Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, Emotional Health, Empowerment, living with chronic illness, overcoming adversity

Fear…It Doesn’t Do a Body Good

Fear is a topic that we talk about as something to “get over”. We’re told to face our fears, overcome our fears, and accept our fears and learn to cope with them. Why are we so fixated on fear? We know from years of research that fear creates metabolic changes. It paralyzes us emotionally and stunts us spiritually. If you go search “fear” on Amazon there are 150,052 entries for you to peruse. Do you have that much time and energy to resolve fear?

We tout the benefits of being above the animal kingdom with the ability to think and reason; perhaps that’s what’s getting in our way from health and healing! You can face your fear and do it anyway according to Susan Jeffers, but that may be easier said than done. What if we took on the Buddhist philosophy of non-attachment, would that be easier?

I was browsing Panache Desai’s book Discovering Your Soul Signature and he discusses fear. He shares, “Fear is an energy. It is an experience. But holding on to fear is unique to our human nature. Consider this: Every living being feels its fear and shake sit off. Cows, deer, fox, even bears-they all feel fear and move on. But we humans don’t. We accumulate fear. We hoard it and store it in our bodies.” That’s eye opening! How can we learn to interact with fear like water rolling off a duck; experience it in the moment as a message, but let it go once it served its purpose.

I believe in fear as a messenger. I first read Gavin de Becker’s book The Gift of Fear in 1996. His positive spin on fear as a personal and cultural alert system sits well with me. He wrote his book in the wake of the bombing of the Federal building in Oklahoma City. In addition, the news had a number of stories of disgruntled employees returning and killing those at the location of their previous employers.   Pay attention to fear. The visceral response is real and is attempting to get your attention.

Fear has a place just not center stage. Utilize fear if it allows you to be in the moment, but holding on to it keeps you in the past. Take a lesson from the cow, the deer, and the fox and allow fear to bring your focus to a particular threat, but don’t allow that threat to color every aspect of your life!

Facing adversity and looking for education, support, and inspiration?  Visit http://www.survivingstrong.com

Want to release fear through creativity?  Visit http://www.timetolivecreatively.com

Follow me on Twitter: @GregKatz2

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Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, Emotional Health, Illness Narrative, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness, overcoming adversity

Play to Your Strengths

What happens if everyone including you believed that our life would take a specific direction and then a twist of fate changes that direction? What if everything you worked for crashes and burns and you have to reinvent yourself? Know anyone like this? Well if you follow football then you do know someone in this position, Tim Tebow.

Tebow, the young player with enormous promise had a difficult time in the NFL. As it turned out his professional career as a player was short lived, but he has reinvented himself. During his time in the NFL his fame, constant news coverage, and his faith led him to create a foundation helping children going through tough times. Proof of this “Phoenix rising from the ashes”, Tebow is now part of the team on ABC’s Good Morning America. His segment has been titled Motivate Me Monday!

The first down of Tebow’s segment was a hit. The story showed the resilience of ten-year-old Devon Jackson. Jackson was diagnosed with meningitis at age eight and had both feet amputated six inches below the knee. His passion for football was intercepted but not for long. The young athlete learned to walk on prosthetics, but he was still benched from playing because he couldn’t run until someone donated a pair of blades returning the young football player to the playing field.

Jackson shows amazing resilience. When asked about what he loves about being able to play he shared, “I love the way the wind feels in my face.” When I heard the young athletes experience I thought about what do I take for granted in my daily life. If something as simple as the wind in one’s face is a blessing then what else are we allowing passing us by without noticing the magic of the experience?

The segment showed that both young and a bit older can recreate a life of gratitude. Tebow and Jackson both took adverse situations and utilized their strength and resilience to achieve greater life experiences. Devon Jackson is Tebow’s starter and that makes Tebow a great coach, inspiration, and motivator. I hope I can take the lesson from Tebow’s playbook and utilize my own strengths motivating others to enhanced health and healing!

Facing adversity?  Looking for education, support, and inspiration?  Visit http://www.survivingstrong.com

Want to play to your strengths creatively?  Visit http://www.timetolivecreatively.com

Follow me on Twitter: @GregKatz2

Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, overcoming adversity

Life’s Barnacles

I’m love the water but I’m not a sailor in any way, shape, or form. I do love to be on a cruise ship but I don’t think the captain is going to let me steer the ship. In order for boats of any shape to sail smoothly they need constant maintenance. One of the things that boats have to contend with are barnacles; those little creatures can create major problems for any floating vessel.

Many years ago I was spending time with my oldest niece (who is currently 21). A friend of mine allowed us to use her pool and we went for a swim. My niece was about three at the time and was taking swimming lessons. If you’ve ever had kids in swim lessons you know the levels are differentiated by names like tadpole and shark. My niece was in the water traveling the edge of the pool and she called to me, “Uncle Greg….I’m a barnacle!” It brings back very fond memories, but it also makes me think about what we think are the barnacles in our conscious walking lives.

I want you to think about those things in life that grab on to you and won’t let go. Consider the amount of drag on your life as a result of these “barnacles” or life interruptions. When you are saddled with life’s barnacles you expend energy just trying to stay afloat. It impedes any progress on your health and healing journey.

You never know when something will attach to you until it begins to cause problems. It requires you to seek within your heart and soul what’s dragging you down. Once you find the barnacles, like a boat, the goal is to remove it to resume smooth sailing. How you rid yourself of the barnacle may vary. Read Dan Harris’ book 10% Happier and try meditation to remove emotional barnacles. Have a creative streak then Julia Cameron’s The Artist Way will take you through a process that has been holding you back in your artistic endeavors. Perhaps you need to read Pema Chodren’s The Places that Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times, addressing the spiritual barnacles that impede your journey to wellness.

It’s cute to be a symbolic barnacle in the pool as you’re learning to swim, but those real life barnacles will slow you down, even derail your journey to health and healing. Promote smooth sailing by checking for life’s barnacles and removing them to create a sense of wholeness body, mind, and spirit!

Want to remove life’s barnacles?  Visit http://www.survivingstrong.com

Learn to use your creativity to remove life’s barnacles at http://www.timetolivecreatively.com

Follow me on Twitter: @GregKatz2

Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, Empowerment, living with chronic illness, overcoming adversity

Lessons from the road Part 4: Pay Attention to Change

The drive across country took me three days. The driving time gives me a lot of time to think, listen to interviews on the radio, and take in the sights of the country. When traveling during the warmer months there is a lot of road construction underway. What comes with road construction? Detours!!!

At the end of 2013 I drove home (to Colorado) from the Pittsburgh area. I had been on I-80 just like last week and there was a detour in the Indiana/Illinois area. Unfortunately I-80 was closed and I had to take the detour on I-90 and rejoin I-80 down the road. As it would happen, I wasn’t paying attention and I missed the return to I-80. It took me over two hours on I-90 to find my way back to the correct road. I even asked a toll booth attendant how to get to I-80 and her directions took me in a complete circle ending up back at that same toll booth….Arghhhhhhh!!!!!!!

On this journey I knew that there was a detour and was acutely aware of the detour signs. Lo and behold, I found I-80 without any difficulties cutting two hours off my travel time. I had learned my lesson about paying attention to the smallest details when driving. The detour signs were small and hidden, and if I hadn’t been aware of my previous mistake I might still be driving around the Chicago area in a fugue.

The same is true in our lives. Life presents interruptions that cause distress. It’s up to us whether or not we learn from these detours. How many people do you know who have made the same wrong turn over and over again thinking they’ll get it right without changing their actions? It’s important to learn from our missteps. It’s important to be aware that change requires attention. It’s important to move cautiously through new territory or understand that there’s a huge potential that you’ll be lost taking your time and energy.

When we pay attention on any journey, whether it is on an interstate made of pavement or the interstate of your life, we reach our destination with less stress. We are available to notice the nuances that present themselves allowing us to make subtle shifts in our plans and giving us new opportunities to learn.

Feeling lost or undirected?  Looking for education, support, and inspiration?  Visit http://www.survivingstrong.com

Want to explore the road of life in a creative way?  Visit http://www.timetolivecreatively.com

Follow me on Twitter: @GregKatz2

Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, Emotional Health, living with chronic illness, overcoming adversity, Spirituality and Health

Lessons from the Road Part 3: People at Work

Ever cross the country on one of the Interstate highways created during the Eisenhower administration? I can’t imagine traveling cross-country and having to meander through small towns trying to find the most direct route to my destination. I’m grateful for these highways and byways and for the men and women who keep the roads in good shape.

There are signs on the roadside where work is being done that says, “Hit a worker and receive a $10,000 fine and 14 years in jail.” That’s quite a hefty price to pay, but we’ve been warned so driving recklessly through these work zones is sheer stupidity. It always makes me nervous driving through these zones because there are always anxious, tail riding drivers behind me; no matter, I stand my ground and drive the reduced speed limit. We need these roads to be in the best condition possible to make travel safe.

The same is true as we live our lives. Our personal infrastructure is critical to living a good life. Our physical, emotional, and spiritual lives are always in flux. There are definitive steps we can take to insure that we keep ourselves in the best possible state-of-being. We can pay attention to the needs of our body, mind, and spirit to provide a foundation for a life filled with health, joy, and peace.

What are the work zones in your life? Where are there areas where you need to slow down, pay attention, and take steps to shore up those aspects of your life? What are you reading? What are you creating? What are you exploring? What actions do you take when you have moments of insight? We know that if you don’t pay attention to your personal infrastructure, just like the roads we travel, your body, mind, and spirit will begin to deteriorate. This deterioration creates physical ailments such as migraines, back pain, and gastro-intestinal trouble as some examples. The huge increase in depression and anxiety across the lifespan is evidence that our emotional infrastructure, as a society, is in need of attention. The number of suicides, and the number of people on antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs is staggering.

Life doesn’t come without a price and I’m not talking about financial. I’m referring to the energy and attention that is required to propel us toward health and healing. We can’t live our lives on autopilot. We need to pay the price such as exercising, praying, meditating, therapy, or creative outlets of our emotional lives. Create your own work zone, it works for our country and it will work for you!

Facing adversity and looking for education, support, and inspiration?  Visit http://www.survivingstrong.com

Want to explore your creative side to use as the roadwork for your body, mind, and spirit?  Visit http://www.timetolivecreatively.com

Follow me on Twitter: @GregKatz2

Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, overcoming adversity

Lessons From the Road Part 2: Learn to Handle Your Load

When you spend twenty-five hours on I-80 you have lots of time to think. I play games like checking out the license plates of the passing cars and making up stories about those traveling the never ending interstate. While on the road I also pay attention to billboards, flora and fauna, and the driving habits of others. On my way to New Jersey I noticed that the big eighteen-wheelers were having more trouble driving than I had previously experienced.

Following these big rigs I noticed (this time) that a higher proportion of them were having trouble staying in their lanes (not comforting for someone driving a Honda Element). I watched as many of these big rigs drifted into other lanes and the trailers seeming to have a mind of their own. It made me consider how experienced the drivers were and if they were taking all the road conditions into consideration as they made their way across the country.

It wasn’t a huge leap to begin thinking about how each of us is our own big rig driver covering many miles both figuratively and literally throughout our lives. There are times in our lives when we incur adverse conditions creating a heavier than usual load that we haven’t been trained to manage. It shouldn’t be a surprise that during those times we too seem to swerve across lanes in our lives.

When life presents itself with interruptions it is necessary to follow the road signs. You may have to make detours because your “normal” way of living life has new conditions that need your attention. It’s imperative that you learn how to navigate the interstate of your life with this new load. You may have to learn new skills to accommodate the changes. These life interruptions may ask you to take time to adjust to the new conditions requiring you to slow down, take notice, and make the necessary adjustments to stay on course.

As the driver of your life big rig you decide the load you take on, and decide where and when to off-load the cargo. Find ways to stabilize your rig! You can learn new life big rig skills by joining a support group, finding a coach to help you navigate the highways of life, or a spiritual director to help you avoid that big pothole life has placed before you. No matter what you choose, know that learning to handle the load will increase your sense of peace. It will give you the tools you need to overcome adversity!

Looking for education, support, and inspiration as you navigate life’s highway?  Visit http://www.survivingstrong.com

Want to explore creative ways of keeping yourself on the road of your health and healing journey?  Visit http://www.timetolivecreatively.com

Follow me on Twitter: @GregKatz2

Posted in coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, overcoming adversity

Stay In Your Lane

I just finished a cross-country trip for a job contract. I’ve made this long drive many times and I pay close attention to driving habits on my (this time) twenty-seven hour drive. On this journey I seemed to focus on how drivers position themselves on the road in relation to me and those big eighteen wheelers. There are lots of typologies out there and I have yet to see how driving habits relate to personality but it would be interesting to investigate.

I am amazed at the number of cars that seem to change lanes every five hundred feet. Watching those drivers is like watching the silver ball bounce off the bumpers and obstacles in a pinball machine. What’s the problem with staying in your lane?

We create the delusion that changing lanes gets us to our destination faster. Obviously the truth is that continual lane changing leads to greater and more intense frustration of the drivers. It is a danger to those around these perilous drivers and requires those of us around them to be on hyper-alert.

How many times have you read the latest and greatest self-help book, spiritual guide, or diet book hoping for immediate resolution of your issue; perhaps even salvation? We’ve been indoctrinated into a culture of immediate gratification. It’s gotten to the point that we jump from one set of practices to another with disparaging remarks about the strategy we recently abandoned. Are we so delusional to believe that change is instantaneous? Can we be naïve to believe that our lives will mysteriously resolve all the past issues because we engaged in some practice or strategy for a couple of days or weeks?

When we don’t stay in our lane we become disillusioned with the possibility of change. Our experience of hope is diminished and that often derails our health and healing journey. We sabotage ourselves because we have been conditioned to believe that change happens because we wish it to happen instead of understanding that it takes work.

Next time you’re driving and see a serial lane changer and realize you both end up at the same red light; think about how that same premise arises in your life. Stay in your lane and give the strategies and practices you’re committing to a chance to create change in your life!!

Looking to find education, support, and inspiration when facing challenges in your life?  Visit http://www.survivingstrong.com

Want to “Stay In Your Lane” through creative practices?  Visit http://www.timetolivecreatively.com

Follow me on twitter: @GregKatz2