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Archive for the ‘Life Motivation’ Category

I was listening to the audio of Andy Andrews book, Mastering the Seven Decisions. It is the follow-up to his monumental book The Traveler’s Gift. Andrews talks about the seven decisions not as suggestions but as principles. He makes a point of stating their principles because principles are universal. They aren’t specific to any one person but to everyone. His seven decisions (or principles) were derived from reading the autobiographies/biographies/memoirs or more than two hundred people. He found that the challenges these people faced and the tools and strategies to overcome their challenges could be reduced to seven decisions.

The idea that principles are universal makes me think about how important it is to find these gems. It’s one of those things I’m on the lookout for and when I hear it, read it, or experience it, I grab hold tightly and see how to make the principle (a universal strategy) more conscious in my life.

I was listening to the acceptance speech by Michael Sam, the first openly gay pro football player drafted to the St. Louis Rams, who received the Courage Award at the ESPYS. In his speech Sam referred to another great athlete Arthur Ashe. He shared Ashe’s philosophy of, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” This simple three-part statement took me by surprise. How could something so simple, so true, so applicable to everyone’s life not be needlepointed on every cushion in the land?

The first part of the principle “start where you are”, can it get any simpler. It requires us to make a personal assessment of what’s going on in our lives, in the now! It doesn’t matter how things used to be, but what is your current reality. This is very important for all of us who have experienced any type of life interruption such as an illness, divorce, bankruptcy, or other challenge. Where are you today and on the map of life that’s where you put the red dot that says, “You are here!”

The second part of the life principle, “Use what you have” is just practical. There are no imaginary resources. If you need more tools in your life toolbox seek them out. You can augment “what you have” by taking a class, attending a support group, going to therapy, or seeking counsel of a spiritual advisor.

The final part of the principle’s trilogy, “Do what you can” requires you to take action. If you’re facing an illness how will you support your physical, emotional, and spiritual needs? If you’re looking for love you have to get out in the world; UPS doesn’t deliver life partners to your door. If you’re having a spiritual crisis finding support, going on retreat, setting out on a pilgrimage, or attending a service are the things you’re able to do to change the situation.

We know that Arthur Ashe came to these principles based on a long career as a champion tennis player as well as someone who eventually died of AIDS. The challenges in his life were eased because he lived by these principles. He learned how to make the necessary accommodations to live a full life.

What will you do today with Ashe’s three-fold principle?

Facing some form of life interruption?  Looking for education, support, and inspiration?  Visit http://www.survivingstrong.com

Want to implement Ashe’s life principles through art?  Visit http://www.timetolivecreatively.com

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“Space…The final frontier”, those immortal words at the start of each episode of Star Trek. The show had some very progressive themes given the decade it was aired. Looking back and reflecting one of the most memorable episodes, aside from the Tribbles, was “The Empath”. Perhaps that episode sticks with me given the profession I chose, but it truly set the stage for many conversations in years to come.

Star Trek was set in the future, but what about the past? When we (in the United States) landed on the shores of America, there was plenty of land to explore. The frontiersman would go west exploring and hoping to create a life with plenty of opportunity. Like space, those traveling west didn’t believe in boundaries. The only thing in the foreground of the experience was possibility.

Most of us don’t know our own frontiers. We fall into lives of routine and safety. It isn’t until we’re faced with a challenge like the diagnosis of a chronic or life-threatening illness that we look to see what’s beyond our self-imposed boundaries. I think about the group of women with breast cancer or breast cancer survivors who climb mountains, awaiting the magic of reaching the summit. I’m not suggesting that you climb a mountain, but what frontiers have you yet to explore?

Perhaps there’s something you’d like to study that requires you go back to school, a new frontier. What if you feel like you have a book within you but you haven’t put the first word down on paper, a new frontier. The amazing thing about our frontiers is that they are infinite.

I worked in Buffalo, NY for six months and was amazed at how many of the folks I encountered were born and raised in Buffalo. I was having a conversation with a woman who had returned from visiting her oldest son who was stationed in Clarksville, Tennessee. She shared that she had another son, a high school senior, and she made him a deal regarding college. She told him he could apply to any college he wanted but it couldn’t be in Buffalo (there are plenty of colleges in Buffalo). Her reasoning was that she wanted her son to know that there was a world out there beyond Buffalo’s city limits. If after school he wanted to return to Buffalo to work and raise a family that was fine. She was determined to push his boundaries and invoke the frontier mentality!

Facing adversity, such as the diagnosis of an illness, shouldn’t just be about survival. It should be about body, mind, and spirit expansion. It’s the opportunity to live on the edge (not between life and death, although for some that might be the case) literally and figuratively. Our only boundaries are the ones we set usually out of fear (read the post “Fear In All Its Glory”). Don’t let fear get in the way of what’s possible! Explore your frontiers!

Diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness?  Looking for education, support, and inspiration?  Visit http://www.survivingstrong.com

Interested in how Art aids in physical, emotional, and spiritual healing?  Visit http://www.timetolivecreatively.com

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Ever see the musical Rent? It was Jonathan Larson’s masterpiece that gained massive acclaim after he died. It was a labor of love and devotion. Despite is death Rent became iconic. The music and the message were amazing. The one song that captures audiences was Seasons of Love. The song asks the listener, how do you measure a year. This is a crucial question when we think about how to focus on the quality of life, not necessarily the quantity of life.

It is said, “Life is not measured by the amount of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” Give that quote a moment to sink it and then think about how you will assimilate that into your being. Beauty surrounds us and these are the moments that take our breath away. These are the moments that many feel the most alive. It’s an experience of wonder and joy. When we have these experiences it impacts us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The benefits to our health are huge and should be part of our health and healing pilgrimage.

Often we’re so caught up in doing things and that limits our energy to experience things. Our experiences shape our worldview. They settle in our bodies and give us clues about what makes us happy, engaged, and joyful. It’s amazing to think that we can alter our journey by allowing ourselves to experience amazement, beauty, and life!

Will you give yourself the gift of beauty? How do you integrate amazement and beauty into your life? If I were prescribing something that would impact your health I would prescribe a walk in nature, time in a museum, sitting quietly to Beethoven just to name a few. Where do you find beauty? How do you experience beauty? These moments will calm you, easy tension, and provide a sense of peace; can you think of anything more healing?

I urge you to make the time to have experiences that are amazing and beautiful. Give yourself the life affirming experiences that take your breath away!

Looking for a place that provides education, support, and inspiration when facing a chronic or life-threatening illness?  Visit http://www.survivingstrong.com

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We got to school for years hoping to learn enough information and skills to get us through life. Courses in school go in sequence when they built upon one another. They increase in depth and difficulty as you move along the education continuum. The goal of learning is to build an arsenal of tools that will guide and assist you as you move through life.

We learn a lot of facts, but when it comes to practical life lessons we have to divert our attention from the classroom and look to our real world experiences as our teachers. This is where we learn respect, responsibility, and cooperation to name a few. Real world experiences provide us with a context for overcoming adversity. These are the lessons that are often the hardest to learn because they can only be learned by making it through the challenge. You have to find a solution to the problem/challenge to learn the lesson.

Obviously there are challenges you can’t prepare for such as an illness. This is where life lessons get more complicated because we have to able to generalize our lessons learned to a new situation. If you’ve been sad in the past how did you get over it? What did you do to resolve that emotional challenge? Having the capacity to superimpose those lessons to new situations is how we move forward on our path to health and healing.

So what are the lessons that are taking you the longest to learn? How would you know that they’re a struggle? They are the challenges that continue to present themselves challenging you every step of the way. They are the challenges that give you an opportunity to try various possible solutions providing an arena for trial and error.

We don’t like to think about the lessons we are having difficulty learning. Thinking about the unlearned lessons often makes us feel defeated. On the other hand, if you’re up to “doing the work” having these challenges build inner strength. They allow you to build a pyramid of learning expanding the realm of possibility in your life.

How will you tackle the unlearned lessons? What strategies will you use to learn the lessons most trying physically, mentally, or spiritually?

Looking for inspiration, education, and support when facing a chronic or life-threatening illness, visit http://www.survivingstrong.com

Interested in Art and Healing?  Visit http://www.timetolivecreatively.com

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It shouldn’t be a surprise that after you receive a diagnosis of a chronic or life-threatening illness the recommendation is to get as much information is possible. It’s easy to research an illness in our age of technology. In addition, many of those diagnosed with a particular illness have founded organizations to support those with that diagnosis with the intention of providing information and support.

The idea of getting information and meeting with your doctor is part of the pilgrimage to health and healing. Is information-seeking behavior a Western society cultural phenomenon? I’ve read many accounts about Asian cultures who don’t share the diagnosis of cancer with the patient. It’s a way of protecting the patient from weight of the diagnosis. In this case, the patient isn’t given the choice; it’s hard to fight cultural norms.

One of the things most people want to know about is the prognosis. We’re conditioned to want the know about the outcome before we’ve even started treatment. A prognosis is a number. It’s a guess, an estimation, based on past anecdotal and research metrics. The prognosis for some is a saving grace because the odds are in their favor and a curse for some because the numbers don’t favor their survival.

I watched an interview on Good Morning America with Stuart Scott from ESPN. Scott was diagnosed with cancer. He tried to create as “normal” a life as possible but he was in for a huge surprise. Two years after his first diagnosis and treatment, he was given another cancer diagnosis. He told Robin Roberts that he did something very different after the second diagnosis; he chose not to know the prognosis.

Scott explained that the decision about self-preservation. He didn’t want the prognosis because he didn’t want to be frightened. He’s sharing his belief that knowing the prognosis could possibly bias his body, mind, and spirit connection as he devoted his whole being to health and healing.

We know there are no guarantees that we’ll all live long lives. The prognosis is like playing the odds in Vegas. How would you bet if you saw the odds on the board at the casino based on your prognosis? Do you go for the favorite, or the long shot? Are you optimistic or pessimistic? How does knowing the prognosis impact your motivation, perseverance, and will?

One of the key points that Scott made during his interview was his personal belief that there’s a difference between being alive and living. He believed that knowing the prognosis would impede his desire and ability to live. He didn’t want to simply be alive; he wanted to give his all to his family, his work, and himself. His desire to continue living life to the fullest was as much a part of his treatment as any medication given by the doctors

Do you thrive or dive with too much information? When is too much information a help or hindrance? What would you do differently with your life if you were given the prognosis, good or bad?

Looking for education, support, and inspiration when facing a chronic or life-threatening illness? Visit www.survivingstrong.com

Interested in Art and Healing? Visit www.timetolivecreatively.com

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Energy makes the world go round.  It’s something that is palpable and drives us to move forward in our lives.  Every system needs energy.  Every organization needs energy.  I had an experience last night that made me think about how organizational energy translates to personal energy, and in turn health and healing.

I attended a meeting of the art guild that I belong to, a textile arts guild.  The organization has about 275 members and has been in existence for twenty-four years.  Like many organizations there is an old guard, those who founded the organization or have been members for over twenty years.  These were the original leaders of the group and shaped the path of the organization.

I had been the President of the organization for two years and during that time I was always conscious about not only the energy at the meeting, but how to keep the energy level high and people engaged between meetings.  My monthly President’s message in the newsletter were meant to get members thinking, not only about the organization, but their role in the organization, and where they fit in the great world of art.

Last night I attended the meeting after a five-month hiatus (I’d been working in Tennessee).  The meeting was “fine”.  I don’t believe that “fine” is a compliment.  It’s just a comment on the meeting moving along.  Even the speaker was less than dynamic.  I was hoping to get re-energized after the five-month hiatus.  The only thing I was energized by were the moments when I reconnected with friends I hadn’t seen in a long time.

So how does that translate to your own health and healing?  What do you get excited about?  What keeps you engaged in your life and your healing journey?  How do you generate excitement for yourself to keep learning, continue experimenting, and design a life that will leave you with no regrets at the end of your life?

Energy is palpable.  It’s a force that is in you and around you.  Energy is what the body needs to heal.  Energy allows you to be tenacious in your healing journey.  It’s the momentum we need to tackle the challenges faced with any health challenge.

How do you experience energy in you and around you?  What happens when your energy level is less than optimal?  Are you sensitive to energy levels in others, even in groups and organizations?  How will you check your energy gauge and keep it above empty?

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Motivational speakers provide us with encouragement, challenge us, and give us tools to make life a little better.  Zig Ziglar has been in on the world stage for years.  After learning about his death I found a quote that made me sit up and pay attention.  Ziglar said, “Failure is not a dead end; it’s just a detour.”

It’s one thing when applying this philosophy to business and relationships, but does it apply to health and healing?  Could we take this thought and see how it reflects the consciousness of illness?

I believe that Ziglar’s quote is a universal.  How does it apply to being diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness?  Anyone diagnosed with a health challenge knows that treatment isn’t always smooth sailing.  There may be times when something doesn’t work, or the body reverts to earlier stages of agitation creating a flare.  These are the times when we have to create a world of possibility and hope so we can move forward.

The world of possibility and hope may require a change in medication.  It could lead you to looking at complementary therapies.  You may be inspired to go deep within and cultivate the emotional and spiritual realms of your life.  Whatever choice you make just means that the destination may take a little longer.

I’m well aware that not everyone is cured.  However, creating a world that is engaging, envelopes you with love, and has meaning is at the center of a good life.  If every challenge were a dead end, following a diagnosis we’d simply wait for death.  Working with individuals with life-threatening illnesses for over twenty years I know that’s not the norm.  We’re used to detours in life.  It requires us to establish where we are, and create a new route.  It’s like when your GPS resets after you take a wrong turn.  You get to your destination; it just takes a little longer.

You need to understand that this detour doesn’t come without frustration.  It may leave you questioning life every day.  Your faith may be tested.  It’s your route to plan and execute

What does your detour look like?  How will you reset your internal GPS?  Send me your thoughts…either comment below or email me at greg@survivingstrong.com.

 

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