The Heart Of The Matter

Bill Stimpson & Michelle Stimpson_Bill's parents

Today is my birthday and the perfect day for me to honor, celebrate, and revere life. This past week has been one of the most intense weeks I have ever known, prompting me to reflect a great deal on life and the world around me.

All within a matter of hours, my grandpa had a significant heart attack; and my father-in-law went into emergency surgery as a follow-up to heart bypass surgery—landing him directly into the intensive care unit (ICU).

The next few days were incredibly intense and flanked with uncertainty—spending precious time at the two hospitals, talking through options with family members, jumping at each phone call, barely sleeping, dissolving into tears at the drop of a hat, and on and on.

Intense focus

I immediately cancelled all meetings and lunches on my calendar. While these were all scheduled with people I was excited to see, the need for focus was so strong that I didn’t even give it a second thought. I knew that I needed to clear the space—both literally and figuratively—to be ‘here’ for my grandfather, my father-in-law, my family…and myself.

In my coaching, I work with my clients on stripping away the “extras” in life; the things that distract them from being 100% on-purpose. And I now experienced the most perfect example of this in my own life. Canceling everything I had on my plate allowed me to be laser-focused, intentional, and unequivocally present to the monumental events right in front of me.

Precious moments

The week was full of heaviness, sadness, and uncertainty. And at the same time, it was also full of joy, love, and gratitude. Special times during the week included poignant moments I will never forget:

–Doing crossword puzzles with my grandma, playing ping pong, and sharing oatmeal cookies together in her quiet house as she waited and waited for her sweetheart to recover and come home to be with her.

–Sitting with my mother-in-law in the waiting room while her guy was in surgery—as we both patiently awaited her hospital pager to buzz, signaling it was time to confer with the surgeon.

–Giving my fragile grandpa, a once strong World War II Navy Officer in the Okinawa Campaign, a gentle shoulder massage over his hospital gown as he held my grandma’s hand.

–Standing at my father-in-law’s bedside and breathing in-and-out to match the rhythm of his ventilator; squeezing his hand and telling him how grateful I was to be a part of his family.

–Becoming acutely aware of my own heartbeat one morning in bed, as I put my hand on my chest to feel the rhythm of my healthy, smooth heartbeat…prompting me to softly whisper: “Thank you.”

–Being showered with phone calls, emails, notes, and hugs…full of love, hope, compassion, and prayer.

The power of now

This past week, I learned the power of being where you are—right here, right now—and letting nothing else enter your space. From this place, it’s quiet, it’s peaceful, it’s real. It is to be cherished.

Michelle Stimpson & Grandparents

My grandpa is home now with his true love, resting and recuperating and doing well. Whew!

My father-in-law continues to be in critical condition in the ICU, but stable.

I feel very peaceful about both situations, knowing and trusting that there is a bigger plan for all of us. Part of following your joy is also about being ‘real’ and allowing yourself to experience the depth of all levels of life…and feeling every part of it.

For now, there are two polished stones on the center of our kitchen table. These stones were available in one of the hospital chapels for visitors to take after offering up a prayer. So my prayer was one of extreme gratitude for these two special guys, and that they both experience deep peace in their journeys. Amen.

On my birthday today, I’d like to make a toast to…life.

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13 Responses to “The Heart Of The Matter”

  • Connie Lahammer says:

    As always Michelle…very touching and moving. My heart goes out to you and your family during the recovery of your loved ones and find the time to celebrate yourself for your birthday today.

  • Tunie says:

    What an inspiring and heartfelt post, Michelle… my favorite of all those you’ve shared. Sending light and love to you, your grandfather (dear man) and Bill’s dad. Happy birthday, with love.

  • Maryse says:

    Happy Birthday! Here’s to you and your life!! All the best.
    Your post touched me deeply. I’m in a place right now where I’m struggling with my own health and dealing with my mom’s decline. I have great difficulty finding that peaceful place inside. You remind me that it’s always there. Thank you!

  • Jane says:

    Beautiful Michelle! You are always a gift even in your own pain. Thank you for the reminder of what is important and that all else can be sweep aside and grows dim.

    Your heart capsulizes a favorite Bible verse of so many, “Be still and know that I am God.” It feels good to be circled in prayer. And I know these grandparents are blessed to have grandkids and their families who respond to them with such kindness and love.

    I love you Michelle Joy!!! Happy Birthday!!

  • Barb says:

    Thank you for sharing the events of the last week with all of us – including your special feelings and observations! As always you write from your heart and I, for one, am so blessed to be part of the circle you share with!

    My prayers are with you, your grandparents, Bill and his family during this intense time. I’m so glad your grandfather is recovering nicely – and I am holding your father-in-law in love and light that he will do the same.

    Love to you all. You bless my life by being a friend and mentor!

  • Char says:

    Wonderfully put! “A toast to life” To me that says so much!
    Love you and Happy Birthday! May you be blessed with so many more!!!

  • Thank you for all the love! From the very bottom of my heart. :)

  • MaryLee says:

    God our Creator, who we pray to, has all things in His hands! And we have the great privilege of coming to Him in prayer by believing in the One He sent to us on earth, Jesus Christ, the prophecied Messiah. He cancelled the sins of whoever will believe in Him by His unselfish life and death and resurrection. Let’s trust in Jesus so we can come to God the Father in prayer. By doing that we also honor Him who made us and gave us this life! Our God loves us!

  • Hi Michelle,
    I hope that your grandfather and father-in-law both continue to improve in health. You did such a good thing, clearing your schedule and being 100% present for your family.

    Happy birthday, too…way to look at the positive and focus on Life and all its treasures!
    Best to you, Jodi

  • Wishing your family the best during this difficult time.

    Our birthdays can remind us to make every day special because we never know what’s next.

    Best wishes to you!


  • Walter says:

    Oftentimes, life has its way of nudging us back to where we should be focusing–NOW. How easily we forget this very precious moment that we are currently living. :-)

  • Thank you, all, for “being” there with me. There is no greater gift!

  • Great update to the story. Bill’s dad is now doing great and back home after over two months in the hospital. Woohoo!!! There’s no place like home. Life is to be cherished…

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Michelle Stimpson: Editor/Writer

Michelle Stimpson Hi and thanks for visiting - so glad you're here! This blog is especially for cool people who want to experience joy and live a life of purpose. Welcome!

Here you'll find great stories that will inspire you and remind you that life is good, and there's an abundance of joy all around us. Simply put: When you follow the things in life that make you come alive and bring you joy...the magic begins to unfold.

Start by checking out the "Best Of" page and be sure to consider subscribing above. Thank you and cheers to joy!

Michelle Joy Stimpson
Executive Editor & Writer
Life Coach, LifeShine

Bill Stimpson: Partner-In-Crime

Bill Stimpson Hi! Not only will you see me “show up” in many of Michelle’s stories and posts here, but I also serve as Michelle’s editor, helping her clarify intentions and make her posts shine.

One of the great joys in my life is being involved with this blog! It’s a constant reminder for me to focus on the things that bring me joy. It also feels great to be sharing so many of these joys with you - in hopes that you, too, will find ways to focus on your own joyful experiences.

Here's to an abundance of joy in your life!

Bill Stimpson
Hubby & Associate Editor

The Parent Company

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