I was working on some stuff in the house when I heard my daughter yell from the other room, “I brought you a chicken sandwich. We’re gonna run some more errands.” And she was gone.
Most of the family was in town for the weekend, and out-and-about running errands. I found myself alone to enjoy the peace and quiet. I headed out to the kitchen and saw a Chick-fil-A bag on the table. Inside was a chicken sandwich and two Chick-fil-A sauces. Perfect. Chick-fil-A makes one of the Top-5 fast-food chicken sandwiches out there.
I applied a generous portion of sauce, put the bun back on and took a big bite. At that very moment, out of nowhere, I sneezed. The sneeze, itself, was merely inconvenient, but the resulting intake of air was more than inconvenient: Somehow I inhaled the entire un-chewed bite. It went in with the gasp of breath and lodged securely in my trachea, completely stopping the airflow.
A few attempts at coughing did nothing to help. Most of my air left my lungs when I sneezed, and there just wasn’t very much to force the bite up. I tried clearing my throat and coughing some more, but nothing helped, so I did the next obvious thing:
I started getting scared.
But, I am pleased to say that I kept my wits about me and did not panic. I remember reading that you could perform the Heimlich maneuver on yourself, so I stood up, clasped by hands together and started forcefully driving them into my stomach. Nothing. All I got from that was the awareness that I looked like a complete idiot jumping around the kitchen, slamming my fists into my gut.
At this point, it started becoming obvious that I needed some air – now. Luckily, I remembered seeing a video where they taught how you could use the back of a chair, instead of your hands. I leaned over the chair and tried to slam my belly against the back. It was stupidly awkward and did even less than my hands. It would have made a great Instagram reel.
Panic entered the picture. I needed to breathe! I was alone. I knew that even if I was able to call 9-1-1, I’d be blue and dead before they could get there. I could feel my accelerating pulse pounding in my ears.
The thought occurred that this might be and equally dumb version of me “checking out,” as what had happened just two years earlier. (link) I could envision my spirit hovering over my lifeless body muttering, “What an idiot.”
I progressed from panic to abject terror, realizing I probably only had a short time left, so I started getting more aggressive with my neck. I jammed two fingers in the little “V” where the collarbones hook up with the sternum and dug in…hard. I could feel the cartilage rings around my trachea as I poked and prodded my windpipe. I was hurting myself, but I was out of ideas.
Suddenly, as I pressed down and up, I dislodged the chicken a tiny bit and tried to hold it in place as I gently drew in enough air to muster a cough. One tiny little cough. But it was just enough to propel the chicken sandwich up…and out.
I sat back down in my chair, trying to not do that whole “bursting into tears” thing that happens sometimes when things get dicey. After a few minutes of deep breathing, I calmed myself, said a blessing of gratitude for my life, and for the food.
And then I sat there in a stupor and ate a cold chicken sandwich.
Now I told you THAT story so that I could tell you this one…
Back in January I wrote a couple of posts, then I stopped. Cold. Other than my General Conference reports, I didn’t write a single post until today: Over 200 days. 200! Do you know the last time I went more than a month without writing on my blog? Never. I have been blogging since December, 2010, (Yes, over 12 years and 1500 posts.)
- I would like to take a minute to thank those of you reached out to see if I was okay. I really appreciate your love and concern. Also, those who let me know they missed me touched my heart.
For the record: I am fine!
Some people thought I had run out of ideas and had writer’s block. Nope. That has never happened to me. Instead, my reasoning behind my sabbatical was this: I had been focused on writing for this blog for a long time, and decided to take some time off to focus on other things. For example…
- I have numerous books (novels and non-fiction) that have been taking up space in my brain for years. I decided to use the time off to finally write them down.
- Like most writers, I have a stack of books that I have been meaning to read for ages taking up space on my nightstand. I decided to knock some of those out as well.
- I also had some ideas to expand my business. That takes time, too.
I believe those were all legitimate reasons to step back from the blog for awhile.
How did I do?
200 days later and I haven’t done any of this things. Not.A.One. It sounded so good in theory, and the intentions were noble, but the sad reality is that extra time got filled with things like Netflix and sleeping in on Sunday mornings.
Am I proud of choking on my intentions? No. But it gets worse: For the past twelve years, when something occurred in my life – for good or ill – I would make a point to take a hard look at it and try and find meaning in what had happened. “A message,” if you will.
Sadly, after about six months, when something happened, not only did I stop saying to myself, “Hey! That would make a good blog post!” I stopped looking for messages and the spiritual ramifications of the things that happened to me, and around me. When I realized that, it stung. Going through that process for twelve years was a tremendous blessing in my life and fuel for my testimony – and I had shut it all down along with my blog.
With this realization, I decided to dig a little deeper into what actually led me to back away from that process and the blog. I am loathe to report that a most of it had to do with my ego.
- My blog traffic had dropped quite a bit during the last few years. Not as many readers.
- The participation via discussions and comments has slid as well.
- My arch-nemesis Facebook was making it harder and harder to get my voice out where people could see it, let alone like it or share it. Even Facebook’s traffic was dying alongside mine.
- And my wise wife pointed out that a lot of it probably had to do with my disappointment that my 2nd Christmas novella didn’t sell as well as my 1st. (Yes, that did sting a bit.)
- Facebook had lost its charm and become a cesspool of negativity. I always felt obligated to maintain an active presence to keep my algorithm up and I was tired of the thought police.
To sum it up, I felt like my time had passed, and there was no longer enough interest out there in what I was writing to make it worthwhile.
Yet here I am!
Why? Because I was dumb for making it all about “ME-ME-ME,” and statistics, when the bigger concern should have been “Who am I helping?” My ego made me selfish with my time and talents, and instead of blessing the lives of friends, family, readers and my own spirituality, I simply walked away. (Feeling a bit petty.)
As I move forward, I have decided to not even track my analytics. It doesn’t really matter how many people read this, or comment on it. But I do hope that there is someone out there who reads it and feels like it helps them on the crazy journey we call life.
I know it helps me on mine.
Love you all – see you next Sunday!
PS: It might be harder to find my posts now that I’ve been out of the algorithm for so long. If you have trouble finding out about new posts, here are the best ways to be informed:
- Go to the website and sign up for emails: www.thuswesee.com. Near the top it says, “Subscribe to Blog via Email.” That.
- Follow the blog page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thus.we.see
- Follow me on Instagram, ff you can scroll through the ads. http://instagram.com/bradmcbride_thuswesee/ (I’m going to start using it more.)