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The cold cut into my bones as my body shut down, no longer able to create its own warmth, the acrid odor of decomposing flesh filled the room as  I smelled the flesh of my own legs rotting away, turning to liquid & seeping through the layers of bandages. My hair was falling out in clumps, the skin on my face stretched tight around my cheekbones & skull.

I looked like I was straight out of some surreal horror flick.

The doctors, nurses & specialists had already tried all they knew & kept trying, but when I looked at them I could see behind their smile and our  laughter together the hopelessness they tried to hide from me deep behind their eyes.

I was dying, and fast. There was  nothing they could do for me anymore but keep the dressings & bedding as clean as possible. And morphine. Lots  of morphine.

Rewind to six years earlier. I had just gotten laid off from my job, a job that had come to consume every waking thought & made me miserable. Rent  was coming due & I should have been terrified – but for some reason, I wasn’t. This was a chance to climb out of the rut I had been in for most of my  life

I didn’t have any idea what I wanted to do – I only knew that I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to feel like I mattered. If I could, I wanted to help  people.

I didn’t have anything even close to a “plan”, but hell, as far as I remembered the Universe seemed to like laughing at every attempt I made to follow  one, so I jumped off the proverbial cliff and hoped that my wings unfolded on the way down and somehow – I learned how to fly before my dog & I  starved..

A couple months & a stroke of good fortune later, I was working with an amazing, worldwide touring band called The Dresden Dolls, fronted by  Amanda Palmer.

That was just the beginning. Doors kept opening, & what followed was an incredible adventure that I couldn’t have even imagined.  Volunteering for Katrina refugees in a private forest in Austin, Busking in a broken but resilient New Orleans, performing with a circus in San  Francisco and creating an award-winning online performin arts magazine – I was aways excited about what was around the next corner and relishing in each new experience. I was perpetually terrified, & I was in heaven!

I was on a journey that would teach me more about myself than I ever dared dream, and at times – it wasn’t exactly nice about it. However, for the first time since I could remember, I was truly, genuinely happy. I was helping people, valued, & making a difference, it felt like it would  just kept getting better…

until I very inconveniently began to die

Eighteen months after I first entered the hospice, I did what I swore to myself I would do if I lived, and as the nurses & doctors who had looked at me with such helplessness in their eyes before smiled, fought back tears & called me a miracle…  I danced out the door. (With my cane, and yeah, it hurt like hell – but it was something I needed to do. For me.)

Bolstered by the courage that I had discovered while in the hospice, I then went on to make the biggest, most needed & most terrifying dream in my life come true.

 

This story is meant to inspire, to amuse, enlighten and occasionally, perhaps, amaze. Written from the heart, it is authentic, unapologetic, and very honest, it won’t be like anything you’ve ever read – and it’s all entirely true.

We all have amazing stories inside of us. This is many of mine, made into one. It has been hard fought for, and the greatest gift I can think to give you.

I write it in hopes that it will inspire you to live – and maybe even write – yours.