybody would just stop, just for a moment, take a deep breath. And whatever they did next, just put 100% of themselves in the joy it will bring. I know it sounds funny, but the sun when between going to work and getting in your car, the sun you feel on your skin? It’s how lucky are we there’s so many places that they don’t get much sun or it’s always cold, or it’s always dark. And here we have this gorgeous sun shining on us we’re bringing, it’s bringing energy light, everything, it’s how lucky are we. But once last time you think someone stopped and thought, Oh, it feels good to have set on my skin today?
Kristin Taylor 46:36
Well, my hope is that we’re all doing it more often, I really hope that I do. And that it interrupts these these narratives, I want to get back to what you were saying, check a number of minutes ago, which was this idea of like, I don’t want to be stuck in the past, replaying these stories and so much of what I do with people is we do revisit the stories and the stories matter. But it’s when we get stuck. And we replay them from a place of this person didn’t hear me or I was misunderstood. We’ve all done it. And that is again, where I feel like we can get really stuck in our suffering. And I know it’s more complicated than that, as I learned more about trauma and the nervous system and, and how we can cycle through old patterns and just live in your head. Right. And what I’m hearing you say which reminds me of the last episode was when that she I believe was a doctor and hooked you and allowed you to go out and have the sun on your face when you had spent six weeks inside that hospital room that it was just like delicious. It was just like the best feeling in the best day of your life. That when we’re caught in these moments, that the gift of feeling the sun on your skin is always available. What else do you feel like getting back to God gave me this gift and I’m here for a reason. Last time you talked about compassion, and love. Today you’re talking about the gift of presence. Is there anything you haven’t said yet that if some were to root word remember this episode, they’d be like, Okay, that was a lesson I need to pay more attention to to
Marla Levy 48:26
I feel really bad. I I feel really bad that everybody’s holding on to stuff. And I am too I’m not saying I let go of everything my whole life. But I don’t let it bother me anymore. I’ve accepted that’s what’s happened. But I just I wish people could figure out a way to be at peace with what has happened in their lives. Although it might not have been ideal or perfect after. It could believe me, we’ve we’ve all been through a lot. But just be at peace and accept. That’s what happened. But look who I am today. And look, I’m going to be tomorrow by being positive. And you know, hopeful. I came from a very, it was tough upbringing, and half my life. I carried that with me. And one day, I just thought Goodness gracious. It’s been holding me back my whole life. And I made that decision. I remember I was on the freeway, I was like, I’m not doing this anymore. And I get forgave my parents like right there on the freeway. And my life has been significantly different. And so what I’m getting to is, I wish people would understand. You don’t have to hold on to everything. You can let it go and move on and the stuff you’re worrying about in the future. It’s probably not going to happen. So take that finite amount of mindspace see how Have a fill it with things that make you happy. I always say picture it, just picture a box, and you can only fit so many thoughts inside of it. What do you want to fill it with stress? You know, thinking about old stuff? Or what’s going to happen in the future? Are you going to appreciate the moments you’re in and take in the beauty and try to give beauty back, or light back or energy back? And that is really being present is when that box that mind space? is all what you’re doing at that moment. I always think about my head’s not that big, I can’t have that my thoughts, what am I get? I’m conscious of it. Like if I start to stress out about something, I’m thinking, Wait, I don’t have much space, I’m going to push that right out and think about something better, or, or whatever it is. But I think we cloud ourselves, with trauma, with fear, with anger, with jealousy with whatever it is in insecurities. And then with all of that in our head. We can’t appreciate what’s right in front of us. Because there’s no more space to take it in.
Kristin Taylor 51:15
That’s good. That’s really what I’m saying. I feel like I’m following you. And what is such a cool ideas, this idea of the box that really clicked for me, too, as I’ve got these racing thoughts, and I’m feeling pulled in a million different directions. And I’m imagining, you know, my husband and my son and my mother and my brother and my client, like people calling to me, right? To imagine, I get to choose what thoughts and actions I take, and I want to put them in this box. It’s like a contained manageable scope. So I want to underscore that. But what I also want to underscore because it would be just a crime, not to forgiveness. So it’s yes, letting go. But forgiveness, you’ve said that every few times.
Marla Levy 51:57
It’s everything, it changed my life. It absolutely changed my life. I went to therapy for years about some stuff, you know, when I was younger, and it wasn’t helping, just talking about things, I just kept telling the same story. It was like an old record, I just kept playing over and over. And I never felt better. It was just like I told a new person my deck, you know, like what happened? And yeah, and it’s like, it never changed anything. It didn’t change the way I thought and and I went, you know, and spoke to my parents about, you know, trying to work through with them realizing People don’t change whatever, right. And everyone said my whole life, you need to forgive your parents, not that they don’t deserve it absolutely not know, what happened is unforgivable. And I never understood when they said forgive, I thought that meant, let’s say it’s okay for what they did condone it. Exactly. And I thought I will never forgive them. But what it actually means is to relinquish all ties to what happened, leave it there in a box that’s not in your head, and walk away from it. And it happened, and you can’t change it. But you’re not going to keep dragging it with you, it’s not going to take that might that finite mindspace, you’re not going to allow it to have a quarter of that space in the box, because you’re always carrying it with you. And with getting that off your plate, you know, out of that box. Think of all the wonderful thing is you can
Kristin Taylor 53:37
usher in the spaciousness that isn’t being consumed by anger and resentment,
Marla Levy 53:43
and negativity, and then it makes you insecure. And so when I finally forgave them, it had I realized had nothing, it never had anything to do with my parents. This wasn’t about saying what they did to me was okay, it was allowing myself to move on. And let it go, Yes. and be at peace with whatever it was, and break those chains. I had all those years that I kept dragging with me. I literally, like took those off. And it’s like I’m running in a field away from it. And yes, that’s what my past is, but I’m not gonna let it define me. Like I had allowed to. Yeah, so forgiving is just allowing yourself to move on. It has nothing to do with Yeah, saying it’s okay, what happened?
Kristin Taylor 54:41
So one of that’s beautiful. I want to go to a sudo wrap up mode. But again, you keep saying things that I’m like, I want to just underscore that underscore that so letting it to find use I when I work with clients, and when I think about my own development and my own healing, to ways where we suffer so much Is we over identify with our pain and our emotions and our suffer we ever identify with think of it as a part of who I am those chains. And also we just try to push things down. And then we feel imprisoned by these unprocessed feelings. And what I really hear what you are saying is that this is your your freedom. You totally shifted in your relationship as a result of being so close to death and recognizing that breath by breath, those are moments that you are alive, and that you will never squander again, because they are so precious. Yes, okay. Okay. Yes. Well, as we go into wrap up, once again, I want to thank you, it’s just such a joy to hear you talk and the way you talk. And unfortunately, our audience doesn’t get to see your smiling face, because that’s part of the joy of this. But with this idea of really being in the moment, and being in a space of gratitude, and appreciation, what are two things that you appreciate it today, that made a difference?
Marla Levy 56:16
I appreciate the opportunity to share my experience with your listeners. I feel guilty, not sharing what I have, and I don’t really have an avenue to get my voice out there. So you’ve allowed me or afforded me the opportunity to reach more people than I could have ever done in my everyday life. And I I am confident some something I said and that we spoke about resonated with someone that’s going to shift their energy and give them that boost of okay, I’ve got this, I can do this, or oh my god, the most important thing I’m not alone. Yeah. Oh my gosh, feeling alone. But you. So I’m most grateful for you allowing me to share my experience with your listeners. And secondly, I just love our conversation. I love girl time. I love that I had time to just sit down and have a wonderful conversation. See your beautiful face. But I just saw this is the good stuff in life. Life is filled with a lot of stuff. But what we’re doing right here, this is the good stuff the rest of its noise. So this is this is this is the good stuff. This is the gold this these are the diamonds and connections and being engaged with others you care about. Oh my gosh, it brings so much light. Nothing you could ever buy me today would bring me as much joy as just this conversation we had together
Kristin Taylor 57:52
agree likewise. 100% Thank you so much for sharing your story and your heart with us. Oh,
Marla Levy 58:01
thank you. Thank you so much.
Kristin Taylor 58:05
Marla is compelled to share her story. She believes that she was given a gift that needs to be shared. The real question is, are we ready to listen? This part is up to us. My hope is that for some of us that this is that nudge that wake up call to remember what matters most and in so doing to break the spell of distraction of attempting to control things and manage fear in a way that ultimately does not serve us. The invitation has been extended. The question is, will you receive it? 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 are want to tell us what you think about our podcast. Send me an email at coach Kristen firstname.lastname@example.org. If you enjoy today’s episode, please give us a five star review because it really helps other people find our show too. Thank you for listening. We’ll see you next time on how I made it through.