Posted in after the diagnosis

The Tough Decisions

Welcome to Caregiver Friday!!!

Doing right can be a difficult thing.  At times it requires self-sacrifice and unpopular decisions, but in the end what’s in the best interest of the patient is what’s crucial.  Is it possible to be a caregiver/wellness partner and extract your ego from the process?  Are we as humans capable of making decisions that reflect the greater good and not reflect on your character?  Most of the time I try to offer solutions or resources but today I’m hoping that you stop long enough in your caregiving capacity to ask these difficult questions.

I believe that intuition can play a huge role in our decision making process, but what happens when you intuition has been tainted by guilt or exhaustion?  Walking around in an emotional, spiritual, possibly even financial altered state is not the place from which to make decisions about care.  It’s unfortunate when we get in the way of the process because we’ve lost hope that providers can make a difference.  Hope is a quest and if you haven’t found it with your current provider find another; it’s not like they’re in short supply.

I’m feeling particularly sensitive to this issue because in the back of my mind I’m playing or calculating the odds.  What if something goes wrong that could have been prevented?  Are we ready to assume responsibility to the jumping off the cliff?  What would that jump look like and how would it impact the rest of your life?

I think this is like the confirmation process of a Supreme Court Justice, if you can defend your position clearly, truthfully and with depth of knowledge then go ahead and make the decisions for the person who relies on your for care.  If you are vacillating in any category just mentioned then leave the care/wellness to the experts.  Engage the experts to provide you with peace of mind.  Don’t let them off the hook so easily; they earn big money so make them earn every cent.  This is about keeping your side of the sidewalk clean.  If you’re able to do that then whatever happens although it may not end up the way you planned; your conscious will be clear and your soul will be at peace…because you did the right thing!

Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

Soul Survival of the Fittest

Did Darwin have it right about natural selection?  Is it possible that we not only evolve as a species but throughout our lives we evolve spiritually?  If that’s the case, then what is the catalyst for this remarkable evolutionary practice?  Is it possible to evolve spiritually within one lifetime or do we need to believe in reincarnation in hopes of evolving beyond our current state?

Yes, that’s a lot of questions to ponder but that’s not even the real question I want you to address.  The real question is, “Are you consciously participating in the evolution of your soul?”  It may take a moment for that question to sink in but when it does at first you may be overwhelmed and afraid because you’re probably looking for the “right” answer and unfortunately there is no “right” answer there is only “your” answer.  “Your” answer is the right answer for where you are on your current journey.  When facing a chronic or life-threatening illness you’re thrust into chaos.  Chaos can be a great motivator but it doesn’t come without lots of hard work.

I’ve had many discussions with people over the years about how they have chosen to evolve as people and as spiriutal beings.  As Robert Frost says so eloquently, it’s “The Road Less Traveled”.  Do you ever wonder why we wait for catastrophe to occur before opening our mind, our hearts and our souls to the belief in possibility?  It’s not only about creating a soul that evolves through time, but being open to the evolutionary process and taking it in with wonder.

At the start of your journey to wellness you may not have considered the impact the health challenge would have on your soul, but it’s impact has been huge.  It brought to the surface every insecurity and assumption you’ve been holding on to since birth.  It serves as notice that as humans we are merely specks in the cosmos.  The truth is that every speck counts and that’s why participating in the evolution of your soul is paramount to living a “good life”. 

You have a tremendous opportunity to participate in one of the Universe’s greatest journeys.  If you are participating in the evolution of your soul, then you have been given the gift of a miraculous journey to the center of your being.  You will evolve to a state of authenticity that few even know exists.  Yes, the health challenge is not ideal, but participating in the evolution of your soul will give you insight into your purpose and your mission and that’s something that will direct all of us for years to come!

Posted in after the diagnosis, authenticity, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, Integrity, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

Who Really Sees You?

We’re in one of the greatest spiritual and social struggles of history.  We’re fighting the fight between putting on a persona in order to live life the way society thinks we should live it and the desire to live life authentically.  It’s a continuous duel that plays havoc on your soul because every day requires taking on new challenges and the need to develop strategies for living authentically.  What do you have to abandon socially, politically or economically to live more authentically?  How will you know when others see you for who you really are?

It’s easy to live the life of multiple personas especially when confronted with a chronic or life-threatening illness.  There is a tug-o-war between wanting to be strong and heroic and cry like a baby while being vulnerable.  In many cases neither of these personas is seen by the world.  What is seen is a reasonable facsimile of your true self.  If you live with too much bravado you may keep others at bay because they are thinking you don’t need their support or help.  Living from the place of ultimate vulnerability may frighten people because this fragile persona may need too much and they may not be prepared for the journey.

The truth is you own both of these extremes on the continuum.  So who really sees you?  Who is the person(s) in your life who can see through the false persona and see all aspects of the real you?  How did this person develop that skill?  Many rely on long-term relationships as the foundation for being seen.  Having history with someone gives you lots of data allowing you to sift through the act and cut to what’s truly real. 

The struggle emerges because we all want to be seen.  There isn’t a living creature on this earth who doesn’t want to be seen for their own magnificence.  The best way to allow others to see you is for you to take a good look at yourself.  Get to know who you are with all the positives and negatives you can conjure up.  It’s our complexity that gets in the way.  When you live a simpler life, not referring to things, but a simpler inner life you’re easier to understand.  When you aren’t covered up by layers of falsehoods or shoulds you’re more accessible. 

Being seen allows you to take a deep breath and then exhale deeply.  As you exhale sink into your authentic being.  Release the pretense of the life you’re living and give up the duel.  There are no winners in a duel so fighting to the death isn’t a win.  On this journey to wellness having the mindfulness to release the false persona releases you into the wild of what’s possible.

Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

Swallowing Bitterness

It’s not uncommon for us to bite off more than we can chew.  Our eyes are bigger than our stomachs and in life we believe that the more we take on the more will accomplish.  It shouldn’t be surprising that in times of crisis our appetites, both figuratively and literally often diminish.  Instead of nutritious food we begin to feast on sadness, anger and bitterness.  Following the diagnosis of a chronic or life-threatening illness bitterness becomes that dry toast you try and ingest and fights you all the way and yet you keep trying to get it down…why do you think that is?

For many dining on bitterness gives them license to act harshly towards others with the excuse that they are sick and are playing by a different rule book.  In actuality, when facing a health challenge the bitterness blocks the emotional and spiritual nutrients you desire and need for your body to absorb in order to promote health and healing.  Blocking the absorption of healthy self-expression and surrender means that you are expending more metaphorical calories than you’re taking in and how could that possibly promote wellness?

Swallowing bitterness requires us to try and wash it down by adding fuel to the fire.  Thinking that by coupling bitterness with anger or resentment will make the journey easier is delusional.  This combination of emotions gets stuck and if it’s stuck too long it takes drastic measures to break free of the blockage.  This isn’t about negative the negative feelings, but realizing them for what they are, the reality that life has changed forever.  Your plans for the future need to be altered and you’re sense of invincibility has vanished. 

From the movie Mary Poppins comes the famous song, “Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”.  What’s your sugar?  How will you understand that by taking your health challenge in stride it makes acceptance of treatment easier.  By giving yourself the gift of the sugar it allows you to identify the priorities in your life that will make noticeable differences in your quality of life.  The sugar you choose is the way you bless the life you have, even with the challenge because it calls forth in you the strength and conviction that life is precious and that bitterness should be the last thing in this world that gets one over on you!

Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

All is Fair in Love and War

Welcome to Caregiver Friday!

How do we decide which issues in our lives are most important?  How do you determine how you’ll devote your time, effort, and attention as you walk this world as a caregiver/wellness partner?  If you’re looking for easy answers to these questions then you’re in for a big surprise.  The truth is that life is full of trade-offs.  Trade-offs are not the same as compromise; it’s about making distinctions between picking your battles.  You are charged with the responsibility of accomplishing your mission, however you define that, at any cost because lives depend on it.

If all is fair in love and war, then during these difficult times we’re facing a revolution.  The revolution is not about economics; it’s about the willingness of each person to dig deep and make decisions based on values not what will get you the biggest benefits.  Digging deep as a caregiver requires that you draw back far enough to look at the big picture instead of getting caught up in the minutia.  The big picture is twofold, it requires that you face the difficult decisions about how best to support your loved one; while at the same time keeping your head above water emotionally and spiritually. 

The revolution has arrived because you’re forced during these difficult times to speak louder, act faster, and delve deeper into your own soul.  As a child of the revolution you’re being drafted into action.  The hope is that eventually you’ll enlist, but for now go kicking and screaming because that energy will carry you far.  As a caregiver/wellness partner your life is full of uncertainty.  The uncertainty is about the day-to-day actions.  The fortunate part is that if you want your life to be filled with certainty then your attention has to shift from external issues to internal issues.  The revolution encourages free thinkers who will look at the human spirit as a messenger for health and healing.  You’re the grease that keeps the gears lubricated for those facing a chronic or life-threatening illness.  Can you think of anything more socially or spiritually powerful?

Don’t be afraid of the revolution; be afraid of not being a part of the revolution.  Your love, support and dedication to the patient is the greatest demonstration of non-violent demonstration.  It reinforces your internal commitment to your loved one and at the same time creating a space for you to voice the importance that caregivers play in healthcare and the journey to wellness.

Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

Winning as the Dark Horse

It’s amazing the lessons we can learn about life simply by paying attention to popular culture.  I know that the American public watches too much television, but you can learn the lessons of life without turning on the tube simply by keeping your ears open to what’s happening.  There have been two instances this week that reinforces the idea that no matter what others say; it’s your belief in you that will carry you across the finish line. 

“Dancing with the Stars” crowned their new champion and the champ is none other than gymnast Shawn Johnson.  All season and even till the end the entertainment critics had pre-coronated Giles to be the winner, but the public who gets a voice saw things differently than the producers and the judges.  If we need repetition for emphasis than look no further than last night’s “American Idol” finale (that I watched).  The underdog Kris Allen was crowned the new “American Idol” over the judges pick Adam Lambert.  On Tuesday night’s American Idol the judges basically placated Kris into receiving the consolation prize without knowing the results, aren’t they embarrassed?

What does this mean for you following your diagnosis of a chronic or life-threatening illness?  Even the experts get it wrong.  Even the experts, those with all the education may not have all the answers.  Even the experts can’t control the uncontrollable like your attitude, perseverance, and spiritual determination to get well.  Even the experts can’t predict with absolute certainty who will cross the finish line to health and healing and who will incur greater challenges.

That’s the funny thing about life; we try so hard to map things, chart things, and account for things and there are just some things that go beyond being boxed into a corner.  In both reality shows the dark horse didn’t simply give up; they went out and left everything they had on that stage.  Why?  Because in that moment it wasn’t about a title, a trophy or a contract, it was about being at peace with themselves.  It was about the self-knowledge and commitment to fulfilling their own beliefs in themselves.  It was about their personal integrity and not wanting to live a life full of regrets.  Do you leave everything you have on the stage of life?  Are you holding back thinking you may need some reserves?  Let me tell you that you will always have enough fight when it’s necessary.

Being the dark horse means that every one around you has to be prepared for surprises.  When you aren’t favored to succeed you have a bit more freedom to create new paths on your journey to wellness.  Being the dark horse doesn’t mean that people have given up on you…they will only give up on you if you give up on you.

Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

Constructing Reality

What’s real?  I’m sure this a question you asked yourself many times following your diagnosis of a chronic or life-threatening illness.  It’s an important question because living in the fog of “did this really happen” prevents you from creating a mind, body, spirit integration toward health and healing.  You first need to understand that you are not the cause of your illness.  Take the blame out of the equation.  What’s real are your feelings and experiences as you move forward on your journey to wellness.

Creating the capacity to develop a world that is peaceful is an important gift.  As you assimilate the information about your diagnosis you need to ask yourself seriously, “Do I really believe I live in a world that I didn’t construct?”  Remember, we’re taking the blame out of the equation so the construction of reality is about your actions and reactions.  It’s a testament to the dive into the dark giving you the capacity to shoot up to the light (no not “the light”).

Every experience comes attached to emotions and questions related to mortality, life purpose, and how can you communicate more authentically with the divine.  Your emotions can be used as a compass during those times when you feel blown off course.  It means that you will need to trust your emotions and allow the deeper questions to emerge and then answer them.  Developing the capacity to create a reality that is steeped in mindful examination will take you on the biggest odyssey you could ever imagine.

We’re not talking about the reality of the concrete.  This isn’t about can you arrange rides to the soccer game.  The reality is related to your sense of inner knowing.  You may be wondering how that which is less than concrete is real and the answer is simple…because you make it so!  Constructing a reality that is honest will propel you forward on your quest for health and healing.  This is one of those times when you’re being asked not to take the easy way out.  You are being invited to explore with the protection of a force greater than you or your illness.

Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

Do You Have a Message for the Divine?

It’s really a shame that hand written letters have gone the way of the dinosaur.  I love getting something in the mail that isn’t a bill and a letter is far more exciting than an e-mail.  There is a deeper connection with the sender when I see their handwriting.  It conjures up memories of our time together and the experiences we’ve shared.  We have come to a place in our personal and spiritual lives when we underestimate the importance of personal connection.

The surprise of your illness diagnosis may have catapulted you to a new awakening.  It may be the catalyst your body, mind and spirit have been awaiting for a long time.  Your ability to bring a deeper level of questioning and understanding to your life is a gift and can release lots of negative energy.  So what would be the ultimate letter?  Who would you write to that would create the greatest opportunity for health and healing?  Consider writing a letter to God!

If you wrote a letter to God, what would you say?  How would you present yourself to the divine?  What do you want to know about your thoughts, feelings and dreams?  This isn’t about whether or not God knows everything about you like a mind reader, but a presence in your life that comforts you and provides guidance.  In those instances being able to share what’s most important to you is crucial because it engages you in the deepest relationship possible, the one with your own humanity.

The greatest thing about writing a letter to God is that it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been out of touch.  It doesn’t require accurate punctuation (something I’m always grateful for) and you don’t have be as eloquent as the greatest poets of our time.  The only thing that is required of the letter to God is that it be true.  It’s not about pleading your case, but sharing your deepest thoughts and understandings about your life and its meaning.  This is the time when you get to reconcile the reason you’ve been placed on this earth and the road you’ve travelled thus far.

When diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness you may have made a comment to another like, “I feel abandoned by God”.  The truth is that you probably abandoned your own life before God ever had a chance to abandon you if that even were the case.  You may want to take this opportunity to reintroduce yourself to the divine and while you’re at it, reintroduce you to yourself.

Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

Live or Memorex?

It’s clear that we live in a crazy world with so much going on that overwhelm is becoming more the norm than the exception.  We all handle this type of stress and anxiety differently but we have the capacity to make it more universal than we think.  This isn’t about living by rules but by living what’s in our heart and souls.  Would your life be different if you listened carefully to your core and followed that guidance instead of the “how to” section of your favorite magazine?

When things are going well it’s easy to live life according to what we did the day before.  Years ago I heard a lecture by an educator who was sharing his secrets for what was important in his lecture.  He clearly said, “repetition for emphasis”.  Well this may work in education, but repetition for most of us means we become automatons and that level of unconsciousness can be a fatal mistake, especially for those facing a chronic or life-threatening illness.  A health challenge should be the catalyst for living your life live, not a recording!

Can you imagine a life where you are the ultimate improvisation artist?  Would you be frightened by the uncertainty of an unscripted life?  Living life consciously means that life is an adventure and full of possibility.  It engages you to experience life in real time instead of reflecting back on what was possible or sharing regrets.  If you are able to tune into your body you will experience new sensations confirming your aliveness and that is affirming.  These types of experiences are what get the body to live in unison.  When the body, mind and spirit work in tandem you create an internal wellness environment and that serves to stimulate your physical, emotional, and spiritual healing systems.

You have choices to make every day regarding your health and wellness…take it seriously.  You have multiple opportunities to spark your healing resources…take it seriously.  You have the power and capacity for integrating your body, mind and spirit to promote wellness as well as  living consciously allowing each experience to be a lesson…take it seriously.  Obviously there’s a theme here, that theme is take your life seriously and live it in the moment, don’t live life as a recording.

Posted in Uncategorized

Hero or Heroic?

Welcome to Caregiver Friday!!

I’ve had quite a week at school with the magnificent and legendary Jean Houston.  In focusing on the story of Odysseus as a metaphor for life I began thinking about the life of the caregiver.  Trying to do your best in  what is an honor gesture of love and support you are sucked into a story that was beyond your control.  You are thrust into a story that is mythic in proportion whether you realize it or not.  The important thing to consider is, are you trying to be a hero or are you living heroically.

You may be wondering what the difference is but I assure you there is a huge difference.  As a hero you are always there to save the day.  Your sacrifices are done with mixed intentions.  As a hero you own a lot of control of the situation.  We see this in a lot of corporations, nonprofit organization and families.  Living heroically means embarking on a journey that is larger than life.  You are meeting the dragons and sirens along the way who are trying to detract you from your mission.  What’s the mission?  To live your best life and sharing that best life with those you’re caring for in the process.

I assure you that you will be tempted off your course and the first few times that will be disconcerting.  Trust me, it will be a learning experience.  You will learn more about yourself in the process and that’s worth its weight in gold.  Can you imagine anything better or more fulfilling than stepping into your true essence and offering your help and support as a caregiver/wellness partner from that world, emotional, and spiritual view.

It’s an amazing process to go on the odyssey because it substitutes the gloom and doom that may accompany caregiving and gives it a new sense of hope and adventure.  It provides you with an opportunity to explore the depths of your soul and you’ll need that for the long  journey because when the journey ends you’ll have that wisdom to rely on.  Live heroically and let me know what you learn along the way!