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Eyes rest hidden behind lashes gently shut. My mind drifts to a time before. The wind rushes through dried brown branches and the leaves twirl their circle dances to the ground. I can smell the scent of Autumn. The sun glows bright white, not the white that shines a golden warmth, but a shade that warns winter is upon us – a shade that prompts one more deep breath. My heart begs, time please be still, wait… just one more embrace.

I can hear the crunch of dead brown beneath my moving feet. It crackles with each step. The rake’s wooden handle stings my blister-filled hands. I have piles to go. It doesn’t matter. The comfort of the air drowns out the call of aching muscles and oozing sores. I see glimpses of sky through the branches of a sturdy Maple billowing overhead. Everything feels different. Where did time go?

The answer plunges deep. It’s gone. Just like that. Pangs of regret shudder my insides. I hear it again. It’s gone. Yesterday is gone. You missed it.

I finish my piles and squish them into lawn bags. The growth of the end of season grass has slowed to the point of needing its final lawnmower trim just last week. The barn stores summer’s remnants high on its shelves and the home is ready for its coming season – I, however, am not. I usually do this job with Thale. It seems the year made other plans.

*** When the unexpected strikes and you are forced to pick up pieces of life and death, faced with the reality of time not captured, where do you begin? This was a question I repeatedly asked myself after my husband, Thale, died. I worried about EVERYTHING. I worried about how I would help the children, how I would maintain the home, how I would get through it myself. I worried about every decision I made...was it the right one? Did I do enough? I worried about things I had no control over - from the simple to the horrifying. From how I would dress him for his funeral to what would happen to his body in autopsy. I worried so much I worried about worrying. I worried about how I would ever stop worrying. One day a bible verse spoke to me in a deeper way than it ever had before. It was the day I realized I only needed to worry about my next breath.

Matthew 6:34 NIV tells us, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself, Each day has enough trouble of its own. "

That is a truth I closed in a mason jar to capture its firefly glow. This was a day I let His words hold me. This was a moment I realized one day and one step were just too big. It was the day Jesus reminded me it was perfectly okay to simply take one breath at a time.

Lord, Thank you that you hold our broken hearts. Thank you that even when darkness is all around, your light is always there to guide the way. Thank you for reminding us that you will walk through it with us and that you will not leave us alone. Thank you for reminding us we do not have to worry. Thank you for holding us in your warm embrace and reassuring us that we must only take one day at a time, one step at a time, and sometimes simply one breath at a time. We pray for your closeness as we inhale and as we exhale. We pray in Jesus' name, Amen.

Just a breath, one... then another.

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Updated: Feb 24, 2023

On That's The #TRUTH podcast

Michael Doud is an explorer of both the inner and outer worlds of his life. Never did he think as a 6-year-old boy standing on the sand in Redondo Beach, CA, that he would travel the world. He’s explored Tibet, Europe, India, North America, Nepal, China, and other Asian countries, discovering how the people, culture, and belief structures of these countries are both different and the same as his own. Along the way, he also found that this travel was only an appetizer to life-changing and meaningful inner explorations. He learned that the more fascinating and more profound adventure was learning about how his mind and actions responded to work, relationships, killing, love, addiction, homelessness, parenting, and depression. From the cultural explosion brought forth by the protests and love-ins of the 1960s to sitting in silence for ninety days in an old English convent in 1998, Falling into Freedom is his journey to discover his five principles for personal freedom. These principles have helped him see things as they are and not how he wanted them to be.

"Everyone is of value to everyone else. We each hold and expand a component of the whole human race. For the human race to evolve we each must evolve." -Michael Doud

Falling into Freedom

In the winter of 1989, on a windy cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, it hit him. Michael was miserably depressed and had been for nearly his entire 38 years. Looking down at the churning sea, he considered ending his life right there. His only other option was to change it, completely. Falling into Freedom is the story of the crazy adventures that began after he stepped back from the cliff and set out in search of the wisdom that would set him free.His first act after he chose life over death was to throw away his old life. Downsized out of his job, he quit looking for a new one; sold his home; and lived for a time in his car. Freed from physical distractions, he reflected on his strict upbringing by salt-of-the-earth parents; his flirtation with academic disaster in high school; and his impulsive decision to escape his perceived worthless life by joining the Army. Adding to this was his devastation after killing human beings in Vietnam; his fall into drug addiction to numb his pain, and the agony of going cold-turkey in a little hut assisted by a wise old woman. His search began by participating in and leading personal growth seminars testing his relationship to fear. One exercise was a hands-free escape after being pinned down by a five-foot bamboo pole pressed across his neck by two strong men. Witnessing and embracing his will to live, he journeyed into an obscure bookstore and found books that taught him about how to look inwards for more answers. With this gained wisdom and a daily meditation practice, he learned how to forgive himself for killing others along with his many other misdeeds. He also realized that by not identifying with “self,” as a set of physical and mental attributes, he could better understand his relationship to his possessions and personal identifiers like a job title. By letting go of his attachments and aversions to everything, he was able to begin to accept life as it is, not as he interpreted it to be. The journey leads to an old monastery in England. There, three months of sitting in silence allowed him to lift the veil of illusion and see the world, and life, as it is.

From our Interview with Michael

That’s the #truth: What motivated you to write a book to share your journey.

Michael: I wanted to share with my daughter the things that I've learned. Granted, my daughter's path is going to be different, as everyone's path is different, but I chose her to be my daughter - I adopted her, and my heart is always thinking of her... and I wanted to give back things I learned by having her in my life and me having to deal with all my demons and all my stuff.

That’s the #truth: What started you on this journey?

Michael: I was thirty-eight years old and I began to reflect... I was without a job and thought, "what do I do?" I got this wild idea to go camping - dead of winter - the only person in the campground, cold, windy, foggy. As the book starts it talks about me being in a tent, absolutely frightened out of my mind because there are noises in the tent and I don't know what they are. It sounds like a bear or a lion or something and it's going to eat me... I try to meditate and I couldn't and I just curled up in a little ball. I had a moment of reflection thinking, Oh my God, this is what it's come to. I'm crouched in a little ball inside a flimsy little tent in the middle of a campground. Nobody knows that I'm here, and I'm gonna die right here. This is the end of my life.

That’s the #truth: That's terrifying.

Michael: Of course the next morning I discovered it was probably a raccoon digging into the stuff that I had. So I took a walk and I realized that I just had this flood of thoughts and emotions and feelings that I had pretty much made a mess of my life. I'd gone through two marriages, I can't tell you how many relationships, and doing those relationships in a not honorable way. I was unhappy, and what was I going to do? If I didn't make a decision and live with the decision, then I might as well not exist any more. Because if I wasn't willing to change everything in my life, and that's the thing I like most about myself - my willingness to try something... So I ended up standing on this cliff, which is depicted on the picture in the front of the book, and I said to myself, "you either need to take a step forward and say that's it, or you step back and you have to be willing to change everything and anything that comes along. You have to change how you approach it."

Watch the Full Interview:

Available for viewing on Youtube, or if you prefer an audio download, please visit the links below.

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On That's The #TRUTH podcast

Amy was born in Vietnam and immigrated to the United States in 1980. The fall of Saigon propelled her family to embark on a treacherous journey to America. She lived in Seattle most of her life and worked for large corporations like Microsoft and T-Mobile. In 2017, when Amy’s mother passed, Amy quit her corporate career to write her mother’s story. Amy’s debut novel, Snow in Vietnam, was published in 2019 and kick started her writing career.

"We were one of the lucky ones. We were one of the boat people. Refugees... In 1979, my mother decided to flee Vietnam after the fall of Saigon. With a five year old daughter and a sixteen year old nephew in tow, she embarked on a treacherous escape into the unknown of the South China Sea." Amy M. Le

Beauty is Everywhere

It rests in victory after the battle. It floats on wings of hope in the midst of tragedy, and it shines through the kindness of the gentle souls who long to share the legacy of a beautiful life lived.

Join us in this heartfelt interview with author, Amy M. Le. I suspect her words will leave you moved, as they have certainly left their impact on me.

From our Interview with Amy

That’s the #truth: Your mom passes away, and clearly any time we lose someone in this life it is a magnificent impact, and it impacted you in a way that you decided to take your mom’s story, write a book, and share it with the world.

Amy: Growing up, it has always been just my mom and me and we formed a very special bond together. When she passed away, a part of me was gone. She was also a link to my heritage and my past. It was so devastating that I quit my job and took time to mourn, to just be, and to figure out what to do with my life. God gave me the idea to write her story. My husband was very supportive and we moved to Oklahoma to be able to afford to live on one income. It didn’t take long for me to realize I really liked writing and didn’t want to go back to corporate America.

That’s the #truth: Did you find that as you were going through the journey and doing the research to complete your book that you were able to learn more about your mom?

Amy: Absolutely. There were stories about our journey and our escape that I didn’t know. I did learn that my mom was a lot more fierce than I gave her credit for - that fire inside of her - as a woman with a little kid on her hip. I can’t even imagine what kind of courage that took and to make it and survive on her own in America.

That’s the #truth: Fierce is a good word. She was so brave. How in the world did she pick up and do the things that she did. Even getting to the boat that might lead her to America was one battle after the next. She just kept going and going, and it looks like one of the main driving forces that kept her going, was you.

Amy: Yes, the love of a mother right? A parent will do anything for their child. I think we are all inherently strong people who are driven to survive and live. When there is a challenge we have to rise to it or perish. You do what you have to do. Luckily, for us, we had a happy ending. There were so many that perished at sea and the numbers we will never know.

Watch the Full Video:

Available for viewing on Youtube, or if you prefer an audio download, please visit the links below.

Like what you see? Please subscribe, follow and leave a review.

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