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Life Arts    H2'ed 2/26/13

"Turn Right at the Dancing Cow: A Miracle in Uganda" with John Shimer

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My guest today is author, philanthropist and fundraising coach, John Shimer. Welcome to OpEdNews, John.  Your book, Turn Right at the Dancing Cow:  A Miracle in Uganda just came out and I'm looking forward to discussing it with you. But, first things first. In July, 2010, you had a near-death experience that changed your life and paved the way for your trip to Uganda. What happened? 

John Shimer
John Shimer
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On July 26th, 2010 I was on one of my early morning mountain bike rides in Sun Valley, Idaho. It was a cardio-ride of 10 miles and about one mile from home (as best I can determine) I became dehydrated and passed out, but I honestly have no memory of the accident. I hit the ground at about 35 miles per hour and the impact literally killed me. 

An early morning female jogger found my body and used CPR and miraculously brought me back, then called the paramedics.No one knows how long I was gone, but I know I didn't want to come back. I had left my body, and was in a wonderful, amazing state of fully conscious freedom, unconditional love, peace and grace. I was being drawn to the most brilliant and all encompassing light (except light is not even close to describing what I experienced) and I was so happy to be "THERE." 

My human body was no longer a part of me and I felt so joyful to be free from it, and then, with a rush, I was yanked back into it and the pain was excruciating. The paramedics arrived, as well as my wife and my daughter and I was still lying there but slowly starting to respond and then they carted my sorry self off to the ER and, for three hours, I was in and out of consciousness. 

Tests were conducted and they determined I had no internal bleeding in my brain, but I had broken bones, torn muscles and a brain injury. In spite of all that, they sent me home. My wife is still furious about that, but this is what actually happened and I was so unable to advocate for myself, I didn't protest. They gave me plenty of pain meds, but I wanted to talk about where I had been and so deferred taking the pills. Each time I tried to tell family members what had happened, I became choked up and couldn't talk. Slowly, my wife, who is a very good listener, helped me get it all out. Even now, I know what I said was incomprehensible. That was day one! 

You write about how you were caught between two worlds and the other one, however briefly glimpsed,  looked better to you.  That's a very difficult concept to grasp for those who haven't experienced anything remotely like that.  Help us understand, please.   

And that is exactly what I can not do! I have tried that, and those who deeply love me have been very compassionate listeners. Those who do not love me look at me like I'm a man who has seven heads. Oh, there is always a gracious attempt to listen, but unless you have had a similar experience no real communication occurs. 

Perhaps its easier to understand if you imagine you are the only person in your community who has ever tasted chocolate fondue, and then you try to explain what chocolate fondue tastes like to your friends and neighbors. For months, I struggled with why I even survived. 

The journey to re-engage and become comfortable in my skin again has been long and difficult, and I am certain that I am fully re-engaged in life again, only now in a different way. I have absolutely no fear of death, and a passion to use my remaining time here to use my energy and resources to seek out human angels and tell their stories. 

Sometimes when I write this, I laugh right out loud. I think, how crazy must I be? Who does that? What kind of madman goes around seeking out human angels? But wait, it's much worse. I'm actively trying to engage others in becoming Angel Seekers so a collection of human angel stories can be told, and, hopefully, in a robust way. Are you still curious about me? Or have you just dialed for the men in white coats and sent them to my home? 

Of course, I'm still interested.  I'm fascinated by this Angel Seekers project.  What are human angels and what kind of stories do they have to tell? 

I met Maggie Josiah in the fall of 2001, when she was the cleaning lady in the common hallways of a very upscale condominium building where my wife and I lived. Through an odd "hallway-conversation-relationship", we became friends. She kept surprising me with her intelligence, her competency and experience in business (she owned the company that cleaned our hallways), and her art (as she is an accomplished artist). 

Then, she went on a missionary trip to Africa for six weeks, and when she returned, she told me she was going back to Uganda and start a vocational school in the bush (read jungle) for the "lost children" of that nation. When I asked her how she was going to make this happen financially, she replied, "I don't know, but I am certain God will show me the way." 

She had no clue I was a professional fundraising consultant. 

Now, I had met many human angels by then, so I should have recognized that she was one, but I did not. Not until I started coaching her in fundraising did her entire story emerge. 

Maggie had the most horrific start to life that I have known. Her first 30 years on earth were steeped in pain, suffering and torment. 

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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)

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