When Life Goes Sideways
Thank you everybody for being here I'm very excited. So this is not necessarily your parents a state planning class in fact, I don't like to call it a state planning at all um and since we're doing things a little bit differently, I thought, why don't we just go ahead and jump right in as to where this came from? And then over the next hour or so we will be starting from here and bringing it to hear so welcome everyone. Thank you, creative live. I'm very, very excited to be here this morning. Okay, so what happens when your life goes sideways so about four and a half years ago, um you realize he could die at any second was what the e r doctor was saying to me when I drove across town, apparently on autopilot cause I don't really remember very much so here's what happens? Um it was a beautiful evening in july. I was at my friend's barbecue with my five year old son and we're getting dinner ready steak night so people bring something for the barbecue and somebody said, should I'll come c...
ome check this out so I went to the other room and my son was doing that funny little break dance with some other kid, and so I went to my purse, which was over by the door and grab my phone out of my purse because apparently four and a half years ago, we still left our phones and our person is which because we don't do anywhere they have, you know, like hermetically sealed to our faces on dh when I picked it up, I kind of had that vertigo moment where I realized there was a dozen calls from numbers I didn't recognize and voice mail after voicemail after voicemail and back then, of course, we didn't drop the world toe look at the phone, and so my first inclination was to put the phone back into my purse and go back to the rest of my evening. Um, something about it was a little bit weird, so I listen to the first one and it was someone saying, hey, this is your neighbor, somebody was apparently knocking on doors all around the neighborhood looking for you. I'm just hoping someone found you. I'm like that's odd don't knows my house on fire, what's going on, and then the next one was from my late husband's bicycle ing buddy saying that there was an accident and he'd been taken to the hospital, and when I got to the hospital, this is what I got, um, that he could die at any second was true, and that when I asked for what the best case scenario was um it was fifty, fifty and fifty fifty I'm like well fifty that's good right fifty percent is like half half will be fine and he said the doctor said no fifty fifty if he makes it into surgery that he makes it off the table alive so that is when your brain kind of explodes a little bit and this is my story but I know so many people have stories like this and what happens when you're bringing explodes a little bit for me was this I was just this overwhelming mess of what do I do what happened? What do you mean that and this huge swarm of questions popped up in my head and the thing about fifty and fifty is if it happened to be this fifty I had a lot of unanswered questions I had unanswered questions about disability insurance how much money I have to float my family, how long I'd have toe work or if I could pay the mortgage on one family on one income alone when we were a two income family we both worked we were riding that line that a lot of us do that we didn't have a safety nut and when the world explodes and it's this fifty I realized that I didn't have answers and that there was a lot of noise in my head because of that and if it was this fifty then what I was it's going to be a widowed single mom with a five year old? Um, and I wasn't ready for any of that, but I wasn't logistically ready for any of it. So when your brain goes crazy, one of the things you do is you kind of just start talking to yourself almost the like thing haitian l this is the captain speaking shell the hell out, and I was like, ok, ok, I'll try, so I would have these conversations with myself, and thank goodness I wasn't my voice didn't say, go lay down on the floor in a fetal position and just cry, and then figure out if you can join the circus, it was like, calm down, all you have to do right now is breathe in and out, that might just be enough, and so I tried tio, and I realized that I didn't have my shit together at all, and these were the actual words that came out of my mouth standing in the I c u to my friend, it wasn't a name of a business I wanted to start. In fact, it was a website project for an out of this moment, where I realized I don't have my shit together, and I am a smart, reasonably smart, educated person who was a professional project manager who has skills, I'm an extrovert, and I'm a gemini I so I'm not too shy to do anything. So how is it that I had no excuses? And I only had fifty percent of my shit done, and the other fifty that I left ignored or procrastinated or hadn't followed up on was devastating, and I had no idea how devastating it would be. And if I was standing here in this isil in this one room, who are all the other people in the other rooms, and we're all the other people in all the other hospitals and all of the other cities and in the country, and it was that moment where I realized that there was a huge weight, not just on me, but on everyone, and how much suffering is out there that may not need to be. So what I had to dio was calm down for a little bit it and focus on what I was doing, and then all of my friends started coming to me as well. And there was this week in the hospital from the day that the accident happened to a week later, when there were no tests to be done where almost everybody I knew told me that, oh, my god, my sister is sick, or I don't have this done or somebody is stage for or all of these things. So I realized it wasn't just me. It was all these other people in my life who I became their mirror, I was living in a way, everyone's worst nightmare. And so what happened was this week progressed in this way that I mean, really all you can do is describe it as otherworldly. We all have we all have these moments where we're knocked sideways, and the first couple of days was literally, like falling into the rabbit hole, and I didn't know how long it would last or how long the tumble would go, and at that point, we were just really looking for signs, and I remember asking the nurse, so we're waiting for him to wake up and she said, oh, we're looking for signs, and I'm like, oh, good, we're looking for signs that that things are going to be okay, and her response was we're looking for signs that might lead us to be able to be optimistic. And so we kept looking and looking and looking for science and that's when you start having a very real conversation about quality of life and what that means to, um quality of life is a really big thing it is about your whole life it's not about this new diet you're trying or this new something something and it's not necessarily about a document it is about who you are and where you're at and when you get to the point where you have to figure out what's most important quality of life frankly becomes very very simple um and at a certain point the days went on and there were no more tests to be done and that we realized I realize that the quality of life that was going to be acceptable to my husband on an acceptable to our family was that we were nowhere near that that he couldn't come back and his situation was so severe that it was a no recoverable non recoverable injury and so in a way, the decision was almost made for me and there were terrifying moments where if the decision wasn't so black and white I really don't know what would have happened um and then you get to the point where everything becomes very simple and then you say thank you and then you go home and when that happens you start looking around for other people who may or may not have been able to have that experience in the year of magical thinking brilliant writer talks about um when her husband I had a heart attack and died and there is an amazing universal feeling where life can change in the instant and it does every second all of the time and for me it happened to be everyone's worst nightmare and at that point you kind of wonder what it is you're going to dio there was the laying fetal and caving or running away or all of these other things when you are just not yourself and part of it was maybe just how I am hard wired and part of it is that I had to show up for a family I had to show up for a young son and stepdaughter and this life that I had and so if someone comes along and shoots an arrow into your heart it's fruitless to stand there and yell at the person although it's very tempting and seductive instead it much it would be much better to turn your attention to the fact that there's an arrow in your heart and that's a quote by pima children so I had to decide that I had an arrow in my heart and then I needed to pay attention to that and take it from there there were also some moments where I had to give myself a nice little pep talks and every now and then I had to look to somebody or someone or something just to make it a little bit more lighthearted or a little easier ryan has been there for many people over the years and he or others or kitten or something, or taking a trip and learning how to surf, like whatever is frank sinatra, sinatra said, whatever it takes, tio get you through the night we did, and, you know, thanks to ryan, we had some moments, but then also there was some really big questions, which is what do I do now? I really, really didn't know, I really didn't know what to do, so I would type in, literally. What do you do when someone dies? Because we don't really have the information about this? I didn't really know what to do, and what I found was a lot of information, in fact, a fire hose of information there, I didn't know what was specific to me. All I had was about thirty billion results for a state planning or what do you do? You know, when you need money management there's about a bazillion, there's, overwhelming amount of information, and if you type in top ten things, you should never d'oh, you will get a list of thousands of top ten things, and so it wasn't actually helpful. And so I needed information that was about me, and I really couldn't find anything that was actually about me when I was a playing around, actually with looking at, you know, the current results if you type in something even like grilled cheese sandwich there's like millions and millions of results for grilled cheese sandwich so in a world where we have so much information it's it was fascinating that I didn't have the right information that was specific to me and so what I had to do was start to very slowly figure it out and I had to keep the uh I had to keep talking to myself and at first the information and the instruction and the lessons came very very softly almost like whispers and some of those things were almost more like mantra as in a way you know and the first thing that I realized was that I needed to do everything possible to come out the other side of this and so the way that I talked to myself about that in the way that it worked for me was that I wanted to come out the other side alive but I really wanted to come out the other side happy and whole again I had half of the rest of my life ahead of me knock on wood right and um when something devastating happens I wanted I wanted to not just survive it I wanted to be a real person again and so I really I wanted to figure out what I had to dio to clean up the mess and what I had to dio to make myself feel better but not just feel better like I'm going to a show and eating some candy but like really I feel better again on dh that meant that I had to pay attention and in a world where we're really good and were given lots of opportunities to not pay attention it was pretty interesting to me to figure out how frequently I wasn't paying attention at all and when you have to just focus on not blanking out or falling down the rabbit hole and listening to what the doctor is saying to you to the point where you're like watch his lips they're saying important things that you need to understand um and then you're like tio so stop it pay attention be in the room um the other thing is that it wasn't always going to be like this so during the darkest, darkest moments I could say yes I'm laying on the floor of the closet right now and I can't get up and I have to go downstairs and make breakfast for my son it's not always going to be like this not everything is always going to be like this and I I didn't feel my way through it if I didn't let myself experience what this was then I felt like it was going tio hold me back and have its clause in me forever um and that sometimes the things that you have to hear the most speak in a softer voice and so calming the heck down and paying attention and listening was what I really had to dio and what I realized was a few very, very, very, very, very simple things would have given me so many more options and made the whole process so much less painful it took me probably a couple of months just to figure out what I needed to figure out and then consolidate, consolidate, consolidate and figure out how I needed to go through probate what's that right like and you know, you talk to professionals which everyone should and you say ok, so explain this probate thing to me and the answer is well, when somebody dies intestate that donated it I'm like intestate what you're talking about so first of all slow it down I really need to understand what I need to d'oh and it happened to be that a few very, very simple things would have made things much, much easier and as I struggled through the struggle and as it took me a few months to figure it out and then really a few years to clean it up after these a couple of themes kept coming up and coming up and coming up and one of them was a list I didn't have a list, I didn't know where to get a list there were a bunch of lists that didn't apply to me and so I just needed to have a list of what I needed to know because I didn't know what I didn't know having a will would have made things it's so much easier in fact, I was at the hospital and the head nurse said, so do you have your wills in order? Which, frankly, is not the question you want the nurse asking you, um and my reply was, yeah, yeah, we do, we, you know, worked on my have my wells she walked away in about ten minutes later, I had that, um, avalanche moment of truth come up and land on my head when I realized that we did have our wills, they were the final copies, the final versions were in my in box, as they had been for a couple of months, waiting to be signed and notarized and made legal, so I had my wills, but they weren't worth the paper that they were printed on, and in my situation, it happened to be that I was able to legally marry in my state. We didn't have any crazy people in our family and how I mean, we all have crazy people in our family, and if they're not crazy now, they might be once something bad happens, you're not at your best when you're at your most challenged the living wills we didn't you know again with the wills yeah, we've got those done yeah, we've talked about it again not worth the paper they're printed on and because we were legally married and because the state of washington that we lived in works a certain way it was my decision but it might not have been that way. We have heard story after story after story of people who argue people who don't agree somebody signed something and you know so just if the decision hadn't been mine that could have caused a lot of problems for a million reasons having a few details jotted down I want to say that out of all of the pain points of just digging through things surprisingly this was where everything would come to a grinding halt from little teeny teeny teeny weeny things um I was holding on to his phone in the hospital trying to open it up and I didn't have four numbers the four number pin code toe open his phone to get his father's phone number so for numbers took me hours of pacing the halls and you know when you try to open it and you do it a few times and it doesn't work then it locks you out for five minutes or than ten minutes or fifteen minutes so is pacing the halls, getting locked out of the phone and then after a number of hours and trying to locate people they needed to know and it couldn't take any more hours, especially since our situation was so immediate that I had to put a blast up on one of my social sites where then everybody knew something was up when you say with the so and so please give me a call at this number everybody no something's up and that was my last chance my last resorts I didn't have four numbers, so you guys let's just say, does anybody know the password? Tear tear phone? No, no, no, no, no well, that is a very simple thing that we're going to change very, very quickly. Um, how many people have thousands of pictures on your phone? Thousands, thousands, tens of thousands have only six thousand now. Four years ago I spent forever trying to get the phone open. I still I still can't access it without cracking it open and wiping it and then I have basically a paperweight and whatever is on his phone is is, you know is gone because I did I don't have I don't have the four digit number so that's one very, very simple thing that can make a mountain of difference money here's the fun one right money, you know, money is simple until it becomes yours, right? So very simple things like emergency funds and insurance and socking away this and socking away that there's, we're going to talk about money because money was where we weren't covered were a young family that was stretching to buy a house and getting her kit into kindergarten, and we've been paying for child care. We didn't have an emergency fund, and the one we had was about this much so technically didn't count, and that was a source of incredible stress. What would have happened if something bad had happened? And then I'm losing the house, and then I'm taking my kid and moving back in with my parents and changing schools, so money, the stress about money and what I had and didn't have created so much noise in my head that it was it was hard to not feel sick about it all of the time. Um, insurance insurance is something that we can use his lovers, you know, the word insurance is not necessarily something that brings up, like magical, strictly unicorns, right? Like insurance, but insurance is a thing that we have to have that's required that's helpful to have to give us what we want, and then also gives you a safety net or some extra levers to pull in the areas where you're vulnerable, and there were some areas in my life that I was vulnerable, and I didn't have insurance to back it up. We had some life insurance that we've taken out when our son was born, but we hadn't updated the policies and five years on our life had our lives had changed dramatically, so there was some, but there wasn't as much has recommended at all it saved me, but had we actually done it, um had had what people recommend it would have provided so many more options on the last one is communication, right? That's the easy one, right? Yeah, um talking about things important, I'm talking about the important things and making sure that people understand what you're talking about is even more important, so we're going to talk about talking about it on dh so here's, the thing is that once I started feeling less embarrassed and full of shame that I didn't have this stuff taken care of, and then my friends started talking to me about all of the things they didn't have taken care of as well. It turns out that most of us don't, so this is a moment where we can just take a breath on realize right that it's just the way it is right now that half of us over half of us don't have wills most of us don't have a living will almost all of us don't have an emergency fund up to what people recommend and the things that we are afraid of way we fear these things like the catastrophic events, and those do happen, but they're often more rare than the things that like, if you get a diagnosis or if you are disabled or if something changes in your life and you have to start over again through some kind of big transition and so a third of people will probably be disabled for a period of time, a third of adults will will be likely be disabled as their through their adult working years, and so not only is important to have an emergency fund if something bad happens, but we also have to plan for the curve balls that are more likely going to come, um, and that we're just not saving for retirement. We're living longer, and we're saving a lot less and so there's a little bit of a delta to phil's we'll call it a delta, right? We'll start with delta um, so going through all of this, I realize that the whispers and then the obvious things that I didn't done really turned into lessons for me. And so the first thing is, if something happens back to the airline pilot, put your mask on first before assisting others it's really, really, really, really true, you're no good to anyone if you're caving, fool, right. So take care of yourself so you can take care of other things, and I really needed to make sure that I was taking care of myself so I could take care of other things. Um, you are your own best advocate ask for advice, listen to people, everyone knows something that can help you, but in the end, this is your life and your choices. And so being an advocate for yourself and your priorities in your life is a really huge thing to do. Umm we all have our middle school credit voice that pops up every now and then, you know anything from like, you're not smart enough to figure that out or, you know, like like your butt looks big in those jeans, whatever, whatever the voices like thank you for doing whatever you needed to do during high school to get me through it, but like it's, time to put you over there, so get out of your way so you can just get the stuff done that's the most important, you know, on dh then show up. One of the things that I realized was that without the huge group of people who brought over food and took my dog for a walk, I'm really, really, really, really helped me it would have been the devastation would have lasted longer and the whole would have gone much, much deeper and not only show up for other people that show up for your life. For example, um, has anybody heard of umbrella policy? It's a kind of insurance? Do you know what it is? No umbrella? Do you happen to know what it is? Not specifically, right? I know me either, but I was like, I hear there's this umbrella thing that covers a lot of stuff no less than three or four dozen times did I have thought while I was brushing my teeth or cleaning up the dog poo in the yard or something about I should check out that umbrella thing? That sounds really cool? Um and I never did, and you know what it is it's, a thirty second phone call and in between this break and tomorrow when we're going to be talking about insurance in a fun, uniformed, sparkly way, um, I could have called and said, hey, you know, I have my home and my car policy with you have heard about this umbrella thing. I'm not sure if I need to sign something, or if you can just add that to my policy or not, because I hear these really helpful to have and only I don't know one hundred couple hundred dollars you know, a year. Could you just start that, um, if you can or give me a call back on monday or tomorrow, and we'll get that going, click that's, really all you need to dio and guess what that would have done that would have. I could have paid off the house, and I wasn't able to. So what we're talking about is the teeniest, simple things, and we just really didn't know how simple they were. I don't know how simple they were and doing that can make the difference between being stuck between a rock and a hard place with the screws tightening you down all the time, and having a lot of options and options means time and flexibility and space, right? Um, hold onto the insight and be your self.